If you have a small space and you’re looking to grow your veggies, you can turn to aeroponics and get things started. Aeroponics is a modern growing technique that saves water, saves nutrients, and makes use of less land. It definitely costs less in the long run and provides even better yield as the roots of plants will get the nutrients and water they need directly.
In this article, we have provided a step-by-step guide to aeroponics farming that will teach you how to get the best out of this farming technique from the planting of the seeds to the harvest of plants.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a planting method in which the plants are suspended in the air and the water and nutrients they require to grow are sprayed on them. This method does not require soil. It also tends to be more effective than traditional farming, though it is a bit complex and would require some technical knowledge to get started.
Types of Aeroponics Systems
Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA) Systems
The LPA system is the most common setup for DIY enthusiasts and home growers due to its affordability. This system can be procured from a wide variety of places.
You can also make your own LPA system using PVC for the piping, then attach misters to them and use a fountain or pond pump to ensure that the system works properly.
High-Pressure Aeroponics Systems (HPA)
HPA systems are more effective for growing plants in hydroponics. However, this system is very costly to set up and only suitable for commercial growers. Generally, an HPA system pump will start with a range of 60 to 90 PSI.
Having a powerful pump ensures a finer spray which will ensure that the droplets of the spray are small enough to stick to the plants so they can be absorbed.
How to Setup an Aeroponics System
- Large plastic bucket
- Net pots with neoprene lids (one for each plant you want to grow).
- A drill.
- Hole saw drill bit
- Hydroponics pump
- Sprinkler head.
- Electrical timer.
Step 1: Cut Holes Into the Lid
You will need a drill for this. Start by cutting several holes into the lid of the bucket. Each hole will represent one of the plants you want to grow in the system. If you’re going for more than one plant, ensure that they are evenly spaced out so the plants have enough space to grow.
Step 2: Make Your Sprinkler Device
The sprinkler device is one of the important parts of the aeroponics system. You will have to combine the hydroponic pump, the sprinkler head, and the timer to make the sprinkler device.
The first to do is to screw the sprinkler to the pump. Keep in mind the placement. If you’re planning on placing the sprinkler higher up in your bucket, you might want to add a threaded plastic riser between the pump and the sprinkler.
When you have connected the sprinkler and pump, hook the setup to your timer. Start the system, and set the timer so the sprinkler will spray water for 30 minutes at a time and stop for 30 minutes.
This cycle should be enough to deliver all the water and nutrients that your plant will require and at the same time ensure that they get enough oxygen.
When done, place the sprinkler device in the bottom of your bucket. Once you’ve set the sprinkler in the bottom of the bucket, put the lid back on. Ensure that you feed the pump cord up through one of the holes in the lid. This makes it easier for you to plug it in.
Step 3: Suspend Plants
To get the best results out of aeroponics, you need to go for baby plants that are already growing. Before starting the aeroponics farm, you should germinate the seeds of the plants you want to grow.
You can also start with clones. Regardless of which one you go for, having plants with decent roots and some leaves would make this technique faster.
To set up the plants, carefully place them through the middle of the net pot lids. You need to keep the roots dangling down through the bottom of the pot, while the top of the plant should stand up above it. When you have placed the plants in the net pots, you can go ahead to place them in the holes you drilled into the bucket lid.
Step 4: Add Water and Nutrients
Your aeroponics setup is almost complete. The next thing to do is to add the water and nutrient the plants would get and plug in the sprinkler. You could easily pour water in through one of the holes in the lid and get it done.
You could also cut a smaller hole in the lid just for adding water. When filling with water, ensure that you add enough water to submerge the pump, however, you should avoid adding too much water so that it reaches the roots of your plants.
Using the electrical timer, set it to run 30 minutes on/30 minutes off. This should give your plants enough doses of water, nutrients, and oxygen.
Step 5: Grow Your Plants
Watch and water the plant appropriately. Ensure that they get enough light and nutrients. You need to also ensure that the temperature and humidity levels do encourage plant growth. The room should be between 70 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also monitor the pH of the water to ensure it is within the optimum range.
Step 6: Harvest
When the plants bring out flowers, you can start looking toward harvest. The indication for harvest would depend on the type of plants you’re growing so you should get the right information on the plant before growing it.
To harvest, use a pair of scissors to trim away any excess stems and leaves to make it easier to take out the fruits of the plant you want to harvest. Ensure you follow through with the instructions for your specific plant type during the harvest time.