You’ve fallen in love with the idea of growing and want to grow year-round food and bud using hydroponics, or hydro as the old timers say (19 reasons why hydros kicks a@# here). You are here with us now because you want help choosing a hydroponic system.
We get it. We felt the same, once: There are endless varieties and systems. And you can build your own. And then you can patch pieces together and build hybrid systems or invent something new. The premise is the same and simple: every hydro setup needs a tank for water, a pump to move it around, and pipes or a bucket for the water to flow through. To make it simple, we can assume you didn’t start building your own. We are going to choose some of the best starter systems out there. If you love others, or want to promote a company, add them in the comments.
We are always going to recommend systems that can grow meaningful amounts of food and herbage, not the small counter-top 1 spring or basil or one cannabis plant grow box. Why? Our goal is to create a meaningful dent in how you grow. We will not support gimmicks. We are giving you both solutions you can find at your local hydroponics shop (just Google “hydroponic shop + your city or nearest town) and you will find one, or order from Amazon. (Or get free grow here from Eddy).
Here’s the hydro starting guide:
We like the tower gardens, the stacked style towers because they look great and fit into porches, in kitchens, in schools, anywhere. They are great for growing a little of everything and they can be made around themes: a fresh herbal tea garden. A tower of a variety of lettuce. Right now we are growing string beans in ours. We like the Foody Tower (iPonics brand in Europe).
Good to Grow? Herbs for tea, greens.
Pros? Easy to use, look good, grows a lot of variety in a small space. The unit turns and you can buy an optional motor so it does a complete spin towards the sun every hour.
Cons: Not great for plants that will need lots of root space, such as cannabis and tomatoes.
Cost $249. You can buy one here.
Or grow 4x the amount of food for the same price with this DIY model
Pipe Systems (NFT)
These are great if you have a geodesic dome tent like we do, for growing outdoors, or if you don’t mind your kitchen, basement or office looking a bit like a lab. This system is good for vegetables, herbs, melons, and berries, with yields in about 45 days. The system uses pipes and the hydro lingo is NFT for Nutrient film technique (NFT). A a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is re-circulated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully, also known as channels.
NFT was developed in the mid 1960s in England. You’ll find endless varieties sold online. You can even make your own with some pipes and a pump from Home Depot, or buy this relatively low cost solution below.
Good to grow? Small, fast-growing plants like herbs, baby greens and lettuce.
Cost? $155 on Amazon, without bucket. Food grade plastics.
We’ll get to lighting soon.
This system is called deepwater culture, because the plants are bathed in aerated water continuously. This is a great starter kit if you are growing vining plants like tomatoes, peppers or cannabis because there is loads of room for the roots to expand and space all above for the plants to grow up.
It’s a low cost solution you can buy online or at a hydroponics shop. Once you understand how it works, you’ll see how easy it is to build your own, and you can make one yourself for $75 less. If you are building your own, always make sure the plastics are food grade. No one wants BPA leaking into the bodies.
Cost? $99 online
Good to grow? Cannabis, trees, vining plants, rooting plants
For cannabis growers
Cannabis plants can grow into giants. They should not be restricted to a small grow box. We’ve interviewed thousands of cannabis growers and there seems to be a clear favorite among the serious and successful growers? Want to grow like them? Start some seedlings and set up an Autopot or Current Culture system. We love them because they are built to perform (grow some serious bud!) and can be modular — you can add more buckets as your girlfriend and her friends keep asking you for more weed.
They don’t come cheap but if you add up all your dispensary fees and the unknowns that you smoke when you buy someone else’s bud, the reasons to grow speak for themselves.
You might not find the silver bullet solution right from the start. And the systems you can choose are endless in design. When you start growing, consider that Mother Nature has her own designs. The important thing is to start. Just like exercise. You won’t be able to climb to the summit without practice, but you can certainly get on the trail and into the growing game today.