Hydroponic Gardening Information

hydroponic garden
You have spent time research hydroponics and you have your homemade or your store-bought kit ready to grow plants. This is a fun way to grow your favorite plants and you can be sure that your entire family will want to learn how to garden with you.

As mentioned, this type of gardening is not an exact science. It takes time and patience to get it just right and no two gardeners will ever get the same results. You know that the results that you get will depend on many things including the system that you are using, the amount of time you are putting into your gardening project and the climate of your area.

While hydroponics is not an exact science, there are some things that you can do to find more success with this adventurous gardening.

Here are some tips for your hydroponic garden:

• Choose the right plants:

It may go without saying, but choosing the right plants will go a long way in hydroponic success. There are things that do better with this type of gardening. These include many varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, herbs, and cucumbers. Of course, you can try other plants and may find that you get good results, but if you are just starting out, it is recommended that you stick with the basics.

• Give the plants support:

Even hydroponically grown plants need support, especially plants like vine tomatoes. You can anchor the stems with plastic or you can give your plants support by using vermiculite, rock wool, or gravel.

• Oxygen is the key:

Plants that grow hydroponically depend on oxygen. You have to have it. Air pumps and aquarium bubbles are good choices for hydroponic gardens. This will aerate your plants and give you better results.

• Use products made for hydroponics:

There are many gardening products on the market, but your best bets are the ones that are specifically made for this type of planting. This is especially true for fertilizers and nutrients.

• Monitor the pH levels:

You have to keep a close watch on the pH levels of your hydroponic plants. You should maintain a pH level of 6.0 at all times.

• Watch the roots:

Your roots are very important to the success of your plants. If you allow the nutrients to drop to the lowest levels every now and then, it will promote oxygenation. This will help your plants really thrive.

• Change the solution:

It is a good idea to change the hydroponic solution every 14 days. This will help you replenish the nutrients.

• Use your aquarium for hydroponics:

You have seen plants grow in aquariums before-this is hydroponics. Fish in your tank will help provide your plants with nutrients helping them grow and thrive. If you have a pump, this will give your plants oxygen.

• Clean your equipment before using:

If you are using parts or pieces that you already have around your home or you are using old parts that have been given to you, then you need to make sure that you take the time to clean them thoroughly before you use them. If you are using old equipment, it could be contaminated or dirty. These harmful chemicals can prove to be detrimental to your plants. You can also use containers that have held food or that are meant for food. These are almost always safe for hydroponic gardening.

• Avoid using metal:

It is not recommended that you use metal when gardening with hydroponics. You can, however, use stainless steel.

• Use electrical devices meant for saltwater:

You want to make sure you are using good quality equipment. Hydroponic nutrients conduct electricity, so use electrical devices that are made for saltwater.

• Watch the humidity:

Humidity in the air can affect your plants. You need to keep an eye on the amount of humidity surrounding your plants. Not all plants do well in high humidity levels.

• Consider the growing medium:

You have lots of growing medium to choose from—the one you pick will depend on what you are growing and what works best for you. Popular growing mediums include composted bark, gravel, expanded clay, oasis (which is foam-based materials that are used in floral creations), peat moss, perlite (which is a volcanic glass that is popular) and pumice. Other materials include rockwool sand and vermiculite.

Related How To article: The 3 Parts to Build a Hydroponic Garden

The Hydroponic Garden

Please watch this short 3:29 minute video.

Greenhouses have been used for centuries, with the first one dating back to the Roman Empire. Even then, people knew that they could control their crops by controlling the weather and climate and other factors. While these techniques were primitive at best, it shows that gardeners were interested in manipulating their crops.

growing in glass jars

These techniques improved significantly over the years. It was during the 1600s that people noticed that they could also employ other techniques to improve their plants and crops. Common practices at that time included using glass jars, lanterns and frames to protect the plants from the environment. Portable wooden frames coved with translucent paper were also used to cover rows of plants.

The first glass greenhouse

It was during the 1700s that the first glass enclosure was made. These glass enclosures were using for fruits such as grapes, melons, and strawberries and only sometimes used for vegetables. These were heavily marketed to the wealthy because they could grow all sorts of fruits out of season year-round.

Over the years, the greenhouse developed and these houses were not used only by the wealthy. In fact, greenhouses became commonplace even among weekend gardeners. Today, you can build or purchase a greenhouse for your back yard and grow all of your favorite plants as well as your crops. The greenhouses that are used certainly range in size and technology, but the idea is the same— controlling the climate to produce viable crops all year long no matter if it is hot or cold outside.

The introduction of hydroponics

Hydroponics was first developed around 1925 and was slow to start. Why did researchers turn to hydroponics? It seems that interest began to develop in creating nutrient solutions that were more efficient in a greenhouse environment. When you use soil to plant anything, those soils are depleted of nutrients and over-time must be replaced or must-have commercial fertilizers added. Hydroponics was developed with the thought process that if the soil is eliminated then aerated nutrient solutions or artificial soil can be used.

Growing tomatoes

It was around 1930 that more information and research started being used regarding hydroponics. Researchers started publicizing that there was a possibility that crops could be grown without the use of soil, an idea that seemed odd at the time. A professor from the University of California proved the point that this could be done by growing tomato vines that were twenty-five feet high using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. This feat propelled the idea that hydroponics could certainly work and proved to be quite beneficial.

Learning more about hydroponics

After initial studies were done, two researchers took hydroponics one step further by growing fruits and vegetables using these very techniques on Wake Island, a refueling stop for Pan American Airlines. This was a certainly an experiment worth the time and effort. Wake Island was known to be rocky and free of soil—an improbably place to grow any type of crop. During the 1930s, hydroponics here proved successful and these crops were served to the Pan American Airlines passengers.

Other examples of hydroponics

During the late 60s, a new hydroponics technique was developed by Allen Cooper, this new way was called the Nutrient Film Technique. This is the same hydroponic technique that is proximately used to grow crops at Disney World’s theme park EPCOT at the Land Pavilion. In fact, if you have ever visited Disney World, you can tour the popular hydroponics display at Living with the Land. This boat ride takes visitors through unique indoor plant growing areas displaying biomes, greenhouses and a hydroponics growing area. In the “Creative House” portion of this display, you will find all sorts of crops grown without the use of soil. You can also eat at the nearby garden grill where these fruits and vegetables are served to every customer.

Early forms of hydroponics

When people first started looking into hydroponics, it was a very difficult task to accomplish and as a result, many researchers abandoned the idea altogether. However, interest in this form of gardening was wide open again once plastics became commonplace. Soon the more versatile plastic started replacing the glass and this makes hydroponics easier, but cheaper too. Plastic was used to glaze greenhouses and lined the growing beds, where at one time, concrete was used. Plastic also revolutionized drip irrigation. This is an extremely important and crucial part of hydroponics and when plastics came into the forefront, it was obvious that it was the answer to many problems facing hydroponic gardening. Research continues today into hydroponics and technology continues to advance this type of gardening.