3 Types of Hydroponic Garden Systems

Newcomers to hydroponic gardening are often overwhelmed by the plethora of different choices available in the field of hydroponic garden systems. Let’s try and narrow those choices down a little by concentrating on three popular versions of hydroponic garden systems namely NFT, Ebb and Flow or the Drip system.

Nutrient Film Technique System (NFT)

First introduced in England in the 1970’s by Dr Allen cooper, the nutrient film technique or NFT was intended to be a large scale, cheap hydroponic garden system suitable for areas that had no arable land. The NFT system works by exposing the plants root systems to a constant flow of nutrient rich solution.

All the plants nutritional needs are filled by absorbing nutrients from this solution through the root system. The constant feeding pattern produces accelerated productivity, but can also cause plant starvation due to the lack of a buffer in the form of a medium. In addition, larger plants require trellis support because of the lack of medium.

Ebb and Flow system

One of the most common hydroponic garden systems is an ebb and flow system. This system consists of individual medium filled containers that are laid out in growing beds. These growing beds are flooded at regular intervals to supply the plants in the containers with nutrient rich water.

The beds are drained after each wash to provide the root systems with oxygen. The medium in the containers acts as a buffer, trapping nutrients in the root systems of the plants. It also supports the plants doing away with the need of external support methods.

See also  Perennial Food Garden Series - Lovage

Drip or Top Feed System

In this hydroponic garden system, nutrient solutions are fed from a reservoir via a pump and tubing to a hose suspended above the plants. The solutions are then dripped or lightly sprayed directly onto the growth medium.

Once the water has percolated through the medium and over the plant roots, it exits and flows back to the reservoir completing the circuit. This system can use a variety of growth mediums and is versatile and reliable with low maintenance.

When choosing a hydroponic garden system there are no hard and fast rules about which system to choose. The choice depends largely on the types of plants you want to grow, the amount of space you have and personal preference.

Gardening center will be able to give the prospective hydroponic gardening enthusiast advice on which hydroponic garden system would suit their needs.

Try and keep in mind that it is counter productive to get a hydroponic garden system that is bigger or more sophisticated than you need. This will lead to water and energy wastage, additional labour and time costs and will take up unnecessary space.

Keep it simple to begin with. Get a system that will allow you to extend it as your needs change. These types of hydroponic garden systems are the most flexible and cost effective ways of starting out with hydroponic gardening.