What on earth is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics describe a way, a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient enzymes in an aqueous solution. Ground plants can only be grown if the roots are exposed to the mineral solution or if they can be supported by inert soil such as perlite or gravel. The binding substances in hydroponics can come from different sources such as by-products of fish waste, duck manure, natural nutrients or any other organic material that could be used as soil.
Hydroponics is a booming sector that has not yet reached its full potential. The usage of hydroponics extends the ability to reproduce plants in small spaces where the soil is scarce and in harsh or dry conditions that do not favor reproduction
Although the benefits of hydroponic gardening are numerous and well documented, the commercial hydroponic industry does not yet have a real mainstream. Part of the reason is that governments around the world still equate hydroponics with marijuana and have consequently pursued hydroponics companies!. Over time, however, environmental considerations and the decline of arable land will inevitably lead to a global awareness of the benefits of hydroponics for both farmers and vegetable growers for their own personal use.
Hydroponics, essentially, is gardening without the presence of soil. In hydroponic garden systems, plants are placed in a growing medium and nutrients are delivered directly to the roots. Many people are surprised that plants do not need soil for life. In fact, soil can sometimes be a very inefficient means of growth. Plants consume a lot of nutrients by ‘scanning’ the soil with their roots for water in order to survive (soil that lacks the necessary nutrients can have an adverse effect on the overall growth of the plant ). By providing a constant and easily available nutrient, hydroponics ensure that plants can grow up to 50% faster than in soil.
How does it work?
In conventional agriculture, soil supports the roots of a plant – it keeps them – and provides them with the nutrients they need to grow. In hydroponics, plants are artificially supported, and a solution of ionic compounds provides nutrients instead.
The idea is simple. Environmental factors often limit plant growth. The fact that these essential substances can be administrated directly to a plant’s roots in a controlled environment (laboratory for example), the gardener can ensure that plants optimally receive water and nutrients according to their needs. This nutritional efficiency makes the plant more productive.
Some of the most common ways to make the plant grow with hydroponics are:
- By placing it in an inert substance (e.g., glass-volcanic perlite or stone wool) with its roots regularly flooded with the solution.
- By putting it in an inert substance and rained directly with a solution.
- By leaving the roots floating in the air and then being sprayed with a steamy solution.
- By placing it in a slightly inclined film that allows the solution to drip on the roots automatically.
All these systems are somehow mechanized, usually with a pump or a gentleman to provide the solution from a separate warehouse. The solution is usually also aerated to ensure a sufficient supply of oxygen to the roots. Mineral absorption requires energy which can be generated by breathing.
Alright, but is it difficult to implement?
Managing and maintaining a hydroponic system can be complicated. The main reason behind this affirmation is that plants, in general, need a lot of essential nutrients, the optimal amount of which varies depending on the type, growth stage and local conditions, such as water hardness for example.
Besides that, some nutrients are absorbed more quickly than others, which can lead to an accumulation of positive or negative ions in the solution affecting the pH of the latter. This may limit the uptake of other nutrients, in part because their absorption depends on pH, but also because excessive amounts of some of them prevent the uptake of other nutrients. Too much ammonia, for example, reduces the intake of calcium. Too much calcium blocks the absorption of magnesium.
In addition, some compounds react with each other on substances that are more difficult to absorb, so they must be administered separately. Hydroponics farmers need to understand how plants and nutrients interact, monitor their solutions and respond to changes in concentration. The other option is to buy expensive automated systems for this purpose.
Farmers must also protect their nutritional solutions from contamination by undesirable substances. The installation of hydroponic systems in buildings or greenhouses is a standard procedure.
Is it possible to start this at home?
Yes and no. Sometimes it depends on the owner of the potential “futuristic garden.” If your goal is to learn how it works, maybe building an entire system is not a good idea because you will end up spending more than the planned and thus, negative opinions could arise. On the other hand, If you are a person that would love to dedicate time and effort into this and feel the magic, then the best place to start could be Hydroponic store Van Nuys in CA. Over there you can find everything you need to get started with this gardening technique. Ask them directly. It is free of charge.