Introduction To Hydroponics


Plants access food and water more efficiently when grown in a medium that does not include soil. This is referred to as hydroponics. The main role of soil in planting is to provide anchorage for the roots and to provide nutrients to the plant.

Ideally, plants do not utilize the soil for growth or nutrition but just as a carrier for the required nutrients and water. Hydroponics basically makes access to these essential nutrients and water much easier. This is done by using a complete nutrient formula, that is infused in an inactive growing medium, which works as the root anchor.

Plants are sturdier and develop faster with hydroponics because the required nutrients are dissolved directly in the water and made easily accessible to the roots. Because bulky and voluminous soil is not needed, you can grow more plants within an area when compared to growing with soil in the same area. Additionally, the lack of soil eliminates the presence of opportunistic soil borne pests and disease pathogens.

Professional commercial growers have utilized these systems for many years. This is mainly because of the quick harvests, high yields and zero incidences of weeds and soil borne pests and diseases. Now you can start using hydroponic farming techniques at home and get all the benefits.

What kind of hydroponic systems are available?

When selecting the correct hydroponic system to use it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Size of the garden
  • Source of light
  • Amount of money to be invested
  • Time limitations

Passive hydroponic systems

When growing small plants, you can start with a passive system which is a simple and low cost.

It involves either suspending the root tips in a stationary solution with part of the main rootball exposed to the air or using a wicking material submerged in the nutrient formula to draw up nutrients to the roots.

Active hydroponic systems

For larger plants and gardens, you should use active systems which are less time incentive and more precise albeit at a higher cost.

The active system involves the use of a pump and timer to automatically aerate the plant’s roots while circulating nutrients continuously around them. Once the preferred system is chosen, you need to consider whether to use water culture or media based systems for growing plants.

Media based systems

When the growing medium is used to anchor plants and hold the nutrient solution around roots, this system is referred to as media based. It includes different varieties like bottom-feed, top-feed (drip) and ebb and flow (flood and drain) systems. Most of these systems are designed to work with a timer which allows plants to draw in atmospheric oxygen while facilitating the wetting and draining of the medium.

This alternative wetting and draining removes built-up salts and replenishes nutrients. These systems are very efficient and require minimal supervision because they recycle unused nutrients and have an automated timer. However, they are expensive, require high maintenance and vulnerable because the media requires continuous replacement and the units are vulnerable to power outages which may damage roots permanently.

Water culture systems

On the other hand, water culture systems do not use media to grow plants. Roots are suspended in the nutrient solution by way of a plank that sits on top of the water reservoir. For larger plants like cucumbers and tomatoes that may get top heavy during fruit bearing, gravel, rock wool, foam rings, plastic flaps, plastic collars, fiber cups or trellis can be used to provide support. This system is ideal for water-loving plants but requires special care if larger plants are to be used. It is also cheap and simple to use.

What is the best brand for home hydroponic systems?

Hydrofarm is a well-known brand in hydroponics. Hydrofarm has put together quality professional-grade materials and high-performance technology to design a full range of convenient home gardening hydroponic systems.

What is the best medium for growing plants?

  • Coconut Coir. It is an amendment to organic soil or biological growing media preferred for hydroponic gardening. Ideal in moisture retention, air circulation and containing beneficial micro-organisms.
  • Compressed bricks. These offer a dense and effective means for storing and conveying large amounts of coir. It is sterile and has a long shelf life if kept away from moisture.
  • Organic Soil. The best for all levels of plant development due to its high microbiological profile. Each bag of organic soil has its own ecosystem and fortifies organic and synthetic nutrition regiments.
  • Peat pellets, Rockwool starter cubes, and organic plugs. These offers good root establishment thus best suited for propagating healthy seedlings and cuttings due to improved transplant rates.
  • Mats are ideal for better root growth and plant strength in an all tray style hydroponic systems. These mats enhance root growth and guard them against light pollution and algae.

How to use grow lights in hydroponic gardening?

Hydrofarm, PlatinumLED and many other well-known manufacturers have converted the highly effective but cumbersome commercial greenhouse technology to a wide variety of high-intensity lighting systems that are ideal for both the professional and beginner indoor gardeners.

The high intensity grow lights are rated at the normal home current of 120V making them easy to use with any standard electrical outlet in the home. They come pre-wired and can be easily used by just hanging them on a ceiling hook, plugging them in and growing the plants.

You can easily convert any room in the home into a virtual greenhouse and cultivate any plant at any time with the high-intensity lighting that is just like the sun. With a varying wattage range to match every grower’s needs, these lights can be fitted from a small 1’ by 2’ area to a large 12’ by 12’ area. Growing a rare orchid, picking peppers or harvesting fresh tomatoes from the home has never been easier with full spectrum LED grow lights.

Growing young seedlings for an outdoor spring garden or nurturing indoor plants is made easier with the full spectrum lighting systems this manufacturer provides. The wide range of wattage can be used for different plants types.

Simple to high-intensity lights ensure perfect results

ALl of these grow lights reviewed can be plugged in like a normal home table lamp which makes them easy and simple to use. Rated at 120V, the basic home current, and pre-wired for easy installation, these lights can be easily used with any home outlet. They are fitted with a UL listed lens and are ready to plug in. Of course, there is also available 220V etc. versions of these lights and some models work with both current.

If you have any questions or comments about this super effective growing technique, please post them below! Learn more how to grow hydroponic plants.

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