STOP! If you have just arrived at this website looking for a hydroponics bubbler, you might want to go back to page one of this mini-farm plan.
NOW, how to operate this thing.
You can use just the light from a sunny window if all you are growing are houseplants. Anything else requires some supplemental lighting. A T5 compact fluorescent “grow light” will do fine for houseplants, herbs, and leafy green veggies like lettuce. This one is available for under $75, including the 125 watt compact T5 bulb:
You can order this lamp and bulb here: Cheap Lighting. You can get off much cheaper by getting a fluorescent “grow stick” at Walmart for about $25, but you will not get the lush growth a better light setup will produce. For best results, upgrade to the 200 watt bulb listed on our supplies page.
The grow room must be kept cool. Use a fan on low in there to cool it down. HID lamps will really add some heat.
If you are interested in fruiting veggies like tomatoes, or serious herbs, you will have to upgrade to an HID lamp. Learn more about HID lighting and see our special combo lamp deal here: Hydroponic Lights.
We highly recommend the Flora Series nutrient
solutions put out by GH (General Hydroponics). This stuff is superior,
easy to use, and reasonably priced. It consists of 3 parts (Flora Grow;
Flora Micro; and Flora Bloom). If you have hard water, get the Hardwater
Flora Micro instead.
For this bucket setup, order a quart of each of the three solutions: Cheap Nutrients. Stick with Flora Series, follow the label directions, and you can't go wrong!
The nutrient solution must be kept cool (55-70°). This is especially important for the cool-season crops like lettuce and broccoli. Learn more about hydroponics nutrient solutions here: Hydroponic Solution. We also provide a nifty little mixing chart there for the Flora nutrients that you can print out and save.
the nutrient level drops in the bucket, you need to periodically add
water only (not more nutrient). Keep track of how much you top up with.
When you have replaced 6 quarts of water, stop topping up and let the
level drop down to between 1-2 gallons.
Then it is time to drain the bucket and mix up a new batch of nutrient solution. Each new 2-3 gallon batch should last 3-4 weeks by following this “50% system”.
pH- It is a
very good idea for any serious hydroponics project to keep the pH of the
water in the proper range, which is 5.5 to 6.5 (6.0 is ideal). If the
pH is out of range, some of the nutrients get “locked out” and the
GH puts out a simple test kit with pH up & down solutions cheap. It will last you through many gardens: Cheap Nutrients.
The only growing medium we recommend for the hydroponics bubbler system is LECA (also called Hydroton or clay balls). Other traditional media will just drop down through the holes. LECA provides an excellent moisture wick as well as good support for the plant.
Here's a handful of Hydroton clay balls, you can order them here: Cheap Hydroponics Media. For smaller supplies, try ebay.
Hydroton balls must be ordered from a hydroponics supplier. Learn more about the different hydroponic growing media here: Hydroponic Growing Media.
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