Hydroponics, Do It Yourself

 

Disclaimer: This information is derived from Food Revolution Network and Trees.Com and I am greatly appreciative of their vast knowledge and supportive information about this new trend of planting our crops.

Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture that involves growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrients …The term comes from the Greek words “hudor” for water and “ponos” for work, so in translation, it essentially means “water-working.”

When I was first introduced to hydroponics I was so fascinated by its concept and actually made a plan for instituting it on my piece of land in my hometown. It has some gardens and trees on both sides but the middle part is already covered with roofs.

My brother has used it for his own business and when he left my niece used it for nursery. Then I thought that hydroponics is a perfect alternative to the planting of these vegetables instead of using garden soil and pots.

5 Best Plants to Grow Indoors

These are some of the best and easiest edible plants to grow indoors.

1. Herbs

Herbs are easy to grow, as they don’t take up much space, can be harvested continuously for seasonings, and are most comfortable at room temperatures (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Some of the best indoor herbs include thyme, sage, chives, mint, basil, rosemary, bay laurel, oregano, chervil, and parsley.

The best spot for your indoor herb garden is on a sunny kitchen windowsill if you have one. And if you splurge for some grow lights, you can grow pretty much any herb you like. Give them 12-16 hours of direct light per day, and they’ll thrive.

2. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are also solid indoor gardening choices. Many greens are adapted to indoor growing, including loose-leaf lettuce varieties, baby spinach, arugula, and mesclun mix. Kale is a bit more of a challenge, as it does best in cooler temperatures, but you can definitely give it a try.

The easiest way to grow leafy greens is to harvest them as microgreens. It’s a bit more time-intensive since you’re harvesting them young and therefore have to replant frequently due to turnover, but the microgreens are typically extremely high in nutrients, delicious and easy on resources like soil, water, and fertilizer.

Some microgreens can give you multiple harvests from a single crop; just give them a haircut with a sharp pair of scissors, and they’ll grow back as long as you keep watering them and giving them sufficient light.

3. Sprouts

Sprouts don’t even require soil; you can sprout greens and other seeds on damp paper towels, or in jars with mesh lids. Here’s a whole article about how to grow sprouts indoors.

4. Vegetables

You can also grow many vegetables indoors, depending on space and light. Some of the most popular include tomatoes, chili peppers, potatoes, green onions, and carrots. Vegetables can be grown from seeds, seedlings, or even regrown from scraps.

Note that you’ll likely need larger containers (at least 10-12″ wide and deep) for most vegetables, especially if you want to grow enough to feed your household.

5. Fruit Trees

Don’t forget lovely, fragrant, and hardy fruit trees. There are many dwarf varieties of lemon, peach, fig, and other fruit trees. If you like nursery rhymes, you might consider growing a mulberry bush in the middle of your family room.

If you have space and some large containers (2-5 gallons), you can grow delicious berries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are common choices. And there are even varieties of grapes that can be grown indoors.

7 types of hydroponics?

There are seven main types of hydroponic systems to consider for your garden: wicking, deep water culture (DWC), nutrient film technique (NFT), ebb and flow, aeroponics, drip systems, and aquaponics.

1. Wick System

This system, named for its functional resemblance to a candle wick, is the simplest setup. Nutrients are pumped from a water reservoir, via a string, up to the growing medium that holds the plants. This approach is a popular choice for home gardeners who want to give hydroponics a try.

But it isn’t great for larger plants because a string isn’t able to provide enough water for them. And an incorrect setup or material use can be fatal to the plants.

2. Deep Water Culture System

Deep Water Culture (DWC) is the easiest type of hydroponic system that you can build and maintain at home. In this system, the plants grow with their roots submerged directly in nutrient-rich water. For home growers, this can be achieved by growing in large opaque storage containers or buckets.

Also called the Kratky Method, after its creator, the University of Hawaii’i horticulturist B. A. Kratky received a degree in “Weed Science” from Purdue University in 1971 This system works by placing plants in pots on top of a floating holder so that the roots are in the growing medium.

It recirculates water, reducing waste, and is inexpensive and very low maintenance. However, this method isn’t a good fit for large plants either, or plants that have long growing periods because they have to be lightweight enough to be well-supported by the floating raft.

3. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is perhaps the most reliable and popular hydroponic method. The fundamentals are very easy to get your head around. The most important feature of NFT hydroponics is that plant roots are in direct contact with flowing nutrient solutions.

This system is used in many vertical farms, which are essentially planted skyscrapers. Some can house thousands of square feet of hydroponic growing systems.

NFT is also the most common type to use in the home, lab, and commercial settings. It works by allowing a continuous nutrient flow to the plant and back to the reservoir using a slightly downward-facing tube.

This design has two advantages: it doesn’t require a timer because the pump runs 24/7, which is one less thing to set up (but could be problematic in a power outage). And it does away with the need for a growing medium.

But it’s a little more high maintenance as growers have to watch that the plant roots don’t grow in a way that clogs the system. And they have to periodically make sure the pump is working properly, so the plants are getting adequate nutrients

4. Ebb and Flow System

This method uses a pump on a timer to regulate nutrients going from the reservoir to the growing tray. The nutrients drain back into the reservoir after they have thoroughly encompassed the plant roots.

This system can be customized to fit the grower’s needs, and efficiently uses water and energy, but requires a significant amount of growing medium.

5. Drip System

This system uses a timer that controls when the nutrient solution is transferred through a group of drip lines to provide tiny drops of water for the plants. It’s relatively inexpensive and gives more control over the schedule. But it’s probably overkilled for a small garden at home and can waste a lot of water.

6. Aeroponics

Aeroponics seems to be one of the most complex hydroponics options. Plants are suspended in the air, requiring no growing medium. And a timer controls a spray system to frequently deliver nutrients to the roots. As such, the roots are exposed to more oxygen using this system.

7. Aquaponics

In aquaponics, fish — and sometimes other aquatic animals like snails, prawns, and crayfish — and crops are combined into one symbiotic system. Waste products that can be harmful to fish in high concentrations are filtered out of the system by the plants, which use them for their own nutrition.

While fish farming is often environmentally disastrous, not all fish farms are the same. Aquaponic farms are unique because they combine fish farming with hydroponics, and the two work together to create what at least has the potential to be a more sustainable system in which each element can benefit the whole.

6 Benefits of Hydroponics

1. High Yield

Hydroponics offers a higher yield of calories per growing area. This is one of the reasons the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping to implement the use of hydroponic farming in areas of food shortages to help produce more crops and feed more people.

Plus, plants grown hydroponically can grow at least 20% faster than their soil-bound counterparts.

2. Control

Unlike growing in soil, where there are so many different influences (pH, light, air temperature, microorganisms, tilth, and so on), hydroponic growing can be almost completely controlled.

This is because it effectively removes the plant from a natural environment and instead creates what is, at least in theory, an optimized ‘ecosystem’ designed to grow in the absence of soil.

The plants are fed a nutrient solution that can come in many forms, but usually, it’s water with a mix of fertilizers and minerals or trace elements that plants require for food.

3. Less Water

At a large scale, hydroponics consumes less water — up to 90% less than traditional field crop watering methods — because most hydroponics use recirculation techniques to minimize waste. In conventional farming, water is lost due to evaporation, inefficient irrigation, and soil erosion among many other factors. Because hydroponics is removed from the natural water cycle, it can cut down on losses in these areas.

4. Regional Diversity

Hydroponics allows farmers to grow food pretty much anywhere. For instance, hydroponic systems can be set up in homes, greenhouses, or any indoor space. Even desert climates, like in Egypt and the Middle East, can support hydroponic agriculture at a scale capable of addressing local food needs.

Scientists are even attempting to utilize the technology on the International Space Station — in a facility called “Veggie” — to grow food for astronauts so that they can stay in space for longer missions. In fact, after a lot of testing, astronauts were able to eat space-grown leafy greens in 2015.

5. Continuous Production

Hydroponic technology offers continuous production as well. Unlike conventional agriculture which primarily utilizes large outdoor crop fields, hydroponics growers don’t have to worry about the changing seasons.

Crops can be grown and harvested year-round, increasing supply and reducing the need for preserving food.

6. Fewer Toxins

While conventional agriculture relies heavily on chemical herbicides and pesticides, hydroponic systems do not require much if any of these toxic applications. Because there’s literally no soil for pathogens to live in, few pests or diseases can survive in a properly maintained hydroponic setup. And although chemicals are sometimes still a part of hydroponic growing, most at-home systems can remain free of pesticides and other harmful agrochemicals.

5 Disadvantages of Hydroponics

  • Expensive to set up. Compared to a traditional garden, a hydroponics system is more expensive to acquire and build. …
  • Vulnerable to power outages. …
  • Requires constant monitoring and maintenance. …
  • Waterborne diseases. …
  • Problems affect plants quicker.

1. Expensive to set up

Compared to a traditional garden, a hydroponics system is more expensive to acquire and build. Costs range depending upon the type and size of the system purchased, and whether or not it’s prefabricated or built with individual components to create a customized design.

2. Vulnerable to power outages

Both passive and active hydroponics systems depend on electricity to power the different components such as grow lights, water pumps, aerators, fans, etc. Therefore, a power outage will affect the entire system. In the active systems, a loss of power can be detrimental to plants if it goes unnoticed by the grower.

3. Requires constant monitoring and maintenance

Hydroponics requires a higher level of monitoring and micro-managing than growing plants traditionally. To maintain a carefully controlled growing environment, all system components need constant vigilance—lights, temperature, and many aspects of the nutrient solution such as pH and electrical conductivity.

The nutrient solution also needs to be flushed and replaced regularly, and the system parts often cleaned to prevent buildup and clogging.

4. Waterborne diseases

Because hydroponically grown plants are grown in water instead of soil, waterborne diseases are considerably higher. With the water circulating continuously through the system, infections can spread quickly throughout the growing system as a whole, affecting the whole collection of plants.

In extreme cases, a waterborne disease can kill all the plants in a hydroponics system within hours.

5. Problems affect plants quicker

Soil protects the roots from extreme temperature changes, slows diseases and pests from attacking, and regularly releases and absorbs nutrients.

Without soil to act as a buffer, plants grown in hydroponics systems react negatively to problems like nutrient deficiencies and disease much quicker.

Conclusion. 

Are hydroponics worth it?

Hydroponics has a number of benefits including better growth compared to plants that don’t use the system, sometimes up to 25% quicker growth. Plants in a hydroponic system also generally produce up to 30% more than plants in a regular growth medium like soil

According to statistics, plants that grow in a hydroponic setup are healthier, more nutritious, grow quickly but they also yield more. If you compare the yield of hydroponic plants with soil-grown plants, crops produced hydroponically yield 20-25% more than crops produced in the soil.

Is hydroponic food healthy?

The bottom line is it depends on the nutrient solution the vegetables are grown in, but hydroponically grown vegetables can be just as nutritious as those grown in soil. … Plants make their own vitamins, so vitamin levels tend to be similar whether a vegetable is grown hydroponically or in soil.

Please let us know in the comments below, please:

  • What do you know about hydroponics?
  • Do you support this type of planting crops? Why? or Why not?
  • Have you ever eaten hydroponic plants?
  • Have you tried growing your own hydroponic plants at home?

Disclaimer

Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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References:

foodrevolution.org/blog/hydroponics/

trees.com/gardening-and-landscaping/advantages-disadvantages-of-hydroponics

2 thoughts on “Hydroponics, Do It Yourself”

  1. Your Aeroponic roots look very healthy. Well done. I love reading about your hydroponics article; it took me back some years to studying horticulture at TAFE in Queensland.

    When I was in Alice Springs, I used to buy hydroponic lettuce all the time, and it was locally grown and tasted great; also, the leaf was a perfect size to put on my sandwich.

    Reply
  2. I’m 110% in love with hydroponics! Yes, that’s 10% over the norm, but I have my reasons. For many years I’ve attempted to grow a garden in my backyard. However, due to long work schedules, I was not able to do so. Since turning to hydroponics, this has changed drastically! I now no longer worry about weeds, plus controlling pests without the involvement of chemicals is so much easier to do. I prefer growing strictly organic and non GMO, which isn’t nearly as easy to do outdoors as it is within a hydroponic environment.

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