Hydroponic Gardening Information

coriander hydroYou 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. 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 volcanic glass that is popular) and pumice. Other materials include rockwool sand and vermiculite.

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
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.

An Introduction In To Hydroponics


Are you
the type of person that enjoys gardening? Do you like the idea of growing your own fruits and vegetables for yourself or your friends and family? Most people that have gardened, whether they are committed to grow large crops or if they just have a couple of container garden plants knows that when you grow your own food, you gain a sense of accomplishment and you are giving yourself the gift of healthy, untreated foods. In addition, in today’s economy, growing a garden is a viable option to expensive groceries that are not only not as fresh as they could be, but do not taste as good either.

There are certainly many methods in which to garden. Traditionally, you will prepare a plot of land and cultivate and harvest your crops. If you have a very small space, you might opt to grow herbs in a windowsill or you might even try container gardening. There is another way to garden, too. It is called “hydroponics” and this type of gardening is growing in popularity. It is a proven method of growing valuable crops without the use of soil. That is right—when you use hydroponic gardening; you take advantage of the light, air, and water. It may seem impossible, but it is not and many people who tout hydroponics point out that this is the gardening of the future—hydroponic crops can be grown almost anywhere, even in areas where the soil is bad for growing crops.

In the following, you will learn more about hydroponics, what it is and the history. You will also learn about the various systems that you can use and how you can get started. It may seem like an odd hobby, but many people are finding hydroponic gardening interesting and satisfying.

WHAT IS HYDROPONICS?

What is hydroponics? You may have never even given this type of gardening a second thought. Take a look at the word—the word “hydroponics” comes from the Greek words “hyrdro”, which means water and the word “ponos”, which means labor. By definition, hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions without soil. Plants may be grown with their roots in an inert medium such as mineral wool, gravel or perlite.

Understanding Hydroponic Growing

What it looks like.
In order to understand home hydroponics or commercial hydroponics, you have to get the basic principals down. It is also important to understand that as hydroponic farming becomes more popular, the systems and ways to grow hydroponic plants expands. Industrious and creative growers are always looking for new ways to grow plants and crops this way.
You probably know that when a plant grows, it requires light, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. The root system of the plant needs water to carry the nutrients to the other parts of the plants. When plants are grown in the soil, the nutrients and water will seep into the soil and then the plant will use the root system to draw the water and nutrients into the plant to be used. This is what makes the plant grow and develop. The soil drainage will allow the water to be replaced by air in the gaps that are between each soil grain. These gaps will give oxygen back to the roots for the plant to grow.

Things work a little differently when dealing with indoor hydroponics. When this method of growing plants is used, there is no soil present. The hydroponic nutrients are dissolved in the water and the soil is replaced by another growing medium, which will supply the plant roots with the nutrients, oxygen, and water that the plant needs.

In fact, when dealing with homegrown hydroponics, there are all sorts of supplies and things you can use to help your plants grow. Hydro juice, which is a popular hydroponic nutrient, can be used as a drip-fed to each plant. In some hydroponic greenhouses, the hydro juice will be used to flood the root chamber and allowed to drain out of the system.

Needs of the plant:

All plants grow at a different speed and rate and what the plant is given to work with will certainly affect the growth rate. When you think about it, the soil is really not necessary to make a plant grow. The root needs something to take in nutrients, but the soil only really serves as a way to hold the plant upright and in place. Given other materials in which to grow, the plant will grow just fine.
Hydroponics is based on that principal—if you give the plant the basics that it needs to grow (the water, nutrients, oxygen), it will grow.

When the hydroponic nutrients are given to the plant, it will flow freely to the plant roots and the roots do not have to grow or branch out to look for nutrients and water. The result is that the plant’s energy is spent growing the part of the plant that you want—the fruit or vegetable or the foliage. In fact, a plant that is grown using this method grows much faster, more efficiently and will have smaller roots and more foliage than plants grown in the soil.

It is true that you can’t simply decide to start a hydroponic garden and find immediate success. It does take planning, patience and the right supplies such as hydroponic grow lights and other equipment. Most of this type of gardening should take place in a greenhouse that is properly equipped. This will allow you to control the temperature, light, insects and other pests and weather conditions. Hydroponic grow lights can also be installed in your greenhouse for the best results. Using greenhouse methods will allow you to get the results you want when you use hydroponic techniques with your plants.

What you can grow:

Almost any plant can be grown using hydroponics. Hydroponics grow well with all sorts of herb plants, vegetables, fruits, and house plants. There are, however, some plants that do not do well using hydroponics. These type of plants include:

• Woody plants: Woody plants include perennial plants such as shrubs honeysuckle, juniper, Buford holly, gardenia, rose bushes, grapevines, and trees.
• Plants with large roots: These types of plants include potatoes of all varieties, carrots, and radishes.
• Some fruits and vegetables that take up too much space: Plants that are considered “space hogs”, or plants that need a lot of room to grow are not often recommended for hydroponic growing. These include large pumpkins, corn, melons, zucchini, and squash.

If you do not see the plant you want to grow on the above list, chances are, it will do quite well when you grow it using hydroponics. Fruits and vegetables that are generally liked best in a certain season do especially well. Strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes are all very popular choices and are easy to grow. These are also good choices for the beginner.

Starting out:

If you are just starting out using hydroponics, it is recommended that you start off small and choose your crop carefully. You will want to choose something that is generally considered easy to grow in a regular garden and then apply this to your hydroponic garden. Once you get the hang of this new type of garden, you can expand your crops and plants.

Hydroponics is certainly growing more and more in popularity. If you can grow it in soil, then you can probably grow it using hydroponics. It only takes a little planning and some work to get the techniques down. In fact, there are entire stores and websites that are solely dedicated to the hydroponic gardener and the supplies needed to get the garden off to a great start.

Getting better results

Gardeners that use hydroponics will tell you that using these techniques can be compared to growing plants using steroids. Of course, you do not actually use steroids, but you are using a method of producing crops that makes them grow faster and better than soil and traditional methods.

When you use the right amount of minerals and nutrients for your hydroponic planting, you will be quickly rewarded with an abundance of your favorite plant, fruits, and vegetables. You will produce a higher yield faster.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you want to use hydroponics to grow plants and crops. Hydroponic gardening has been around for several years, but as technology improves, the techniques and materials that you can use improve as well.

Gardening for the future

It is easy to see why hydroponics is the way of the future for gardening. In soilless areas of the world and in areas that are ideal for growing any kind of plants, hydroponics can be used. IN fact, these gardening techniques are constantly being improved and are being taught all over the world. Even NASA has discovered that hydroponics may very well benefit future space travel and space habitation sometimes in the near future.

Getting started

Once you have decided to give hydroponics a try, you will need to think about how you will get started. There are many different types of kits that you can purchase. These come in all sizes and can help the gardener grow big or small crops. These kits come with everything you need to get started. You can also choose to build your own hydroponic system. These are generally easy to build and cheap to maintain. You can find plans and ideas on how to build your own system online and in books. Your local home improvement center is also a good place to go for help with your gardening needs.