Growing with a Hydroponics Box
Nowadays, hydroponic grow boxes and kits are readily available to the public, and have a very wide price margin.
At the lowest end of the scale some kits offer little more than someone could make for themselves by gathering common household items. What they do include is the direction needed to get started. By including seeds, a tray, some nutrient and maybe even some pH testing strips, they suggest what hydroponic setup is needed to get started. If they’re nice, they’ll even include written instructions for you as well.
At the next level of the pricing scale, around a few hundred dollars, materials tend to be of higher quality. A tray that is specifically designed for hydroponics makes it easy to hold seeds in pre-drilled rockwool blocks that come with the kit. A small watering system might be included.
They also usually contain the right nutrients made of quality chemicals. That helps the novice hydroponics gardener get started in the right direction.Nutrient control is a little more difficult in hydroponic gardens and having a pre-mixed solution and clear directions gives your plants the best possible start.
The top of the line kits start to include lighting. Which lights, and how many, will depend on price and other factors. Simple incandescent bulbs are at the bottom of the price range while fluorescent fixtures tend to be a bit more, but are still reasonably priced. The top end lighting involves sodium lamps and metal halide – these types of lighting systems can run hundreds of dollars.
Those same higher-end kits will include a more elaborate watering system. This is generally due to the difficulty in moisture control, as the continual presence of water tends to increase fungi and mildew. Having a professional watering system will keep water always at the right level and clean of organisms and keep algae levels low.
Since plants are not placed in soil, they will quickly deplete any dissolved oxygen in the water medium. Fortunately, most of these kits will include a pump and tubing that will allow you to pump air into the water. In some cases you can get away with using a standard aquarium water pump, but the amount of air needed for plants is different than fish. Some kits even include a CO2 injector to give plants that extra boost of a compound that is so vital to their growth.
Most hydroponic grow boxes will include a pH testing kit, and the higher-priced ones will have a digital meter rather than simple strips. They also include pH control powders or solutions as part of the overall package. Some will even include a nutrient meter which can measure levels of needed calcium, iron and other compounds.
A good water heater is usually included as well as temperature control tends to be more difficult with hydroponic gardens. Heat lamps can work, however they heat the plant instead of the water sometimes causing damage that can be avoided. Installing and properly calibrating a water heater can keep the water warm all while avoiding damaging your plants.
Of course, with all of these parts, solutions, tubing, etc… hydroponics kits also include everything needed to put it all together. They also include hanging chains, strings for supporting plants and other useful items. For the most part, the kits are a complete hydroponics solution.