Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that uses water with nutrients in place of soil. It’s a useful way to grow indoors because it’s cleaner. Hydroponic farming with kids requires some equipment and basic knowledge, but it’s not difficult and teaches many valuable lessons.
Hydroponic Gardening at Home
Hydroponics can be a major operation, including growing food with hydroponic farms on a large scale, but also a fun home project that is simple and easy. With the right materials and knowledge, you can scale the project to a size that works for you and your kids. Here’s what you need:
- Seeds or transplants. Start with plants well adapted to and easy to grow in a hydroponic system, like greens, lettuces, and herbs. Order hydroponic starter plugs if starting from seed. This makes the whole process easier.
- Container for growing. You can make your own hydroponic system, but it may be easier to buy containers already designed for this purpose.
- Growing medium. You don’t strictly need a medium like rockwool, gravel, or perlite, but many plants do better with it. The roots of the plant should not be in the water at all times.
- Water and nutrients. Use prepared nutrient solutions for hydroponic growing.
- A wick. Usually made of cotton or nylon, this draws water and nutrients up to the roots in the medium. Exposed roots in the medium allow them to get oxygen from the air.
Hydroponic Farming for Children
If you’re not practiced at growing plants this way, start with a small project. You can simply grow some food or turn it into a science project. Kids and hydroponic farming make a great match for testing different variables like medium, nutrient levels, and type of water.
For a simple hydroponic grow plan for starting out with kids, use a few 2-liter bottles as your grow containers and pick up the medium, wicks, and nutrient solution online or at your local garden store.
Cut the top third of the bottle off, turn it upside down, and place it in the bottom part of the bottle. The top of the bottle will be pointing down into it. Pour a water-nutrient solution into the bottom of the bottle.
Next, add the wick and the growing medium to the top of the bottle. The wick should be stable in the medium but threaded through the neck of the bottle top so that it is dipped into the water. This will pull water and nutrients up into the medium.
Either place a transplant’s roots into the medium or situate a starter plug with seeds in it. The water will begin to rise while the roots remain partly dry, taking in oxygen. In no time, you’ll be growing veggies.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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