Hydroponics is usually associated with the growing of marijuana, but in truth this growing method has been around for many years dating back as far as the hanging gardens of Babylonia and used to grow a wide variety of plants.
Hydroponics is simply the method in which plants are grown is a soil less environment. Instead of using potting soil to grow your tomatoes, you may have another form of substrate such as sand. A liquid nutrient is then used to keep the plants fed. This method of growing produces healthier plants with little or no problems with pests and disease.
Benefits of Hydroponic Growing
Soil less growing has many benefits with commercial and private growers. Year round growing seasons with plants receiving no impact from outside weather conditions is a strong positive aspect.
Another plus is pest and disease control. Unlike soil which may contain unwanted foreign bodies, the substrates used in hydroponics don’t. By eliminating soil, the growing process is cleaner and indoor friendly.
The plants grown with this method tend to be bigger, healthier, and have a higher yield of crops. Plus, no weeding!
This form of gardening is also environmentally friendly. Less water is used because the soil absorbing it. Since there are few problems with diseases, pests, and weeds, chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides are eliminated.
Learning as much as you can is the best place to start. While the basic idea of hydroponics is an easy one to understand, the different nutrient solutions, growing mediums and hydroponic systems themselves vary greatly.
If you are looking to start a soil-less garden in your home, look at starting with a kit. The kits are designed for easy setup and will include all the necessities to start.
The Ebb and Flow system is one of the most popular because of its ease of use and low maintenance. Described by its name, the Ebb and Flow system does just that. Plants are grown in their medium in one container while in another container water is mixed with the nutrient solution. Periodically, the liquids flood the plant roots and the substrate. The roots will absorb the water mixture. As the water recedes back to its container, the roots are exposed to air. This form of hydroponics is simple and used by beginning or advanced growers.
There are a number of different devices that can be used. A soil less garden system can be as simple as growing a plant in water with a substrate or as complex as seen in commercial greenhouses where everything is ran by computers from the watering to the temperature the plants are housed. You will find that most individuals who do hydroponics as a hobby tend to fall in the middle.
Deciding on a substrate is very important. Each have their own pros and cons. Perlite, gravel, Rockwool and sand are a few. These mediums absorb water differently so when choosing one to use, think of what you will be growing.
What to Grow
The possibilities are endless. Tomatoes, herbs, and houseplants are a few of the many things you can grow. Since gardening can be done year around, you can grow plants that produce year round. This will give you fresh tomatoes and basil in the middle of winter.
It is important to have knowledge of the crop you are trying to grow. Learning what it needs as far as nutrients and light. There are some terrestrial plants that will do better than others. Going though many trials and errors will help you to learn what works and what doesn’t.