Ebb and flow, lettuce raft, NFT, Aquaponics! How do you know which one is best for your needs?
In our section "4 Simple Systems" in Simon's box at the end of this page, we will give more detail to help you decide. But for now, a quick introduction to the most basic, but still very popular hydroponic designs.
LETTUCE RAFT- For lettuces, spinach, endive, other low-growing, small, lightweight crops, a lettuce raft is simple, easy and economical. They just thrive on this impressive setup! I have never had a lettuce crop fail on one of these babies. You could start with this system and later add individual pots for tomatoes, celery and peppers.
Baby romaine in one of my lettuce rafts
EBB & FLOW- For a mixed bag; lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, you name it, consider an ebb & flow planting bed. This is a very popular and dependable unit, highly recommended for beginners as well as loved by the pros. This system consists of a large flat basin filled with square pots that have openings in the bottom to let the juices in. There's room for 24 large pots in the 4X4 tray... awesome!
Young ebb & flow garden
You can pack a lot of produce into these flats
DUTCH BUCKETS- If you wish to concentrate on the larger, individual potted crops, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, beans, melons or squash, a network of top drip pots (Bato or Dutch buckets) or the wick action Autopots (below) might fit the bill.
Dutch Bato buckets, newly planted with
beans, peppers, tomato & eggplants
AUTOPOTS®- Autopots® run themselves without a pump/timer, but are more expensive. They have a patented "smart valve" which waters just the right amount (via gravity feed). They can be left alone for long periods of time.
One Autopot module provides 2
large pots. See my cabbages?
Check out our free monthly e-zine offer below. After that, more on hydroponic designs and how they work.
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~If you only want to set up one or two
large pots, say for tomatoes or chili peppers, we also offer free plans
for a simple independent unit, the Bucket Bubbler.
You can use a combination of any of 2 of these 4 simple systems at the same time. I just love my "split plan", and use it often. It's half lettuce raft and half pots, on a PVC stand. Right now I am growing 20 romaine lettuces (on my raft), 10 ebb & flow pots (6 cabbages, 8 broccoli, a pot of onions and one of carrots). I even piggybacked in an Autopot® on the side for two more cabbage plants. All this in a 4X4 foot space... what a food factory!
Just getting started Same garden... 13 days later!
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