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Nutrient Film Technique Hydroponic Systems

Nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponic systems have a growing receptacle, a tank for the water and nutrient solution, a timer and a small aquarium pump. The plants are suspended inside the growing tray so only the tips of the roots touch the thin stream of water and nutrients running below. The water pump must be cleaned frequently to prevent salt and hard water deposits from building up. If the pump becomes too clogged and shuts down, the plants can die very quickly in an NFT hydroponic system.

NFT Hydroponic System Growing Tray

Place a shallow plastic tray on top of a sturdy table. Do not use clear plastic for the growing tray as this will expose your plants' roots to light. Set a piece of scrap wood or a phone book under one end of the tray so the water will run down toward the drain. You can also use four-inch diameter PVC tubes instead of a grow tray for your nutrient film technique hydroponic garden. Glue a PVC cap onto each of the open ends to create a watertight tube.

Set the bottom of a net pot on the lid of your grow tray. Trace around the pot with a permanent marker. Repeat this process to draw a hole for each plant you plan to grow. Leave at least six inches between each hole. Use a hole saw bit and electric drill to cut the holes. Drill a one-half inch wide hole in the lid at the end opposite the drain hole you made in the previous step.

Nutrient Film Technique Tube Setup

Use the hole saw to drill a three-and-one-half-inch diameter drain hole at one end of the growing tray. Insert a three-and-one-half-inch PVC drain fitting into the hole. Make sure the rubber seal is securely mounted inside the tray. Set a deep plastic container under the drain tube. This will be your NFT hydroponic system's water reservoir.

Measure the distance from the small hole in the growing tray lid to the bottom of the water reservoir. Add six to eight inches to this measurement and cut a piece of one-half inch rubber tubing to fit. Attach one end of the tubing to the water pump and insert the other end into the lid of the growing tray.

Pour water into the reservoir until it is 60 to 70 percent full. Place the pump in the water and plug the power cord into the timer. Plug the timer into an electrical outlet and turn it on to check the hydroponic system for leaks. Once you are satisfied with the system's operation, set the timer for your desired on and off cycles. Place a net pot into each hole in the growing tray lid. Mix your choice of hydroponic nutrients according to the product label and add the mixture to the water reservoir.

Use a watering can to water the tops of the net pots until the plants' roots are long enough to reach the water at the bottom of the growing tray. Anchor the stems with sticks, netting or string if you are growing heavy or tall plants. NFT hydroponic systems do not offer much root support and large plants will fall over as they grow.

Related Nutrient Film Technique Articles

Read more about building your own nutrient film technique hydroponic gardening system:

Setting Up Your Own NFT Hydroponic System
Nutrient Film Technique
The Easiest Homemade Hydroponics System
Hydroponics Supplies for the Ebb and Flow System
Basic Indoor hydroponics Gardening Guide - Garden Climate Controller