Hydroponic gardening, simply put, involves the growing of plants without the use of soil; a process which has been around for centuries. In fact, hydroponics preceded soil based growing and can be dated back to the time of the pyramids, albeit in a more primitive form.
Soil or coco peat can be looked at as being a reservoir and basic support system for plants; the nutrients are stored in the soil and the plants absorb this when it is needed. In effect, this means that soil isn’t actually an essential part of growing plants; provided a root system has access to nutrients and a suitable support system, the grower should be rewarded with healthy growth.
Plants grown using a hydroponic system are typically grown in water enriched with mineral nutrient solutions, and roots may be placed straight into the chosen hydroponic system, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed by the plant continuously or at intervals.
Alternatively, non absorbent materials such as pebbles or Rockwool may be used to help support the plant while continuing to allow the roots access to the mineral nutrients.
Growing plants in soil may appear to be a far simpler method, but as a result of the plants’ direct exposure to the minerals and nutrients when using a hydroponic system, many growers have reported a significant increase in their yields, sometimes three and even up to four times the usual amount. This certainly makes the use of such a system highly rewarding and cost effective. Many plants are also grown in/or are suited to, particular climates, but with a controlled environment system like hydroponics, such plants could be grown successfully anywhere in the world.
Listed below are a number of other different ways to grow plants using a hydroponic system:
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
This is a popular and versatile system whereby nutrient rich water is pumped to a growing tray, and a drainage pipe recycles any unabsorbed solution. Gravity ensures that the solution is flowing in a constant manner over the root systems.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
With this method, plant roots are suspended in a nutrient rich solution.
Drip Irrigation Systems
At desired intervals, a pump pushes the nutrient rich solution through a network of tubes which then trickles out at the base of the plants. Excess drainage is then collected and recycled during a regular feeding cycle.
Plants are grown in an air or mist environment, as opposed to soil or water. Suspended roots and stems are sprayed with a nutrient rich solution.
There are also many base nutrients and growth stimulants tailored specifically to be used in hydroponic systems, enabling you to get the very best out of your plants. So, whether it be fruits, vegetables, house plants, flowering plants or herbs, with a hydroponic system you can look forward to a year round supply of fresh produce.