What is hydroponics
For most the people that are passionate about gardening, it is digging into the dirt which is quite tedious but, not anymore with hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is growing plants without soil using solutions. The soil mixture that is used for general gardening is replaced with the solution and other mediums such as perlite and sand or nutrient solution.
Things to get started
Are you wondering if hydroponic gardening suits you? How to go about it? What things do you need? How to begin hydroponic gardening? Then below we have discussed all it. Once you are familiar with what exactly is hydroponic gardening, then you can quickly decide whether it suits your gardening needs or not. Once you have decided that you want to go for hydroponic growing, then you will need
A hydroponic system
- an inert medium such as perlite and sand,
- nutrients for hydroponic gardening,
- a source of light, plants
- and apparently your time and efforts.
Various structures that provide a place for the plant to grow by holding water or inert media are called hydroponic systems. These systems can be either trays, towers or A-frames. There are two basic categories of hydroponic systems; liquid culture and aggregate culture. The fluid system uses nutrient liquids into which roots grow. But in aggregate system roots of the plants grow into a medium such as sand, gravel and clay pellets. The primary purpose of the hydroponic system is to provide the plant with three essential ingredients for growth which are moisture, oxygen, and nutrients.
1. Different types of hydroponic systems
There are different types of hydroponic systems available on the market to suit various individual needs for hydroponic gardening. Some of them are rip, water culture, ebb, and flow, wick, aeroponics and nutrient film culture.
2. Where to buy a hydroponic system
Today many commercial suppliers sell hydroponic systems for home growing. Finding a system that fits your growing needs is crucial and can be done quickly using search engines. If you are just a beginner, then small home growing kits are ideal, but there are also advanced systems available for more experienced hydroponic home gardeners.
3. DIY systems
If you want more customized systems and have an eye for creativity, then you can also design your own system. There are several websites online that offer provide free hydroponic designs. There are also video tutorials that provide step by step visual instructions on designing and building of hydroponic systems. The DIY systems have the edge over other systems as these are exclusively designed to fit your garden space and kind of plants you are planning to grow.
Nutrients and Medium
The nutrients used for hydroponic gardening are different from nutrients used for growing plants in the soil. There are three types of hydroponic nutrients available; primary, secondary and micro, the mix of these nutrients is used for hydroponic gardening. The nutrient mix should be soluble in water, and the amount of concentration of the nutrient is at the discrete of the gardener. However, if you are not familiar with these nutrients, it is always advisable to buy a proven mix from a reliable nutrient manufacturer.
Medium is another crucial part of hydroponic gardening. Gardeners use different types of medium which include small clay pellets, sand, vermiculite, coconut chips or fiber and perlite. These do not break down easily are called ‘inert’and facilitates growth by supplying nutrients. However medium alone cannot help the plant to grow. Plants placed in the medium needs the proper supply of nutrient solution to grow. No one best medium fits all types of hydroponic gardening requirements and hence needs to selected based on the kind of plants you want to grow. It is advisable to keep the medium only moist but not too wet as it can deprive the roots of required oxygen. The roots of the plants do not suffocate when grown in water as the air pumps used in the system generates bubbles to increase the oxygen content in the water.
Growing plants with the hydroponic system can be carried out both indoors and outdoors with sufficient natural or artificial light. However, if you are planning to grow plants indoors or in places with insufficient natural light, then there are different types of artificial lights available for hydroponics. Metal halide is one of the favorite light sources and is the choice of many hydroponic gardeners. Other popular artificial lights include LEDs, sodium bulbs and fluorescent bulbs, high-pressure ones are used for indoor hydroponic gardening.
Growing plants using hydroponic system takes time like general gardening using soil. Learning about the hydroponics and setting up of the system consumes considerable time while maintaining the system and harvesting the plants also requires you to spend time. However hydroponic gardening is free from weeding which consumes a lot of time in traditional gardening. Many gardeners think that hydroponics gardening is organic gardening which is not true. Nevertheless, the ecological values of hydroponic gardening are the same as organic gardening.
Types of plants
All kinds of plants can be grown using a hydroponic gardening system which include houseplants, vegetable, fruit, and flower plant. Ideally, solution systems are better for growing shallow root plants such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach and radish. On the other hand, aggregate systems are ideal for growing plants with deeper roots such as beetroot and cucumber.
The hydroponic system of gardening can prove to be more yielding when right growing conditions are maintained along with adequate light and can exceed traditional gardening yield. The taste of the produce grown with the hydroponic system is said to exceed to that of traditionally grown crops. If you are new to hydroponics gardening, it is recommended to start with simple systems and easy to grow plants and progress to the advanced and high-end systems once you have gained sufficient experience. Advanced hydroponic systems are used for growing produce commercially and need higher investments when compared to basic hydroponic design and systems.