What is Hydroponic Gardening?
The concept of hydroponic gardening is certainly nothing new. This effective and efficient agricultural design has actually been used for over a thousand years, simply because of the magnificent crop potential. The hydroponic style has many advantages. The growth rate alone for a plant under hydroponic conditions is as much as 50% faster than the more common method of soil gardening. The increased growth rate observed in plants grown in a hydroponic gardening system is largely due to the increased amount of oxygen the plants are provided with in this unique growing environment.
The main difference between hydroponic gardening and the more traditional soil style is simply the root medium. Hydroponic gardening uses water as the medium and soil systems use dirt. In the hydroponic system, the plant’s roots are placed in the water and the nutrients are supplied through the water directly to the plant’s roots. In the traditional soil gardening set up, the plant is required to expend a significant amount of energy growing a root system that is vast enough to search through all of the soil for nutrients and water. This actually makes the soil gardening method a more inefficient system. The hydroponic system provides the nutrients directly to the plant’s roots.
Gardeners growing their plants in soil can struggle with pests, weed growth, and soil based plant diseases. It is also fairly well documented that plants grown in a soil based system cannot be neglected for even a single day. You certainly have to be committed and detail oriented to successfully grow your plants in a soil based system. Hydroponic gardening provides the gardener with quite a bit more freedom and relieves the gardener of some of the intensity in commitment. Hydroponic gardens can be designed to be fully automated.
You could certainly consider trying out the hydroponic approach to gardening on a smaller scale at first. See how you like this method and if you like the results you get from your plant. You can easily make a single hydroponic plant bucket. Get whatever sized bucket you want and drill 6 to 12 holes about 5 centimeters from the base of the bucket on the sides. As far as ideal size of holes goes, try to make them no larger than about 1/2 centimeter in diameter. If the holes are much larger than this, they tend to cause the roots to dry out. Take care not to make the holes too small either, as this can cause the holes to clog easily, restricting the efficiency of the entire hydroponic gardening system.
Add a hydroponic growing medium to the bucket. There are actually a wide variety of hydroponic growing mediums to choose from. Some of the mediums are synthetic and others are organic. A few examples of common hydroponic growing media include rockwool, sand, gravel, and even clay pellets. You can easily located hundreds of different hydroponic growing media online simply by performing a search with the words “hydroponic growing medium.”
Next, plant your seedling or cutting into the hydroponic growing medium that you decided to use. You will need to purchase a nutrient solution. There are plant nutrient suppliers that manufacture nutrients specifically for plants being grown in hydroponic gardening systems. Mix your nutrient solution following the instructions provided on the fertilizer container carefully. It may be necessary for you to adjust or determine the PH of the nutrient solution before providing it to your plants. The fertilizer container will clearly let you know this is necessary and how to do it. You can easily add automation to your hydroponic plant bucket with the additions of a submersible pump, an airline, an air stone, air pump, and a drip line.
There are certainly some compelling reasons to give hydroponic gardening a try. It may require some commitment to learn how to garden in this unique style, but the benefits of doing so might just be worth it.