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5 DIY Hydroponic Gardens to Grow Food All-Year-Round

Growing your own food and becoming more self-sufficient can be as rewarding as it is nutritious. But not everyone has the space or climate for a big outdoor garden. Whether you have a whole room to spare or just a wall, one of these 5 hydroponic growing systems can get you growing.

1. Ebb and Flow

In this setup, your plants reside in a growing medium like rock wool or perlite inside containers —  one plant to a small container.  Those containers sit inside a large base. 

To feed and water your garden, you flood the base with nutrient-rich water without overflowing it. The system then drains the water and stores it for the next watering.

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Like many of these systems, you can use a timer to maintain standard watering intervals for maximum plant health and production.

This one works for small to medium-sized plants, including berry bushes. So it can support most things you’d grow in a food garden.

2. Drip Hydroponics

A hydroponic drip system slowly releases a controlled amount of nutrient-treated water directly onto the plant’s root system. Any nutrient water the plant doesn’t use returns to the reservoir for the next feeding.

Manage the drip rate from controls. Then, run your own scientific experiments to maximize yields with the least resources.

This one shouldn’t be confused with outdoor drip irrigation. That does follow similar principles but allows the water to enter the soil instead of returning it to a reservoir.

Drip Hydroponics can grow most of your homesteading faves like:

  • Melons
  • Leeks
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Root vegetables

Nutrient Film Technology (The Original NFT)

NFT may sound technical. But it can be one of the easier hydroponic systems to create.

It includes a sloped platform along which you can plant your garden in the traytop. You slowly pump water down the slope and back into the reservoir at its base.

Only small plants do well. But you can increase the number of small plants in the tray top, making it very scalable.

As long as those plants still have adequate airflow and can access light, this system can hold a lot of smaller plants. 

Ideal for:

  • Leavy greens
  • Some herbs
  • Brocolli

4. Aeroponics

Some people won’t consider aeroponics a hydroponic system. But the only real difference is in how you administer the nutrient water.

Aeroponics works by nutrient-water misting the plant roots rather than submerging them. You need no grow medium if the containers are correctly sized for the plant. 

People choose aeroponics because it reduces the ability of the disease to travel from one plant to the next. Water that touches one plant doesn’t then flow to another.

Aeroponics also works well as a vertical gardening method, maximizing use of limited space and reducing the chance of large-scale crop loss. You can grow everything from lettuce to raspberries to sweet potatoes in this system. 

5. Deep Water Culture (DWC)

With water culture, you grow each plant in a net pot suspended over a large water basin filled with oxygen and nutrient-rich water. An air pump keeps the water at a good temperature for the plants to avoid overheating.

Depending on its size, DWC can grow any size of plant, even tropical plants (limes, mango, coffee, cocoa) with deep root systems.