Hydroponic gardening (or hydroponics for short) is the system of growing plants with just mineral-rich solutions instead of using soil. It is a system that is getting more recognition as being a safe, productive, and land resource conservation method. Due to scarcity of good productive land these days, hydroponics is an ideal way to grow many kinds of vegetables and flowers within the confines of a relatively small area, be it indoors, or outdoors.
Many gardeners are beginning to switch to hydroponic gardening for many different reasons. These types of gardens are small and can easily be grown inside old warehouses or greenhouses, and are perfect for most vegetables, especially the red tomato. Also the equipment required for hydroponic gardening are usually not very expensive and relatively easy to manage.
Plants grown in a hydroponic system are often claimed to be superior to plants not grown hydroponically, by having maximum yields, flavor, and having higher vitamins and mineral content. Ever since the earliest treatise on hydroponics, published in 1627, constant advancements in understanding plant physiology, nutrient uptake, greenhouse and other indoor climate controlled gardening, Nutrient Film techniques and many others, have pushed hydroponic gardening into the limelight. A slightly different spin on hydroponics, namely combining hydroponics with aquaculture, called aquaponics, has also boomed in recent times.
The home gardener can now embark on an easy, delightful way to grow herbs, bulbs, vines, and many kinds of vegetables easily from within the comfort of an indoor environment. Colorful herbs including chives, dill, mint, parsley, cilantro, Italian basil, and more can be grown right in your kitchen if you like, and the make a wonderful taste addition to all your favorite dishes. Plants will only receive what you give them; therefore you will be able to regulate the pH, nutrients, nutrient strength, water amount, and light amount. This makes it imperative that you research the kind of plants you will be growing so you know what they need to survive.
Hydroponics gardening is only as difficult as you make it. It can be complicated if computers with sensors are used to control water cycles, nutrients, and light for the plants. However, it can also be as simple as a hand watered bucket with a single plant. The normal home hydroponics system is usually made up of a few basic things: a growing tray, light (natural or artificial), a reservoir, a water controlled pump for watering (or some type of watering equipment), and some form of air pump to give oxygen to the nutrients.
Hydroponic systems will vary by cost and quality, which is why it’s important to understand exactly how each system works. You can view a diagram of each type of basic system and how it works at Simply Hydroponics, located online at www.simplyhydro.com.
The wick system is by far the simplest, and it works well for smaller plants, and is great for the classroom. Probably that’s why it is popular with teachers. The water culture system is good for leaf lettuce, and ebb and flow (flood and drain) systems can be used with a variety of growing mediums, but roots can dry out quickly if watering cycles are interrupted by power outage, pump, or timer failures.
The drip system is probably the most widely used type of hydroponic system in the world, and the aeroponic system is the most high-tech type of hydroponic gardening, which uses primarily air, meaning that the roots can dry out quickly if misting cycles are interrupted. Each type of hydroponic system has its advantages and disadvantages and different models have many variations as well.
The growing medium used in hydroponic gardening can be any number of things, such as rockwool, perlite, coconut fiber, gravel, sand, vermiculite, or even air. You can get instructions from a gardening store or online or buy separate parts and build your own. There are also kits already assembled for sale in gardening supply stores.
You can build your own hydroponic system fairly easily and inexpensively with do-it-yourself kits that can be easily modified to suit your particular needs, or you can purchase plug and play toolkits that come complete with their own growing lights, cloning systems, and other hydroponic supplies.
There is a lot of potential in hydroponic gardening both now and in the future, as a means of growing healthy vegetables without the difficulties associated with poor soil, irrigation and limited available land space. If you choose to embark on hydroponics, be assured there are lots of material accumulated over the years as a result of constant research by agricultural researchers which helps in giving your first hydroponics venture a good headstart for success.
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