Hydroponics is a type of farming that does not use soil.
Plants are grown in water or a nutrient-rich solution, with their roots suspended in the air rather than buried underground.
This technique eliminates the need for pesticides and chemicals because hydroponic plants grow without them - what you see is what you get!
- When was hydroponics invented?
- How does hydroponics work?
- What are the benefits of hydroponics?
- What are the disadvantages of hydroponics?
- Why is hydroponic farming not used instead of traditional farming methods?
- Why is hydroponics so expensive?
- Is hydroponic gardening healthier than soil?
- What is the most popular hydroponic system?
- Are there alternatives to hydroponics?
- Conclusion: Should you become a hydroponic grower?
When was hydroponics invented?
Hydroponics has been around since the year 1699. The history of hydroponics can be traced back to Sir Francis Bacon and his experiments on the growth of vegetables without soil which is where we get its name from: hydro= water, ponic= plant.
How does hydroponics work?
The answer to this question is simple. It's a growing method where the roots of plants are submerged in water filled with nutrients that feed them instead of soil.
This allows for faster growth because there isn't any need for transplanting or replanting.
There are several ways that these systems can be set up, but they all have one thing in common: a reservoir at the bottom that holds nutrient-rich water and contains some sort of growth medium for supporting plant roots.
This can be anything from plastic rings filled with pebbles to nylon nets, but it's all placed in a larger container that holds the reservoir.
What are the benefits of hydroponics?
There are tons of benefits to using hydroponics, including the fact that you can grow a bunch of food in an extremely small space. Proving it to be an incredibly powerful growing method.
Because all you need is water and a grow light, it's easy to set up hydroponics systems on your windowsill or inside a small greenhouse.
You can also keep your system indoors, meaning you don't have to worry about the weather at all and they're very easy for beginners since there aren't any pests or weeds to deal with.
Check out our top recommendations for the best hydroponic systems for indoor and outdoor gardening
What are the disadvantages of hydroponics?
The biggest disadvantages are that it can be difficult to set up and maintain.
If not properly monitored, plants may have nutrient deficiencies or toxicities that will inhibit growth.
In addition, hydroponics does require a lot of water which must also be discarded after use since there is no way for the nutrients from old crops to fully go away with time as is the case with soil.
Despite this, some of these disadvantages can be offset by using a hydroponics system that recycles water and nutrients if you are growing plants on a large scale or want to get around having to buy new nutrient solutions often.
Learn more about some of the difficulties with hydroponics
Why is hydroponic farming not used instead of traditional farming methods?
Hydroponics is not used more than traditional farming because the equipment and supplies needed for hydroponic farms are very expensive.
It can also be very costly to maintain and farmers from a traditional agriculture background are used to doing things the old way, so they're not likely to switch.
It's being used more frequently in many countries around the world but only as a supplement instead of the primary form of farming.
Why is hydroponics so expensive?
There are several things to consider when thinking about the cost of hydroponics.
The first thing is the growing medium, which plays a huge role in whether or not your plants will thrive and how long they'll last.
Next, you've got nutrients to consider; if these aren't provided properly then it's easy for diseases and pests to take hold of your garden quickly.
Thirdly, you should consider the cost of your setup. If you're looking for something to do on a whim then hydroponics might not be right for you, since many systems require some kind of permanent installation and upkeep over time.
Pro Tip: If your plan is to grow all year round or improve yields by switching from soil gardening then it's definitely worth the initial cost.
Lastly, you need to consider your location and climate. Hydroponics is a great way for people who live in colder climates to get around growing seasons that are only three or four months long.
In some cases, however, hydroponic systems can be quite finicky about where they're placed so it's important to do your research before you invest.
Is hydroponic gardening healthier than soil?
Experts say that hydroponics is a healthier practice than soil, as hydroponically grown plants do not have to deal with dirt, oil, and other contaminants. It can be organic too!
In fact, the only thing that goes into the water in which hydroponic plants grow are nutrients - no pesticides or insecticides needed!
Hydroponics allows for more control over the environment in which plants grow. You can tweak and change things to suit your growing needs, such as lighting levels and nutrient intake.
This means that hydroponically grown produce is of higher quality than soil-grown food because it is richer in nutrients (like Omega-three fatty acids) essential for good health.
There are many reasons why hydroponics is an excellent way to grow food, including control over the nutrients that go into the plants (no chemicals or pesticides needed), better quality produce and more yield per square foot of space than soil-grown crops!
What is the most popular hydroponic system?
The most popular hydroponic system is the Flood and Drain (also known as the ebb and flow) system. Closely followed by the Deep Water Culture technique.
The plants are kept in a hydroponic growing tray that has drain holes at the bottom of it. A nutrient solution fills up the tray, wets all of the roots, then drains back into a reservoir where oxygen can reach them again since water contains no oxygen.
As more solution is drawn back into the reservoir, fresh nutrient-rich water is pumped up to fill the tray again and continue this cycle over and over for as long as needed.
This system has all of your plants growing in one area allowing you to easily care for them with an adjustable timer on when they receive their nutrients (flooding and draining).
Warning: This system can cause a nutrient build-up over time, especially if you have the pump drawing solution from the reservoir to your plants for too long. If you keep it at a normal level of about 15 minutes every hour or two then there is no problem with using this hydroponic method to grow your plants.
Are there alternatives to hydroponics?
Yes, other options include Aeroponics and Aquaponics.
Aeroponics is a super popular method of growing plants in a soilless environment without the use of soil or aggregate material.
In this system, plant roots are grown directly into the air and receive their nutrients from nutrient-rich water that is sprayed onto them at intervals. It works by suspending seedlings on small slabs above a reservoir filled with aerated water.
Aquaponics on the other hand is a fusion of hydroponics and aquaculture. This system uses fish to provide nutrients for the plants, which in turn filter water for the fish.
Conclusion: Should you become a hydroponic grower?
If you want to grow healthy leafy vegetables, fruits, and herbs in your home, then yes you should give hydroponics a try.
Just keep in mind that the kit can set you back a few bucks to set up on the front end. But will save you money in the long run, the more you grow.
Not only that, but you don't need to worry about pesticides, carbon emissions, or taxes. So you cut out the middle man. You are now the farmer!