What is Hydroponics
Many people associate gardening with three things: soil, a huge space, and hard work. While this may be mostly accurate, there is an alternative way of growing a lush and productive garden without the need for at least two of these. This is called hydroponics gardening. Many might even say it’s less hard work than a traditional garden. There’s no digging, bending, weed tending that sounds easier to me.
So that’s our topic for today, we’ll talk about what it is and how you can use it to grow a vegetable garden at home. Let’s get started!
In essence, this way of gardening is growing plants without embedding them into soil. It replaces soil with a water-based and nutrient-rich solution and a growing medium to support the root system such as perlite, coconut coir, rockwool, expanded clay pellets, growstones, vermiculite, or started plugs.
It is hinged on the idea that if plants are supplied with water that contains all the necessary material to grow and if it can be supported by another material, then soil becomes unnecessary.
There are simple elements you need for a successful garden grown this way. This includes:
- Nutrient solutions. This is a water-based mix of macro and micro nutrients your plants need.
- Grow lights or sunlight. This supplies your plants with sufficient light to perform photosynthesis.
- Growing medium. This supports your plants and helps transfer nutrients into the roots.
- Grow tray. This is the container that holds your plants in place.
- Air pump. This mechanism provides the roots of your plants with oxygen.
- Reservoir. This contains the water and nutrient mix your plants need to grow and survive.
- Submersible in water pumps. This helps deliver nutrient solutions to the grow tray depending on the type of system you use.
While this may sound like a futuristic concept, there is evidence that this system of cultivating ornamental and crop plants has been around for centuries. Think the hanging gardens of Babylon.
Today, it’s a popular alternative to growing local produce in areas where there is little to no growing space or where soil and weather conditions aren’t ideal for growing plants.
There are many advantages that include:
- No need for soil. The obvious benefit of this type of aquaculture gardening is it does not require any soil. This means you can have a garden even if the soil conditions in your area aren’t ideal or if you live in an urban setting with limited gardening space.
- It saves space. If you’re an urban dweller but would like to grow as many plants as you can then hydroponics system gardening is for you. You don’t have to be confined to container gardening. You can grow more plants. Without worrying about overcrowding.
- It saves water. Hydro growing lets you use less water than conventional gardening. Your plants will only use the water they need and the rest will be saved in the reservoir until they need it. This means you don’t have to worry about under watering your plants.
- No weeds. One of the most time consuming aspects of growing a traditional garden is removing weeds. With aqua-gardening, you don’t have to worry about weeds because the only things that will grow in your garden are the plants you intend to.
- Less pests and diseases. Growing plants hydroponically limits the chances of any soil-borne diseases and pests wreaking havoc in your garden.
- Faster plant growth and plant root growth. Many believe that the setup used in this type of gardening is more efficient for growing crops. If you’re into growing your own food, then this can mean you can harvest what you’ve planted faster.
- Bigger yields. According to scientists, hydro gardens produce higher yields than soil-based gardens. This is an ideal situation particularly if you’re growing a vegetable garden for a community.
There are six main types of systems hydroponic growers use including wick systems, deep water culture (DWC), nutrient film technique (NFT), ebb and flow or flood and drain, aeroponics, and a drip system.
The wick system is the simplest system. Here, the nutrient solution is pumped from the reservoir up to the plants using a wick or similar material. Capillary action brings the nutrients to the growing media where the roots of the plants can siphon it.
DWC involves submerging the roots of plants into the nutrient solution. Plants are held in hanging net pots and are held by a floating Styrofoam platform.
NFT continuously flows nutrient solutions onto the growing tray that’s slightly turned downward. This allows the excess solution to drain back into the reservoir to be pumped back again into the growing tray.
Ebb and flow system uses a timer to pump nutrients from the reservoir into the growing tray. After a certain period, the solution drains back down to the reservoir.
Drip systems also use a timer to pump nutrients into the plants. They use drip lines to drop minute amounts of water into the plants. The overflow is then allowed to drip back into the reservoir.
Finally, aeroponics does not use growing media. Instead, plants are hung in the air and are and constantly sprayed with nutrient water.
Hydroponics is an excellent way of growing both crops and ornamentals at home. It is an alternative technique that lets you grow a lush and productive garden even if you don’t have access to a big backyard or soil.
All you need are some basic pieces of equipment and ample knowledge and soon, you’ll be on your way to hydroponic plants success.
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