The art of growing plants without using soil is known as hydroponics. One may wonder, “How do the plants receive their nutrition?” In soil-less gardening, all necessary nutrition is received through a nutrient solution made from water and fertilizer.
In soil gardening, plants spend so much energy trying to obtain nutrients from the soil. In hydroponics gardening, this energy is concentrated towards growth.
Here we will go over information on hydroponics.
Hydroponics Growing Medium
Instead of soil, water is used to grow plants. An alternative media is used to hold the roots. Media used includes perlite, gravel, sand, clay pellets, mineral wool, pumice, coir, vermiculite, and coconut husk. The media does not supply nutrient to the plant, it is just an inert substance to provide a base. The difference between the fertilizers used in hydroponics and those used in normal soil gardening is that those in hydroponics are prepared in the exact amounts required by the plants. They are also more refined for better absorption. Whatever media you choose, always ensure that it is free of nutrients, has a neutral PH, drains quickly, and is able to retain water and air.
Different growing methods are used in hydroponics. You can choose between:
- Nutrient Film Technique: the nutrient solution flows over the plants and drains back into the reservoir.
- Wick system: the nutrient solution is drawn into the medium with a wick.
- Water culture: nutrients are fed into the plant through air bubbles.
- Ebb & Flow: the grow tray is flooded with the nutrient solution, which is later drained into the reservoir.
- Drip: the nutrient solution is dripped on the roots of each plant through a pump that is controlled by a timer.
Using LED Lights in Hydroponics
For plants to thrive, they require light to aid in photosynthesis. In hydroponics, LED grow lights can be used effectively as the sole lighting solution or to supplement another lighting solution. In winter months, they can be left to run for more hours so as to “lengthen” the day and increase the growing period. LED grow lights are very cheap to run and they last longer than sodium/HID grow lights. An LED grow lamp can last up to 100,000 hours. Using LED grow lights helps to conserve the environment as they require less energy to manufacture. These lights are tender to touch and will not damage young plants. In indoor gardening, the plants need different light colors at different stages of their growth. For example, young plants require blue light while mature plants require red light. LED grow lights come in a variety of colors making it possible to use the right one, at the right time.
Simple to Complex Setups
The practice of hydroponics can be as simple or as complex as one wants. For some people, it is a simple assembly of a water reservoir, a growing tray, a medium, a simple timer, simple lighting and of course, your plants. For others, it may be a fully mechanized affair with automated controls. Hydroponics can be used for home gardening, as a hobby or for commercial farming.
Hydroponic Growing Benefits
There are countless gains from hydroponics gardening:
- High yield from a small area.
- You will not have to deal with weeds.
- It is possible to automate the system so that your plants are well taken care of even if you are absent.
- Water is contained within the reservoir and it can be reused.
- Plants mature early as growth is accelerated.
- It is easy to set up a hydroponic garden as materials can be improvised from items within the home.
- There is no wastage of nutrition as you use the required amount at the required time.