Grow Plants With Hydroponics
Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants using water and mixtures of nutrients, without using soil at all.
Hydroponic gardening allows food to be grown in areas where the soil is sparse or nonexistent.
The word *hydroponic* comes from the Greek *hydros*, meaning water and *ponos* meaning labor. The water and nutrients are worked through the plant either with their roots free standing in the solution or in some type of medium such as gravel to hold them down.
Hydroponic gardening has gained popularity in the last half century, but it is certainly not a new method of growing vegetation. Hydroponic agriculture has been used in many cultures throughout civilization, and is thought by many to be a superior method of growing food.
During WWI, hydroponic gardening was found to be helpful in feeding the military stationed in different islands throughout the Pacific where the soil was not prime for growing the fruits and vegetables needed.
There is also ongoing research for the plausibility of hydroponic systems being used in the space program. It has been especially since the 1970's that hydroponics has become more popular, with self-sufficient gardeners and mass producing farms using the method.
It is thought by many who advocate it that the vegetation grown in this manner is superior to that grown in soil. Hydroponics is said to produce more growth as well as eliminating the need for harmful pesticides often used in soil gardening. It also benefits the environment by reusing the water and nutrients as much as possible.
There is also the fact that fruits and vegetables grow much faster using the hydroponic method. Rather than waiting several months to harvest, plants will yield product in 4-9 weeks. They can be grown indoors in either grow tents or grow boxes.
A person simply wanting to grow a small amount of vegetation for themselves will benefit from the grow boxes. It doesn't take any real gardening skills for hydroponics as it is very easy to do. The water and nutrients can be used again so there is virtually no waste in this type of gardening.
The grow boxes can be whatever size is needed for your space so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of growing plants in water.
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The right lighting is needed for the self-contained environment of a grow box. Metal halide or high pressure sodium bulbs are often used for the light cycle that is needed for faster yields and maximum growth.
Recently some have been experimenting and finding good luck with LED lights. Many hydroponic gardeners find that exhaust and intake fans are helpful in keeping the environment free of odor causing bacteria and ventilation for the plants.
Growing fruits or vegetables out of season is no problem with a hydroponics system as they can be placed anywhere inside the home.
The ideal grow box is black on the inside as to remove all source of light other than the bulbs being used. This keeps all light contained and directed toward the plants.
Heating and cooling is regulated to the needs of the plants and is controlled at all times. Electrical or heating pad systems are used, however solar power is also utilized for hydroponics.
The size of the grow box of course, should depend on the number of fruits and vegetables you are wanting to grow.
Grow tents are of course very much like they sound - tented areas indoors used for gardening, or a "greenhouse". If the facilities exist to do this, there will be a much larger yield of product from the plants.
Hydroponic gardening in grow tents is simply the same as grow boxes, only on a larger scale.
Pumps are needed to keep the water and nutrients flowing constantly in a cycle, and larger heating systems are used for the climate control.
Hydroponics and Nutrients
It is very important to learn which nutrients are most beneficial to the individual plants when deciding which solutions to buy. Since hydroponics works by using only the nutrients that the soil provides rather than the soil itself, yields can be improved.
The plants get the special attention needed by having those nutrients focused solely on them. In other words, water is much more effective at working these nutrients through than soil. It is better to grow like plants together rather than trying to get a lot of different ones that may have varying nutritional needs.
The Growing Popularity of Hydroponic Gardening
The popularity of hydroponic gardening continues to grow as people either buy grow boxes for smaller yields or grow tents for more commercial use. The systems used are the wick system (best for grow boxes), the ebb and flow which uses a pump to keep the nutrients flowing through, and nutrient film technique. This system uses a grow tube along with the pump that pushes oxygen as well as water and nutrients.
Whatever system is chosen, hydroponic gardening offers an environmentally friendly way to grow food with superior yields and nutritional value. From the ancient hanging water gardens of Egypt and China to the grow tents and boxes of today, using water as a main component for pushing nutrients through has shown itself to be a productive and healthy method of growing plants and vegetation. Look around for the system that is best and enjoy the bounty!
Growing with hydroponics just might be the next big thing in home gardening. We already know that hydroponic gardening is gaining in popularity. Once, not too long ago, it hydroponic gardening wasn't easily in reach of most home gardeners. But these days there are so many companies offering hydroponic supplies and set ups that competition is finally leading to more affordable prices.
I predict that in the not too distant future the average home will have a hydroponic garden. Folks will be growing their own herbs and even tomatoes and peppers in their own home. It would certainly help to reduce the grocery bill and to provide higher quality produce. Having the satisfaction that you grew it yourself and that it has never been covered with pesticides and chemicals is a great thing!
I personally have never tried a hydroponic setup. In fact, I have always done my gardening out doors. Lately I have been thinking a lot about it though. I plan to find out how much it would actually cost to raise some tomatoes and peppers and compare that with how much value I could get back in produce. Perhaps I will try container gardening first, and then move on to a hydroponic setup later.
Hydroponic Gardening Mediums
If a medium is chosen, it is important to use one that will aid the water in working the nutrients through.
Many gardeners prefer this to the free-standing method in water because it gives the root support without exposing it to topsoil.
Gravel-sized shale, also known as expanded shale, is often used as well as rock wool, a substance once used as insulation for buildings. Rockwool that is specifically made for growing vegetation has now been developed and has become a very popular medium for growing plants hydroponically.
Sand and perlite are less expensive to use, but are not provide the optimum growth.
When choosing a medium, it is essential to make sure that it doesn't effect the pH level of the nutrient solutions being worked through. 5.8 to 6.8 is the average range that the pH levels should be, although closer to 6 is prime. Salts such as Potash that contain water soluble potassium can raise pH levels while small amounts of phosphoric acid will lower it. A pH meter is good to have so it can be seen what the levels are at all times.