Welcome to The Ultimate Guide to Hydroponics with MegaPot.
Our Team here at MEGAPOT have seen the fantastic results that growing hydroponically can yield and we want to spread the good word. Growing with Hydroponics is awesome!
Whether you’re new to the hobby or you’ve been gardening for years hydroponics is fast becoming the number one choice for increased yields and quality.
So, we put our heads together to give you the ultimate guide to using hydroponics, and everything you need to know about hydroponic knowledge.
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a technique of growing plants and vegetables. However, Instead of using the traditional medium of soil to supply the plant its nutrients, the plant is fed through a solution of nutrient rich water.
The plant’s root system is usually supported by some kind of inert medium such as coco coir, gravel, perlite or rockwool.
The word hydroponics is derived from two greek words ‘hydro’ meaning ‘water’ and ‘ponos’ which translates to ‘toil’ or ‘work’.
This perfectly describes what hydroponics is, as now the water becomes the main source of feeding your plants their nutrients.
Although you can grow hydroponically outside, the term in it’s more modern sense is typically used to describe growing plants inside using UV lights to simulate the rays of the sun.
How Does Hydroponics Work?
Hydroponics systems work by allowing the plant the ideal environment for them to thrive under. You supply the lights, the area for the plants to grow and all of the nutrient rich water the plant will need to grow big and strong.
There are many different methods of growing hydroponically, (Covered later in the article) but all share some common components such as:
- Growing Media – This is used to support the root structure of the plant and does not supply the plant with any nutritional value.
- Nutrients – Now there’s no soil supplying your plant with the nutrition it needs, you’ll need to substitute that with a nutrient rich solution, this will be fed to the plant through water it’s water delivery method.
- Water – I feel like this is a bit of an obvious one but, all plants need water.
- Lights – Lights will be required to provide the UV stimulus needed to create photosynthesis (That’s how your plant grows) there’s tons of different lights on the market that cater for all sorts of different sizes of grow room.
- Room to Grow – This can be summed up as somewhere for your plant to live, in most cases people opt for a grow tent, as they are easy to keep clean and allow for the optimum amount of light to hit the plant, as most will have a reflective inner.
- Air Circulation – Plants need constant fresh air, this is usually created with a series of fans, a typical setup would include at minimum one intake and one outtake fan would be required. Then a couple of fans inside the tent will be required to circulate the air round.
- Testing Apparatus – You won’t be able to get by without having some equipment to test your plant, feeding solutions and temperatures. So a thermometer will be needed in your grow room at all times and well as pH level meters. These test the ph level of your water, most plants thrive at a pH level around 6.5-7 pH.
What Are the Advantages of Hydroponics?
Here are some of the most common advantages of growing hydroponically.
- Grow Anywhere – One of the most common reasons people take up hydroponic gardening is because they don’t have the space for a ‘real’ garden. Some hydroponic setups can fit into a floor space of 2ft by 2ft, so even if you’re living in the smallest house in the world, you probably have space for a small hydroponic setup.
- Grow All Year – Because you’re growing your plants indoors means that you’re no longer subject to mother nature when it comes to planting your crops. This allows you to be able to grow your crops all year round.
- Less Pests – We won’t lie to you, pests can definitely be a problem with indoor gardens. However, growing plants inside does significantly reduce the risk of pest infestation. Not only that you have a greater ability to monitor your area and track any potential risks before they arrive.
- Harvesting is Easier – Harvesting can also be easier, having to deal with the elements whilst trying to preserve your precious crops is a headache you can do without.
- Complete Control – Growing inside allows you complete control of the environment. From temperature to the amount of light the plant receives every element your plant needs to survive and thrive is provided by you.
- Bigger yields – What every grower dreams of bigger yields, this is definitely possible and with enough care, attention and the right conditions this can be achieved with repetition!
How Much Do Hydroponics Systems Cost?
How much your hydroponics system will cost will very much depend on what plants you plan to grow and the area you have to grow in.
We’ve all seen videos on youtube of DIY options that report to be as cheap as £75 or lower but, ultimately they probably won’t keep you going past one harvest, even if you make it that far.
A Set up that would include lights, tent, fans, ph testers and other common apparel a hydroponics grower may need can be purchased for around £250 – £450, this would be the middle tier as far as price is concerned and probably the best choice to get most people started.
As with everything, there’s always bigger or more expensive brands, this is true in the hydroponics world too. Larger set ups or people who have to have the latest technology could see themselves spend upwards of £1000 to get their setup just right.
In the next part of this article we’re going to take a look at our revolutionary product the MegaPot and see how it could help take your indoor garden and harvests to the next level.
What Is The MegaPot System?
What Are The Features of The MegaPot System?
The MegaPot system is especially designed for growers who want all the benefits of a gravity fed system but prefer growing in fabric pots. Below we’ve compiled a list of the most usual features of the MegaPot system.
- Gravity fed – The MegaPot system is gravity fed, that means you won’t need any electricity to run pumps and the like.
- Fabric pot – The MegaPot system is compatible with fabric pots, which is by far one of the more popular containers for growing mediums.
- MegaValve – The MegaValve has a massive 10mm inlet hole, that allows the nutrient rich water to flow freely and prevents blockages.
- Circular Design – The circular design of the MegaPot system means that you can rotate your plant, this will help to let your plant have full light coverage and makes pruning your plants much easier.
- White reflective pipe – The white reflective pipe in the MegaPot system prevents light penetration and reduces temperatures.
How Easy Is It To Set Up A MegaPot System?
Actually, setting up the MegaPot system is incredibly easy. That’s how it’s been designed.
Below, we have compiled a list of all the components you’ll need to get your MegaPot garden started:
- MegaPot Module – Although we do supply the tray, valve and all the other MegaPot accessories separately, the best choice for those who are getting started would be the MegaPot module. The MegaPot module is available in a 39 and 56 litre size and contains the MegaPot tray, the MegaValve and the MegaValve Cover.
- White Pipe – This is the main pipe that will go from your water butt to the MegaPot Unit.
- Tee and Elbow Barbed – Allows you to feed multiple units at once as well as allowing you to get your piping around tricky corners.
- Water Butt/Reservoir – This is where the nutrient rich water is fed from and will have to sit above the area where your plant lives.
All the piping fits together with a push mechanism similar to the kind you would see on a hose pipe.
Other Items you will need to set up your first MegaPot grow are as follows:
- Grow Tent
- pH Meter
What Are The Benefits of A MegaPot System?
Now we’re going to take a look at the benefits you can expect when using a MegaPot system.
- Saves Space – As we mentioned earlier in the article hydroponics in general have become largely popular because you can grow your crops in a relatively small space and still get amazing results. Those amazing results can definitely be seen by those growers who utilise the MegaPots compact design to maximise their results.
- Uses Less Water – Another reason hydroponic growing has become wildly popular over the recent years is that it can use up to 90% less water over traditional methods of growing plants. Then also factor in the fact that the MegaPot system ensures you’ll never waste a drop of water more than you need to and this little tray starts to pack a real punch.
- Less Risk of Pests – One of the main contributing factors to a grow room becoming infested with pests is waste water and plant matter being left in the area. With the MegaPot waste water as we’ve already mentioned becomes a thing of the past and pruning your plants is easy as the circular design allows you to rotate the plant as required.
- Optimised Growing – Because you’re not wasting any of the feeding water and the root structure of the plant doesn’t have to fight its way through soil it can become big and strong much quicker than you could expect otherwise.
- Scaleable – The circular modular design of the MegaPot allows you to scale your garden from 1 to 100s of pots. We now also offer the MultiPot which offers 4 MegaPot modules in one tidy unit!
How Much Does A Megapot System Cost?
The 39 litre MegaPot module which is suitable for one plant costs £45 per module, with that you’ll also need at 1 package of the white pipe £30 a couple barbeds £1.50 and a fabric pot £3.50 so for a setup that you could grow one plant in (mind you it’ll be a pretty large plant) you’d be looking to spend £80.
Other cost factors you will have to consider include :
- Watertank – you can find flexi water tanks on ebay and amazon for around £40 at the time of writing.
- Grow Tent(s) – Your grow tent is one of the most important pieces to your hydroponic puzzle, we’d recommend not to cheap out and look at some of the tents in the £80-£150 regions. Although if you are working on a budget you can find tents online for around £50 that would fit a 2ft by 2ft space.
- Lights – When looking at grow lights online you can see some options that are as low as £25 they almost certainly won’t be strong enough for the sort of thing you want to grow if you’re using the MegaPot. Making sure that your light can go full spectrum and being able to switch
- Intake/Exhaust Fans – you’ll need a couple of these one for the intake and one for the exhaust which are priced in the £30 region.
- Oscillating fans – as we’ve previously covered you’ll need a couple of fans to circulate the air in the grow room, a 10 inch model which would be the sort of size you’d be looking at costs around £25.
- Nutrients – There’s lots of nutrients on the market currently prices vary wildly but, you can get some small starter packs for around £30 each.
Although you’ll find yourself needing a few extra things such as a thermometer or pH testers everything we’ve covered here is enough to get you started with the MegaPot system and begin your green fingered journey to growing your own crops.
In the next part of this article we’re going to show you how to put this hydroponic garden setup yourself!
For more information on the MegaPot visit The MegaPot Store
What Is Hydroponic Gardening?
How To Build A Hydroponics Garden
When it comes to building your own hydroponics garden you might not know where to start, as there’s so much conflicting information on the internet about the subject. Not only that but, there are several different methods of growing hydroponically (Covered in the next article).
So, we’re going to walk you through the steps of building your own hydroponics garden using the MegaPot system.
- Assemble the Tent – Now you don’t necessarily need a tent, we’ve seen people use small bathrooms, cupboards and even old computer cases to house their hydroponic gardening projects. We would definitely recommend getting a tent. Tents are already built for the purpose and they’re easy to install.
- Hang the Light – Some lights do come with an adjustable pulley attachment that allows you to fix it to the top of the tent. The pulley allows you to move the light up and down accordingly, allowing the perfect amount of space between the plant and the light source.
- Install the Intake/Exhaust Fans – Another area where having a tent meant for the purpose of growing hydroponically will help as the holes for the fans are already there and usually have a drawstring that allows you to tighten the tent around the fan. This prevents unwanted guests visiting your garden and stops light escaping from your tent.
- Add Circulation Fans – now it’s time to add your circulation fans to the garden. Most of the smaller fans have attachments that allow you to hang them from the side of a tent pole, which is a great space saver especially for those working in a 2ft by 2ft grow area.
- Install The MegaPot System – installing the MegaPot is really easy, all the pieces either push together or use a simple screw mechanism. The water tank needs to be situated outside and above of your grow area, to allow the gravity fed components to fully work.
- Plug it In – Now everything is installed plug your lights and fans in the electricity to check everything is working in the manner you desire. Getting a timer to turn the lights on and off will probably be required after a time, unless you can spare the time to turn off the lights and switch them back on again, everyday at the same time. Now would be a good time to fill your water tank up and check that you don’t have any leaks.
- Grow Your Crops – Now that you’ve got your hydroponics garden running smoothly and the temperatures are where they need to be, it’s time to add your seeds or cutting to the mix and begin your hydroponic journey!
What Are The Benefits Of A Hydroponics Garden
As we mentioned in the prior article there’s a lot of crossover between using the MegaPot system and hydroponics in general, as they’re the same thing.
Here is a list and a reminder of the most compelling benefits of having a hydroponics garden:
- Cleaner / Fewer Pests
- Uses Less Water
- Larger Crops
- Crops All Year Round
How to Use A Hydroponics Garden
Now we’re going to take a look at how to use a hydroponics garden and what your day by day might look like as a hydroponics gardener.
Lights On/ Lights Off – Most people will get a time to do this bit, but as long as you’re timely with the turning on and off of the lights (plants like consistency) you shouldn’t have to worry. When you turn your lights off, opening your tent a small bit (keep it dark) will help to circulate the air especially if you’re working in a small space.
Constant Monitoring – Keeping a regular eye of your crops is a definite must, you don’t need to be watching it 24/7 but, checking your plant over every couple of days (especially as you come to the end of the life cycle) is suggested.
Regular Feeding – If you’re using the MegaPot system you won’t need to worry too much about the feeding part, instead you’ll be concentrating on making sure your water tank is full and that the feeding water is being delivered into the pot how it should be. Don’t forget to pH check all of your water before every feed. Feeding your plant the wrong pH water can lead to the plant having deficiencies and not being able to grow to its full potential.
If you’re not using the MegaPot system then you may be wondering when to know it’s time for a feed? Proven methods of checking your plants are ready to be fed include:
Lifting the Bag – if it’s light it’s time for a feed.
Using a Soil Dampness Meter – These can be purchased from your local hardware store, although maybe not the most accurate way of telling your plant needs watering.
Regular Pruning – This is one that will really depend on the plant you’re growing, but pruning your plant can in lots of cases, help to encourage growth and is a great way to get rid of any leaf material that may be dying away. If you’re finding a few leafs at the bottom of your plant that are yellowing it’s probably a sign that the bottom isn’t getting enough heat, so removing the deadweight and pruning a few from above will help the whole plant to receive the optimal amount of light penetration.
Is It Expensive to Use Hydroponics?
Ultimately the most costly part of having a hydroponics setup is getting everything in the first place. The setup we went over in the last article would cost you around £430-£500 all together, depending on what brands you choose for the lights etc. (This figure does not include nutrients)
The day to day cost of having a hydroponics garden will definitely be felt though once you start growing your own crops and seeing the fantastic results that growing hydroponically can produce.
In the next chapter, we’re going to cover the different methods of hydroponics system that are available to green fingered growers across the globe to aid your decision when choosing which hydroponics system is best for you.
What Are The Different Types Of Hydroponics Systems?
The Different Types of Hydroponic Systems, explained.
As we mentioned earlier in this guide, there’s several other ways to achieve a hydroponics garden, along with the MegaPots gravity fed system.
Now we’re going to take you through the other main types of hydroponic systems you could consider before beginning your hydroponic journey.
- Drip systems – a top choice of commercial growers and growers who want to have a larger hydroponic garden. This works by having the plant base sit above a reservoir of nutrient rich water. The water in the reservoir is then a water pump draws the water up and drips it into the growing medium or root base. Drip systems can be circulating or non circulating in their water flow, since the flow rate on drip systems can be adjusted this is a great choice for any plant of any size.
- Wick System – A wick system is one of the more ancient and therefore the most basic methods of hydroponic growing. It uses what is called a passive system (this means there’s no electricity being used) to draw the nutrient rich water up through a series of wicks from the reservoir to the plant’s root base. Wicks are commonly made of nylon. This method is ideal for smaller plants whilst larger plants may well struggle.
- Deep Water Culture – Deep water culture works by suspending the roots of the plant into the water reservoir below. The water is then aerated with pumps and air stone. This method is known to work well with plants that have a larger root base. Deep water culture is quite notable because it can produce some amazing growth rates in the right conditions, although potential issues can arise with the development of root disease if your growing room isn’t kept sterile
- Nutrient Film Technique – NFT uses air pumps to pump the water from the reservoir below that are then carried into small channels that the ends of the root zone hang into. The nutrient rich water is then circulated through the channel, washing a thin film of water continuously through the roots tips. Most growers use net pots to suspend the root zone as it allows the nutrient rich water to flow past perfectly.
- Ebb and Flow – Sometimes called the flood and drain method, ebb and flow works by flooding the grow bed with nutrient rich water, this water then drains back into the reservoir below and can be circulated round on a timer or manually. Ebb and Flow has been found to be effective ast growing all sorts of different plants, but larger plants might not do as well with this method. Root vegetables like radishes and carrots are known to do particularly well.
- Aeroponics – Aeroponics takes the ideas of the drip system and expands upon it by making the system pump mist the root area, which now hangs directly above the nutrient rich water tank. This is by far one of the more difficult systems to operate although, people who have mastered the technique do report some amazing results. Another reason aeroponics is of note is due to the fact that it uses significantly less water than other hydroponic methods. Aeroponic systems can be costly to build and systems are known to clog easily, so growers beware.
Which Hydroponics System Should I Use?
When looking at which method of hydroponics you should use, each has its own merit and probably deserves some consideration.
For instance if you’re a small hobby grow then the deep water culture or wick systems as they take very little setup. If you were looking to grow a wide variety of different plants or a large number of plants then a drip or NFT system could be the direction to go in.
However, if you’re looking for a solution to hydroponic gardening that is easy to set up, monitor and maintain while still producing those killer crops you‘ve been yearning for then we would definitely suggest the MegaPot or MultiPots gravity fed modules are by far the best choice for beginner and experienced gardeners alike.
The MegaPots gravity fed system can grow a wide variety of crops and is ideal for growing within a small amount of space. It’s circular design allows you to rotate your plant for maximum light penetration and the side walls are tapered to allow you a complete pruning experience.
The MegaPot system is perfect for those growers who want the fantastic results hydroponic growth can produce while still having the convenience of growing with grow bags!
If you would like to learn more about the MegaPot, we publish frequent articles and updates on our MegaPot news section.
Is Growing With Hydroponics Difficult?
During this article we’ve spoken lots about the cost and how to set up your hydroponics garden, but is growing hydroponics difficult?
The answer is No! Hydroponic gardening especially with the MegaPot is actually very easy to set up and maintain.
As with all things in this world with more repetition comes experience, so although you may not end up with the harvest of your dreams this time around, there’s every chance you can take that experience and use it to grow a larger crop in your next cycle.
In many respects hydroponic gardening is no more difficult than traditional gardening, however hydroponic gardening can produce results that can ever be produced in the wild and you can do it all year round! If you take these factors into consideration I’m sure you’ll agree that hydroponic gardening would be a great hobby for you and a great way to put some fresh fruit on your families table.
After reading all that we’re sure you have lots and lots of questions! So, in the final part of this article we’re going to take a look at some common questions that first time growers find themselves asking when they start hydroponic gardening.
Can Anyone Grow With Hydroponics?
As we come to a close on this article we thought it would be a good idea to answer some of the most common questions we come across from beginner growers.
Common Questions About Hydroponics
What PH Should I Have For My Plants?
Every plant is different and some certainly do like their feeding water to be slightly more acidic than others, however a general rule of thumb would be that a pH level of 6.0 – 7.0 would be about right for most plants that you would find in a hydroponic garden.
When Should I Have My Lights On?
This one will totally depend on what sort of plant you plan to grow in your hydroponic grow area. There are three main types of plant they are as follows.
Short Day Plants
Short day plants require less than 12 hours a day to produce flower. If they are over exposed to the light source it is likely that the photosynthesis will not take place as they require long dark periods to achieve this. These plants usually flower in the springtime in the wild. Notable short day plants that are hydroponic favourites include strawberries, chrysanthemums and cauliflower to name a few.
Long Day Plants
Long day plants require up to 18 hours of sunlight per day. Notable favorites include wheat, lettuce, spinach, turnips and potatoes.
Day Neutral Plants
These plants would be described as more flexible when it comes to the amount of time they need in the sun. Some notable day neutral hydroponic favourites include roses, eggplants and rice.
Some plants also require for the lighting schedule to change in order for the flowering phase to begin, just like our favourite high value crops, this essentially replicates the time of year that the plant would be planted in the wild.
Why Are The Leaves Turning Yellow?
Yellowing leaves are quite common and the more experienced growers out there might not even batter an eyelid at catching a few yellowing leaves and pruning them away. However if you do find some yellow leaves what could it be?
- Not Enough Light – If you’re finding the yellowing leaves at the bottom of your plant the likelihood is that there isn’t enough light getting down there for that part of the plant to thrive. Doing some light pruning to your plant will definitely help. Some people swear by using pruning shears for this task, personally we’ve seen that lead to infections in the plant. A more natural way to prune yellowing leaves away from the plant is to simply pull it away. Make sure you don’t jerk your whole plant around while doing this, as you don’t want to cause it shock which will eventually stunt its growth. Another thing to consider if you find yellowing leaves at the bottom of your plant is that it is just part of the plant’s life cycle and those leaves are no longer needed.
- Too Much Light – however if you’re finding yellowing leaves, maybe even leaves with holes in at the top of your plant, that’s a pretty good sign that your light is positioned too close to the plant and is burning it. We recommend always consulting the light manufacturers guidelines when positioning any lights in your grow room.
- Over watering – Over watering is another common cause of yellowing leaves in plants, as we mentioned earlier on in the article if you’re not using the MegaPot system then a good way to check if your plants need watering is to simply pick up your grow bag and feel if it’s heavy.
- Nutrient Deficiencies – If you’re new to hydroponic growing then adding a little bit too much nutrient to your plant can cause your plant to have nutrient deficiencies or what the more experienced grower might call nutrient burn. A simple way to prevent this from happening is to follow the nutrient manufacturers guidelines when it comes to feeding amounts of their product, those guys are the professionals they know how to get results. If you do have a nutrient problem simply flushing your plants root base out with fresh Ph leveled water will help bring your plant back to a stable place.
- Root Disease – A by product of over watering root disease is known to cause yellowing of the leaves. Unfortunately if you find that your plant does have root disease it’ll be best to cut your losses and start fresh.
- Pests – If you have pests of some description, the likelihood will be that there may well be other signs present either on the plant or inside your grow area. However many pests that are found in hydroponic gardens are known to eat away and leave dead looking leaves behind.
What Crops Can You Grow With Hydroponics?
When looking at what sort of crops can be grown using a hydroponic setup, you may well be quite surprised! We were when we first saw the sheer amount of different plants that can be grown using hydroponic technology.
Many people find great success growing vine based plants such as tomatoes and peppers. Other notable plants that can be grown using a hydroponic system are cucumbers, spring onions, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, basil and coriander (pretty much all herbs).
Although here in England growing high value crops is illegal, many people in the US and other countries where growing is legal for medical consumption, have found fantastic results using hydroponic systems.
Conclusion: The Ultimate Guide to Hydroponics with MegaPot
So to conclude, can anyone grow hydroponics? As we’ve discovered throughout this article there are loads of different ways a budding hydroponic gardener can get their fingers green. However if you’re looking for a hydroponics system that is easy to install and maintain then you won’t go wrong with the MegaPot and MultiPot systems.
Whether you’re planning on growing one big plant or lots of big plants the modular design allows you to add as many units as you need!
Megapot is the intelligent solution for growers who still want to use grow bags but NEED all the benefits that hydroponic growing can give.
If you’ve enjoyed reading The Ultimate Guide to Hydroponics with MegaPot, you may enjoy more of our articles below:
The Top 10 Ways to Avoid Pests and Disease with MegaPot
What is The Best Hydroponics System on The Market?
Top 10 Tips On How To Improve Your Hydroponics Garden