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 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.