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DIY Hydroponics - Building an Indoor Hydroponic Nursery


Building an indoor hydroponic nursery does not need to be a high budget affair nor does it need to be very complicated. Most indoor growers will agree that the nursery, which is the part of your hydroponics system devoted to raising seedlings or striking cuttings, will perform best if it is tended by hand. We have put together an example nursery that is cheap and easy to construct. It really has only two components, a flourescent light and a cutting box (humidicrib). In a three stage hydroponics system, where there are seperate sections of the garden devoted to nursery, vegetative growth and flowering, I tend to combine the nursery and vegetative stages of the system together. This approach doesnt suit everybody however, particularly the more enthusiastic growers who like to maximize space and go all out for yield.

The shopping list for our new nursery consists of the flourescent light fitting, two flourescent tubes and a humidicrib. We also need something to support the light and in true DIY spirit we have selected two milk crates for this critical task. The equipment we are using in our example was all purchased at our local hydroponic supplier and cost around $100 at the time of writing, except the milk crates of course. Our milkman is still looking for those.

Four Foot Flourescent Light for Raising Seedlings or CuttingsThe flourescent light fitting can be purchased from any hardware store or hydroponics supplier. A light purchased from a hydroponics supplier is more likely to be in a ready to use condition complete with power cord and plug so that you may simply plug it in. The particular light we are using comes complete with a reflector which certainly does a great deal to concentrate the light where we need it and takes two flourescent tubes. One of the tubes is a standard "cool white" which is commonly used in homes and factories etc around the world and it emits a strong light in the blue spectrum. The other tube is a Sylvania Gro-Lux which is a tube specifically designed for plant lighting and emits more light in the red spectrum. Both of these tubes combined provide light very similar in spectrum to the sun and ensure that the nursery gets light that is suitable for plants in the early vegetative stage. Purchasing a timer is an optional but wise investment to turn the light on and off every day. Your nursery will require about 18 hours of light per day and it is beneficial to the plants to have the light switch on and off at the same time every day.

Cutting Box or HumidicribSeed box, humidicrib, plant humidity chamber or cutting box, call it what you will these are handy things to have in the nursery. They are usefull for starting plants from seed but absolutely necessary if you would like to have a good success rate on your cuttings. The bottom of the cutting box is a tray and most of them come with a grille that fits inside it to keep your seedlings or cuttings off the bottom of the tray so that they can drain off. The top is clear to allow light inside and there are three adjustable vents so that you can control the humidity inside the cutting box. With raising plants from seed the vents are best left open so that the humidity is not too high. Cuttings on the other hand do not have root systems to start off so generally the top vent is left half open and the side vents fully closed until the plants start developing roots. Spraying cuttings with a fine mist of water using a hand sprayer is recommended for the first seven days as this will increase the humidity in the chamber and give the cuttings something to drink through their leaves until they have developed roots.

As previously mentioned, our light needs something to hold it up and milk crates were chosen for our example because they are made out of a food grade plastic and are quite inert. Organic objects like a couple of pieces of wood for example can be used but they are far more likely to harbour bacteria and mould and really should be avoided. Our hydroponic supplier sold as an optional extra some plastic coated metal frames to support the light however we felt this expense was unecessary.

Our Completed Hydroponic Nursery ready for PlantsSo here is our completed nursery ready for cuttings or seedlings. Perhaps its not the most impressive looking aparatus but it is very functional and very practical and demonstrates how easy hydroponics really is and how little effort and expense is required for good results.

Depending on your circumstances you may prefer to enclose the nursery to avoid light escaping. I havent done so here in our example and it will sit on top of the work bench quite happily while we use it. There are several advantages to enclosing the nursery, perhaps you are limited to one room for your gardening efforts and are growing plants that flower according to photoperiod or you may simply want to avoid detection. Care should be taken to ensure that the enclosure is well ventilated and a vent fan is a must for good results. I have seen identical setups placed inside old cupboards laid on their side with a vent pipe in one end and a vent fan and pipe placed in the other that work just fine.