What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil. The plant's roots receive nutrients from a nutrient solution that is generally pumped to the plant's roots. Ideally a system will consist of a reservoir, nutrient pump, timer, air pump and stone, and a grow bed. Although not the same, the process is very similar to aquaponics, peeponics, and aeroponics . The plants are usually housed in troughs, tubes or foam, with the leafy part of the plants separate from the roots. There are different techniques to grow hydroponiclly: Nutrient Film Technique, Dripper Feed System, Deep Water Culture System and Ebb & Flood Systems. The explanation of these systems are beyond the scope of this writing. Each system has its advantages. See the link above for a better explanation of each method. Here at the GreenDesert we use a variety of methods depending on what is best for what we grow.
- Since plants have access to oxygen 24/7 they generally will experience faster growth than conventional means
- Water and nutrients are used efficiently
- No need to worry about weeding
- Takes up very little space
- It uses considerably less energy and water than traditional agriculture.
- Systems can be built as a DIY project
- Can be grown indoors
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
- You will need to provide nutrients
- Requires electricity for small pumps and timers
- You will need some form of competency to run system
- Can be an expensive system to buy
- In the beginning you need to monitor the water consistently
- Root crops and trees are much more difficult to grow
- Most likely will need to provide artificial light
Final words on Hydroponics
So is hydroponics the best way to garden? It all depends on what you're trying to do. Hydroponics is great for growing in small spaces or for the quick production of leafy greens. We use hydroponics to produce the greens we want year round since the temperature is to hot most of the year to grow outside. We can also get fresh herbs that typically only grow in certain seasons. Our hydroponics systems completely serve as our house plants now. If you can't eat it... why water it :).
Did you know?
Farmers claim that some hydroponic crops use 90% less water than traditional soil farming.
You can plant 4 times the amount of crops in the same space as traditional soil farming.
Some crops can grow twice as fast in hydroponics due to getting exactly the correct amount of nutrients water and oxygen.
Hydroponically grown crops can use no herbicide or pesticide chemicals with significantly impact the environment and our bodies.
Apparently plants are more alive than we think, their roots move around looking for food... Just as we would walk around, they are just much slower.