Hydroponics’ pros and cons

Hydroponics’ pros and cons

There are many pros and cons of exploring and using hydroponics for gardening, but for every good thing, there is a downside as well. If you are considering starting hydroponics, you might want to do a lot of research to find out if these gardening techniques are right for you and your commitment level.

Here is a closer look at both the pros and cons of using hydroponics for farming and gardening.

The pros of hydroponics

1. Cost-efficient for the grower

If you are interested in trying hydroponics at home, then you should know that this can be very cost-effective to you. You can purchase a small kit for about $50. If done correctly, you can produce about two hundred pounds of tomatoes per year with this kit, that means your tomatoes are less than three cents a pound.

2. No need to rotate cropsrotate crops

The hydroponic gardener does not need to worry about rotating crops. This is because the nutrients are fed to the plants through the water, and not sought out by the soil.

3. Cleaner way to garden

There is no soil when you grow plants hydroponically. That means that this form of gardening is much cleaner. You do not have to worry about manure, fertilizer or messy insect repellent. There is no digging, no pulling weeds and it is always controlled and neat.

4. Good lessons for young ones

Kids will be fascinated with hydroponics. Why? Because they can see the root systems and they do not have to wait so long to see results. Hydroponics offers a wonderful lesson on farming to children in schools and in homes.

5. Lots of information

Because many people are interested in hydroponics, you will find a wealth of information out there that can help you learn how to start growing and how to expand your knowledge. You can find books, magazines and even entire websites solely dedicated to hydroponics.

6. No soil gardening

There are many advantages to soilless gardening. The soil varies all over the world. Some people have the advantage of living in areas where the soil is wonderful for gardening and growing crops. Then there are people that are faced with an impossible task of gardening in areas that are rocky, too hot or cold for growing crops or even areas where there is little to no spare land for growing. Soilless gardening gives people a way to grow fast crops no matter where they live.

7. Speedy results

Another great advantage of using hydroponics is that it yields very fast and efficient results. You can grow a large crop or a very small plant and find that you will get faster and more abundant results using hydroponics.

8. No weeds weeds

You will not get weeds when you grow hydroponically. This means that you do not have to fight weeds or apply dangerous herbicides to your crops. No weeds give you more time and no hard manual labor.

9. Year-long gardening

With hydroponics, you can garden no matter what time of the year it is and you never have to worry about what is in season or not in season. It will let you grow whatever you choose when you want it.

10. Without diseases

Hydroponics means less disease in the plants. When you use soil, it can be contaminated and this is not the case with hydroponics. This produces a superior product.

11. Everyone can grow using this method

Hydroponics brings crop growing to everyone-no matter where they live.

12. Anything can be grown

Except for a handful of woody shrubs, you can grow almost anything hydroponically. That includes herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables and houseplants. This gives you a great way to experiment with crops that you like and work with each one.

13. It does not need large land space

Hydroponics brings gardening to apartment dwellers and others where land is a premium or not available at all.

14. pH levels are controlled

When you are in control of the pH levels that your plants get, you are also in control of the taste of your fruits and vegetables that you grow. Did you know that when you garden in acidic soils, it will affect the taste of your crops? You may end up with very bitter tasting tomatoes, for example. When you take control of the pH levels, you can give your crops just the right amount of pH and thus control the taste.

15. Basic kits are affordable

If you want to experiment with hydroponics, you will find basic kits to get you started are affordable, you can also learn how to build your own hydroponics kits that will have you growing your favorite flowers, fruits, and vegetables in no time at all.

16. Rapid technology

The technology for hydroponics is rapidly changing and improving. That makes hydroponics more workable and easier as the idea spreads. In fact, people are starting to experiment more with this type of gardening using easy to use home kits.

17. Use much less water  water

You may think that when you garden using hydroponics and no soil that it would take more water. That is not the case. In fact, this type of farming takes less water because the growing times are lessened. Water is also not lost through the soil and every drop is delivered straight to the source.

18. Certain areas can now have affordable crops

Why are fruits and vegetables sometimes expensive? A lot of the cost has to do with the shipping. If you want a banana, but live in an area where bananas have to be shipped far away, you will pay a premium price. With hydroponics, crops can be grown locally, and this cuts down on costs that are typically passed on to the consumer.

Cons of hydroponics

By now, you know a little more about hydroponics. You know that this form of gardening is growing in popularity and that it can be a cost-effective way to grow crops in any area of the world. There are certainly many benefits of growing using hydroponics, but there are also disadvantages as well.

Here is a closer look at the cons of using hydroponics.

1. Patience is a virtual

When you decide to garden this way, you will need to have plenty of patience. You will need to learn how to use the equipment the right way before you will see any results.

2. Hydroponics will not be forgiving

If you plant crops in the traditional method, you can sometimes neglect them and then sort of “bring them back to life” so to speak. In other words, if you forget to water them and they are droopy, many times that is no problem, simply add water and let it go. This is not the case with hydroponic plants. If you forget to work with your plants and they die, you cannot expect them to recover. Your plants need your TLC every single day and they will not thrive or grow without it.

3. You cannot skimp when you use hydroponics

There are lots of cost-cutting methods that work when you garden the traditional way, but this is often not the case with hydroponics. You do need special lighting, the growing mediums, and the nutrients. That is essential for growing this way. You can’t save money. It is true that once you put out the money for the initial costs, your spending will go down as you farm more and more.

4. Diseases

You have read that diseases are almost non-existence when you grow crops hydroponically and that is true, to some extent. Diseases can attack your plants, but they are different, rather than soil-borne disease, your plants can get water diseases. The bad news is that water diseases can spread much faster and can be harder to control than soil diseases.

5. Relying on electricity

If you are gardening hydroponically, you are depending on electricity. If your electricity goes out for a long period of time, this could affect your crops. It is certainly something to consider if you are thinking about gardening on a large scale.

6. It is not an exact science

While hydroponics may certainly sound like an exact science the opposite is true. It is not. You can learn how to start your hydroponic garden using step by step guides and it will probably give you a good start. The problem is that is as far as it goes. It does not work that way for everyone and you will have to take the time to learn what works for you and your plants. It may even take a little trial and error to get the results that you want.

7. Take responsibility

You can’t simply throw the seeds in the soil and add water when you use hydroponics. You will need to understand that it does take work and responsibility to get the results you want. You will have to know before you plant anything that you cannot walk away from your crops and expect them to grow. While that may work for some crops grown outside in the soil, you will need to commit at least ten minutes or even more every single day to your plants. Some work and attention are critical in making hydroponics work.

8. Upkeep

As mentioned, maintenance is a big factor in hydroponics. You cannot cut corners. You have to take care of your garden on a daily basis. Before you go out and buy your equipment, you need to make sure you are ready to make that commitment.

9. Cost  cost

Depending on where you live and the plants you want to grow, you might be able to purchase some seeds and stick them in the ground. You might even be lucky enough to not need special supplies or tools and you may further find that your plants will grow and produce crops. That means that the lucky gardener can grow plants with the conventional method quite inexpensively. However, that is not the case with hydroponics supplies. It is less expensive in the long run, but for just trying it out, you will incur expenses. You can make a system yourself or buy a kit, but the bottom line is that you probably don’t have all the tools and materials you need, so you will have to put some money out upfront to get it started. Even the smaller mini-farms can cost up to $100 and even more depending on the hydroponics supply system that you choose to buy.

10. Hydroponics knowledge

You need to take the time to learn about hydroponics before you even start. This is not knowledge that your grandma passed down to you. It is a fairly new technology and you need to learn all you can before you invest your time and money. You need to learn about the supplies and equipment you will need and you will also need to learn who or where you can turn to for support. Luckily, there are many good sources out there that can help you get the information you need to help you with your hydroponics endeavors. General hydroponics is not too hard to learn, it just takes some time on your part.

As you can see there are many advantages as well as disadvantages of growing plants using hydroponics. Proponents of this growing method will tell you that in the long run, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Different Types Hydroponics Systems

There are several different types hydroponics systems you can choose when you want to garden hydroponically. The one you choose will largely depend on how far you want to take your gardening. You will often hear about the following:

Homemade systems:

These are hydroponic systems that you build yourself using plans that you can download online or find in books. These are often recommended for starting out or for small scale gardening.

Turn key systems:

These are the kits that you can order and have delivered to your home. These are usually the most expensive, but they are very simple to set up and easy to learn how to maintain. These are great for those who already know a little bit about hydroponics and wish to expand their own hydroponic gardening.

Small kits:

You can also buy small kits that will get your garden started. These range in size and price and may be easy or harder to operate depending on how it works.

Types of kits that you can buy:

As mentioned there are all sorts of kits that you can buy. These will range a great deal in price and size, but the idea is the same. You will purchase these kits that will get you started with a basic garden or crop. It will come with everything you need to get you started. The kits are generally easy to set up and start. There is usually no special equipment you will need right away to get it started.

The following are all popular hydroponic kits that you can buy from online stores and garden centers that specialize in hydroponic gardening:

Aero Garden & Aero Garden Deluxe:Aero Garden

These are two very popular kits that are widely used by people who are interested in experimenting with hydroponics. This kit will allow you to grow all sorts of fresh vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce, and even a variety of herbs. It is small enough to fit in your kitchen, giving you a year round fresh supply of your favorite veggie.

The Deluxe version is a little larger and has twice the light intensity, which will make the plants grow much faster. The deluxe versions will also allow you to grow full sized vegetables and larger plants such as large tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. You can expect to pay anywhere from $150-$200 for one of these kits. The kits are widely available online and through stores that carry hydroponic supplies and equipment.

  

AeroGarden Pro:

aerogarden pro

This is another version of the AeroGarden and AeroGarden Deluxe. However, this system is a bit larger and give you a microprocessor controlled AGI (Adaptive Growth Intelligence). This will monitor the growth of the plant from germination to advanced growth. This kit will automatically adjust the nutrient delivery and the light cycles so your plants will get just what they need when they need it. This technology will maximize your crop yields. 

 
   

Ebb & Gro System:

Ebb & Gro System

This hydroponic kit is a multi-pot growing system and is considered the most versatile of these types of hydroponic kits. You will get 12 growing pots with the basic kit and you have the ability to expand that to up to 48 pots. This will allow you to move your pots around or grow a multitude of plants varieties in one system. It is consistently rated as a top rated hydroponic system.

    


Power Plant Deluxe:

As the technology improves for hydroponic gardening, new kits are constantly being introduced to the consumer. One of the newer kits is the Power Plant Deluxe. This comes with everything you need to get started including a power grow lamp and bulb. The unique feature of this grow system is that it has a rotating surface that will give your plants the nutrients they need. It controls the watering so you don’t have to worry about over watering or giving the plants too much nutrients at one time. This is considered a no fail way to garden using hydroponics. 

   


   

Rainforest Aeroponic Systems:

Rainforest Aeroponic Systems

Aeroponics, which is similar to hydroponics, can also be grown from a kit. This kit will allow you to start and cultivate up to 18 small plants or up to 90 cuttings. It comes with a vortex sprayer that will lift and provide oxygen to your plants when needed. There is another system similar to this one called the Rainforest 66 Aeroponic kit. This one is similar but will grow larger sized plants. 

   

Waterfarm Complete System:

Waterfarm Complete System

This is a new hydroponic kit that is built using high impact plastic, which will give you long-lasting performance both indoor and outdoors. It is shaped in a square and that design will give you maximum efficiency when packing your plants. The kit comes with an air pump, growing container, reservoir, pump column, grow rocks and bottles of nutrients.

The WaterFarm 8-pak system is similar and uses a large reservoir of 13 gallons. This is a highly rated growing system for larger plants.

   
   

Ecogrower

Ecogrower

The Ecogrower is another hydroponic system that will allow you to incorporate an air driven drip system (also called the spider system. It features six inserts that holds pots up to six inches in diameter. This can also be fitted to grow very large plants. 

   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Eurogrower

Eurogrower

Along the same lines as the Ecogrower, is the Eurogrower. This system is perfect for someone that is new to growing with a hydroponic system. It is a simple and easy to learn method of hydroponic gardening. This kit comes with a 40 gallon reservoir, eight buckets, CocoTek bricks, Hydroton, a pH kit, a timer and a flora kit that will get you started with your gardening.



   

AeroFlo 20 System:

AeroFlo 20 System

This is a system that looks a little different from other hydroponic systems. Instead of around planting area or pot, it is rectangular in shape. This kit is highly recommended for those who are growing small plants and vegetables such as small tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and kitchen herbs. This kit is not recommended for plants that have a tendency to grow more than three feet tall. With this kit, you will get everything that you need to get you started. 

You can also purchase the Aeroflo 30. This is a more compact version and will allow you to grow smaller plants using a high performance system. It will grow plants that are up to three feet high.

   

Easy2Grow Autopots:


These are brand new and are full kits that will allow you to grow your favorite small plants right from your home. These are self watering, which means that you do not have to remember to water your plants every day. These also do not run on electricity, so you can use these kits almost anywhere. The kits cost about $80, which makes them quite cost effective to the beginner. These are also perfect for the lazy gardener or gardeners that are busy and do not want to commit to watering every single day. If you are planning on traveling while growing crops, you can count on this kit to work well for you while you are away.

      

Emily’s Garden

Emily’s Garden:Want to try your hand at hydroponics? Do you have a child that is interested in learning these wonderful gardening techniques? If so, this kit might be the right choice for you.

Emily’s Garden comes with everything you need to get started. You will soon have the ability to grow small plants such as small tomatoes, herbs and peppers. You can even try certain flowers with this kit.


Hydrofarm Mega Garden:

Hydrofarm Mega Garden

Another very easy to use kit, the Hydrofarm Mega Garden kit will have you growing your favorite plants in no time at all. This is a compact and versatile kit that will allow you to grow up to 15 plants. The system measures 24”x24”, which is much smaller from other system of the same capacity. This kit comes with a pump, nutrient, pH kit, pots, and growrocks. This is a good kit for someone that does not have a lot of space.

   

Vortex Sprayer:

Vortex Sprayer

The Vortex Sprayer is another hydroponic system that is quite popular. This kit has all the items you need to get a good yield on your plants. You will find that this sprayer will create a highly powerful eddy that lifts and sprays the nutrients to your plants giving them all the water and nutrition they need to thrive for you. There are several brands and types of Vortex sprayers—each one unique to your own use. These are wonderful additions to the hydroponic garden.

As you can see, there are many different types hydroponics systems kits that you can purchase for your hydroponic gardening. The one you will buy will certainly depend on how much gardening you intend on doing and what type of yield you want to accomplish. There are store-bought kits available for every budget in every price range and for every gardener’s needs.

Before you pay good money for one of these kits, take your time to look at them and compare the features of each one. You will find that most of them will come with everything that you need to get you started, however, keep in mind that there will be additional expenses for your garden as you continue.

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DIY Hydroponic Gardening

hydroponics

So, you are interested in tackling the world of hydroponics, but you are not too sure about buying an expensive kit. The good news is that you do not have to. You can get plenty of hydroponic plans that will allow you to make your very own hydroponic system out of common items that you may already have, or from things that are easily obtained.

There are several ways to go about building a hydroponic system. The type of system that you build will depend on what you want.

Do you want a small system that grows herbs or cherry tomatoes on your kitchen counter?

Is your child needing a very basic system for school experiment or science project?

Do you already have the hydroponics know-how and are interested in doing more with your garden?

How much time and money are you willing to spend to acquire and build the system for your gardening needs?

Perhaps you already have a kit and now you want to expand. With a DIY hydroponics kit you can do all of these things in no time at all.

You can save your money and build a system that will work for your unique needs. If you have a large greenhouse and want to fill it with all of your favorite flowers, herbs and vegetables, you can do this by building your very own hydroponic system. There are no limits to what you can build when you do it yourself.

What are the various ways that you can go about building a hydroponic system?

Where can you get plans for them?

Let’s explore some of these questions.

Getting the plans:

Many people want to build their own hydroponic gardening system wonder how they can get started. The first step is to determine which system is right for you and then begin your search for plans. There are many plans to choose from—from very small systems to large ones that will fill a green house.

Which plan is right for you?

Here is a closer look at the various plans that you can get to build a hydroponics gardening system.

Dutch pot:

Dutch pot system

A Dutch pot system is also called the Bato bucket hydroponics system. This system is especially good for people that love to grow roses and vegetables. It is an easy to build system that you assemble out of planters filled with the growing medium. This type of system is often called the “poor man’s hydroponics” because it takes common and easy to find items to build it. You will find that this system is lightweight and does a very efficient job at growing your favorite plants.

In order to build this type of system, you will need items such as BATO buckets, PVC pipe, pipe fittings, feed line, a water pump, PVC fittings, a riser, drippers, end camps and Perlite. There are many plans that you can find online that will give you step by step instructions and help you get started with this project. If you want an easy to build project, this is the way to go.

Hydroponic bubbling planter:

Hydroponic bubbling planter

Another inexpensive and easy to build hydroponic planting system is the Hydroponic bubbling planter. This is a very simple system that works by bathing the plant roots in oxygen infused nutrient. This nutrient stays contained within the planter, making your job much easier. The roots are exposed to a lot of oxygen and this causes rapid growth in plants.

With this system, you can build it with easy to find materials. These materials include a plastic container such as a paint bucket or storage container, several thick plastic cups, an air pump, an air stone similar to those used in aquariums, air tubing, and growing media.

These DIY plans are simple to follow and are widely available on the Internet and in hydroponic books and magazines.


Lettuce Raft System:

Lettuce Raft System

If you love having fresh green lettuce in your home year round, then you may want to consider a lettuce raft system. As with all other do it yourself hydroponic systems, you can choose from a variety of plans to help you.

You will find that this type of system is very easy to build and use and that the parts that it requires are cheap and easy to acquire. This system operates by floating plants above an oxygen infused bath of nutrients, which allows the roots to grow fast and more efficiently.

You can use this system to grow lettuce and herbs for your kitchen.

When you are ready to build this one, you will need a plastic tub or container, nutrients, and a power pump.

Creating your own system:

Of course, you can follow these plans to build your own hydroponic system, but once you get the hang of how to garden this way, you can create your very one style and make a unique hydroponic system.

Look at the plans that are out there and see what is different and similar with each one.

Figure out how large or small you want your system to end up and then construct your plans. You know that you will need a few key parts to make it work correctly.

These include:

  1. Growing medium
  2. Plastic tub or container
  3. Air pump
  4. Air tubing
  5. Nutrients

After you have decided how you want your system to run and how you want it to look, you can begin experimenting with your system.

Many gardeners like to rely on systems they have built themselves. Home made systems are often more reliable and they are much cheaper than the kits that you will buy. In addition, many of the items you need are easy to find at your local home improvement store.

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 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.

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 growing large crops or if they just have a couple of container garden plants know 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.