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An example of vertically stacked hydroponic installation. A system like this would allow a person to be self-sustaining for vegetables in just a few square meters. This makes it particularly useful for urban settings.

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in nutrient-enriched water rather than soil.

Hydroponics is incredibly productive and requires little space. For example, Factor e Farm's experiments found that they could grow $1 of lettuce per square foot per week. And the Institute of Simplified Hydroponics has found that they can grow 2kg of vegetables a day on 20m2 of space [1]. Indoor growing in a greenhouse greatly reduces losses to pests.

There are 6 main techniques used in hydroponics. The Drip hydroponics system continuously drips nutrient solution onto the plants roots. The Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain) system floods the grow bed and hydroponics growing medium with a nutrient solution, then this solution slow drains back to the reservoir. Roots benefit from these periods of wetness and dryness. Deep Water Culture simply submerges roots in a nutrient solution. Less common hydroponics systems include the Wick System (where a fabric material wicks nutrient solution from the reservoir up to the roots), Nutrient Film Technique (where nutrient solution runs down long channels or tubes and passes over bare roots), and Aeroponics (where nutrients are administered via misting suspended and bare-rooted plants).

See here for free instructions on building several different hydroponic systems. N55 have a design for a vertical hydroponic system here. See Wikipedia on hydroponics for more information.

Open source software for automating hydroponic systems.

Aquaponics is a kind of hydroponics that uses the water from fish tanks. This eliminates the need for an input of nutrients. Also possible is to use containers filled with soil, stacked on top of each other.

Open-source hydroponic nutrient

You can mix hydroponic nutrient cheaply using mineral salts that most chemical suppliers have. The necessary ingredients are:

  • Monopotassium phosphate (KH2PO4)
  • Potassium nitrate (KNO3)
  • Calcium nitrate (CaNO3)
  • Magnesium sulfate (MgSO4)
  • Boric Acid (H3BO3)
  • Manganese chloride (MnCl2)
  • Zinc sulfate (ZnSO4)
  • Copper sulfate (CuSO4)
  • Iron sulfate (FeSO4)
  • Ammonium molybdate

Related OSE Wiki Pages


Open-source systems