Hydroponic Gardening Explained

Published on September 1, 2011

hydroponics_vegitable_garden Hydroponics is not new. It’s been practiced by gardeners for over a century now and actually dates back to the 1600’s when experimentation was first recorded. Hydroponics is the art and science of gardening without soil. I’ve been attracted to the availability of high growth yield in a limited space, since we seem to be running out of space in most of our cities and suburbs. It offers control over nutrient levels in their entirety, lowering fertilization costs, and when the water is recycled water is saved. I like that the growth containers are within reach so I have easy access to pruning and pest/disease management. So, overall, the benefits are: space-saving, cost-saving, and less effort to grow the same or more edible plants.

One thing to realize however is that many hydroponic plants require different fertilizers and containment systems. One size does not fit all. Considering the types of containment available for specific needs can be simplified. If the plant is one, which requires a lot of water, or constant watering, and will not become oversaturated, a simple static solution system (a tank, tub or even water in a jar) will suffice. Many ornamental plants adapt nicely to this. But if the plant needs some time to dry out between waterings, something like the continuous flow or ebb and flow systems would work much better for this plant. Most fruit trees will fall into that category.

There are a wide variety of media to use when engaging in hydroponic gardening. It can be anything from perlite to gravel to lava rock to tree bark (and many more). The more dense the media, the more support will be offered to the plant. (And the larger the plant, the more support will be desired.)

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Fertilization in a hydroponics system is not the same as in your terrestrial garden. We don’t simply reach for the 10-3-7 fertilizer and mix it up with water, add to the system. Adding fertilizer in this way will burn the roots. What are needed are more “raw” nutrients and minerals, trace elements, and beneficial bacteria to assure the health of the plants. (Yes, Microbe-Lift has a hydroponics line of products that you need to check out.)

By manipulating the water flow and additives, choice of grow media and lighting, this system can produce more fruit or vegetables per square foot than the same area outside, in the ground, with much less effort required. A (reusable) hydroponics grow unit, some starter nutrients in R/O water, and some Root Dip, Foliar Spray, and you too can be an independent organic farmer, putting healthy food on your own table in 3-6 months. In today’s market, it’s important to know what goes into your body. All stores have an Organic section. But do you want to pay the higher prices? Grow your own food the easy way, at home, inexpensively, and know for certain you are getting what you want with no harmful pesticides added.

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