Although hydroponics is reasonably big in the Philippines, there is relatively little information online about it. It would be good to see more people posting their setups.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the growing of plants without any soil. Plants require three things to survive – Light, Oxygen and Nutrients. Since soil is the normal source of nutrients for plants, when removed we need to replace it with something else. This is usually done by adding nutrients to the plants water source.
What do I need for hydroponics?
There are many different systems you can buy or build for hydroponics. Unfortunately, as with most things in the Philippines, your choices will be limited.. so be prepared to go the DIY route.
The systems generally all work along the same principles. You have your seed or plant which is held in place by an inert growth medium (e.g Rock Wool). The usual methods of supplying the plant with nutrients when growing hydroponically are:
1) Have the roots sitting in a mix of water/nutrients
2) Spray the roots with a water/nutrient mix
3) Drip feed a mix of water/nutrients
Some people take this a step further and use a cheap air pump and air stone to aerate the water which provides more oxygen to the roots and further helps the plants growth.
What exactly is an Inert growth medium?
Since we’re growing without soil, we still need something to hold the seed or plant while its growing. The medium is inert because it adds no nutritional value to the plant, it’s used only to support/hold the plant in place.
What growth medium you use will depend on the system you use and your own personal preferences. The most popular options are:
* Perlite – Volacnic rocks that are transformed into light pebbles through a heating process. Has the benefit of holding a lot of air which can be useful if you’re not using a air pump for additional aeration.
* Rock Wool – A fibrous material created from molten mineral substances. Drains well
* Clay pellets – Baked until they become porous and are able to hold/pass water. Roots can grow into these pellets.
What kind of systems are available or can be built?
Hydroponic Bottle Bubbler System
Although this is one of the simplest designs ever, it’s actually one of my favourites and most successful.
1 x 1.5 litre bottle (size doesn’t matter too much. Minimum of 1 litre)
1 x air pump+ 1 x small airstone + air tube
1 x plastic poly pot (or if you really want to go DIY then use a mold a plastic bag into the same kind of shape and poke holes into the bottom of it)
A handful of your favourite growth medium.
Some duct tape
1) Cut the top (lid end) off your bottle. You should cut until the width of the bottle is about the same as your poly pot.
2) Run air tube from the air pump to an air stone. Place the air stone at the bottom of the bottle and use tape on the outside to hold the tubing to the bottle so the air stone wont move.
3) Insert your poly pot into the top of the bottle and hold it in place with tape.
4) Fill your poly pot with your favourite growth medium
5) Secure your seedling within the growth medium and pour your nutrient/water mix through the top of the bottle until its just up to the level of the holes in your poly pot.
6) Turn on your air pump and enjoy.
A bigger example of a bubbler system can be seen on my DIY hydroponics dwc setup page.
Hydroponic float system
This can be one of the simplest systems to build.
1) Buy a hydroponics nutrient mix, a deep tray, a sheet of 1 inch thick polystyrene board, a pack of polystyrene cups and your preferred growth medium
2) Cut the polystyrene board into a square or rectangle shape which fits inside the dish with a 1cm space at each edge.
3) Cut circle holes in the polystyrene board for the cups to slide into. You want the cups to stick 1/2 – 1 inch out of the bottom
4) Make a 1x1cm hole at the bottom of each cup on either side. Fill your cups with the growth medium
5) Fill the tray with your mix of water/nutrients and place the polystyrene board inside the tray. It should float and the growth medium should start to absorb the mix.
6) Insert one seedling securely between the growth medium in each cup
Hydroponic DWC System
For the full build instructions, see the DWC hydroponic page.