What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics, hydro = water and ponics=working, uses water and nutrients for plants to grow in non-soil-based mediums like sand gravel, coir and wool. Hydroponics simply means that plants can be grown without soil.
Researchers have been studying soilless plant cultivation since the 17th century. However, hydroponics was not invented until 1937. The self-contained system delivers what plants need, including water, light, oxygen and nutrients. This eliminates the soil that supports plants and helps them thrive.
How to install a self-watering garden
Different types of hydroponic systems
There are two types of hydroponic systems, static and continuous flow. Each system has its own variations.
- Wick System: Water, nutrients and other substances travel through a wire that connects roots and nutrient solutions. The wire delivers what the plant needs. This is the ideal method for vegetables and herbs that don’t require a lot of water.
- Deep Water Culture (DWC). The roots are immersed in water 24 hours per day. However, sufficient oxygen is provided by air pumps and air stones.
Continuous flow systems
- Ebb and flow: The plants are exposed to nutrients at regular intervals. The solution is then pumped into the system, soaks the roots, and then drains.
- Nutrient Film Technique: (NFT): While this system works on the same principles of the ebb & flow technique, NFT allows for a continuous, recirculating flow in nutrients.
- Aeroponics: The plants are suspended in air and the roots are continually sprayed with a nutrient rich solution.
- Drip System: This is similar to drip systems used in landscaping. It delivers nutrients slowly and provides the nutrients that plants require. This is ideal for larger vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, pumpkins, melons, and other fruit.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponic systems can be self-contained and all follow the same basic principles. You will need a hydroponic system regardless of whether you are a commercial grower or a backyard gardener.
- A reservoir that holds the water and nutrients
- Pump to distribute the nutrients
- Support the plants with this way
Hydroponics Gardening at Your Home
First, decide how much effort and time you are willing to put into a hydroponics gardening garden. A DIY hydroponics garden is an option if you have all three. You can make one on a stand, or along a wall using PVC pipe. A grow light is a great investment to ensure that your plants can grow year-round.
A hydroponic system can be purchased that includes everything you need for your garden. Although they are more expensive, these systems can reduce errors, be set up quickly, and provide near instant gratification. Depending on your space and budget, you can choose between smaller, countertop gardens or larger, floor-sized ones.
Best Hydroponic Plants
There are many nutrient and water requirements for plants. You should ensure that the hydroponic system you select can provide the nutrients and water your plant needs. The drought-tolerant rosemary thrives in systems that supply water and nutrients more passively. However, water-hungry plants can thrive in ebb-and-flow systems or deep water cultures. Choose plants that meet the same nutritional requirements if you plan to grow multiple plants. These are the best hydroponic plants for beginners.
- Salad Greens
- Hydroponic gardens are a great place to grow herbs like mint and basil.
You don’t necessarily have to grow the plants you intend to eat. Hydroponically growing flowers is also possible. These are more likely to produce consistent success.
- Peace Lilies
The pros and cons of hydroponic gardening
Although soilless planting can’t be foolproof, there are many advantages to hydroponic systems.
- Although the system does require water, it requires less water than soil-based systems.
- It is not necessary to weed, sow, or fertilize.
- Hydroponic gardening can be especially useful in conditions that don’t allow for planting of soil.
- You can grow plants all year.
- The plants grow faster and produce more in a shorter time.
- Traditional gardening requires less space than traditional gardening.
- Pesticides are used less often than soil because there is less need for pest maintenance.
- It is possible to incur high startup costs and maintain the system at a high cost.
- Plants cannot be neglected for extended periods of time like traditional gardening.
- For a successful yield, you need to be familiar with the equipment and the system.
- The hydroponic garden is often dependent on consistent electricity–blackouts or system failures could ruin the entire garden.
- It is important to test for waterborne and mold-related diseases.
- You have to test the water regularly for pH balance and EC levels (conductivity) and make adjustments to maintain the correct balance–overcompensating may shock the plants and kill them.