Q. What is hydroponics?
A. Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. The plants thrive on the nutrient solution alone. The medium merely acts as support for the plants and their root systems, and perhaps to hold moisture around the roots. The growing medium, if any, is totally inert.
Q. What are the advantages of hydroponics versus soil grown plants?
A. No soil means no weeds or soil borne pests and disease. Plants will maintain optimum nutrient and moisture levels in hydroponics systems, which has several benefits: healthier plants, faster growing plants and plants that will be more disease resistant as they are not stressed by drought. The root systems stay smaller on hydroponically grown plants, so the plant can concentrate it’s growth energy on producing plant mass, rather that roots. This can result in up to 30% faster growth. This also allow the grower to have more plants per square foot of garden space. Hydroponically grown plants never get root bound, so they do not need repotting. Hydroponics produce has a longer shelf life than soil-grown produce. Hydroponics is clean, so it adapts easily to indoor culture, but may also be used outdoors and in greenhouses.
Q. Isn’t hydroponics gardening complicated?
A. No! If you can follow directions, you can garden hydroponically. A few simple steps must be followed on a regular basis to insure that your plants thrive. Once you get used to the routine, it is a snap!
Q. Is it expensive?
A. Just as with soil gardening, you decide how elaborate or simple you would like your hydroponics garden to be. You can build a system from items you may have already in your garage or home. The yearly costs of fertilizers and pH control products for a mid-size system that can produce about 200 pounds of tomatoes annually.
Q. Can plants be grown organically, hydroponically?
A. Organic and hydroponics growers have typically regarded each other somewhat suspiciously and the two growing methods were at one time thought to be incompatible. There is some common ground, however, and more people are finding that with a little experimentation, they can grow a successful organic, hydroponics garden. Hydroponics gardening is based on immediate and 100% nutrient availability. Organic fertilizers typically break down over a period of time via bacterial action in the soil. Enzyme activators such as NITRON FORMULA A-35 which hasten the breakdown of organic fertilizers may make your hydroponics, organic garden more successful.
Q. What types of plants can be grown hydroponically?
A. Anything can be easily grown, but some plants prove to be more space efficient. Some plants we suggest are tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot chilis, lettuce, spinach, chard, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, beans, snow peas, herbs, flowers of all types and house plants.
Q. Do you really get better yields in less time?
A. Absolutely. The plants, receiving everything they need, tend to be healthier, faster growing and generally more productive.
Q. What about taste? Will the flavor compare to produce from my outdoor, organic garden?
A. You bet–perhaps even better! This is simply due to the fact that the hydroponically grown plants are getting everything they need, when they need it. Don’t be fooled by “hot house” produce grown commercially. The growers’ primary concern is shipability and storage, not flavor. When you grow you own vegetables at home, you can expect nothing less than excellent results.
Q. Will I be using any pesticides? If so, what kind?
A. Generally, indoor environments demand less pesticides for obvious reasons. Hydroponics growing eliminates soil borne pests, as well. However, if pests do become a problem, on can choose to use insecticidal soaps, natural pyrethums and, in some cases, beneficial insects. These controls will be completely safe to use on edible crops and are also environmentally safe. Outdoors, your soil borne pests will be eliminated and simply hosing off you plants with water may prove to be an effective control of aphids and mites. Otherwise, we suggest trying the insecticides listed above.
source: TheFarm.org, photo from freedigitalphotos.net