Hydroponics gardening is the use of water mixed with nutrients to grow plants, instead of planting them in the soil. What stands out about this rooftop gardening system is the ability to add the necessary nutrients essential for plant growth directly. Before deciding on the best hydroponic garden system to go for, there are essential factors you should consider. These include:
Free space to accommodate the hydroponic rooftop garden
If your space is ample, it means you will have many plants. Choose a system that can support the plants comfortably.
The types of plants you wish to grow in the garden
For beginners, vegetables and herbs are a good option, as they do not require high levels of maintenance. As you get to understand how the system works, you may go for other plants that require high maintenance levels.
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The cost of the equipment to be used in making the garden
Your budget will dictate the complexity of the hydroponic system you will install. More sophisticated systems require more money compared to less complex ones.
Although it is much expensive compared to install a hydroponic system in your rooftop garden than a conventional farming method, hydroponic rooftop garden systems have many benefits.
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Maximum utilization of space
Plants grown in a hydroponic garden require less space to grow, as opposed to those that grow in the soil. The roots do not need to spread out in search of water or nutrients. Similarly, you may use trellises for vertical gardening. This means that it is possible to grow many plants in a small space.
It saves water
The amount of water required to operate a hydroponic garden system is less compared to a soil garden. Hydroponic rooftop gardens are therefore ideal for areas where water is scarce. In this system, water is circulated and used again. Water is only lost through leakages or evaporation. Storm water can also be collected and be used further by the plants.
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Â In a hydroponic rooftop system, it is easy to measure the PH of the water. You can then regulate it to the required level easily. PH levels should not be assumed as they determine how your plants will access the necessary nutrients for better growth.
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No need for frequent weeding
Weeds do not grow in hydroponic systems, as opposed to soil gardens. You will not waste time weeding the plants. This helps save on time and energy.
Less usage of pesticides and herbicides
Since there are no soil-borne pests, the usage of pesticides is significantly reduced. Similarly, there is minimal use of herbicides as you do not need to get rid of any weeds. Lessor, no use of pesticides or herbicides, makes the plant produce safe for human consumption and prevent environmental pollution.
Plants can produce more yields
In a hydroponic rooftop garden, the plants can provide more returns than in other conventional farming methods. This is made possible by the ability to control light, nutrients, moisture and temperatures.
How to make a hydroponic rooftop garden
- A hydroponic system consists of growing tubes, a stand, trellis a manifold, and a pump. The tank is placed below the growing tubes. The pump is usually placed inside the tank. It has a manifold that pushes water and nutrients to the growing pipes. All the growing tubes have a drainage pipe that returns water to the pump. The growing tubes have shorter tubes that take nutrients from the pumps to the plants. The tubes have tiny holes that spray the plants with the water and nutrients.
- Add the nutrients to the water in the tank and mix them. Add the nutrients according to the recommended amounts. They are usually available in dry and liquid form. Each type can make a mixture for the hydroponic system by dissolving them in the water.
- Put the plants in the growing tubes. Ensure that the roots get access to the water and nutrient mixture. This will ensure that they get maximum nutrients for better growth and high production yields.
- Use approved, previously grown seedlings and remove the soil particles from their roots by dipping them in lukewarm water. Too hot or cold water may damage the roots.
- Tie the plants to the trellis. Tying the plants will provide support and enhance climbing. Using trellises helps utilize vertical space. Since the seedlings are very vulnerable and can break easily, be careful when tying them to avoid breakage.
- Turn the pump on and ensure it is working appropriately.
- Monitor the growth of the plants.
- Ensure that the plants are growing upwards. Trim them whenever necessary. After a few weeks or months, the trellis will be covered by the plants, as they tend to grow very quickly. It is, therefore, crucial to check them and tie the stalks on the trellis.
Maintaining a hydroponic rooftop garden system
Once you set up the system, it is crucial to take good care of it. Some of the measures to consider include:
- Always apply the nutrients according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Do not exceed the recommended amounts or put less.
- Avoid standard fertilizers in a hydroponic system, since they are designed for usage in soil only.
- Get additional equipment for your garden. These may include:
- Make sure the system is placed in a spot with no disturbance to avoid the breakage of the plants.
- Always use filtered water that does not contain chemicals that may damage your plants. Tap water, stream, or borehole water is not a reliable choice for the system. The water may even have pathogens that will have adverse effects on the growth of your plants. You can make a sound water filtration system for your garden.
- Always sterilize the hydroponic system using bleach. Bleach does not only kill harmful pathogens, but it also enhances the oxygen circulation in the entire system.
- The hydroponic system should be cleaned and refilled every two weeks.
- Make sure the water in the system is not stagnant. Stagnant water may contain bacteria that may be harmful to your plants.
- Always check whether there are pests. Even if the plants rarely get affected by diseases, pests can change them. Always check if there are any and apply the recommended pesticides.
- Do regular PH checks? PH levels should not exceed or go below the required standards for maximum yields of the plants.
- Always check your equipment. Check if the pumps, aerators, and other equipment are broken and repair them to avoid leakage.
- Always check the nutritional strength of the solution. You can use an EC meter to test the concentration of the solution. If it is too weak, add the required nutrients. If the solution is too strong, add water.
With limited spaces, especially in urban areas, rooftop gardens have become popular. Setting up a rooftop hydroponic garden has many advantages compared to other conventional gardening methods. With the tips above, it will be easy to design and maintain the garden while avoiding costly mistakes.