Hydroponics can be described as gardening that does not require soil. Hydroponics is a Latin word that means “working water.” In the absence of soil, water is at work, providing nutrients, hydration, and oxygen to plant life. Hydroponics is a method which allows plants to thrive, from watermelons to jalapenos and orchids. Hydroponic gardens require minimal area and require 90% less water than conventional agriculture. They also grow stunning flowers, beautiful fruits and vegetables in a fraction of the amount of time.
Though the technology sounds modern, the history of hydroponics dates back to the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates river was diverted into channels which were a part of the lavish gardens’ walls. Marco Polo in 13th century China wrote about floating gardens. The concept of hydroponics wasn’t only a fad from the past. NASA began cultivating aeroponic bean seedlings on the spacecraft in the 1990s. This opened up the possibility of sustainable farming in space. Hydroponics is an ancient and ever-changing method for conserving water and crop production.
What exactly is hydroponics?
Hydroponics Hydroponics is the cultivation and maintenance of plants without the need for soil. The hydroponic plants as well as vegetables, herbs and other plants are planted in non-toxic growing media and supplied with nutrient-rich solutions, oxygen, and water. This system promotes faster growth, greater yields, and higher quality. The roots of a plant are always looking for the proper nutrients to sustain it. The plant doesn’t need to expend any energy to support itself when the root system of its plant is exposed to water and nutrients. The roots can utilize the energy they would have used to acquire water and food to sustain the plant. As a result, the growth of leaves is accelerated, as is the blooming of fruits and flowers.
Photosynthesis is how plants live. Photosynthesis is the method by which plants absorb sunlight using chlorophyll, which is a green pigment that is found in their leaves. The light’s energy is used to disintegrate water molecules they have taken in through their roots. The hydrogen molecules react with carbon dioxide and produce carbohydrates, which plants need to sustain themselves. The atmosphere then gets enriched by oxygen, which is crucial for maintaining our planet’s habitability. Plants don’t require soil to photosynthesise. They need soil to provide the water and nutrients. If nutrients are dissolving in water they can be applied directly to the root system of the plant by flooding, misting or even the immersion. Hydroponics has proven that the direct application of nutrients-rich water can offer more efficient and flexible growth methods than traditional irrigation.
What is the process behind hydroponics?
Hydroponic systems permit precise control of environmental conditions like temperature as well as pH balance. This allows for maximum exposure to water, nutrients and nutrients. Hydroponics is based on a simple principle: Give plants what they need and when they require it. Hydroponics is able to provide nutritional solutions that are tailored to the particular requirements of every plant. You can control the amount and duration the plants receive light. You can adjust the pH levels. The environmental conditions can be completely controlled and customized to speed up the growth of plants.
A variety of risk factors can be reduced by controlling the environment in which the plant is grown. The plants that are grown in gardens and fields are introduced to a host of variables that negatively impact their health and growth. Fungus in the soil can cause disease to plants. Wildlife like rabbits can plunder ripening vegetables from your garden. Pests that eat crops like locusts are capable of destroying crops within a couple of hours. Hydroponics can eliminate the unpredictability of growing plants in the ground and outdoors. Seedlings mature quicker if they’re not exposed to the soil’s mechanical resistance. Hydroponics produces healthier, better-quality fruits and vegetables by removing pesticides. Plants can grow freely, and fast without obstacles.
What are the components of a hydroponics plant?
A few key components are essential to have the success of a hydroponic system.
Media that is growing
The majority of hydroponic plants are grown in inert media which support the weight of the plant and anchor its root structure. Growing media is a alternative to soil, but, it does not provide any independent nutrition for the plant. Instead, the porous medium keeps the nutrients and moisture in the nutrient solution it delivers to the plants. Many growing media can also be pH neutral and won’t alter your nutrition solution. There are a variety of media available. Your hydroponic plant and system will decide which one works best for you. Hydroponic gardening media is readily accessible online as well as at local nurseries and gardening stores.
Air pumps and stones
If the water is not adequately aerated, plants can drown rapidly when submerged. Air stones are tiny bubbles that release dissolved oxygen through the reservoir of nutrient solutions. These bubbles also distribute the dissolved nutrition equally. The air stones cannot generate oxygen by themselves. They need to be connected to an external water pump by transparent tubing made of plastic. The opaque will prevent algae from growing. Air stones and air pumps are popular components for aquariums and can be purchased easily at pet stores.
Net pots are plantsers made of mesh which contain hydroponic plants. The latticed materials allow roots to access the sides and bottoms of the pot. This gives them more nutrients and oxygen. Net pots are better for drainage than plastic or clay pots.
What are the six different types of hydroponic systems?
There are hundreds upon hundreds of hydroponic techniques however they all stem from six basic hydroponic systems.
1. Systems for deep water culture
Hydroponics are plants that are suspended in an aerated environment. DWC systems, also known as deep water cultivation systems, are among the most popular techniques of hydroponics. DWC systems make use of net pots to contain plants as well as a large reservoir of nutrient solution. The solution is submerged to the roots of the plant, giving it continuous access to water, nutrients, oxygen, and other vital elements. Deep water cultivation is thought as the purest form of hydroponics.
Because the root system is constantly submerged in water, oxygenation of the water is essential for the health of the plant. The plant will die if it doesn’t get enough oxygen. To supply oxygenation, connect an airstone to the air pump that is located at the base of the plant. The nutrient solution will also circulate thanks to the bubbles made by the air stone.
A deep water system can be constructed either at your home or at the school with the least amount of expense. You can use a clean bucket or old aquarium to store the solution and put a floating surface such as styrofoam on top to house the net pots. Plants that are part of DWC systems should be submerged by the solution. No part of the stem or vegetation should be submerged. It is possible to leave one inch and half of the roots above the waterline. Air stone bubbles will rise from the surface and over the roots that are exposed. They’re not at risk of drying out.
What are the benefits of deep water systems for culture?
- Low maintenance: Once the DWC system has been set up, it’s extremely easy to maintain. Fill the nutrient solution as necessary, and make sure that the pump is pumping oxygen into your air stone. The average nutrient solution needs replenished every two weeks, depending on the size your plants are.
- DIY appeal Deepwater culture systems have the advantage of being simple to construct, unlike many hydroponic system. All you need to do is go to your local pet or nursery store to buy the air pump and nutrients.
What are the cons of deep water systems for culture?
- The limitations of HTML0 While deep water culture systems can grow herbs and lettuce however, they are unable to produce larger or slow-growing plants. DWC systems don’t work well for flowers. You can, however, cultivate vegetables such as bell peppers and tomatoes in a DWC system, with just a little more effort.
- Control of temperature It is important that the temperature of your water solution not exceeds 68°F or falls below 60°F. DWC systems use water that does not circulate which makes it more difficult to regulate the temperature.
2. Wick systems
The wick system permits plants to be planted within growing mediums, and on top of which is the reservoir. The reservoir is home to a water solution with dissolved nutrients. The wicks move through the reservoir until they reach the growing tray. The flow of water and nutrients flows through the wick, and then saturate the growing media within the roots of plants. These wicks can also be made out of rope, string or even felt. Wick systems are the most simple type of hydroponics. Wick systems can be classified as hydroponics that are passive which means they don’t require pumps or other mechanical parts. This makes them ideal for situations where electricity is not reliable or not available.
The way wicks work is called capillary effect. The wick absorbs the water that it is immersed in, like a sponge and when it comes into contact with the porous Grow Bags media, it transfers the nutrient solution. The hydroponics wick system is only suitable when the growing medium can facilitate nutrient and/or water transference. Coco coir (fibers made of the outer husks or coconuts) retains a lot of moisture and is pH neutral. Perlite is extremely porous and pH neutral makes it ideal for wicking. Vermiculite is extremely porous, has a high rate of cation-exchange. It is able to store nutrients for future use. This is why these media are ideal for hydroponic-wick systems.
Wick systems work slower than other hydroponic system therefore it’s not practical to grow plants with these systems. Make sure you have at least one wick in every growing tray. These wicks must be placed close to the root system of your plant. While wicks are capable of working using aeration and pumps, many people choose to add an oxygen stone and air pump into the tank of the wick system. This increases the oxygenation of the hydroponics setup.
What’s the benefit of Wick Systems?
- Simple: A running wick system is simple to install and requires minimal maintenance. The plants you plant will never run dry because the wicks provide water constantly. There will be the growth of lettuce when you have wicks, providing you with a great return on investment.
- Space-efficientWick Systems are compact and simple to set up anyplace. They don’t need power to operate. It’s a great system for educators, beginners or anyone interested in exploring hydroponics.
What are the pros and cons of a wick system.
- Limitations:Lettuce and herbs like mint, rosemary and basil are growing rapidly and do not demand large quantities of water. Tomatoes, on contrary, struggle to thrive in a wick system because of their high requirement for nutrients and water. Others plants won’t thrive in a climate where the humidity remains constantly. A wick system won’t allow root vegetables such as carrots or turnips to thrive.
- Responsible to rot: Hydroponic wick systems are always humid and damp. This increases the chance of fungal disease and rot forming in your plant’s organic growing media, as well as the roots.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a method of suspending plants over the stream, which continuously flows the nutrient solution. This water is cleaned across the root. The channels that keep the plants in a tilted position let water flow down their length before it drains into the reservoir. The reservoir then gets aerated by an airstone. Submersible pumps are employed to pump the nutrient enriched water out of the reservoir. The technique of nutrient film is a recirculating hydroponics system.
NFT technology is different than deep water culture hydroponics. In an NFT system, the roots of plants are not immersed in water. Instead, the stream (or film) flows over the roots’ ends. The roots’ tips will trap moisture in the soil, while exposed root systems are given ample oxygen. The channels’ bottoms are shaped so that the film can easily pass through the tips of the roots. This stops water from pooling and damming up in the root system.
Even though nutrient films technology systems continuously recycle water, it’s wise for them to drain the reservoir regularly and refill the solution with nutrients every once a week. This ensures that your plants get sufficient nutrition. NFT channels must be angled with a gradual slope. Too steep angles can cause the water to rush through the channel, but not properly nourish the plants. The channel can overflow if a lot of water is flowing through it. This could cause the plants to drown. NFT hydroponics are a fad in commercial systems, as they can accommodate multiple plants in a channel and are easily produced in mass quantities. The most effective nutrient film systems are suitable for plants with light weights such as spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, and Kale. The heavy fruiting plants like tomatoes and cucumbers might require trellises to support their weight.
What are the advantages of the nutrient-film technique?
- Low usage: NFT Hydroponics does not require large quantities or nutrients. The constant flow also makes it harder for salts to build up on the plant’s roots. Nutrient films don’t need any growing media. So you can avoid the hassle of having to replace media or spending money on it.
- Modular Design: Nutrient Film Technique Systems are ideal for commercial ventures with a large scale. Once a channel is in place and operational, it’s simple to expand. Multiple channels can fill your greenhouse, each supporting different plants. It is advisable to ensure that each channel is supplied with its reservoir. In this way, in the event of a pump failure occurs or disease spreads in the water, you’ll not lose your entire operation.
What are the drawbacks of a nutrient film technique system?
- Pump failure: If the pump is damaged and the channel no longer moving the nutrient film around, your plants will dry out. If your crop is not receiving water, it can die in a matter of hours. It is essential to keep an eye on the performance of your NFT hydroponics setup. You must be sure to monitor the performance of your pump.
- Overcrowding: The channel can get clogged if too many roots are growing or if they are too close. If the channel becomes blocked by roots, water will be unable to flow through and your plants will starve. This is especially true for the plants that are in the middle of your channel. If the plants near the bottom ever seem to be underperforming compared to the rest of the channel, consider removing some plants or moving to a smaller unit.
4. Ebb & flow systems
Ebb, also known as flow hydroponics, is a method of filling a growing bed with nutrient solution from below. The submersible pump in the reservoir is fitted with an alarm clock. As the timer begins it fills the grow bed with the nutrients and water. When the timer is stopped the water is slowly drained from the bed of growth and discharges it into the reservoir. The overflow tube makes sure that flooding does not exceed a set level and result in damage to the fruit or the stalks. The plants in an ebb-and-flow system aren’t constantly exposed to water, unlike the other types of systems. While the grow beds are submerged, the roots of the plants absorb the nutrients through their root systems. The roots become dry after the water has receded and the bed becomes empty. The roots dry out and then get oxygenated in the time between each flood. The length of interval between floods is contingent on how large your bed is as well as the size of the plants.
Ebb-and-flow systems, also referred to as flood or drain systems, are one of the most widely used hydroponic methods of growth. The plants get plenty of oxygen, nutrition and other nutrients that promote rapid growth. The ebb and flow system can be easily customized and modified. The grow bed can be filled with an assortment of net pots as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. The ebb-and flow system is the most versatile hydroponic system. It allows you to play around with different plants and media.
Ebb and flow systems can accommodate nearly every kind of plant. Your grow tray’s size and depth are its primary limitations. Root vegetables require more space than lettuce and strawberries. Ebb and flow crops are popular, including tomatoes, peas beans, cucumbers, beans and carrots. You can attach trellises directly onto the growing bed. “Grow rocks” and expanded clay pebbles (hydroton) are among the most well-known growing media in the field of flow and ebb hydroponics. They are light and washable. They are they can be reused and re-used. They drain as well. This is a crucial feature in flow and ebb systems.
What are the benefits to the ebb flow system?
- Versatility: With an ebb and flow system, you can grow much larger plants than in most other hydroponic systems. Ebb and flow hydroponics is a excellent method to cultivate flowers, vegetables, and fruits. If you’ve taken the time to provide your plants with the appropriate size grow bed and nutrients, you will see bountiful yields.
- DIY appeal: You can build your own ebb flow hydroponic systems at home using hundreds of different ways. A trip to the hardware store and pet store will provide you with all the supplies you need to construct an ebb and flow setup. Ebb and flow systems are more difficult to install than DIY systems such as wick or deep water culture. However, they allow for a wider range of plants to thrive.
What are the benefits of an ebb/flow system?
- Pump failure As with any other hydroponic setup that relies on pumps, if the pump ceases to work, your plants will die. It is important to keep an eye on your ebb and flow system to make sure that it’s functioning is not harming the health of your plants. If the water is moving too fast, it can result in your plants not to receive the right amount of water or nutrients.
- Rot and root diseasesSanitation is essential to an ebb & flow system. If the bed is not draining properly, root disease and rot could develop. Dirty ebb/flow systems could attract pests and cause mold. You can cause damage to your crops if you do not keep your environment clean. Some plants don’t respond well to rapid pH changes that can occur from extreme flooding and drainage.
5. Drip systems
In the hydroponic drip system, the aerated and nutrient-rich reservoir is pumped through a series of tubes to individual plants. This solution is slowly dripped into the root system of each plant. It keeps them moist and well-nourished. Drip systems are among the most well-known and widely used technique for hydroponics especially for commercial growers. Drip systems can be individual plants or huge irrigation operations.
There are two kinds of hydroponics with drip systems. These types of systems are preferred by smaller at-home growers. The excess water is drained from the grow bed and put into a reservoir. Then, it is recycled in the following drip cycle. In non-recovery systems, the excess water is drained out of the growing media and is disposed of. This method is popular with commercial growers. Though non-recovery drip systems can appear to be a waste, large-scale growers are very conservative with water usage. They are only necessary to keep the plant’s expanding media dampened. Non-recovery drip systems employ elaborate timers and feeding schedules in order to reduce waste.
The plants that are grown in a drip plant system will need to be aware of changes in the pH of the nutrients. This is true for any system that has wastewater recirculating into the reservoir. Growers must be aware of the reservoir’s condition and adjust it more frequently as they do in a nonrecovery system. The plants can also deplete the nutrients in the solution as well as altering the pH. A growing medium that is saturated can create problems, which is why it is essential to clean and change them frequently.
What are the benefits to drip-systems?
- Variety of plant choices: A drip system can accommodate plants that are larger than other hydroponic systems. Commercial growers love this method. A properly-sized drip system can be utilized to support a variety of plants, such as melons, pumpkins and onions. Drip systems can hold more expanding media than other systems and are able to accommodate larger root systems. Drip systems work best with slow draining media, like rockwool, coco coir and peat moss.
- Scale: Large-scale hydroponics operation can be achieved using drip systems. Growers can add additional plant by connecting new tubing to reservoir. A drip system that is in place can be updated with new plants. This is one reason why drip systems are so well-liked in commercial hydroponics.
What are the disadvantages of drip systems?
- MaintenanceIf your house has a non-recovery system, it will require some attention. It is important to monitor the pH and nutrient levels of the solution. You will need to drain and replace when necessary. Recovery systems lines can also be clogged with debris and plant matter, so you will need to regularly wash and flush delivery lines.
- ComplexityDrip Systems are simple to create complicated and complex. This is not a problem for professionals in hydroponics, however it’s not the best method for home-grown growers. You can use simpler systems like the ebb-flow system for hydroponics at home.
Aeroponics systems suspend plants suspended in the air and expose them to nutrient-rich mist. Aeroponics systems are enclosed frameworks such as towers or cubes which can house a multitude of plants at once. Water and nutrients are stored in a reservoir and then transferred to a nozzle that disperses the solution into it in fine mist. The mist is often released at the top of the tower, allowing it to fall into the chamber. Some aeroponics continuously mist the plant’s roots similar to NFT systems expose the roots to nutrient film at all times. Others work more like an ebb-and-flow system spraying the roots with mist on a regular basis. Aeroponics do not need substrate media to thrive. The root’s constant exposure lets them breathe in oxygen and grows at a much faster pace.
Aeroponics systems require less water than other type of hydroponics. Aeroponics uses less water than fields that are irrigated to cultivate crops. Vertical gardens is designed to take up less space and allow the towers to be able to be tucked away in one location. Even in tight spaces, aeroponics can produce excellent yields. Aeroponic plants also grow faster than hydroponically grown plants because of their higher oxygen intake.
Aeroponics allows for easy harvesting year-round. Aeroponics provides a wonderful setting for vine plants, nightshades tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants as well as other nightshades. Baby greens, lettuce, herbs, watermelons, strawberries, and ginger all also flourish. Obstacles are too heavy and bulky to be grown aeroponically. Plants that have deep root systems such as carrots and potatoes are also not able to be grown.