Hydroponics means the art and science of gardening with no soil. Hydroponics comes from Latin and translates to “working water”. Without soil, water works to supply nutrients, hydration, oxygen and other vital elements for plant life. Hydroponics helps plants thrive, from watermelons and jalapenos to orchids. Using minimal space and 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture, and ingenious designs, hydroponic gardens grow beautiful fruits and flowers in half the time.
Though the technology sounds modern Hydroponics’ history is rooted in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates River was channelized into channels that cascaded through the extravagant gardens’ walls. Marco Polo in 13th century China wrote about floating gardens. Hydroponics isn’t a brand modern technology. NASA started cultivating aeroponic beans on a space station in 1990. This opened up the possibility of space-based sustainable agriculture. Hydroponics is an innovative and timeless method for conserving water and growing crops.
What is hydroponics and how does it work?
Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants without using soil. The hydroponic flower, herb or vegetable is planted in an inert environment and provided with oxygen, water, nutrients, and water. This method promotes quicker growth, higher yields, and better quality. If a plant is grown in soil, its roots are perpetually looking for the right nutrients to sustain the plant. The plant does not have to expend any energy to support itself when its root system is directly exposed to nutrients and water. The plant’s growth is able to be enhanced in energy efficiency by investing the energy the roots expended in getting water and food. As a result, leaf growth flourishes as does the blooming of fruits and flowers.
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants can sustain themselves. Plants absorb sunlight using chlorophyll (a green pigment present within the leaves). They use the light energy to separate water molecules from those they’ve absorbed through their roots. The hydrogen molecules react with carbon dioxide to create carbohydrates that plants require to survive. This is an essential step in maintaining the planet’s habitability. Plants don’t require soil to photosynthesize. They need soil in order to replenish their nutrients and water. When nutrients are dissolved in water, they can be applied directly to the plant’s roots by flooding or misting. Hydroponics has demonstrated that direct exposure of nutrient-filled water can offer more efficient and adaptable growth strategies than traditional irrigation.
What does hydroponics look like?
The hydroponic system allows for precise control of the surrounding conditions, including temperature and PH balance. It also increases exposure to nutrients. Hydroponics is based on the idea that plants receive exactly what they want when they need. Hydroponics administer nutrient solutions tailored to the needs of the specific plant being grown. These allow you to regulate how much sunlight your plants get and the amount of time they are allowed to receive it. The pH levels can be controlled and adjusted. Plant growth can accelerate in a controlled, highly personalized setting.
Many risk factors can be reduced by controlling the conditions in which the plant is grown. The conditions in which plants are grown is a major aspect of their growth and health. Diseases of plants can be transmitted by soil fungus. Animals like rabbits may pounce on the ripe vegetables in your garden. In a matter of minutes, pests such as locusts can pounce on crops to destroy the crops. Hydroponic systems remove the uncertainty of growing plants outside and in the earth. Seedlings will mature much quicker if they’re not subject to the mechanical resistance of soil. Hydroponics is a healthier and better quality method of growing fruits and vegetables by removing pesticides. Hydroponics removes all obstacles so plants can develop quickly and vigorously.
What are the parts of a hydroponics system?
You must be familiar with the components of hydroponics to ensure a healthy system.
Media that is growing
Inert media, which help anchor the root structure and help support the weight of the plant, are often used for hydroponic plants. While growing media is utilized as an alternative to soil, it does not offer any nutritional assistance for the plant. Instead, this porous medium holds nutrients in the solution and then delivers them to the plant. A lot of growing media are pH neutral, which means they won’t affect the balance of your nutrients. There are a variety of media options. It’s dependent on the hydroponic system and specific plants that will determine which one you will choose. There are a variety of hydroponic media available online as well as at local gardening and nurseries.
Air stones and air pumps
Plants that are submerged in water can quickly drown if the water is not adequately oxygenated. Air stones release tiny bubbles of oxygen dissolved throughout your nutrient solution reservoir. They also distribute dissolved nutrition evenly. Air stones do not produce oxygen by themselves. They must be connected to an external oxygen pump using opaque food-grade plastic tubing. This can stop algae growth. The most commonly used components for aquariums are air pumps and stones. They are available at pet stores.
Net pots can be used to grow hydroponic plants inside mesh planters. The latticed materials allow roots to access the sides and bottom of the pot. They also provide oxygen and nutrients. Net pots also provide superior drainage compared to traditional clay or plastic pots.
What are the six kinds of hydroponic system are available?
There are hundreds upon hundreds of hydroponic methods, but they all come from six basic hydroponic systems.
1. Systems to cultivate deep water
Deep water culture hydroponics are basically plants that are suspended in Aerated water. DWC systems, often called deep water culture systems, are one the most common techniques of hydroponics. DWC systems hang net pots that are filled with plants that are held over a deep reservoir of oxygen-rich nutrients. The solution helps keep the roots of plants well-hydrated and provides them with constant access to nutrients, water and oxygen. Some people consider deep water cultivation to be the purest form of hydroponics.
Since the root system of the plant is constantly submerged in water, oxygenation of the water is essential for the plant’s health. Plants will be killed if they don’t have enough oxygen. The reservoir must be fitted with an air compressor that is able to supply oxygen to all parts of it. The solution of nutrient is circulated by bubbles produced by the airstone.
It’s easy to set up a deep water cultivation system at home, or in a class. For the net pots you can make use of an old aquarium or a clean bucket. DWC systems are made to keep the plant’s roots submerged in the solution. The solution should not be used to submerge any portion of the stems or vegetation. You can keep about an quarter-inch and an inch of the root above the waterline. Air bubbles appear from the surface and splash onto exposed roots. They’re not in danger drying out.
What are the advantages to deep water systems for culture?
- Very low maintenance After a DWC system is set up, it’s extremely simple to maintain. Fill the nutrient solution as necessary, and make sure the pump is pumping oxygen to the air stone. It is generally only necessary to refill the solution once every 2-3 weeks. But, this can depend on the size of your plants.
- DIY appeal Deepwater culture systems have the advantage of being simple to construct, unlike many hydroponic system. You only need to go to your local nursery or pet shop to purchase the air pump and nutrients.
What are the downsides to deep water culture systems
- limitations: Deep water culture systems are adept at cultivating lettuce and herbs, but they struggle with larger and more slow-growing plants. DWC systems aren’t ideal for anything that flowers. However, with some extra effort, you can plant plants such as bell peppers, tomatoes and squash in a DWC system.
- Temperature control It is crucial that the temperature of your water solution not exceeds 68°F or falls below 60°F. In the case of a DWC system it is a static system, meaning that the water is and not recirculating, so it is more difficult to regulate temperature.
2. Wick systems
A wick system is where plants are planted in growing media, then placed over a container. The reservoir is filled with water that contains minerals that are dissolved. The reservoir houses an water solution that contains dissolving nutrients. Wicks travel from the reservoir to the tray. The wick is then flooded with water and nutrients that then cover the soil around the roots of the plants. These wicks can also be made out of rope, string or even felt. This is by far the easiest form of hydroponics. Wick systems are hydroponics that are passive which means they don’t need pumps or other mechanical components to function. This makes it perfect for situations in which electricity is not reliable or not available.
Wicks systems work through a capillary action. Wicks absorb and then transfers the nutrients from the water it is submerged in. Only wick system hydroponics will be successful if there is a growing media that permits transfer of water or nutrients. Coco coir is composed of coconut husks and fibers, has excellent retention of moisture. It also has the added advantage of pH neutral. Perlite is also pH neutral and highly porous, which makes it perfect for wicking systems. Vermiculite has a very porous structure, and also a great capacity for exchange of cations. This means it can store nutrients for later use. These three media are best for hydroponics wick systems.
Wick systems are slower than other hydroponic system therefore it’s not feasible to cultivate plants with them. Make sure you have at minimum one wick in every growing tray. These wicks must be placed near the root system of your plant. Although wicks can be working with aeration and a pump Many people opt to add oxygen stones and an an air pump to the tank of the wick system. This will provide extra oxygen to the hydroponic plant.
What are the advantages of a wick system?
- Simplicity A basic system for wicks can be set up by anyone. It doesn’t require much care once it is operating. The plants you plant will never run dry since the wicks supply water constantly. A wick system will let plants like lettuce to flourish, which can provide a an excellent return on your investment.
- Space-efficient:Wick systems are able to be placed anywhere since they don’t require electricity. It’s an ideal system for students, beginners and anyone who is interested in hydroponics.
What are the pros and cons of wick systems.
- LimitationsLettuce or herbs such as mint, rosemary, and basil grow quickly, so they don’t need much water. Tomatoes, on the other hand, will struggle to flourish within a wick system due to of their high demand for nutrients and water. Other plants will not thrive in a climate in which the humidity is constant. A wick system will not let root vegetables like carrots or turnips to thrive.
- Responsible to Rot: Hydroponic wick systems are always damp and humid. This increases the chance of fungal diseases and rot forming in your plant’s organic growth media as well as the roots.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
Systems using the Nutrient Film Technology (NFT), suspend plants above a continuous stream of nutrients. The solution washes across the root systems. The channels holding plants are tilted, permitting water to flow across the entire length of the tray, before draining to the reservoir beneath. The water in the reservoir is aerated by using an air stone. Submersible pumps then pump the nutrient-rich water out of the reservoir up to the top of the channel. The nutrient film technique is a recirculating hydroponic system.
NFT technology is different than deep hydroponics in water culture. In an NFT system the plant’s roots are not immersed in water. Instead, the stream (or “film”) is only flows over the ends of the roots. The roots’ tips will draw the water upwards into the plant, while the exposed root system has oxygen. Because the bottoms of the channels have grooved edges this thin film will easily flow over the root tips. This prevents water logging or damming the roots.
Although nutrient film technology systems constantly recycle water, it is wise for them to flush the reservoir frequently and replenish the nutrients solution each once a week. This ensures that your plants get enough nutrients. NFT channels should be designed with a gradual slope. A steep angle could cause water to flow through the channel, but not adequately nourish the plants. In excess water could cause the channel to overflow and plants may drown. NFT hydroponics are able to support a variety of plants per channel, and they are easy to mass-produce. Plants that are light, like mustard greens and lettuce, and also strawberries, are better suited to nutrient film technique systems. For larger fruiting plants like cucumbers or tomatoes you’ll need trellises to support their weight.
What are the advantages to the use of a nutrient film?
- Low consumption NFT hydroponics do not require huge amounts of water and nutrients to operate. Since the water is constantly flowing and salts are not able to build up on the roots. Nutrient film technology systems don’t require growing media. This means you don’t have to pay the expense of purchasing media as well as the hassle of replacing it.
- Modular Design Nutrient Film Technique Systems are ideal for commercial ventures with a large scale. Once a channel is in place and functional, it’s very simple to expand. Multiple channels are able to be added to the greenhouse in order to help different plants. Each channel should have its own reservoir. This will ensure that you don’t lose your entire operation in case an issue with the pump or illness.
What are the disadvantages of the use of a nutrient film?
- Pump failure: The plants could be dry when the pump stops functioning and the channel fails to circulate the nutrient films. The entire crop may die if it isn’t being given water within hours. You need to be vigilant when maintaining an NFT hydroponics system. You’ll want to be attentive to the performance of every pump.
- Overcrowding: If the plants are too closely to each other or the roots too prolific, the channel can become clogged. Roots can block the water flow, causing plants to become starved. This is especially true of those plants that are located at the bottom of the channel. Consider taking plants off the lower part of the channel or moving to a smaller one in the event that they are not performing well.
4. Ebb- and flow systems
Ebb-and-flow hydroponics involves flooding the growing bed with a solution of nutrients that is drawn from the reservoir below. The timer is part of the submersible pump that is located in the reservoir. When the timer begins, the pump fills up the grow bed with water and nutrients. When the timer is stopped the water is slowly drained from the bed of growth and flushes it into the reservoir. To ensure that the water doesn’t exceed a certain level, the overflow tube protects the plant’s fruits and stalks. Unlike the previous systems mentioned that the plants within an ebb and flow system are not constantly exposed to water. While the grow bed is submerged, the plants drink up the nutrient solution through their root systems. The roots dry out after the water has receded and the bed becomes empty. The roots that are dry are then oxygenated during the time between floods. The size of your grow beds and the size your plants will determine how long the interval between floods.
Systems for ebb and flow, commonly referred to as flood or drain systems, are among the most popular hydroponic growth methods. The plants receive plenty of oxygen and nutrients that stimulate rapid and robust growth. The ebb-and-flow system is a flexible and easy configurable. The growing bed could be filled with different net pots, as well as other fruits and vegetables. The ebb/flow system allows you to experiment more than any other hydroponic system.
Ebb and flow systems can accommodate nearly all kinds of plants. One thing that will restrict your choices is the size of the grow tray. Root vegetables require more space than strawberries or lettuce. Many popular ebb flow crops are tomatoes, peppers beans, peas and beans. In fact, you could even attach trellises directly to the grow bed. “Grow rocks” and expanded clay pebbles (hydroton) are among the most popular growing media in the field of flow and ebb hydroponics. These media are able to be used again, are light and simple to move and retain water. This is an important property in Ebb-flow systems.
What are the advantages of the ebb flow system?
- Flexibility: With an ebb and flow system, you are able to grow much larger plants than in most other hydroponic systems. Ebb and flow hydroponics is extremely popular with vegetables, flowers and fruits. You can expect a huge harvest if you take care to give your plants the right sized grow bed, nutrition and other essential things.
- DIY appeal: There is plenty of methods to construct an ebb/flow hydroponic system right at your home. All you need to create an ebb-flow system is a visit to the local hardware store or pet store. While Ebb systems cost more than DIY systems like wick or deep-water culture but they provide a more diverse selection of plants.
What are the disadvantages of an Ebb-flow system?
- Pump failure Like any hydroponic system reliant on a pump, if the pump stops working, your plants will die. To keep your plants healthy, you must be aware of the flow as well as the ebb of water. Your plants won’t get enough nutrients and water if water is flowing into and out of the system too fast.
- Rot and root diseases:Sanitation are vital to an ebb & flow system. Root diseases, rot and other problems can occur when the bed doesn’t drain properly. Dirty ebb/flow systems could attract pests and cause mold. Neglecting to clean your garden could result in low crop yields. Additionally, some plants do not respond well to the rapid change in pH caused by of draining and flooding extremes.
5. Drip systems
The hydroponic drip machine delivers the nutrient solution and an aerated solution via a series of tubes to the individual plants. The solution slowly drips into media around the root system to ensure that the plants are hydrated and well-nourished. Drip systems are a popular techniques for hydroponics, particularly for commercial growers. Drip systems can be utilized to water individual plants or for large-scale irrigation.
There are two kinds of drip systems hydroponics. The most popular recovery system is designed for small farmers at home. It means that the excess water is drained out of the grow bed and then recirculated back into the reservoir. Non-recovery systems let excess water drain through the media before it is released into the surrounding outside environment. This method is preferred by commercial growers. The non-recovery drips may seem inefficient however large-scale growers are incredibly cautious about their water usage. The drip systems are created only to deliver precisely the quantity of solution needed to keep the growing media around the plant dampened. Non-recovery drip systems use complicated timing devices and feeding programs to minimize the amount of waste.
The plants that are grown in a drip plant system will need to be sensitive to changes in the pH of their nutrient solution. This is true of any system where wastewater re-circulates to the reservoir. Growers must monitor the solution reservoir and adjust it more frequently than they would in a non-recovery system. Plants can also drain the nutrients in the solution and altering the pH. Additionally, the growing media may become too rich in nutrients and will require frequent changes.
What are the benefits of a drip system?
- A variety of plant choices: A drip system can support much larger plants than other hydroponic systems. This is one of the main reasons why it is attractive for commercial growers. A proper-sized drip system can provide ample support for melons as well as other vegetables such as onions, zucchinis, and pumpkins. Drip systems can hold more of growing media than other systems, which allows them to support the larger roots of these plants. Drip systems work best with slow draining media, like rockwool, coco coir and peat moss.
- Scale: Drip systems are able to easily accommodate large-scale hydroponics. If a grower desires to add more plants, new tubing can be linked to a reservoir and divert solution to the new vegetation. It is possible to add new plants to an existing drip system by adding additional reservoirs with timers that are tailored to the plants’ needs. Drip systems are popular in commercial hydroponics because of this.
What are the downsides to drip systems?
- Maintenance If you’re cultivating plants at home using a drip system that is not self-recovery, there will be a lot of work involved. It is essential to check the pH and levels of nutrient in your water, draining and replacing if required. It is also important to flush out your recovery lines frequently, as they can become clogged with dirt and plant matter.
- ComplexityDrip system can quickly get complicated and complex. This matters less for professional hydroponics, but it is not the best method for home-grown growers. A lot of simpler systems, such as ebb & flow are more suitable for at-home hydroponics.
Aeroponics systems suspend the plants suspended in the air and expose them to a nutrient-filled mist. Aeroponics systems consist of enclosed structures such as cubes and towers that can hold multiple plants simultaneously. Water and nutrients are stored in a reservoir, and then transferred into a nozzle, which disperses the solution into it in a fine mist. The mist is blown into the chamber after being expelled from the tower’s top. Some aeroponics continuously mist the plant’s roots similar to NFT systems that expose the roots to the nutrient film at all times. Others function more like the flow and ebb system, spraying roots with mist in intervals. Aeroponics doesn’t require any substrate media to survive. Since they are continuously exposed to oxygen their roots absorb oxygen in a fast rate and grow.
Aeroponics systems require less water than other form of hydroponics. Aeroponics requires less water than irrigated fields to grow crops. Vertical gardens The vertical structure of aeroponics permits several towers to be erected in a single location, and take only a small amount of space. Aeroponics can yield huge amounts even in tiny areas. Aeroponic plants can also be more productive than hydroponically grown plants since they have a higher oxygen supply.
Aeroponics allows for year-round harvesting. Vine plants and nightshades such as tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants thrive in an aeroponic environment. Other plants like baby greens (lettuce) as well as watermelons (watermelon) and strawberries and ginger thrive in an aeroponic atmosphere. Unfortunately, fruiting trees can not be grown in aeroponically because they are too large and heavy.