The Ultimate Guide to Hydroponics: Growing Plants at Home Without Soil
In this ultimate guide, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to start growing hydroponically.
Here’s what you’re going to learn:
- Methods to use that require the least amount of effort and money.
- The easiest plants to grow, so you can start enjoying fresh home-grown edible plants.
- How to maintain a healthy hydroponic garden either indoors or outdoors.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Fundementals of Hydroponics
You’re going to learn about the basics of hydroponics, so you can remove any confusion or problems that are stopping you from starting. We’re also going to cover when hydroponics was invented, what it costs and how it compares to other non-soil growing methods.
Now that we know the basics of hydroponics, how it started and why it’s the preferred method of growing plants indoors.
Let’s look at the most popular hydroponic systems and methods for growing anything you want.
In this lesson, you’re going to learn what method to use, how much it costs, what plants it’s best suited for and how to maintain it.
- The best hydroponic systems
- Ebb and flow
- Wick system
- Nutrient film technique (NFT)
- Deep water culture (DWC)
- Drip system
So you’ve chosen your method of growing from the lesson above and now you’re ready to start. But, what hydroponic supplies do you need to grow a healthy hydroponic garden?
That’s what we’re going to answer in this lesson. Everything from pumps and meters, to timers and grow lights.
- Monitoring equipment
- Pots and trays for germination
- Heat mat
- Root conditioner
- Indoor hydroponics
- Grow lights
Hydroponic seeds are different from normal seeds in that they don’t germinate and grow on soil.
They require special mediums like rock wool, vermiculite, perlite, or clay pellets to provide the starting point for root growth as well as water and oxygen.
Let’s take a closer look at seeds.
- Seeds vs Seedlings
- Starting Your Seeds
- Nutrients During Seeding
Maintaining your system is crucial to ensuring the health of your plants.
If you are using a system that is difficult to access, it may be necessary for you to check on them more often, let’s look at the three most important aspects of hydroponic maintenance.
Here are the most crucial steps for maintaining a healthy setup:
- Nutrient management
- Flushing and cleaning
Let’s talk about nutrients. Without them, your hydroponic plants won’t grow properly.
Now, there are two kinds of hydroponic nutrients: those that come as dry powder and those that drip directly into the water reservoir.
The latter option is cheaper but much more labor-intensive to maintain since you have to check your reservoir regularly for pH levels and nutrient buildup.
Let’s look at nutrients in more detail:
- Primary macronutrients
- Secondary macronutrients
- Liquid nutrients
- Dry nutrients
- Liquid vs powder nutrients
- Water top-ups and changes
- Vegetating and flowering plants
There will come a time when you run into some problems with your hydroponic garden.
This is not something that should discourage you, but rather the opposite.
It’s all part of owning a hydroponically grown garden and learning more about how your plants are doing on their journey to grow up big and strong!
Here are some common hydroponic problems:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Pest management
- Seeding problems
- Salt burn
- Root rot
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions that first-time growers have when getting into hydroponics.
Why is hydroponics bad?
This is a common misconception. Almost all plants use some amount of water and nutrient solution, so hydroponics actually makes it easier for them to grow because they get everything they need directly from the source without having to wait around for rain or search out nutrients in the soil itself.
What are the disadvantages of hydroponics?
There are no disadvantages to using hydroponics, only challenges. As with anything new you take on, there will be a learning curve and it might not go perfectly at first since everyone needs some time to get used to things. But this is the best way of growing vegetables indoors without having many problems or issues along the way.
Is hydroponics better than soil?
In general, hydroponics is better than soil because it provides a steady flow of nutrients to your plants no matter the season. However, you may also want to consider using aeroponics instead which allows for even more oxygen and nutrient uptake so that your plant grows faster and healthier with less stress overall.
How does hydroponic farming work?
Hydroponic farming is based on the Nutrient Film Technique which was developed in 1939. It works by continually running a nutrient-rich solution over plant roots while they are suspended in air or misted with water, but some types of hydroponics also use gravel beds to grow plants instead.
What plants can be grown hydroponically?
Almost any type of plant can be grown hydroponically, including vegetables and fruits. Lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, beans… the list is endless.
Is hydroponic noisy?
No, hydroponic systems are very quiet and do not make any noise. However, aeroponics can be a bit noisier if it uses fans to circulate air around plants as they grow in misted chambers or hanging from the walls of vertical farms.
Is soil cheaper than hydroponics?
If you have the time and resources to manage a soil garden, then yes. However, hydroponics will likely be cheaper in terms of running costs because there is no need for fertilizers or other products that help improve your plant’s health over time.
Why does hydroponics not use soil?
The primary reason for not using soil is that it takes a lot of time to manage and maintain. In hydroponics, plants can grow quickly because they no longer have to “wait” around until the soil gets more nutrients or water from rain.
Why is hydroponics faster than growing plants without soil?
Hydroponics is faster because it allows for a constant flow of nutrients and water to your plants. In soil, you have to wait until the ground becomes moist before watering or fertilizing again which can be very time-consuming depending on what type of garden you are trying to grow.
What are the pros and cons of hydroponics?
Hydroponics has many pros, just a few cons. The main advantage is that plants grow faster and more efficiently because they get everything they need right from the source without having to wait around for it in nature like regular soil-based gardens do.
On the other hand, there are not as many disadvantages unless you consider water usage an issue (which it really shouldn’t be).
The only potential downside is that you might need to spend some extra money on equipment like grow tents, lights, fans, and aerators in order to get the best results possible if your hydroponic system does not come with any of these.
Do hydroponic plants taste different?
It’s possible that some hydroponic plants might have a slightly different taste than their soil counterparts because of the absence of pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals used to enhance vegetables in traditional gardening.
However, this is usually only found in large-scale commercial or traditional farming operations where food safety regulations are more stringent so you probably won’t find many differences in home gardens.
Are hydroponically grown plants healthy?
Yes, hydroponically grown food is just as healthy if not more so than regular soil-based gardening. It’s perfectly safe for human consumption. In fact, it’s been proven that organic produce from hydroponic systems have higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins overall which means they are healthier for you to eat too.
Is hydroponics bad for the environment?
No, hydroponics is not bad for the environment. In fact, they have been found to be great carbon dioxide sinks because it’s estimated that you can reuse up to 90% of water in your system which means less wastewater runoff and greater water conservation overall.
Can plants drown in hydroponics?
No, hydroponics prevents plants from drowning. In soil-based gardens, there is always a risk of overwatering which can lead to your plant’s roots rotting (damaged root systems) and dying off because they have been submerged in water for too long.
Conclusion: Is Hydroponics Right For You?
Hydroponics is an amazing way to grow food (fruits, vegetables, and herbs) in a sustainable manner while reducing runoff and improving water usage.
If you want to grow your own food but don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing a soil-based garden, then hydroponics might just be right for you.