Here are some tips to help get you started!
1) Start growing in soil first. See if you can create and sustain an herb garden before moving into hydroponics. This will allow you to learn the basics while enjoying a successful growing experience. Jumping straight into hydroponics for the laymen can be discouraging do to the higher level of experience/education needed to be successful.
2) Research different hydroponic growing set-ups. I would encourage the first time grower to start with a “deep water culture” growing environment. These are very easy to set-up and require less oversight. Just google “deep water culture growing” via google and its pretty straight forward.
3) Grow lettuce or herbs first. Don’t try growing tomatoes or cucumbers in your first few attempts. These crops grow quicker and require less nutrients, lighting, and babysitting. I know it’s not as sexy but it will still look awesome when everything is growing well.
4) Buy fresh seeds that are not expired. Don’t use seeds that have been sitting around the house or garage. I would also encourage using organic seeds if possible. Research the seed variety requirements for germinating (its more complicated then you might think).
5) Use a growing medium that helps maintain moisture such as coco coir.
6) Research the amount of light needed for what your growing. Generally the more light (lumens) the better. Most people don’t have sufficient light and no matter how perfect everything else is their grow will fail.
7) Temperature and airflow are two frequently understated factors for a successful grow. Plants like certain temperatures for optimal growth. For instance, lettuce likes a cooler temperature in the low 70's F. Airflow is also important because it discourage fungus growth and encourages transpiration so be sure to have a fan lightly blowing across the leaves once they have reached that stage of growth.
8) Go to a local pet store and buy an aquarium air pump and air stone attachment for the water/nutrient basin (very affordable). It will keep the water oxygenated for the root systems. Oxygen is a lot like light in that root systems like a lot of oxygen particles in their nutrient solution.
9) Last but not least, I need to mention nutrients. The retail hydroponic nutrient market is dominated by fertilizer designed for indoor marijuana grows. Therefore, you will see a lot of 2/3 part nutrient programs for different stages of growth and most are not organic. It’s not necessary for you use a multi-part solution especially for greens. Many organic hydroponic growers that I work with use a mixture of fish emulsion, kelp, and OceanSolution minerals to create a natural solution. Keep a close eye on the parts per million of the nutrient solution. Leafy greens don’t like a strong nutrient density in their water especially when they are young. I would strongly encourage all hydroponic growers to use a TDS Meter to measure the total dissolved solids or part per million of the solution so you don’t burn the roots. They are cheap and fun because you can use them to measure things like your drinking water to see how much other stuff is in.
Good Luck. Growing anything is an adventure!
OceanGrown Team Member and Fellow Grower
ps Please don’t hesitate to reach out to members of our team with any growing questions you may have!