Having a vertical hydroponic garden is a great solution if you don’t have an adequate ground surface for all your planting needs.
The idea is similar to how people create skyscrapers or multistory buildings. Vertical farming is about stacking several layers of planting surfaces to allow cultivating more.
This concept is pretty popular among indoor hydroponics enthusiasts since they typically suffer from a lack of ground space to grow their plants.
If you are getting interested in creating a vertical hydroponic garden, the following information will help to make the most of it.
1. Basics of Vertical Hydroponics
In general, vertical farming refers to the way people grow crops in vertically stacked layers. This way you will have more space to cultivate your plants.
Meanwhile, vertical hydroponics is a mix of this perpendicular farming practice and a cultivation system that takes advantage of a nutrient solution instead of the common soil.
Thus, you will typically have a few hoarded levels in a vertical hydroponics system design. Then, there are going to be some plants grown on every story.
Vertical hydroponics is particularly popular for farming and gardening in urban areas like cities. If you are living in a small apartment and eager to grow some plants, this concept would be perfect.
Aside from being known as a vertical hydroponic garden, many also call it tower gardens and vertical grow systems.
The History of Vertical Hydroponic Systems
Interestingly, vertical gardening is nothing new since it has its roots from a long time ago. In around 600-500 BC, the Babylonians owned an identical concept when creating the Hanging Gardens.
This Ancient Wonder acquired shrubs, flowers, and even trees that cultivate in gigantic tiered gardens.
Nowadays, hydroponics seems to be an ideal cultivating system for vertical gardening. This is especially true because utilizing soil as a medium may improve the weight of the growing scheme.
For your information, hydroponics is capable to decrease the large weight of the higher layers by minimally 30%. As a result, you can pile more layers of plants in the vertical garden.
The primary challenge of a vertical hydroponic garden is in transporting enough water and nutrients, as well as light to every plant at the levels.
Previously, the Babylonians took advantage of water streaming from the mountains and manual screws to hose down the upper stories.
In modern times, people use water pumps to make this task much effortless. However, providing adequate light can still be a challenge, especially if you apply the system indoors.
If your hydroponic systems are placed outdoors, the ancient concept of utilizing staggered layers will not be impossible. However, it may require some additional costs to do so.
When it comes to an indoor vertical hydroponic garden, using properly positioned grow lights should be better choices for you to provide an ultra-compact as well as a high-yield cultivate system.
2. The Pros and Cons of a Vertical Hydroponic Garden
Before shopping around for vertical hydroponic systems for sale on the market, you better know the pros and cons of creating this kind of garden at home.
It is safe to say that many experts recommend vertical gardening for those who want to have a wonderful garden in a limited space.
They even consider vertical farming as the future of food production that can be done by everyone, despite their lack of space.
A Vertical hydroponic garden, in particular, allows you to grow more produce even in a narrow indoor area. As a result, it will be ideal in today’s urban life.
The Pros of Vertical Hydroponic Systems
One of the most common advantages of using hydroponic systems is that you don’t need to prepare any soil. Due to the absence of this medium, your vertical garden can accommodate more stories and plants.
Moreover, the lack of soil can also minimize the growth of pests and weeds in your garden. This cultivating system also makes the vertical garden more practical to do.
Building a vertical hydroponic garden is also efficient and encourages more productivity. In a surface space that is commonly used for one plant, you can grow three to four, or even more.
Then, it is possible to attain high growth by utilizing the appropriate lighting and the right nutrient mix for hydroponic systems.
Thanks to the closed water and nourishment flow system in vertical hydroponic towers, you will not experience runoff because the stream keeps circulating.
As a result, wastage of valuable nutrients and resources can be minimized in this cultivating system. The entire process might also be automated to lower the needs of maintenance.
Meanwhile, having a vertical hydroponic design also lowers the need for repotting your plants since they are not connected by roots.
You can easily plant both outdoors and indoors as well, providing a chance for year-round protection for particular varieties.
Simply set up the garden in sunny spots like the balconies, rooftops, or patios. Once established, you may enjoy enhanced crop yield and flavor.
The Cons of Vertical Hydroponic Systems
Nevertheless, a DIY vertical hydroponic garden also has some flaws and weaknesses. There are a few common challenges that you may experience when attempting to create this tower for the first time.
Most novice growers typically face water challenges when designing this unique garden. Since you will need to deliver the necessary nutrients and water to all plants, you may find it hard the most.
If your plants are stacked, you may need to have higher-powered pumps to allow water stream to the top layers. However, without careful design, your vertical hydroponic garden can fail because the lower levels get drowned.
The intensive resource is another challenge you may face when creating vertical hydroponic towers. The possibility of growing more plants vertically can also mean that the cost will scale eventually.
Extra mounting energy bills may increase since you will utilize motors and grow lights. Besides, the water is going to require continuous monitoring in hydroponics’ closed flow systems.
Moreover, there is also an issue of light supply when designing this vertical garden, especially if you put it indoors.
An outdoor vertical hydroponic garden can deal with this problem by utilizing a staggered design. Rather than stacking layers directly above one and another, it is possible to space them strategically.
But it can be tricky to make sure that each plant inside your house receiving the same quantity of light. You may need to install split grow lights for each level to solve the issue.
The good news is that the challenges of designing a vertical hydroponic garden are outweighed by the benefits, especially in an era when cultivable soil and land are getting more limited.
3. Some DIY Vertical Hydroponic Setups to Try
Luckily, you have the liberty to design vertical hydroponic gardens. The technique used for incorporating this cultivating method can be different following the setups as well.
When it comes to a vertical garden, the nutrient film technique is considered the best vertical hydroponic system for this cultivation method. The reason is that the practice is easier than other techniques like flow and ebb.
A continuous thin flow of water streaming over the root system of your plants is typically involved in nutrient film technique. This technique includes a closed, constant flow system that makes it ideal for vertical garden design.
Meanwhile, you can try the following DIY vertical hydroponic garden setups for the simplest as a first-timer.
A-Frame Hydroponic System
With the right instructions, it is pretty easy to assemble an A-framed vertical hydroponic system in your home.
The benefit of using this setup is that you can grow a huge number of plants in a narrow space due to higher production possibilities.
You will typically have a lot of pipelayers in this setup. Therefore, more tubes are needed too because the water flow should be in more than one direction.
Moreover, the pumping system tends to be a bit more complicated than usual. You can simply find a video tutorial on the internet that can help you assemble this vertical hydroponic garden setting.
Simple Stacked Hydroponic Setup
It is safe to say that this is the best vertical garden setups for beginners because the installation is pretty simple.
This setup requires you to stack several plants without any difficulty. Simply get the vertical hydroponic garden kit from a local gardening store and follow the easy instructions about how to assemble it.
To make it easier, consider finding a customized setup for a house or backyard garden. For a novice grower, this arrangement is worth trying because you can see how to handle everything properly.
Even though it is pretty easy to manage and assemble this setup, you still need to focus on several things such as the water flow as well as the additional light.
In a stacked hydroponic setup, the water flow needs to be regulated so that each plant obtains the provided water adequately.
You need to pay attention to the supplement of light as well since it requires careful supervision. Moreover, nutrient mix for the plants must be taken care of properly too.
As a consequence, you can successfully run the vertical hydroponic garden and will not be disappointed investing in this setup.
Zigzag Hydroponic System
Even though it is called vertical hydroponic systems, they don’t always need to use the tower design. You can also take advantage of PVC pipes and arrange them on a trellis frame to create a zigzag setup.
This vertical hydroponic garden is also space-efficient and promotes higher production. Besides, you can effortlessly design the setup yourself in the garden.
Compared to the previous setup, it may require a more complicated pumping system. However, once you understood the practice, this setting will be easy to operate.
You can use the nutrient film technique to grow your plants in this system. Thus, water and nutrients will be pumped to the crown pipe to flow down in a steady stream.
If you want to place the system indoor, additional lighting is typically the primary concern. The safest way to deal with this issue is to utilize manifold mounted lights to cover all the growing surfaces equally.
4.The Ideal Plants to Have in Vertical Hydroponic Settings
Some plants are more suitable to grow in a vertical hydroponic garden than others. Fast-growing ones are typically the best choices for many gardeners out there.
Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, chard, and kale are some of the best choices if you want to grow edible things in your garden.
Mustard and collard greens also make a perfect choice because they are easy to grow and allow you to enjoy the veggies in no time.
Other options include basil, cabbage, cilantro, dill, mint, broccoli, and chives. If you want to enjoy some fruits from your garden, consider planting strawberries, tomatoes, or cucumbers.
A variety of flowers will make a good option for your vertical hydroponic garden as well. It will be perfect if you prefer something more aesthetic to beautify the space.
If you opt for flowers, snapdragons, carnations, petunia, and peace lilies are pretty popular in hydroponic gardens.
You can also consider planting other flowering plants like hoya, dahlias, orchids, zinnia, and Rex Begonias to complete your vertical hydroponic garden.
Some of the mentioned flowers might need to be adapted to suit hydroponic cultures, so make sure you pick the right one before planting.
Consider asking your local nursery or nearby gardening store for flower seedlings that have been adapted to grow in hydroponic systems.
5. Final Verdict
Vertical hydroponics is like a blessing for urban dwellers that typically don’t have access to soil and space for growing things freely.
This system allows you to make the most of your limited space by significantly improve the productivity of both indoor and outdoor growing areas.
More interestingly, you can easily find numerous commercially readymade vertical hydroponic garden kits out there. It shows how many urban growers start to get interested in this system than ever.
Even though vertical hydroponics may elevate your input costs and is more complicated in some cases, the advantages do compensate for these limitations.
Finally, no doubt designing a vertical hydroponic garden is a perfect choice for a more sustainable future in these modern times.