What Is Hydroponics?
Interested in hydroponics, but you have no idea what it is? Let us help...
Hydroponics is a dirt-free method of growing that can save space and reduce overall water usage, while significantly improving yield compared to traditional soil-based outdoor gardens. This efficient growing method is utilized in commercial and residential applications and has grown significantly in popularity over the last decade.
Hydroponics is beneficial, in that the growing environment can be precisely controlled and nutrients can be efficiently delivered to your plants as needed. Hydroponic systems are most often used indoors or in a greenhouse.
As mentioned, plants are grown without the use of soil. Instead, a growing media (which is placed in a net pot) serves to transfer nutrients from the water to your plants, while also keeping the roots oxygenated. Various media are used, such as coco coir, peat moss, perlite, Rockwool, or vermiculite.
Nutrients are delivered via water, which is pumped through the system using a water pump. A timer is often used to control how frequently and long the watering cycle occurs.
Water too often, and plants can 'drown'. Water too infrequently, and plant roots can dry out.
There are numerous benefits to growing hydroponically. Here are a few:
- Growth Rate: Studies have shown that hydroponic plants grow 20-30% faster than those grow in soil. Nutrients are delivered directly to your plant, allowing the plant to focus more on upward growth and less on developing an extensive root system.
- Less Space: Hydroponic plants can be planted more densely, whether planted in horizontal rows or in vertical systems.
- Year Round: Because these systems are often utilized indoors, hydroponics can produce year-round produce for you and your family.
- Controlled Environment: Outdoor gardening enemies, including pests, insects, flooding, poor soil quality and a lack of sun are no longer factors. These factors can be precisely controlled.
- Reduced Labor: While most systems do require intervention, less time is spent tilling the soil, pulling weeds, and battling the heat for harvest.
While all hydroponic systems follow the basic principles outlined above, there are a number of variations or types of hydroponic systems. These systems, whcih each have advantages and disadvantages, will be further explained in an upcoming blog post.
- Drip Systems
- Wick Systems
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT).
- Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
What to Plant
Not all plants will thrive in hydroponic systems. For example, root plans, like potatoes and carrots, are better suited for traditional gardening. Vining species also require a lot of space, which can be a challenge for indoor systems.
Additionally, some plants require nature's intervention (pollination), which must be simulated indoors.
Here are a few of the easiest plants to harvest for new growers:
Lettuces: Lettuces are one of the most common vegetables grown in hydroponics. They are fast growers and require little maintenance. A great starting point.
Tomatoes: Some tomato varieties, like cherry tomatoes, are favorites among hydroponic hobbyists and commercial growers. Keep in mind that tomatoes require a lot of sunlight, so additional lighting could be needed if grown indoors.
Spinach: Spinach can be harvested one leaf at a time, making it convenient as a an accessible and always available smoothie ingredient.
Herbs: Herbs thrive in an indoor hydroponic garden! Imagine having constant access to basil when a few leaves are needed for your favorite recipe.
Strawberries: A popular fruit among families, strawberries can grow year-round in your indoor system.
Whatever your needs or desires, we have a variety of hydroponic systems to help you meet your goals!