Preppers are always trying to think of ways they can be self-sufficient. Growing your own food is one of the things that will become a necessity after the world has collapsed around you. You can’t rely on the government to provide your family with food and any serious disaster will interrupt the food chain, leaving grocery store shelves empties and farmer’s fields empty. You have to grow your own food, all year-round and for some, you will have to grow your food without the benefit of fertile soil.
How can you do it? Hydroponic systems are the answer. The water gardening systems are gaining in popularity as people fine tune the growing specifics. What was once a hobby is becoming a mainstream way of gardening all around the world.
What are Hydroponic Systems?
The systems have many variations. Basically, it is using anything other than the standard soil you would typically grow your plants in. It can be all water or some kind of aggregate like clay pellets, sand or even rocks. The roots grow into the water or aggregate and do not require any soil. The systems are incredibly easy to use and eliminate many of the problems that plague a standard garden like weeds and pests.
You can buy a system that is set up and ready for you to start growing at your local co-op or farm store. The kits will have everything you need, all you need to do is add plants.
You can also make your own hydroponic systems with very little effort. This will save you money and gives you the freedom to use recycled material you probably already have lying around. You can visit an aquarium store or the fish section at your local pet store for many of the items.
You will need:
- Large rubber tote with lid
- Air pump
- Air stone
- Clips for tubing
- Seed cubes/transplants/rooter plugs
- Seeds if necessary
- Pots or net/bags
- Cut holes in the lid of your tote large enough to hold the pot you will be using. The pot should sit in the hole with the plant above the lid.
- Attach the tubing to your air stone and place it inside the tote. The tubing connects to the pump, which will need to be placed outside the tote.
- Place your transplants, seed cubes or a rooter plug inside the pot or net bag.
- If planting seeds, add several to the rooter plug to ensure at least one germinates. Add clay, rocks or whatever medium you choose to the pot or bag.
- Place the pots into the holes of your tote. You will want to leave one pot out so you can add water. Fill the tote with enough water that it just reaches the bottom of the pots or bags.
- Add nutrients to the water. You can buy nutrient solutions at your local co-op or online.
- Seeds should be kept moist until they sprout (about 7 days), but do not soak them.
There are a few tips you can employ for success. As with any hobby, there is going to be a learning curve. You will get the hang of it with a little trial and error.
- You may need to use artificial lights for your plants. LEDs or grow lights are great.
- Regularly test your water to make sure it has a good pH level and the right amount of nutrients for your plants.
- Plants with shallow crops work best. Root crops are not quite as easy with a standard hydroponics setup and require some soil.
- Start with something easy like herbs or lettuce so you can get the hang of things.
- You can use “organic” nutrients like chicken manure tea instead of buying nutrients at the store. This will take some experimenting as you learn how to make the tea just right and not too strong.
- If you are not keen to use plastic, a fish tank will work just as well.