What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a water-based nutrient-rich solution instead of using soil. The hydroponic system makes use of an inert medium such as paralite, rockwood, clay pellets, peat moss, or vermiculite to support the root system of the plant instead of soil. The basic principle behind hydroponics is to allow the plant roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient-rich solution while having access to oxygen. One thing to keep in mind here is that the sunlight should not reach the water solution as it may lead to the formation of algae which will wreak havoc in the system. Many people use artificial grow lights which simulate the IR and UV rays of the sun and help in much faster growth and flowering of plants.
When most people think of hydroponics they imagine the plants growing with the root suspended directly into the water with no growing medium(Growing medium is the material in which the roots of the plants are growing in case of traditional plant growing methods the growing method is soil). This is, in fact, one of the most common types of hydroponic systems out there which is called as nutrient film technique or commonly known as NFT. We will discuss the different types of hydroponics systems in a short while.
Now you may be thinking why does hydroponics work so well. The answer is actually very simple if you give a plant exactly what it needs and when it needs the plant would be healthy in any growing condition. With hydroponics, this is an easy task as the nutrient-rich water-based solution is directly supplied to the roots of the plant compared to the traditional method of growing plants using soil where this is a little more difficult as the plant has to make effort to extract food from the soil. The energy spent by the roots to search for nutrients is better utilized by producing high quality and yielding plants in hydroponics. If you were to grow two identical plants one in the soil and another using hydroponics you will definitely see the difference in both of them. The plant grown using hydroponics would grow much faster and stronger than the plant grown in the soil, also the plants grown using hydroponics has much better yields than the plant grown in soil.
Is Hydroponic Gardening A Complicated Process?
In the beginning, hydroponic gardening may seem like it is but in reality, it is very easy once it is set up. The average home hydroponic gardening system usually consists of only a few basic parts a growing medium to grow your plants, a reservoir from which nutrient-rich water solution would be supplied directly to the roots of the plant a submersible pump to water the plants a simple timer and an air pump and a stone to oxygenate the nutrient solution. Another important thing that is required is light which could be either natural or artificial. Most of the homegrown hydroponic gardening system make use of artificial grow light which provides the same IR and UV rays which the sun provides - the harmful effects of it.
Is Hydroponic Gardening Expensive?
The answer is both yes and no. For people who are doing hydroponics as a hobby or a just starting out it is actually quite inexpensive. We have combined a list of essential items required to begin your hydroponics Garden in the least expensive and efficient and hassle-free way possible. also as an encouragement for you to start your hydroponics garden, we are giving a 10% discount when you purchase the whole package from the following link. (Click here to check out our inexpensive hydroponics kits)
How Many Types Of Hydroponics Systems Are There?
There are basically six types of hydroponics systems Deep Water Culture (DWC), Wick System, Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain), Nutrient Film Technique(NFT), Aeroponics, and Drip System. There may be other types of hydroponics systems but basically, they are a variation or a combination of the above 6 hydroponic system.
1. Deep Water Culture(DWC)
Deep Water culture also known as the Reservoir method is by far the easiest method for growing plants using hydroponics. In this Hydroponic System, the roots of the plant are suspended in a nutrient solution. The platform that holds the plant is usually made of styrofoam and floats directly on top of the nutrient solution. An air pump oxygenates the nutrient solution. Care should be taken to prevent light from reaching your water solution as this can cause the growth of algae which will destroy your system(This is true for all hydroponics system).
The main benefits of the deep water culture system are that it is very easy and cheap to set up and maintenance is also very easy.
2. Wick System
The wick system is another simple type of hydroponic system. The plants are grown in a growing medium and water from the Reservoir is drawn into the growing medium with a wick. The system can use a variety of growing medium like perlite, vermiculite, promix, and coconut fiber are among the most popular growing mediums. One of the main drawbacks of this type of system is that if your plants are large enough they might absorb the nutrient much faster than the wick can supply it.
3. Ebb and Flow(Flood and Drain)
The flood and drain system works by temporary flooding the growing area with nutrient-rich water solution at specific intervals after some time the nutrient solution slowly trains back into the reservoir. The pump is attached to a timer so that the process repeats itself at a specific interval to provide the plant the amount of desired nutrients. The theory behind this system is that certain plants flourish more when they go through a dry period because it simulates the root system to grow larger in search of moisture. As the roots keep on growing larger the plant grows faster and healthy because it can absorb more nutrients.
4. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT).
One of the most interesting hydroponic systems is the nutrient film technique in which there is no growing medium as such other than air. In this hydroponics system, the plant is supported in small plastic baskets with their roots hanging out in the air. Only the tips of the roots are exposed to a continuous supply of nutrient-rich water solution which is continuously flowing into the growing tray that is usually kept at an angle. The pump provides the nutrient-rich solution to one end of the tray which travels down to the other end of the tray and back into the reserve with the help of gravity. In his method, the roots of the plant are able to absorb much more oxygen because they are exposed to the air which results in a faster growth rate.
Aeroponics system is probably one of the costliest types of hydroponic gardening. Just like the NFT system the growing medium is air. The roots are continuously hanging in the air and are misted with the nutrient solution every few minutes. The timer controls the nutrient pump the only difference that the timer is of much more shorter cycles so that the roots do not dry out.
6. Drip System
A simple yet not recommended method of hydroponics is the drip system in which a slow feed of nutrient-rich water solution is supplied to the hydroponics medium. The excess solution that is not absorbed by the plant is automatically drained back into the reservoir. One of the major drawbacks of the drip system is that the system gets clogged as small particles from the growing medium seep back into the water. We do not recommend this system unless you can constantly avoid the clogs that will stop this system.
Why Choose Hydroponics?
Any hydroponics system gives you much more control over the variables that affect how well your plants grow. how well monitored and maintained hydroponic system can easily surpass soil based system in quality of the plant and amount of produce yielded. also plants grown from hydroponics are less prone to soil-based plant diseases and rodent infestation. another important aspect that checking the pH of the hydroponic system is much easier than checking the pH level of a soil based system. it may seem intimidating at first but if you start small and keep it simple you will start to love your hydroponic system and the results will never cease to amaze you.