Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that comes under the heading of hydroculture. This refers to a way of growing plants that doesn’t involve soil. Instead, it is water based, with the addition of nutrient and mineral rich solutions. Using hydroponics, together with modern lighting means we are now able to grow whatever we want, whenever we want to. You might think that this is a relatively new method of gardening, but it has been practised for centuries. You’ve all heard of the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’. Mexican Aztecs also had floating gardens. As did the Ancient Chinese and Egyptians.
What are the Benefits of Hydroponics?
- Higher yields can be produced
- Reduced need for pesticides
- Can be used effectively anywhere in the world
- Uses less water
With such great advantages you’re probably wondering why we don’t grow everything using hydroponics supplies. One of the reasons it’s not widely practised is that it is an expensive way of growing. Take a look in any hydroponics shop and you’ll realise the setting up costs can be astronomical. There is also a lot of time and effort required in setting up a system, and it’s not something an amateur should consider. Managing the advanced nutrients, you’re adding can also be very time-consuming. One final disadvantage is the risk of a mechanical failure, as this will quickly destroy a crop. Something as simple as a broken pump will mean the plants die within hours.
Different Types of System
Visit a hydroponics shop and you’ll be amazed at the range of systems you can choose from. The best systems are those that are a combination of types. The system you’re most likely to think of is known as NFT (Nutrient Film Technology. A continuous flow of water is enriched with advanced nutrients. This solution runs over the roots of the plants. Other systems that are used include:
Wicks system – a nutrient rich solution is held in a reservoir and drawn up through a series of wicks, into a growing medium.
Ebb and Flow system – this works by flooding a grow tray and then draining the water out on a timer.
Drip system – water and nutrients are sprayed over the plants and any excess drains into a reservoir.
Aeroponics system – the medium for this method is air and a nutrient solution is sprayed onto the roots, which hang in the air.
Why Choose Hydroponics?
Hydroponics supplies may be expensive but the fact that your yields will far exceed soil based growing is a good reason to try this method. You are able to control the growing conditions to the minutest detail and fine-tune the nutrients your plants receive. This will mean you can grow the biggest and tastiest plants you could imagine. It may all seem a little alien and space-age when you first start growing this way but once you’ve got the basics you’ll be well