Hydroponic gardening is not completely new, although it is becoming more popular and cropping up in more places all the time for many reasons. Hydroponic gardening provides many advantages and, most of all, provides a viable method to grow fresh produce in areas otherwise not conducive for farming. On a small scale, individual gardeners are starting hydroponic gardens at home to grow fresh veggies all year round, even during the winter.
There are many reasons why gardeners should try hydroponic growing, let’s first explain exactly what hydroponic growing is.
What Is Hydroponic Growing?
Growing with hydroponics simply means growing plants without the soil but rather supporting the root system with a different type of growing media. There are different types of hydroponic systems, although they all share the same core elements focused on growing with nutrient-rich water and skipping the soil. The basic things needed for a hydroponic growing system include:
- Filtered and balanced water – since water is the main source for plant nutrition, be sure to use good fresh water that is filtered and balanced with a pH level in the area of 6 to 6.5.
- Nutrients – a nutrient-rich water source is the main nutrition for your plants which require plenty of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and other nutrients to grow healthy and productive.
- Oxygen – when plants are grown in soil, they get oxygen from the pockets of air and soil. Plants will drown if submerged in water without an oxygen source. Hydroponic systems require a method to oxygenate plant containers, which is easy to just immerse an air stone in the water reservoir. Other systems leave space between the base of the plant and the water reservoir. However your system is set up, plants need oxygen to survive in a hydroponic system.
- Lighting – lighting is an important part of growing healthy plants in a hydroponic system. Growing indoors, plants require special lighting to thrive without natural sunlight. The type of lighting you invest in depends on the type of crop you’re growing, as different plants have different lighting requirements.
- Root support – the root system needs some sort of support since it will not be growing in soil. Typical grow media include peat moss, vermiculite, and coconut fiber, also called coco coir, Rockwool, and perlite. You do not want to use materials that do not retain any moisture, like gravel, or materials that could compact, like sand.
These are the basic elements of a hydroponic system which is pretty easy to take care of once you get it set up and going. You still need to be sure you have time to allocate to caring for your garden, testing your water acidity and nutrition level, and recycling your water with the right nutrients.
Benefits of Hydroponic Gardening
There are many benefits of growing a hydroponic garden, whether starting out with a small homegrown version or feeding a community on a commercial scale.
- Uses less water – a hydroponic system actually requires fewer resources as it actually uses less water than traditional gardens grown in soil. This is because water can be recycled, filtered, and refreshed with nutrients to be recycled back through the system instead of being wasted in the soil.
- Gardening can be accomplished anywhere – hydroponic systems provide food in places where soil conditions are not conducive for growing healthy crops, such as in desert areas. Hydroponic growth is feeding people around the world, any time of year, whether in a desert or polar environment.
- Bigger yields – many people believe that hydroponics provides bigger yields, whether growing cannabis or tomatoes. Because the root system is suspended in nutrient-rich water, plants focus on producing big healthy fruits or flowers instead of extending their root system into the soil.
- Fewer pests – growing with an indoor hydroponic garden eliminates pesky outdoor intruders like spider mites or aphids. Growers still need to check for healthy plant root systems, be sure to avoid root rot, and continually test water and equipment regularly.
These are some of the most important benefits of growing with a hydroponic garden, in addition to it being a fun and exciting hobby that you can do any time of year. If you enjoy a fresh garden in the summer, give hydroponics a try and enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, or cannabis any time of year.
RainMakers Supply offers all the hydroponic grow equipment and supplies to get started with a hydroponic garden of your own. Enjoy gardening all year long, in any climate, and realize the many benefits hydroponics has to offer. Contact us today or stop by the store for quality hydroponic supplies and to speak to a knowledgeable horticulture expert.