Indoor Gardening: Hydroponic Gardening Information

General information regarding the use of hydroponic gardening techniques to grow plants.

Hydroponic gardening is a fairly simple means of growing plants without the use of soil. When plants are grown in dirt, the roots exert much of their energy on searching for nutrients within the soil. As a result, the plant growth itself could be underdeveloped while its roots become profuse. However, when plants are grown by way of hydroponic gardening, the roots do not need to search out the required nutrients for survival. Instead, they are directly provided with the necessary food and water. Thus root systems are much smaller and plant growth is abundant. There are many advantages to gardening by this method. One of the foremost is having the ability to control all aspects which typically influence a plant's growth. For instance, such things as light, temperature, humidity, pH levels, and nutrients can easily be maintained. In general, you must choose which type of light will be used, how much, and for how long it will be required for appropriate plant growth. Most plants will need a suitable temperature with sufficient humidity and pH level. The ability to control these levels is relatively easier and less time consuming when grown hydroponically rather than using soil. Some of the nutrients required by nearly all plants consist of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, boron, copper, iron, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc. The use of hydroponic fertilizers will keep growing plants healthy. With hydroponic gardening there is less maintenance, no need to weed, and no worries due to soil-borne diseases or pests. Hydroponic plants are grown in a variety of mediums; however, the growing medium itself does not provide anything to the plant. Plants simply thrive on a continual supply of nutrient solution. Examples of growing mediums that are used may be gravel, sand, perlite, vermiculite, or air.

There are several methods with which can be used in providing nutrient solution to plants. Manual (passive), wick, ebb and flow (flood and drain), drip, NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), and aeroponics are the more popular methods used. The simplest form of hydroponic gardening utilizes the manual or passive method. With this type of system you determine when and how much water your plants receive. Wick systems are passive as well and can use different mediums. Styrofoam trays, which contain the plants, float on top of nutrient solution. The roots simply absorb the nutrients and water as needed. This is may be an ideal method for growing water-loving plants. The ebb and flow technique, also called flood and drain, is another efficient way to get nutrient solution to plant roots. Growing trays or individual pots filled with medium are used with this method. It operates by flooding the trays or pots with nutrient solution and then draining it back into a reservoir or separate holding tank. This method requires the use of a pump but do not allow the reservoir to become low on solution as this can cause the pump to run dry. A drip system also uses a pump and is controlled with a timer. When the timer turns the pump on, nutrient solution is dripped onto each plant. There are two basic kinds of drip systems that are used. The recovery drip system simply collects any excess run off for recycling while the non-recovery drip system does not. An NFT system provides a constant flow of nutrient solution without the use of a timer. Typically, the roots of plants hang down in the solution and do not require any medium. An aeroponic method also uses no medium. With this type of system, nutrient solution is sprayed or misted onto the roots of hanging plants every few minutes.

Nearly anything from garden crops to flowers can be easily grown with hydroponic gardening. Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, spinach, broccoli, and beans are common hydroponic crops. Flowers of all types as well as a variety of herbs and house plants can also be grown hydroponically. Hydroponic gardening is an easy, clean, and effective method for growing plants. This type of gardening provides a number of advantages over soil grown plants. It eliminates bothersome pests, such as weeds and insects, and adapts well to indoor environments. Overall, hydroponic grown plants are healthier and produce higher quality fruits, flowers, and foliage.

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