What is hydroponics?
The process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid (or other mediums), with added nutrients but without soil. Hydro is Latin for water and Ponic means works or labor. Water works! The main principles of hydroponics are increased oxygen to the root zone and liquid feed delivered directly to roots. These factors result in increased growth rates and increased yields when compared to tradition soil gardens where much lower oxygen and often nutrient levels are present.
Why is hydroponic gardening better than soil gardening?
Hydroponic gardening is better than soil gardening for several reasons. More plants can generally be grown in the same amount of space when compared to traditional soil gardens. Roots are delivered nutrients instead of having to stretch out in search of them. Also hydroponic gardens can be stacked to further increase space efficiency. The main benefit to hydroponic gardening is much higher oxygen levels in the root zone when compared to a soil garden. This increased oxygen means increased nutrient uptake and much higher rates of growth. It is also much easier to control the nutrient levels in hydroponic gardens compared to soil gardens.
Can I grow hydroponically outdoors?
Yes, Hydroponic gardens can be used outdoors. Some of the challenges may be keeping the nutrient solution at appropriate temperatures in hot or cold environments. In order to combat this, gardeners will employ the use of chillers and heaters. In situations where power is expensive or the gardener wants to use a more natural approach, reservoirs can be buried deep in the ground to regulate temperature. Roots too hot can cause anaerobic bacteria from growing and harming the plants, and roots too cold will slow plant growth.
Can I grow organically with hydroponics?
Yes, there are many organic nutrients available for use in hydroponic gardens. A good one is Dutch Nutrient Formula’s Hydro Organic line. More care will be needed to ensure a clean system when using organics for hydroponics.
Are all types of plants suitable for hydroponic gardening?
Most plants grow well in hydroponic applications, although some are more difficult than others. Some plants such as varieties that product bulbs are better suited for soilless mediums than they are for say deep water culture. However, almost every plant that grows from seed will excel in a hydroponic garden.
Can I grow different plants in the same hydroponic system?
Yes, however it may be difficult to satisfy the nutritional requirements of different plants in the same system. Gardeners are best off to grow similar plants in one system or even a mono crop (all of the same). It is possible to grow green leafy vegetables in one system for example and tomatoes or flowering vegetables in another. The more variation between plants in a system, the more difficult it is to accommodate.
What size pump do I need for my Flood and Drain system?
A good general rule of thumb is: • 170 GPH water pump for a 4’x4’ Flood and Drain tray. • 300 GPH water pump for 4’ x 8’ Flood and Drain tray