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Hydroponics vs Soil

Updated on April 25, 2012
Hydroponics vs Soil
Hydroponics vs Soil

Hydroponics vs Soil:

With hydroponics currently at new heights in the gardening world, the question facing gardeners today is Hydroponics or Soil? This question is also becoming an age old debate of battling sides fighting to prove the other wrong. I won’t be taking a stance on the issue. Instead I’ll explain the key differences among hydroponic and soil gardening as well as advantages and disadvantages for both techniques.


Hydroponics vs Soil. Picture of Hydroponic Growing Mediums Rockwool and Hydroton
Hydroponics vs Soil. Picture of Hydroponic Growing Mediums Rockwool and Hydroton

What's the Difference?

Before you make up your mind, it is important to understand the differences between hydroponic and soil gardens. While both gardens can be greatly successful, the techniques used differ in many ways.

  • · Soil Gardening: The name basically states it all. Gardeners who choose soil gardening sow seeds or plant transplants directly into conditioned garden beds or into soil filled containers. Since high-nutrition soil is mainly used for garden and container crops, the gardener may never have to fertilize their plants during a season.
  • · Hydroponics: Hydroponics can best be explained as the cultivation of plants in a soil-less environment. Instead of planting straight into the ground, gardeners using hydroponics will plant crops into special reservoirs or growing devices. To provide support for the roots, hydroponic gardens require a growing medium such as rockwool, hydroton, coconut fiber or pebbles. Unlike soil gardens where nutrients are available through organic material, hydroponic gardens rely on the use of fertilizers and nutrients for all stages of growth.


Advantages and Disadvantages :

Keep in mind that both soil and hydroponic gardens have the potential for outstanding yields! It’s up to you to decide which method will meet your individual needs.

Soil Advantages:

  • · Naturally, soil gardens offer your plants a larger and more complete amount of nutrients and minerals. With a properly mixed or conditioned soil all macro, micro and mineral nutrients will be available to your plant’s root system.
  • · Soil gardens also contain beneficial bacteria. These soil dwelling bacterium continually break down organic material in the soil, providing constant nutrition for your plants. The bacteria basically act as a natural catalyst for healthy plant growth!

Soil Disadvantages:

  • · Soil offers the gardener less control over pests and diseases. Because soil is a natural ecosystem, there is always the potential for pests and diseases to thrive. If these pests or diseases are not addressed in a timely manner, they can potentially wipe out garden crops.
  • · Soil compaction is also an issue. After months of watering, the soil in and around your garden can become compacted. This poses a problem as there is not as much space for oxygen exchange. If there is not enough oxygen reaching the roots of your plants, they may become stunted.


Hydroponic Advantages:

  • · Hydroponics allows for greater customization of the garden. Basically, you can tailor a garden to fit your exact needs. You could have a DWC hydroponic system with rockwool and FoxFarm nutrients, or go with an ebb and flow system using hydroton. You get my point, there’s a lot you can choose to do!
  • · Gardeners using hydroponics generally benefit from overall faster growth rates and increased plant vigor. This is especially useful to gardeners with small spaces who what to grow crops as efficiently as possible.

Hydroponic Disadvantages:

  • · Although there are a wide variety of nutrients that can be purchased or made, hydroponic systems tend to offer a less complete range of nutrients. This is commonly the reason why some hydroponic crops are reported less tasteful than their soil grown counterparts.
  • · Hydroponics also generally requires much more work from the gardener. On top of regular garden duties, hydroponic gardeners must check pH & TDS, fill and drain water levels in the reservoirs and also administer nutrients more frequently.


Now that you are a little more educated on the Hydroponics vs Soil debate, I hope that you’ll be able to choose the most beneficial system for your needs! They’re both proven methods, but without you there is no garden! Good luck on your gardening adventures.


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