Hydroponics can be described as the art of gardening that does not require soil. Hydroponics is “working water” in Latin. It’s the art of cultivating plants in soil. From watermelons to jalapenos to orchids, all plants thrive in the rigors of hydroponics. Hydroponic gardens are small and take up less space than conventional farming. With 90 percent less water and a innovative design, they produce beautiful fruit and blooms in half their time.
Hydroponics might sound like cutting-edge technology, however the roots of hydroponics goes all the way to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates River was channelized into channels that were a part of the lavish gardens’ walls. Marco Polo, a 13-year-old writer from Italy, wrote about floating gardens in China. Hydroponics isn’t just an ancient innovation. In the 1990s, NASA grew aeroponic bean seeds in zero gravity on the space station, opening up possibilities for sustainable agriculture in space. Hydroponics is a long-standing and innovative method of conserve water and increase crop growth.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics Hydroponics is the cultivation and care of plants with no need for soil. Inert media is utilized to cultivate hydroponic herbs, plants and vegetables. They are then nourished with nutrients, oxygen, water, and other growing media. This allows for quicker growth, better yields, and higher quality. The plant’s roots are always searching for the right nutrients to nourish it. Plants that are provided directly with nutrition and water are able to survive without the need to use energy. The growth of the plant is able to be made more energy efficient by investing the energy the roots expended in acquiring food and water. This results in leaf growth that flourishes and the blooming of fruits as well as flowers and even vegetables.
Photosynthesis is the method that plants use to maintain themselves. The chlorophyll green pigment that is found on the leaves of plants captures sunlight. They make use of the energy of light to break down water molecules they’ve absorbed through their root systems. The hydrogen molecules react with carbon dioxide and create carbohydrates that plants require to survive. Oxygen is released into the atmosphere which is a vital element in preserving the habitability of our planet. To photosynthesize the plant, they don’t require soil. They need the soil to provide them with nutrients and water. If nutrients are dissolving into water, they may be directly applied to the roots of the plant through misting or flooding. Hydroponics innovations have shown the direct application of nutrients to water is more efficient than conventional irrigation.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics works by giving you control over the environment such as temperature, pH balance and the the maximum amount of the amount of nutrients that can be absorbed. The principle behind hydroponics is simple. It gives plants exactly what and when they require it. Hydroponics provides customized nutrition for each particular plant. They allow you to control exactly how much light the plants receive and how long. The pH levels can be controlled and adjusted. The environment can be highly managed and adjusted to accelerate plant growth.
A variety of risk factors can be reduced through controlling the plant’s environment. Many variables can negatively affect the health and growth of the plants that are that are grown in gardens and fields. The plants can be affected by fungi that cause soil damage. Animals like rabbits can take your garden’s fresh vegetables. In just a few minutes, pests like locusts can pounce on crops and decimate them. Hydroponic systems eliminate the uncertainty of growing plants outdoors and in the earth. Seedlings mature quicker if they’re not subject to the mechanical resistance of soil. Hydroponics is a healthier and better quality method of growing fruits and vegetables by removing pesticides. The plants are free to grow vigorously, and fast without obstacles.
What are the main components of a hydroponic plant?
You must know the elements of hydroponics to maintain an efficient system.
Media that is growing
Hydroponic plants are often planted in media which support the plant’s weight and secure its root structure. Growing media is the alternative to soil, but it doesn’t provide any independent nutrition to the plant. Instead, the porous medium holds nutrients in the solution and delivers them to the plant. A lot of growing media are pH-neutral, so they will not upset the balance of your nutrient solution. There are many different media that are available. Your hydroponic system and plant will decide which one is the best fit for your needs. There are a variety of hydroponics media on the internet as well as at local gardening and nurseries.
Stones and pumps to air
If the water isn’t adequately aerated, plants can drown rapidly when submerged. Air stones disperse tiny bubbles of oxygen dissolved throughout your nutrient solution reservoir. These bubbles also help to evenly disperse the nutrients that are dissolved in the solution. Air stones aren’t able to produce oxygen on their own. They require an external oxygen pump using transparent tubing made of food grade plastic. This will prevent algae development. These are extremely well-liked in aquariums and can be readily purchased from pet stores.
Net pots are mesh planters which hold hydroponic plants. The latticed materials allow roots to grow out of the sides and bottom of the pot giving greater exposure to oxygen and nutrients. Net pots also drain more than traditional clay and plastic pots.
What’s the main difference between six kinds of hydroponic systems?
There are hundreds upon hundreds of hydroponic techniques, but they all come from six basic hydroponic systems.
1. Deep water culture systems
Hydroponics are plants that are suspended in an aerated environment. DWC systems are among the most popular and simplest way to grow hydroponics. DWC systems have net pots that hold plants suspended over an oxygen-rich reservoir. The solution helps keep the plant’s roots hydrated and gives them constant access to water, nutrients and oxygen. The cultivation of deep water is considered the most pure form of hydroponics.
Because the root system of the plant is always suspended in water, water oxygenation is essential for the health of the plant. If there isn’t enough oxygenation, the roots will drown. To provide oxygenation by connecting an airstone to the air pump that is located at the bottom. The nutrient solution will also circulate thanks to the bubbles created by the air stone.
It’s simple to put up a deep-water cultivation system in your home, or in a classroom. To store the pots that are net, you can use an aquarium that is old or a clean buckets to store the solution. Plants that are part of DWC systems should be submerged by the solution. It is not allowed to submerge vegetation or stems. You can even leave about one inch and a half of the roots above the waterline. Air stone bubbles will appear from the surface and over the roots that are exposed. They are not at risk drying out.
What are the benefits of deep water systems for culture?
- Simple maintenance: Once your DWC system is installed, you will not need to do any maintenance. Simply refill the nutrient solution as required and ensure that your pump is running oxygen to the air stone. The nutrient solution typically only requires replenishment every two weeks, but this does depend on the size of your plant.
- DIY appeal Deepwater systems come with the benefit of being easy to make unlike other hydroponic systems. All you need to do is visit your local nursery or pet store to purchase the air pump and nutrients.
What are the disadvantages of deep water culture systems
- Limitations Although deep water culture systems are great at growing lettuce and herbs however, they are not as successful growing larger and slower-growing plants. DWC systems are not ideal for flowering. If you put in the effort, it’s possible to cultivate bell peppers, tomatoes and squash in a DWC-system.
- Temperature Control: It’s crucial that the water solution you use not exceed 68°F and not drop below 60 degrees F. DWC systems use water that is not recirculating and it is therefore more difficult to control the temperature.
2. Wick systems
Plants are placed in wick systems on top of a reservoir. The reservoir is filled with water that contains dissolved nutrients. The reservoir houses a water solution with dissolving nutrients. Wicks travel from this reservoir and then to the tray. The wick is flooded with water and nutrients, which then saturate the soil around the roots of the plants. Wicks can be constructed from as little as rope, string or felt. The most basic type of hydroponics is the wick systems. Wick systems are described as passive hydroponics meaning that they don’t require pumps or other mechanical parts. This makes them perfect for situations in which electricity is not reliable or unavailable.
Wicks systems work by a process called capillary action. The wick absorbs water, and then transfer the nutrients to the media. Wick system hydroponics only work when it is accompanied by a growing medium which can facilitate nutrient and water transference. Coco coir is composed of coconut husks and fibers, has excellent moisture retention. It also has the added advantage of pH neutral. Perlite is extremely porous and pH neutral, making them ideal for wicking systems. Vermiculite, which is very porous has a high percentage of cation-exchange. It is able to conserve nutrients for later use. These growing media are ideal for hydroponic wick systems.
Wick systems work quite slowly compared to other hydroponic systems, which does limit what is practical to grow using them. You’ll want to make sure each plant that you grow in your growing tray you have at least one wick running out of the reservoir. The wicks shouldn’t be too close to the plant’s roots. Although they can function with aeration, many people do choose to add an air stone or air pump to the wick’s reservoir. This will provide extra oxygen to the hydroponic plant.
What are the advantages of a wick system?
- Simple: A running wick system is simple to install and requires little maintenance. The plants you plant will never run dry because the wicks provide water to them all the time. Plants such as lettuce thrive in a wick system. This will guarantee a high yield on your investment.
- Space-efficientWick Systems are small and easy to install anyplace. They do not require power to operate. This system is perfect for beginners, teachers, or anyone who is interested in hydroponics.
What are the disadvantages of wick systems?
- The limitationsLettuce or other herbs like mint, rosemary, and basil grow quickly and don’t require much water. Because of their high demand for nutrients and hydration tomatoes are not able to thrive in wick systems. Other plants will not thrive in an environment in which the humidity is constantly. A wick system won’t let root vegetables like carrots or turnips to thrive.
- Possible to rot: A hydroponic wick system must be kept humid and moist. This can lead to fungal infections as well as root rot in your organic media for growing as well as the plant’s roots.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
NFT (Nutrient film technique) Systems suspend plants above an endless flow of nutrients that wash over the roots. The channels that keep the plants in a tilted position let water flow down their length before it drains into the reservoir. The reservoir’s water is then treated with an air stone. Submersible pumps then pump the nutrient-rich water from the reservoir up to the top of channel. The nutrient films technique is a recirculating system for hydroponics.
An NFT system isn’t similar to deep-water hydroponics. The roots of the plants are not submerged in water. Instead the stream (or “film”) only flows over the ends of the roots. The tips of the roots absorb moisture into the plant while the exposed root system gets lots of oxygen. The channels’ bottoms are grooved so that the film can easily flow through the root tips. This keeps water from pooling and getting clogged up by the root system.
It is important to drain the reservoir every week, and refill the solution of nutrients. This will ensure that your plants receive enough nutrition. The slope of the NFT channels must be gradual. The water will not nourish the plants if the slope is not steep enough. Too much water can make the channel overflow and plants may drown. NFT hydroponics are able to support a variety of plants in a single channel, and they can be easily mass-produced. Lightweight plants, such as mustard greens, lettuce, and also strawberries, are more suited to nutrient film technique systems. Larger fruiting plants such as cucumbers and tomatoes require trellises to bear the excess weight.
What are the advantages to the use of a nutrient film?
- Low consumption NFT hydroponics do not require huge amounts of water and nutrients to operate. It is also harder to build up salts on the plants’ roots because of the continuous flow. Nutrient film technology systems don’t require the growth of media. It is possible to save money on purchasing media and hassles of replacing it.
- Modular design Nutrient film technique systems are perfect for commercial and large-scale projects. It’s easy to expand your greenhouse once you have one channel functioning. Multiple channels are possible to fill your greenhouse, each supporting different plants. It’s a good idea to feed each channel with its own reservoir. In this way, in the event of a pump failure occurs or illness spreads through the water, you will not lose the entire operation.
What are the advantages from using the nutrient film technique?
- Plants can die if the pump is not functioning correctly and the channel ceases to circulate the nutrients. Your entire crop could be killed if it’s not given water within hours. It is essential to be on guard in maintaining your NFT hydroponics setup. You must be diligent in checking the condition and performance of your pump.
- Overcrowding: If the plants are spaced too close to each other or the root growth is too proliferate and the channel is clogged. If the channel is blocked by roots, water will be unable to flow through and your plants will be starved. This is especially true of those plants that are located at the bottom of the channel. If the plants near the bottom ever seem to be underperforming compared to the rest of the channel, consider removing some plants or moving to smaller units.
4. Ebb systems and flow systems
Ebb-and-flow hydroponics involves the flooding of a growing bed with a solution of nutrients from the reservoir below. The reservoir’s submersible pump is fitted with a timer. The timer starts when the pump fills with water and nutrients. After the timer is over, gravity slowly drains all the excess water out of the grow beds before flushing it back into the reservoir. To make sure that the water does not exceed a certain level, the overflow tube protects the plant’s fruits and stalks. The plants in an ebb-and-flow system are not continuously exposed to water, unlike other systems. When the grow bed is submerged, the plants drink up the nutrient solution through their roots. When the water ebbs and the bed is empty, the roots are dry. The roots are dry and then oxygenate in the time between the next flood. The interval between floods will be determined by the size of your grow bed and how large your plants are.
Systems for ebb and flow, commonly referred to as drain or flood systems, are among the most popular hydroponic methods of growth. The plants get ample oxygen and nutrients that stimulate rapid and robust growth. The ebb-and-flow system is a flexible and easy configurable. You can make the grow bed more productive by adding various net pots as well as a variety fruits and vegetables. More than other hydroponic system, the ebb and flow system allows you to play around with your plants and media.
Ebb and flow systems can accommodate nearly any type of plant. The only thing that will restrict your choices is the dimensions of the grow tray. Root vegetables require a deeper grow tray than strawberries and lettuce. Many popular ebb flow crops include peppers, tomatoes, beans and peas. You can attach trellises directly to the grow bed. Hydroponics with ebb and flow is a well-known method for growing plants. They are light and washable, they can be reused and re-used. They drain as well. This is an important property in ebb-flow systems.
What are the advantages of an ebb and flow system?
- Flexibility With an electronic ebb/flow system, you can grow more plants than other hydroponics systems. The use of ebb and flow hydroponics are a excellent method to cultivate flowers, vegetables and even fruits. You can expect a huge harvest if you are careful to give your plants the proper size growing bed, nutrients, and other necessary things.
- DIY appeal: There are a myriad of ways to construct your own hydroponic ebb and flow system at your home. A visit to the hardware store and pet store will provide you with everything you need to construct an ebb and flow system. While they cost more than DIY systems such as deep water culture or wick, these systems can support a greater range of plant species than the other systems.
What are the disadvantages of an ebb and flow system?
- If your pump malfunctions, your hydroponic system will be destroyed. Monitoring your flow system is essential to make sure that your plants remain in good health. The plants won’t receive the proper amount of nutrients and water if it is flowing too fast.
- Disease and rot:Sanitation, maintenance and inspection are essential to an Ebb/flow system. Rot and root diseases can develop if the bed isn’t draining properly. A dirty ebb-flow system could draw in insects and cause mold to grow. The crops are affected if you don’t keep your system clean. Additionally, some plants do not respond well to the rapid change in pH caused by of the flooding and draining extremes.
5. Drip systems
Hydroponic drip systems provide a nutrients-rich and an aerated solution from a reservoir through the network tube system to the individual plants. The solution is slowly dripped onto the roots to ensure moisture and nutrition. Drip systems, particularly popular with commercial growers are the most popular type of hydroponics. Drip systems are utilized to water plants or vast areas.
There are two types of drip hydroponics systems: recovery and non-recovery. These systems are more popular among smaller growers at home. The excess water is drained from the grow bed and put into a reservoir. It will then be recirculated in the next drip cycle. Systems that do not have recovery let the excess water drain off the media and out to the environment. This is the preferred method of commercial growers. Non-recovery drips can seem wasteful however large-scale growers are incredibly conservative about water consumption. They only provide the exact amount of solution that is needed to keep the media surrounding the plants. Non-recovery drip systems employ elaborate timing devices and feeding schedules in order to reduce waste.
Plants grown in a recovery drip plant system require you to be sensitive to variations in pH of their nutrients. This applies to any system where wastewater is recirculated back into the reservoir. Growers must be aware of the reservoir’s condition and alter it more often than they would in a nonrecovery system. The plants can also deplete the nutrients in the solution as well as altering the pH. A growing medium that is saturated can cause problems, so it is essential to clean and change them frequently.
What are the benefits associated with a drip system?
- A wide range of plant options: A drip-system can accommodate larger plants than other hydroponic systems. Commercial growers are enthralled by this method. Onions, melons, pumpkins, and zucchinis can all be amply supported by a properly sized drip system. Drip systems contain higher quantities of growing media than other system, allowing them to support larger root systems. Drip systems perform best with slow-draining media, such as rockwool and coco coir.
- Scale: Large-scale hydroponics operations are possible with drip systems. A grower can connect new tubing to a reservoir to allow for additional plants. A drip system that is in place can be updated with new plants. This is another reason drip systems are so well-liked in commercial hydroponics.
What are the downsides to a drip system
- Maintenance:If you are growing plants using a non-recovery drip system at home, there’s an enormous amount of maintenance involved. Monitoring the pH and nutrients of the solution is essential. If needed the draining and replacement of water will be necessary. The lines for recovery systems can become clogged by dirt as well as plant material, which is why you will need to regularly wash and flush delivery lines.
- Complexity:Drip systems can easily turn into complex and complicated undertakings. This is not as relevant to professionals in hydroponics, however it is not the best for those who want to grow their own plants at home. There are a variety of simpler systems, like ebb and flow which are more suited to at-home hydroponics.
Aeroponics systems suspend plants from the sky and expose their roots to a rich nutrient mist. Aeroponics systems can house many plants within a single structure, like towers or cubes. A reservoir stores the water as well as nutrients. The solution is pumped through a nozzle to disperse the fine mist. The mist is typically discharged from the top of the tower allowing it to flow through the chamber. Certain aeroponics spray continuously the plant’s roots like NFT systems that expose them to the nutrient films constantly. Some operate more as an ebb and flow system, spraying mist at intervals to the roots. Aeroponics don’t require substrate media to thrive. The constant exposure of the roots lets them breathe in oxygen and grows at a much faster pace.
Aeroponics systems require less water than other form of hydroponics. It actually requires 95 percent less water to cultivate a crop aeroponically than in an irrigated field. Vertical gardens Aeroponics’ vertical structure allows several towers to be erected in one location and takes only a small amount of space. Aeroponics can generate large yields, even in areas with limited space. Aeroponic plants can also be more efficient than hydroponically grown plants since they have a higher oxygen supply.
Aeroponics makes it possible to harvest year-round. Aeroponics allows for the growth of nightshades and vines, like bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. You will also find baby greens and herbs, as well as watermelons and strawberries, as well as ginger, watermelons and lettuce that thrive in an aeroponic environment. But the fruiting trees are too large and heavy to be grown aeroponically, and underground plants with large root systems such as potatoes and carrots are not able to be grown.