So while my forefathers were digging into soil trying to get good yields, the Pharaohs of Egypt munched on hydroponically grown fruits and veggies. Hard to believe but true, hydroponics has been in Earth for hundreds of years. Deriving yields using only water and few nutrients, hydroponics has a great value in today’s world especially when the usage of pesticides and fertilizers have shot up a great extent.
If you are planning to take your first baby step in hydroponics, then we can guide you. Read on to know all about hydroponics.
Getting to know hydroponics
Hydroponic comes from Latin which means water. In simple language, it means the art of growing plants in water without any soil. Yes, you can grow plants without using soil. However, the process of growing plants is somewhat similar to soil gardening. Here the roots are submerged in water than in soil. Did you know the Gardens of Babylons was a hydroponic garden? And many relished on the foods grown on water.
In recent times, hydroponics has gained the first place putting conventional gardening on the tough spot. This is because hydroponics has much more benefits than traditional gardening which we will delve further. The best part of implementing hydroponics is that you can grow plants both indoors and outdoors without a second thought.
There are many types of hydroponics such as:
- Drip system
- Ebb & Flow (i.e. Flood and Drain)
- Deep Water Culture
- NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)
- Wick system
You can either order a ready-to-use hydro cabinet or build one (i.e. DIY). However before you set up your hydroponic system it is crucial that you consider the type of plants you want to grow. It is also important you keep an eye on the space you want to grow in. You will also want to create a design that holds the plants needs (including the plant size, oxygenated water, root size, and so on). It should also have the build to hold up good amount of weight when they fully grow.
Hydroponic system needs these following basic parts to build.
- Growing chamber: is the part where plant roots will be growing. This area provides good plant support as well as help the roots to access the nutrients. It also inhibits entry of light, heat and pests thus protecting the crucial area of plant growth. This is because prolonged light/heat and high temperature can rot the roots. Note that bigger plants will have bigger roots. This means you will need more space to hold them.
- Reservoir: holds the nutrient solution. The plant nutrients are mixed in water to feed your precious babies that will deliver excellent yields. Depending on the hydroponic system you are using you can choose the options for feeding the plants. For instance, in cycles using a timer, continued feeding without timer, or submerging the roots to the reservoir 24/7 thus converting the reservoir as a growing chamber. Do not use black colored container as reservoir as they easily breed water borne diseases.
- Submersible pump: used in many hydroponic units to supply water to the growing chamber. They are easily available online as well as hydroponic supply store and come in different sizes. If the product does not come with filter, build one or get one filter that will eliminate the chances of residues. Certain nutrients settle down as sediments and choke the passageway of nutrient supply.
- Delivery systems: that deliver the nutrient solution to your plants. Nutrient delivery system arrives with a combo of PVC tubes, connectors, irrigation tubes/connectors along with blue/black vinyl tubing. Based on the hydroponic method you are using, you can go for emitters or sprayers as well. Do note that they clog easily. So make sure you have spares.
- Timer: based on the hydroponic system, timers help in frequently watering the plants taking worries out of you. They also help in setting the temperature of your grow room. If you want to change the light setting based on different growing stages, a standard timer will help in assisting the plants during their myriad stages.
- Air pump: are used for water culture units. Apart from it, air pump is optional and not that necessary. But they do come with their own set of benefits. For instance, they are quite cheap to get (find one in aquarium supplies). They simply sit and supply air and oxygen to water and to the roots. Air is pumped via an airline to the air stones that create little bubbles. They help in moving the water enabling proper mix of nutrients that cuts down pathogens in the solution.
- Grow lights: are also optional. If you are growing outdoors you can choose natural sunlight. For indoor purposes (especially in places where there is lack of sunlight), grow lights can work wonders. The color spectrums of the grow light mimic the sunlight and motivate healthy chlorophyll production and enhance the process of photosynthesis.
- Best for those who are having space constraints (especially gardeners living in apartments, flats etc.)
- Can be grown anywhere indoors or outdoors
- Basic setup can be done in kitchen windowsill to table top. All you need to have is a pot filled with water, sunlight and a plant to grow.
- Different types of hydroponics available
- Minimal use of cancerous chemicals such as pesticides/fertilizers
- Elimination of dirt and impish rodents/pests
- No more soil borne diseases
- Easily available at your budget
- Energy efficient (water and power)
- Excellent health benefits due to less usage of fertilizers