How easy is it to Get Started?
There are lots of options of how you can grow hydroponically. It does not need to be complex at all to get started; but if you want it to be, it can become increasingly complex as you learn more about hydroponics.
Choosing the Category of System
The first choice is whether to use water culture, aggregate culture or rockwool. All three are viable and used successfully with a large variety of crops in many different parts of the world.
Your choice should take into consideration the following:
- What is the cost of each and how readily available are materials in your area?
- Is rockwool made/sold locally? If not, what freight charges are involved in having it delivered?
- Is there a local source of sand or gravel which can be used, or do you need to pay high cartage costs?
- What types of plants will you grow?
- Some plants require better aeration than others. Some systems provide better aeration than others, for example NFT systems.
Choosing Media to Grow in
There are three main groups of hydroponic media, based on their origins:
- Media derived from rock or stone
- Media derived from synthetics
- Organic media
Media is the term given to the solid material(s) used to replace soil in aggregate culture and rockwool culture.
Hydroponic media must fulfill the following criteria:
- They must be chemically inert.
- They must be chemically stable.
- They must be clean.
- They must drain sufficiently freely not to create water logging problems.
- They must have adequate water-holding capacity.
- They must have adequate air-holding capacity.
- Buffer capacity should be good – this is the ability of the media to resist changes in pH.
- It is preferable that cation exchange capacity is at least moderate to good
Where this Course Can Lead
Your ability to understand and practice hydroponics effectively will grow as you move through this course. You will interact with leading experts as your tutors, and learn more from the feedback they give you; and as this all develops, your awareness of what is possible will grow. The course will give you the opportunity to explore new ideas, try out new ways of growing plants, and connect with others who are involved with hydroponics.
Every graduate from this course will emerge with a different set of experiences, having explored the world of hydroponics in ways that are particular to their own interests and needs.
You may use what you learn to become more productive with the equipment you have already been using; or it may provide the knowledge and awareness you need to make better choices about setting up new systems.
New opportunities to utilise hydroponics will gradually become evident; and the stage will be set for you to continue growing your capacity to grow all sorts of things hydroponically.
- Describe the nature and scope of hydroponics as a hobby
- Explain plant nutrition for hydroponic situations.
- Differentiate between a different fertilizers and hydroponic nutrient solutions
- Recomment how nutrients might be appropriately used in a hydroponic garden.
- Compare different growing media and systems, appropriate to a home hydroponic situation.
- Design a hydroponic system suited to a particular home situation
- Diagnose common ailments in a hydroponic system, make suggest treatments.
- Describe general hydroponic crop in a home situation.
- Differentiate between solid media and nutrient film hydroponic techniques, and the way in which plants may be treated differently in each.
- Plan production of a sequence of crops in hydroponic production.
- Determine methods for hydroponic cut flower production.
- Basic Chemistry and Plant Nutrition – atoms, elements, nutrient deficiency symptoms
- Nutrient Solutions – calculating formulae, hydroponic nutrition, preparing nutrient solutions
- Types of Systems A – classification of hydroponic systems, ingredients of hydroponic systems, rockwool.
- Types of Systems B – what makes up a system, 16 hydroponic ideas, NFT, solution dispensation.
- plant Problems in Hydroponics – pests and diseases, nutritional and environmental problems, water and plant relationships, pH.
- How a Plant Grows – growth, nutrient solutions, preparing a solution, mechanisms of nutrient uptake, photosynthesis.
- Plant Culture – controlling environmental features, post harvest storage.
- Hydroponic Vegetable Production – how to grow vegetables hydroponically.
- Hydroponic Cut Flower Production – growing flowers in hydroponics, carnations.
- Soil Media vs Nutrient Film – berries, indoor plants, types of media, NFT.
- Greenhouse Operation & Management – solar energy applications in horticulture, greenhouse management.
- Special Assignment – a report on how to improve your present hydroponic venture, or a report on planning a new hydroponic venture.