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Hydroponics – Gardening without Dirt
Alternative gardening methods can be intriguing and interesting and sometimes downright confusing – especially when there’s no dirt involved, such as in a hydroponic garden. It might not have much dirt involved, but hydroponics is a gardening method that is totally worth checking out and learning about.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is an alternative gardening method that uses nutrient-rich, aerated water to grow plants. You can build a hydroponics system to fit into almost any space, and you can even take advantage of space in three -dimensions. This means your garden goes from being horizontal and linear to horizontal and vertical! There are various reasons to use hydroponics as a gardening method, including the ability to grow hot-house crops year-round and save water.
It may seem strange to think that a system that focuses entirely on growing plants in basically plant swimming pools uses less water. Still, hydroponics is a fantastic water conservation system. When you plant and grow in any traditional-type gardening method, your plants take the water they need, and the rest seeps into the soil. Even if you’re using plant waterers that slowly drain a water storage container, the water is going to the dirt and the plants when the soil dries out. Not at all the same with a hydroponic garden.
Water conservation occurs in a hydroponic garden because the system recycles the same water over and over again for your plants. Nutrients are added to this water cycling system. The water used in your hydroponics system carries nutrients straight to the plant roots. Then, a reservoir collects and filters the water. It is aerated and then cycles back through to the plant roots again.
Building a Hydroponic System
There are only a handful of components necessary to build a hydroponics system:
Growing Containers – somewhere to house your plants and hold water
Fresh Water – filtered with a pH balance between 6-6.5
Oxygen – either via an air stone, an air pump, or by providing space between your plants and the water.
Growing ‘medium’ – a non-dirt substrate such as vermiculite, peat moss, or coconut coir that the roots can hold on to.
Plant Food – can be purchased or made at home.
Light – plants need light for photosynthesis, the process by which they eat
Benefits of Hydroponics
Besides using less space and water, your hydroponically grown plants may grow faster, and they will produce more food. They don’t have to waste energy in growing deep roots or tall plants with big leaves. Because the nutrition they need is going right to the roots, and you’re providing them with the light for photosynthesis, all their energy can go into growing bigger food faster! When you build a hydroponic garden, you can troubleshoot problems with much less trouble. Plus you’ll have fewer pests that can get in and chew your plants to pieces.
The chance to grow high-quality produce in larger quantities while using less water is something that no one should pass up. You can grow root vegetables such as carrots or radishes, as well as hot-house plants like tomatoes and peppers. A hydroponics system can be as small as a bin or bucket or large enough to fill an entire greenhouse.