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An Overview of Hydroponics
This week’s article is the first of a few articles going over unique and different ways in which you all can grow your plants! This article will go over some of the methods you can use to grow without the use of soil or dirt, what nutrients you need, and the specific methods of hydroponics!
Hydroponics has been around for a very long time, we’ve seen it plenty of times throughout history, as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon! Studies have shown that growth in a hydroponics system will result in a bigger plant, bigger flowers, and a higher yield than those grown in soil. Hydroponics is the process of growing your plants in a soil-less compound while the roots are submerged in water.
Aquaponics is like Hydroponics but there’s a fish tank added in to make it a looping system. Aquaponics will be set up with your plants just like how you would with Hydroponics, but you will need to connect a water pipe and a pump up to a fish tank and then on the other side of that fish tank, install another water pipe and hook it up to where you’ll be growing your plants.
Aeroponics is like the other two examples, but rather than the roots being submerged in water, the roots will be dangling in the air. You will need to spray your roots with nutrient-filled water for them to grow. You will want to set these up just like how you would set up a Hydroponics system, but with a water spraying system instead of there just being water for the plants to soak in.
Most of the principles that apply to soil fertilizers also apply to hydroponic fertilizers or nutrient solutions. A hydroponic nutrient solution contains all the elements that the plant normally would get from the soil. These nutrients can be purchased at a hydroponic supply store. Most are highly concentrated, using 2 to 4 teaspoons per gallon of water. They come in liquid mixes or powered mixes, usually with at least two different containers, one for growth and one for bloom. The liquids are slightly more expensive and the easiest to use. They dissolve quickly and completely into the reservoir and often have an added pH buffer. The powered varieties are inexpensive and require a little more attention. They need to be mixed much more thoroughly and often don’t dissolve completely into the reservoir.
Like soil, hydroponic systems can be fertilized with organic or chemical nutrients. An organic hydroponic system requires considerably more work to maintain. The organic compounds have a tendency to lock together and cause pump blockage. Some hydroponic gardeners simply supplement their hydroponic gardens with organic nutrients, using the chemical nutrients as the main food supply. This gives the plants a stable supply of nutrients without the high maintenance of a hydro-organic system.
Five Methods of Hydroponics
Here are 5 of the most commonly used methods for Hydroponics! There will be a brief summary of each of them in order to give the reader an understanding of how each of them works!
Nutrient Film Hydroponics Method
The Nutrient Film Technique is set up so that your plants are stored into long channels that are slightly sloped downwards. The downwards slope allows for the nutrient solution to flow through the roots of your plants and back down into your nutrient solution container. The container will need to have an air stone connected to an air pump as well as a water pump! This system will be running 24/7 so you will need to keep an eye on how quickly your nutrient solution runs through the channels as well as how much flows through t!
Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Method
Deep Water Culture is my favorite method for hydroponics. The plants are placed in a way where the roots will be freely dangling in the nutrient solution itself. You will need to put an air stone or aerator directly underneath the roots and connect it to an air pump for it to work. Due to your plants having unlimited nutrients and oxygen at its disposal, the plant will grow at an absolutely crazy rate! Many people suggest using this system with big plants or plants that are known to have really big root systems.
Wick Hydroponics Method
The Wick system is the most simple and cheap style for hydroponics! It requires no electricity, water pumps, or machinery! This is the system that’s the most passive out of all of these. It works by putting your plants into a growing medium and a container with nylon “wicks” leading from the growing medium to a container or tank filled with your nutrient solution. Due to this method, your plants will not be getting as much water and nutrients when compared to your other styles, so you will need to use small plants like herbs or flowers if you want to use this method!
Ebb and Flow Hydroponics Method
Ebb and Flow systems are pretty common from what I’ve read. They’re a method of hydroponics where you put your plants in a large growing bed filled with good growing medium and a drain which will keep your nutrient solution from overflowing! The drain should lead to a container or tank of some kind and that’s where you will be keeping your nutrient solution for your plants. A water pump and timer need to be set up so allow for the water to completely drain after a set amount of time. People can use an automatic drain to further increase the nutrients, oxygen, and growth for your plant!
Drip Hydroponics Method
Drip hydroponic systems are easy to use, set up, and can be installed in many different ways! The system works by pushing water through tubes that lead to the base of the plant, those tubes lead to specially designed ends that water drips from! You can set your system up to be circulating or non-circulating. A circulating drip system will have a tank of water underneath connected to the area where your plants are hanging, allowing the water to collect back into the tank and to be used again, while a non-circulating system does not do this.