About Hydroponics Gardening
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, and complete hydroponics growing kits start at only
$50.00. The yearly costs of fertilizers and pH control products
for a mid-size system that can produce about 200 pounds of tomatoes
annually averages to be around $60.00 to $80.00. That is about three
cents a pound!
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
Q. What types of plants can be grown
A. Anything can be easily grown, but
some plants prove to be more space efficient. Some plants we suggest
are tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot chiles, 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
A. Absolutely. The plants, receiving
everything they need, tend to be healthier, faster growing and generally
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 shippability and storage, not flavor. When you
grow you own vegetables at home, you can expect nothing less than
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
Q. What is the best growing medium?
A. There is no clear cut answer to this
questions. Different mediums work better for different situations
and different crops.
Rockwool will allow the grower an easy
set-up, since it is pre-formed and modular. It holds a tremendous
amount of water and offers a buffer against drying in the case of
electrical outages or pump failures. Rockwool slabs may be used
successfully in a "hand-water" system since they stay
moist so long. Rockwool will will maintain a 60/40 water to air
ratio even when completely saturated, which makes for extremely
healthy root growth. For starting seedlings and cuttings, rockwool
is without equal. Rockwool is not degradable or reusable and must
be repurchased for every use.
Geolite is a ceramic, kiln-fired pebble
developed specifically for plant growth. It is completely inert
and sterile and each piece is completely rounded so it will not
cut roots. It is light weight and holds a small amount of moisture
between irrigation cycles. It may be cleaned and reused again and
again, so it is an economical choice. Geolite is not a good choice
for most hand-water systems, as it does not provide enough of a
moisture buffer. It may be difficult for anyone who is physically
challenged to clean and rinse without assistance.
DFT Irrigation, or "media-less"
culture, will be the most economical method of growing as it only
requires 1" rockwool starter cubes. This can be an excellent
choice for some growers, but beginners sometimes find that they
are less successful with a media-less system as it does not buffer
the roots against temperature changes, nutrient strength changes
and uneven watering the way that rockwool and geolite will. This
is a consideration for growers who experience frequent power outages
and for beginners who will be more prone to initial mistakes, such
as leaving a pump unplugged! Actual growth in these systems is excellent
and DFT irrigation is a good choice for many conscientious growers.