Hydroponics Part II: How to Set Up a Hydroponics System in 8 Steps

Hydroponic farming is a fantastic way to cultivate plants because it does not require soil. This type of cultivation allows us to manipulate the growing environment in such a way to maximize production and minimize the use of resources. We now have the technology to grow food anytime and anywhere in the world. Despite the advanced technology, you can also learn how to set up a hydroponics system and have a small hydroponics garden even with little space.

But, if you are like me when I first became interested in hydroponics, I was a bit confused on where to start. Of course I consulted several references and read through them but it was also a lot of information. What I want to accomplish in this post is to give you a step-by-step guide on how to set up your first hydroponics garden. There will be other posts to explain lots of things in further detail. However, this guide will give you a good place to start.

1. Decide on what plants you want to grow

First decide on what plants you...

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Hyproponics Part I: An Introduction

If you have ever considered hydroponics, this post is intended to give you a general overview of the basic principles involved. There is a lot more to it than what is contained in this post. So if you are truly interest, then there are extensive resources available. However, this post will give you a good idea if this is something you want to attempt.

A brief history of hydroponics

Very simply put, hydroponics is growing plants without soil. This method of cultivation has a long history. Many people believe that growing plants in this manner started in ancient Babylon. This city had an elaborate system of hanging gardens that many people believe was a hydroponic system into which fresh water rich in oxygen and nutrients was regularly pumped.

Why it works

Contrary to popular belief, plants do not actually need soil to grow. The three things that plants need to grow is food, water, and air. Soil simply provides a structure or substrate to support the roots of the plants and provides a...

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How to Build a 600 Sq Foot Greenhouse for Less Than $5000


Growing your own food has numerous advantages. Produce is fresh, easily available, taste better, and is guaranteed to be organic. Growing your own also enables you to take another step toward self sufficiency and sustainability. However, if you live in a challenging climate, you may need to utilize a greenhouse in order to take full advantage of the growing season. 

That said, commercial greenhouses can be expensive. Depending on the size, you can easily spend $10,000.  You can get around that by a DIY project. In this post, learn how to build a 600 square foot greenhouse for less than $5,000.

Advantages to a Greenhouse

#1 Longer Growing Season

This is the obvious first advantage to having a greenhouse. You can easily extend the growing season even if you live in a cold climate. I happen to live at 10,000 feet elevation in Colorado. Having a greenhouse allows me to extend my growing season by 3 months.

#2 Protection from Bad Weather

There is nothing more disheartening than...

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How to Get Started with Chickens

Not only are chickens truly fun and amazing animals to raise they also provide a host of benefits to the family. The obvious benefits are fresh eggs and meat. Additionally, they provide manure for fertilizing the garden, loads of entertainment, as well as companionship. Raising you own food source will also restore a close connection to your food supply, the realization of which is often lost in our modern culture. But, if you are new at this, then this post will help you to get started with chickens. 

Having grown up with two working farms in my family, raising and processing our own food was a way of life. In fact, I never really gave it much thought. I figured this was what everyone did. It was not until I was in my teenage years that I realized it was actually more common for people to purchase their meat and other staple items from a supermarket. In fact in our modern culture, people think their meat comes from the supermarket, not the farm.  Consequently, it...

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Learn How to Fish

As with hunting, if you have never been fishing, this whole process may seem like a big mystery. This sport may seem complicated to first-timers but it truly does not have to be that way.  With some basic gear and the information in this guide, you will be out fishing in no time at all.  Just follow these simple steps and you will learn how to fish. 

Different Types of Fishing

There are numerous ways to go fishing. As with hunting, it is a matter of choosing the type of fishing you would like to do and keep things simple in the beginning. Just to emphasize this point, I did a simple search on the different types of fishing and here is what I came up with: 

  • Angling
  • Bank fishing
  • Bottom fishing
  • Casting
  • Drop linning
  • Fly fishing
  • Freshwater versus salt water
  • Hand lining
  • Ice fishing
  • Jigging
  • Long lining
  • Noodling
  • Slabbing
  • Spearfishing
  • Surface casting
  • Trapping
  • Trawling
  • Trolling
  • Trot lining
  • Private charters
  • Commercial fishing
  • Hand gathering
  • Handling
  • Netting

In case you...

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Learn How to Hunt

Hunting can be an amazing resource for you and your family.  It is possible to provide yourself with a lot of lean, healthy meat. It can even be turned into a family institution. Most people I know that are avid hunters, grew up that way as I did.  However, if you have no experience or you did not grow up that way,  you can learn how to hunt with a little time and patience. 

Hunting used to be necessary in order to sustain life.  However, in modern times it is truly a choice. Just as raising farm animals and then butchering those animals is not for everyone, the same is true for hunting.  Additionally, many avid hunters learned those skills from their early childhood years. However, the simple fact is that in our present culture many people reach adult years and have never shot an animal for food.

This article is intended to address that very issue. Learning these skills can be intimidating. Consequently, I suggest that you take your time....

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Guide to Fermenting Foods

If you mention fermenting foods most people typically think of wine and beer. Beyond these first thoughts of delightful fermented beverages, fermentation is a valuable method of food preservation that has been around for thousands of years. Fermenting foods allowed for longer storage in the absence of refrigeration.  In our modern times fermented foods are simple to produce, have excellent nutritional value, and require little effort to process.  However, similar to other methods of food preservation, in order to be successful you need to first have an understanding of the basic science that is involved.

Fermenting foods is one of the easiest methods of food preservation.  Very little equipment is required. The steps for successful fermentation are easy.


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Guide to Freezing Food

Freezing food is one of the easiest methods of preservation for the homestead. Due to the small learning curve this is an easy way to preserve food. Additionally it does not require a huge investment in equipment. Furthermore, modern refrigerators are already equipped with small freezers.  However, if you really want to store a decent amount of frozen food, invest in a chest freezer.  

Many types of foods are amenable to freezing.  It is simply a matter of proper packaging and sometimes a little pre-freezing preparation.  Freezing foods is likely the least labor intensive method of food preservation. That is the advantage. However, there are also disadvantages. 

Most methods of food preservation have a limited shelf life and this includes freezing food. This is especially true of meat. If you have ever tried to eat a piece of meat that has been in the freezer for 2 years you know what freezer burned meat tastes like.  It is still edible but not...

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Off Grid Refrigeration: Propane versus Electric

When I started living off the grid in 1996, my technology options were limited.  However, since that time, there have been many advances that make an off grid life much easier.  This is especially true when it comes to off grid refrigeration. Not only have appliances become much more efficient but there are also many more options. Two of the most common options for off-grid refrigeration are propane and electric. But how do you choose?

The decision between these two appliances should begin with a comparison of efficiency and the long term cost of operation. For the sake of comparison, I will discuss the energy consumption of an 8 to 10 cubic foot refrigerator. Household refrigerators range in size from 8 to 30 cubic feet.  An 8 to 10 cubic foot unit is sufficient for two people. Add about one cubic foot for each additional family member. 

Now let’s get started with our choices for off grid refrigeration.

Propane refrigerator

Unlike the electric...

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Off Grid Appliances: Options for Cooking Off Grid

Living off grid is fun and challenging. If you are so motivated, you can find creative ways to take care of all of your basic necessities.  Of course, one of life’s basic necessities is cooking, food storage, and maintaining a safe and sanitary food supply.  How do you cook off grid? How do you keep fresh food easily available?  Fortunately, there are numerous high efficiency off grid appliances.  Consequently, this makes it easy to prepare meals and have reliable efficient refrigeration. 

In today’s world there are various choices for off grid appliances. This is great because it makes living off the grid that much easier.    

Off grid cook stove 

If you are living off grid, there are numerous options for cooking meals.  The most energy efficient means is using an off grid appliance that requires a solid fuel source. This is especially true if you are producing your own electricity.  

An electric stove draws a huge...

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