Hydroponics is the science of gardening without soil. Hydroponics, which is Latin meaning “working water” signifies that water supplies oxygen, nutrients, and hydration to plants. From watermelons to jalapenos to orchids, all plants thrive in the rigors of hydroponics. With minimal area, 90% less water than conventional agriculture, and a clever designs, hydroponic gardens produce beautiful fruits and flowers in half the time.
Although the technology may sound modern, the history of hydroponics dates back to the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates River was diverted into channels that cascaded down the lavish gardens’ walls. Marco Polo in 13th century China wrote about floating gardens. However, hydroponics is far from simply an invention from the past. In the 1990s, NASA grew aeroponic bean seeds in zero gravity on a space station and opened possibilities for sustainable farming in space. Hydroponics is an ancient and ever-changing method of water conservation and crop production.
What exactly is hydroponics?
Hydroponics Hydroponics is the cultivation and care of plants without the use of soil. Inert media is utilized to grow hydroponic herbs, plants and vegetables. They are then nourished with oxygen, nutrients, water, and other growing media. This system encourages fast growth, stronger yields, and higher quality. The plants are planted in soil. Their roots continuously search for nutrients to sustain their. The roots of a plant are exposed directly to nutrition and water, meaning it doesn’t require any energy to support itself. It is possible to use the energy roots would have used in getting water or food into the plant’s maturation. Foliage growth is encouraged, as are the fruiting and flowering of flowers.
Plants sustain themselves by a process called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is a color found in plants that absorbs sunlight. They use the energy of light to break down the water molecules that they’ve taken in via their root system. Hydrogen molecules are combined with carbon dioxide and produce carbohydrates that plants utilize to eat. The atmosphere is then enriched by oxygen, which is essential for maintaining our planet’s habitability. To produce photosynthetic energy, plants don’t need soil. The soil is what plants need to get the water and nutrients. If nutrients are dissolving in water, they can be applied directly to the plant’s root system by flooding, misting, or the immersion. The hydroponic innovation has shown that exposure directly to nutrient rich water can be more efficient and versatile than conventional irrigation.
How does hydroponics work?
Hydroponic systems operate by providing a small control over environmental conditions like temperature and pH balance and maximized exposure to water and nutrients. Hydroponics works on the simple idea that plants receive exactly what they want when they need. Hydroponics is able to offer nutrition solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of each plant. They let you control precisely how much light plants receive and for how long. pH levels can be monitored and modified. In a highly personalized and controlled conditions, growth of plants accelerates.
Many risk factors can easily be managed by you. The plants that are grown in gardens and fields are exposed to a variety of variables that negatively impact their health and development. Plant diseases can be spread by soil fungus. Wildlife such as rabbits could eat vegetables in your garden. Crop pests like locusts are capable of destroying crops in just a few hours. Hydroponic systems eliminate the uncertainty of growing plants outdoors and in the soil. Seedlings mature quicker if they’re not subject to the soil’s mechanical resistance. By eliminating pesticides, hydroponics produce much better-quality and healthier fruit and vegetables. Without obstructions, plants are able to expand rapidly and vigorously.
What are the primary components of a hydroponic plant?
You will need to be familiar with the components of hydroponics to maintain an efficient system.
Media that is growing
Inert media is utilized to support hydroponic plants and anchor their root structures. While growing media is a substitute for soil it does not provide the plant with any nutrition. Instead, the porous medium retains the moisture and nutrients in the nutrient solution that it then delivers to the plants. Many growing media can also be pH neutral and won’t alter the nutrition solution. There are a variety of media options. It’s up to the hydroponic system and the specific plant species to determine which one you will choose. You can find hydroponic media at your local nursery or gardening store, as well as on the internet.
Air pumps and air stones
Plants are susceptible to drowning when they are immersed in water. Airstones produce tiny bubbles that contain oxygen dissolved within your nutrient reservoir. The bubbles disperse the nutrients that are dissolved evenly across the solution. Air stones can’t create oxygen on their own. They need to be attached to an external air pump by transparent food-grade plastic tubing (the opacity will prevent algae from growing). You can easily find air pumps and air stones in pet stores.
Net pots can be used to cultivate hydroponic plants inside mesh planters. Because the latticed material allows roots growth out of the sides and bottom they provide more nutrients and oxygen. Net pots also drain more than traditional clay and plastic pots.
What six types of hydroponic system are there?
There are many hydroponic methods. But, they are all variations or combinations of the six fundamental hydroponic systems.
1. Systems for deep water culture
Hydroponics are plants that are suspended in an aerated environment. DWC systems, also known deep water culture are among the most popular types of hydroponics. DWC systems use net pots to contain plants as well as a large reservoir of nutrient solution. The solution helps keep the roots of plants well-hydrated and provides them with constant access to nutrients, water, and oxygen. Some consider deep water culture to be the purest form of hydroponics.
Because the root system is constantly submerged in water, water oxygenation will be vital for the health of the plant. Plants will be killed if they don’t have enough oxygen. To provide oxygenation by connecting an airstone to the air pump that is located in the base of the plant. The solution of nutrient will be circulated by the bubbles created by the airstone.
It’s simple to put up a deep-water cultivation system in your home, or in a classroom. To house the pots that are net it is possible to make use of an old aquarium or a clean bucket to hold the solution. DWC plants should not be submerged in the solution. It is not allowed to submerge vegetation or stems. The roots must be kept at a minimum of 1 inch and a half over the surface of the water. They will not dry out as the air stone bubbles from the surface can splash onto the roots.
What are the advantages of deep-water culture systems?
- Very low maintenance After a DWC system is installed, it’s easy to maintain. Fill the nutrient solution whenever necessary, and be sure the pump is pumping oxygen to your air stone. The nutrient solution usually requires replenishment every two weeks, however this can depend on the size of your plant.
- DIY attraction: Deep water cultures are inexpensive and simple to construct.
What are the disadvantages of deep water systems for culture?
- The limitations of HTML0 While deep water cultivation systems are able to cultivate lettuce and herbs however, they are unable to grow larger or slower-growing plants. DWC systems don’t perform well with flowers. You can, however, grow vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes in a DWC system, with just a little more effort.
- Control of temperature: It’s important that your water solution doesn’t exceed 68degF, and also does not go below 60degF. DWC systems use water that is stored and is not circulated. It can be more difficult than usual to regulate the temperature.
2. Wick systems
A wick system is a place where plants are placed in growing media and placed over a pot. This reservoir holds water with minerals that are dissolved. The tray for growing is connected to the reservoir by wicks. The wick is flooded with water and nutrients, which then saturate the media surrounding the plant’s roots. Wicks can be constructed out of as little as rope, string or even felt. Hydroponics with wick systems is the simplest kind. Passive hydroponics refers to Wick systems. They don’t need pumps or mechanical components to function. They are perfect for locations where electricity is scarce or isn’t reliable.
The way wicks work is called capillary effect. The wick absorbs the water that it is immersed in, like a sponge when it comes in contact with the porous Grow Bags media, it releases the nutrient solution. The wick system hydroponics can only be used if the growing media can facilitate nutrient and/or water transference. Coco coir fibers (from the coconuts’ outer husks) are ideal for retaining moisture. They also have the benefit of being are pH neutral. Perlite is pH neutral, and extremely porous, making it ideal for wicking systems. Vermiculite has a very porous structure, and also a great capacity for exchange of cations. This allows it to store nutrients for later usage. These growing media are ideal for hydroponic wick systems.
Wick systems are more slow than hydroponic systems. This makes it difficult to grow crops with them. You’ll want to make sure each plant in the growing tray that you will have at minimum one wick that is running from the reservoir. These wicks need to be located close to the root system of the plant. While wicks are able to be used with aeration, a lot of users add an air stone or pump to the reservoir of their wick system. This will provide extra oxygen to the hydroponic plant.
What advantages does a Wick system offer?
- Simplicity Wick-systems are simple to set up and does not require much attention once it is running. The wicks will provide water for your plants all day long, meaning they are never in danger of drying out. Furthermore, plants like lettuce will flourish in the wick system, bringing a great return on your investment.
- Space-efficient:Wick systems can be put anywhere as they do not require electricity. This system is perfect for beginners, teachers and anyone interested in hydroponics.
What are the drawbacks of wick systems?
- LimitationsLettuce (and herbs like mint and rosemary) are quick-growing and don’t require huge amounts of water. Because of their demands for nutrients, and hydration tomatoes will struggle in a wick system. Other plants are not able to thrive in an environment that is constantly moist. A wick system can kill root vegetables such turnips, carrots and many other root vegetables.
- Highly susceptible to Rot. The hydroponics wick system is always moist and humid. This increases the chance that fungal outbreaks or rot can develop in the organic growing media as well as on the roots of your plants.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
NFT (Nutrient film technique) systems suspend plants over an endless flow of nutrients that wash over the roots. The channels holding the plants are tilted to allow water to flow down all the way down their growing tray, and then drain into the reservoir beneath. The water in the reservoir is then aerated using air stones. A submersible pump then pumps the nutrient-rich water from the reservoir and back to the upper part of the channel. The technique of nutrient film is a recirculating hydroponics system.
Unlike with deep water-based hydroponics the roots of the plants in an NFT system are not immersed in water. Instead the stream (or “film”) only flows over the ends of their roots. The roots’ tips will hold in moisture from the soil while exposed root systems are given plenty of oxygen. The sides and bottoms of the channels are grooved to allow the water to pass easily over the root tips. This stops water from getting into the channels and causing dams in the root systems.
While nutrient film systems continuously recycle water It is essential to empty the reservoir and refill the nutrient solution every week. This will ensure that your plants receive sufficient nutrition. NFT channels must be designed with an angle that is gradual. A steep angle could cause water to flow through the channel, but not properly nourish the plants. The channel could overflow if too much water is being circulated through it. This could lead to the plants drowning. NFT hydroponics is a popular commercial system because it can support several plants in a channel and is quickly produced in mass quantities. Systems that use nutrients films are ideal for lighter plants such as lettuce, spinach and tomatoes, as well as strawberries and mustard greens. For heavier fruiting plants, such as tomatoes or cucumbers you’ll require trellises to help support their weight.
What are the advantages of a nutrient-film technique system?
- Low-consumption NFT hydroponics don’t require huge quantities of nutrients and water to function. The continuous flow makes it harder for salts to accumulate on the plant’s roots. Nutrient film technique systems also don’t require growing media, so you’re not paying the cost of buying media as well as the headache of changing it.
- Modular design: Nutrient film technique systems are perfect for large-scale and commercial endeavors. Once a channel is set up and operational, it’s simple to expand. Multiple channels can be utilized to support different crops in your greenhouse. It is a good idea that each channel has each channel’s own reservoir. You won’t lose all of the operation in the event that the pump fails or a disease is transmitted to the water.
What are the benefits from using the nutrient films technique?
- Pump failure: Your plants will go dry if the pump stops working and the channel doesn’t circulate the nutrient films. The entire crop may be killed if it’s not given water within hours. The maintenance of the health of an NFT hydroponic system does require constant monitoring. You must be diligent in monitoring the performance and condition of your pump.
- Overcrowding can lead to a blocked channel if the roots grow too fast or are spaced too tightly. Roots can hinder the flow of water, causing plants to become starved. This is especially relevant to plants that are in the bottom. If the plants near the bottom ever seem to be underperforming compared to the other plants, consider removing some plants or switching to a smaller unit.
4. Systems of ebb and flow
By flooding a growing bed below with a nutrient solution, ebb and flow hydroponics is performed. The timer is part of the submersible pump that is situated in the reservoir. The timer starts when the pump fills with water and nutrients. After the timer has stopped it is a matter of gravity slowly draining the water out of the growing bed before flushing it back into the reservoir. The overflow tube ensures that flooding does not exceed a set level and result in damage to the fruit or the stalks. The plants in an ebb-and-flow system are not continuously being exposed to water as is the case with other systems. While the growing bed is submerged, the plants drink up the nutrient solution through their roots. The roots become dry when the water runs off and the growing beds are empty. The roots that are dry then become oxygenated in the interval between floods. The interval between floods will be determined by the size of your growing bed as well as how big your plants are.
Ebb-and-flow systems, also known as drain or flood systems, are one of the most widely used hydroponic methods of growth. The plants receive ample oxygen, nutrients as well as other nutrients to promote rapid growth. The ebb-and flow system is flexible and easily configurable. The grow bed can be filled with a variety of net pots as in addition to different vegetables and fruits. The ebb/flow system lets you to experiment more than any other hydroponic system.
Ebb and flow systems can be used to accommodate almost any type of plant. The size of your grow tray and depth are the main limitations. Root vegetables need more space than strawberries and lettuce. The most popular ebb-flow crops are peas, tomatoes and beans, as well as cucumbers, carrots and peppers. Trellises can be attached directly to the grow bed. Ebb and flow hydroponics is a well-known method for growing plants. They are light and washable, they can be reused and re-used. They drain as efficiently. This is an important quality in ebb and flow systems.
What are the advantages of the Ebb flow system?
- Versatility: With an ebb and flow system, you can produce much bigger plants than you can in other hydroponic systems. Fruits, flowers and even vegetables all respond very well to flow and ebb hydroponics. The best method to ensure your plants get the most yield is to ensure they have the right size grow beds and nutrition.
- DIY appeal: There are hundreds of ways to construct your own hydroponic ebb and flow system at home. All you need to create an ebb-flow system is a trip to the local hardware store or pet retailer. While they cost more than DIY systems such as deep water culture and wick, these systems can accommodate a wider variety of plants than the other systems.
What are the downsides to an ebb or flow system?
- Pump failure: As with any other hydroponic setup reliant on pumps, if the pump stops working and your plants die, they will. To keep your plants healthy and well-being, you should monitor the flow as well as the ebb of the water. Your plants will not get the right amount of water and nutrients if it is flowing too quickly.
- Disease and rot:Sanitation is essential for an ebb-and-flow system. If the bed isn’t draining properly, root disease and rot could develop. Mold and insects can be attracted to a dirty ebb/flow system. It is possible to damage your crops if you do not keep your environment clean. Some plants don’t respond well to the rapid changes in pH caused by extreme flooding and draining.
5. Drip systems
The hydroponic drip machine sends the nutrient solution and aerated solution through a network tubes to individual plants. This solution is slowly dripped into the root system of each plant. It keeps the plants well-nourished and moist. The most popular method of hydroponics is the drip system, particularly for commercial growers. Drip systems can be individual plants or huge irrigation operations.
There are two types for hydroponics with drip systems. In recovery systems, preferred by smaller, at-home growers, the excess water is taken out of the growing bed and returned to the reservoir to be recirculated during the next drip cycle. Non-recovery systems let excess water run through the media before it is released into the surrounding environment. This is the preferred method of commercial growers. Although non-recovery drip systems may appear to be a waste, large-scale growers are very conservative with water usage. These drip systems only deliver the amount of water needed to keep the media around plants dampened. Non-recovery drip systems use complex timers that reduce waste.
Plants grown in a recovery drip plant system will require you to be sensitive to changes in the pH of the nutrient solution. This is the case for any system that has wastewater recirculating into the reservoir. The plants will reduce the nutrient content of the solution as well as alter the balance of pH, so the grower must be aware of and adjust the pH balance of the reservoir more than they would require in a non-recovery system. Also, growing media can be too rich in nutrients and will need to be changed regularly.
What are the benefits of drip systems?
- Many choices for plants: A drip irrigation system can accommodate more plants than other hydroponic systems. This is what makes it attractive to commercial growers. A properly-sized drip system can support melons, squashes, onions, and zucchinis. Drip systems can hold more of growing media than other systems, allowing them to help support the bigger root systems of these crops. Drip systems are best suited to slow draining media, like rockwool, coco coir, and peat moss.
- Scale: Large-scale hydroponics operation can be achieved using drip systems. If a grower desires to expand their plant collection, new tubing can be connected to a reservoir, and divert solution to accommodate the new plant. The drip system that is in place can be altered to accommodate new crops. Additional reservoirs can also be added to allow for different timers to suit the requirements of the plants. This is another reason which makes drip systems a popular choice for commercial hydroponics.
What are the disadvantages of drip-systems?
- Maintenance:If you are growing plants with a non-recovery drip system at home, there’s an enormous amount of maintenance required. You’ll need to consistently monitor pH and nutrient levels in your solution as well as draining and replacing it when necessary. You will also need to clean your recovery lines frequently, as they can get blocked by dirt and plant matter.
- ComplexityDrip systems are easy to make complex and intricate. This is less important for professional hydroponics. However, it’s not the best method for hydroponics at home. You can make use of simpler systems such as ebb-flow for at-home hydroponics.
Aeroponics systems suspend plants in the sky and expose their roots to a nutrient rich mist. Aeroponics systems utilize enclosed structures, like towers or cubes that can hold a variety of plants in one. The reservoir holds water and nutrients. It is then transferred to the nozzle which atomizes and disperses the solution in fine mist. The mist is blown into the chamber after being expelled from the top of the tower. Certain aeroponics spray constantly the roots of plants, similar to NFT systems which expose them to the film of nutrient at all times. Other systems spray the roots with mist periodically which is more similar to the ebb/flow system. Aeroponics do not need substrate media to thrive. The root’s constant exposure allows them to breathe in oxygen and grows at a much faster pace.
Aeroponics systems use less water than other type of hydroponics. In fact, it takes 95 percent less water to cultivate a crop aeroponically than in an irrigation field. Vertical gardens Because their vertical design takes up little space, they can accommodate multiple towers in one place. With aeroponics, great yields can be achieved even in confined spaces. Aeroponic plants can also grow more quickly than plants grown hydroponically because of their higher oxygen exposure.
Aeroponics allows for easy harvesting all year long. Vine plants and nightshades such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants all perform well in an aeroponic environment. Other plants like baby greens (lettuce) as well as watermelons (watermelon), strawberries, and ginger thrive in an aeroponic atmosphere. Obstacles are too large and heavy to grow aeroponically. Underground plants with deep root systems like potatoes and carrots can also not be grown.