Even YOU can grow plants hydroponically with ease, indoors!
I would like to share a few secrets that will have you growing giant basil leaves and monster heads of lettuce before you know it! Here are some examples of plants that I have been able to easily grow in my spare bedroom under a LED shop light:
Giant Hydroponic Sweet Basil:
Hydroponic Green Leaf Lettuce:
Hydroponic Red Chard:
Hydroponic Basil and Cilantro:
Here’s the good news: Once your hydroponic plants start growing, they will take off like a rocket and may grow faster than you can possibly consume them. I literally watched hundreds of hydroponic growing videos and boiled all of that knowledge down to a very simple system that always gets me fantastic results!
So, what am I doing? B.A. Kratkey from the University of Hawaii perfected a hydroponic growing method that does not require any pumps, moving water or electricity to produce amazingly fast growing and vibrant plants! I cheat a little and grow my plants indoors with a LED shop light that provides 14 hours per day of artificial sunlight. I like being able to control the environment my plants grow in and I love the fact that they are NEVER introduced to bugs or pesticides. The information presented on this website will explain how you can grow indoors year-round, like I do.
So, how does it work? My method is very simple and I have outlined it below:
(More pictures and videos will be added soon!)
Step 1: Acquire everything you need to get started. Many of the upfront costs are 1 time only. Once you have the basic supplies, they will last for a very long time. Visit the Supplies Page to see a complete list of the supplies you will need, along with links for where the items can be affordably purchased.
Step 2: Decide how many individual plants you would like to grow. Use scissors to cut out the appropriate amount of RockWool cubes. Fill a bowl with tap water and fully submerge the RockWool cubes in the bowl. Let the cubes soak for about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Remove each RockWool cube from the bowl and give them a swift shake to remove some (but not all) of the excess water. Nuzzle each cube into one of the holes in the Jiffy Greenhouse. The cubes are square on the bottom but the Jiffy Greenhouse holes are round. Don’t worry! Simply line them up over the round hole and push down with a little pressure. They will conform to the circular shape of the hole. I prefer to not use the peat pellets that come with the Jiffy Greenhouse because they will introduce dirt (peat) into the hydroponic nutrients we will be using later on.
Step 4: If your seeds are very small (like Basil seeds), dip a toothpick in water and then touch the toothpick to one of the seeds you want to plant. The seed should stick to the toothpick, making it easier to manage. You might not need the toothpick if your seeds large enough or if they are coated/pelleted. Place a seed about 1/4″ down into the hole at the top of one of the RockWool cubes. To get the seed to stay in place, push it to the side of the hole and rotate the toothpick until the seed stays in place. Some people like to place another seed into the same hole on the opposite side which can increase the odds that at least one of the seeds will germinate. If you’re using pelleted seeds (like the ones pictured here), I find that planting only one seed is sufficient.
Step 5: Use the toothpick to pick apart some of the RockWool that surrounds the hole and push it towards the center of the hole. Try to completely cover up the top of the hole by pushing the excess RockWool material towards the center of each hole.
Step 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have planted all of the seeds you desire.
Step 7: Place the clear lid onto the Jiffy Greenhouse and set the greenhouse aside somewhere warm (74-80 degrees). Some people like to place it on top of their refrigerator. I place mine on top of one of my desktop computers. Now it’s time to simply wait.
Step 8: Look at the greenhouse each morning. You will probably see lots of condensation on the lid. That’s OK because the seeds will use those conditions as a signal that it is time for them to germinate and grow. If you don’t see any tiny plants sprouting from the top of the RockWool cubes, re-cover the greenhouse and let it sit until the next morning. Repeat this step until your plants emerge from the top of the RockWool cubes. Some types of plants take 1-2 days while other take 8-12 days.
Step 9: As soon as you do see that one or more of the plants has breached the surface, it is time to put the the mini-greenhouse underneath your light source. Place the greenhouse within about 1 – 3 inches underneath the light so the plants will get enough light energy to grow without becoming “leggy”. Lift the top of the greenhouse a little and place it on crooked so that some air will be able to pass in and out of the greenhouse from the bottom.
Step 9: Make sure that your seedlings stay in close proximity to the light and give them at least 9+ hours of light each day. This is a very important phase in their life and you want to get them off to a great start! I use a LED shop light that is on a timer and it remains on for 14 hours every day. I bought a timer that automatically turns the light on and off each day. I like to keep things easy!
Step 10: Prepare a gallon of the hydroponic nutrient solution. Here’s how: Vigorously shake the bottle of General Hydroponics Flora Nova Grow nutrients, as stated in the product’s instructions. Take a clean 1-gallon milk jug (or water jug) and partially fill it with tap water. Add 1 teaspoon of the nutrient solution to the 1 gallon jug. Put the cap on the milk jug and shake it to mix the nutrient solution into the water. Fill the jug the rest of the way up with tap water and shake it again until the nutrients have been mixed thoroughly into the water. I discovered this easy method after watching lots of people on YouTube spend way too much time and effort trying to mix their own nutrients from scratch. You’ll thank me later! 😉
Step 11: Keep an eye on your seedlings. You don’t want your plants to dry out! Over the next few days, make sure that the RockWool cubes stay moist and don’t feel dry when you touch the top of them. If they do become somewhat dry, pour a small amount of the hydroponic nutrient solution into the bottom of the Jiffy Greenhouse tray and tilt the tray back and forth to distribute the liquid. The RockWool cubes will absorb the nutrient solution from the bottom, up.
Step 12: After a few days, lift up each RockWool cube and check to see if there are any roots growing through the bottom of the cube. If not, let the plants keep growing under the light. When you do see roots, it is time to move on to Step 13.
Step 13: Now that that the roots of your plant have penetrated the bottom of the RockWool cube, it is time to place each RockWool cube into the center of a 3″ net cup. Once it is in position, use some of the small clay pebbles to start filling in the gaps between the RockWool cube and the edges of the net cup. Adding clay pebbles will provide stability and it will help block out some of the light from shining down into the hydroponic nutrient solution, which will reduce algae growth.
Step 14: Remove the retaining ring and lid from one of the mason jars. Clean out the jar and make sure that you have rinsed it well so that none of the cleaning solution is present in the jar. Place one of the net cups from step 13 into into the top of the jar.
Step 15: Lift up the net cup and fill the jar with Hydroponic Nutrient Solution until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the bottom of the net cup remains submerged into the solution. At this point you can choose to screw a retaining ring onto the jar, or not. The ring is optional. Your jar will look prettier with the ring in-place, but later on it may present a problem if you ever need to remove the ring after the plant has fully grown.
Step 16: Place the mason jar under your the light source. The top of the plant should remain between 1-3″ from the light source for best results. I grow my plants indoors under LED lighting but some people may choose to place the jar outdoors in partial shade or on their windowsill. It is important that each plant gets an adequate amount of light throughout its growth cycle.
Step 17: Once you’ve made it this far, your plants will no longer require much attention. You just need to keep the plants within a few inches underneath the light source until they become big enough to harvest. You’ll see that the roots of each plant will start growing down into the jar. The nutrient level will begin to drop as the plants begin to consume the nutrient solution. It is OK for an air pocket to develop underneath the bottom of the net cup. Add more nutrient solution to the jar whenever the nutrient level gets close to the bottom of the jar or whenever the plant looks like it may be struggling.
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