How You Can Grow Your Own Food At Home Without Using Soil Just Water
Traditional Growing Methods
Gardens Can Be Anywhere
Many of you may have heard about hydroponics, the growing of plants in water without the use of soil, through commercials and retail advertisements. Typically, the commercials or advertisements are also selling a growing apparatus that may include seedpods, grow lights and nutrients.
Some individuals based on the advertisements, may believe that hydroponic growing methods are new, due to the relatively unique growing apparatuses. This is not the case however.
In 1627, Francis Bacon published a book called Sylva Sylvarum, outlining hydroponic growing methods, in other words how to grow plants without using soil, as the growing medium (Bacon, 1627).
There is evidence of hydroponics growing methods that date back to Roman times, as well. Horticulturists discovered that terrestrial plants, or plants that grow on land actually grow as well, if not better in some cases, by having their roots submerged in water rich in mineral nutrients. However, experts are quick to point out there is a different between aquatic plants that grow in water and plants that grow with their roots submerged in water.
People today, due to economics and/or food safety concerns, have turned to backyard gardens. Everyone is aware of the food borne illnesses associated with produce and fruits such as cantaloupes, green onions and packaged lettuce products.
To protect themselves and their families some have decided to grow their own food. However, some families that do want to grow their own food, do not have the space for various reasons, or simply believe the soil may be contaminated.
For centuries, people have been able to grow their own food without soil in a very limited space. You can, as well. You do not necessarily need commercially manufactured growing equipment to grow your own food. You can use many things that you may find around the house.
One popular item that can be converted for hydroponics growing, is a fish tank or aquarium that no longer houses fish. The tank will need however, its pumping system. The sides of the tank must also be covered or painted black to deprive the water of light. Light will encourage algae and bacteria growth.
To grow plants with their roots submerged in water you will need a method to circulate the water. For best results, water should be well aerated to provide dissolved oxygen to the plant roots. A bubbler stone is ideal to provide fresh oxygen to the water.
Additional items needed regardless of the container, include liquid nutrients and a growing medium such as perlite and vermiculite. Many experts recommend combining the two materials at equal ratios. Fifty percent each is the ideal ratio. You will also need a Styrofoam sheet sized to fit over the tank. You then cut holes in the cover that will allow small foam cups to fit in without falling through. Put holes in the cups at various points and in the bottom to allow water in once they are suspended.
You will need to cut the foam cover so you have access to place nutrients in the water, as well as, room for the pump line. Many have discovered that simply floating the foam on the water with the cups suspended works well. This keeps the cups and lid from being affected by the movement of the water. The tank will need adequate sunlight, grow lights or a combination of both.
Coconut fiber is also a popular growing medium. The fibers retain and hold moisture as well as perlite and vermiculite do. The medium is placed in the cups and you can transplant seedlings into the cups or sow seeds directly in the medium. The roots will search out the water and grow through the holes in the cups. The cup once filled with the growing medium will rest in the water. Fish aquariums are popular because they are water tight, and have the necessary pumps and hoses to circulate the water.
However, any container can be used. You can also fit lightweight wire over the top of any container and cut holes in the wire to suspend cups made of the same wire. Another method uses two layers of wire with coconut fiber sandwiched between the layers and suspended partially in water. Typically, the seeds are sown directly onto the fiber. When using wire baskets, coconut fiber is recommended for the growing medium. Perlite, clay pellets and vermiculite may fall through the wire.
The nutrients can be purchased in most home and garden stores and in some cases; the nutrients specify they are ideal for hydroponics growing. The nutrient can come in liquid, or tablet form that dissolves in the water. The amount needed is dependent upon the water volume so it is important to know how much water is in the tank. The tank water should be changed at least once every two weeks.
You can use other growing mediums including sand, gravel and clay pellets, as well. You should also have a test kit to check your water's pH level. You can use strips or a digital meter. You can also purchase a meter to check your water for total dissolved solids. This test indicates the level of nutrients, in the water based on the plant's requirements. Therefore, it is important that you understand your plants needs. It is recommended that you grow similar if not the same plants in the same tank or container. Keep in mind using your new hydroponics growing method you can grow all year around, so start with your favorites and explore all the possibilities using hydroponics as your growing method.
Bacon, F. (1627). Classical Works . Retrieved May 29, 2012, from http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/rare/medicine/baconsylva.html