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A Guide to Hydroponic Growing

May 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 176


Hydroponic gardening (gardening without soil), has been around since the 1600's and has been enhanced and improved upon ever since. In 1929, William Gericke of UC Berkeley, began promoting this revolutionary idea for growing plants without soil in nutrient fortified water and is said to have created quite a stir growing 20 ft tomato vines in his yard in the mixture. During the second world war, the first commercial success of hydroponics was realized after produce was locally grown on a rocky substrate to feed airline crews who used the island as a refueling stop.

How it works

Hydroponics is basically growing with water instead of soil. The gardener adds concentrated nutrients into the water, which resemble the fertilizers found naturally in soil. Replacing the actual soil you mediums like gravel, mineral wool, and coconut coir, a bi-product of coconut husks. These additives come in liquid or powdered form and can be purchased at various outlets and online. How does the nutrient rich water get to the roots? With an active system, a pump circulates and moves the nutrient solution around to the roots. A passive hydroponic system is static and relies on the capillary action much like a candle wick.

Growing with hydroponics involves maintaining a delicate balance - more so than when growing in soil. Although simply adding the right amount of nutrients and food in the water guarantees you success, doing something wrong can be disastrous. Without soil as a buffer, the wrong nutrient, too many, not enough, or any failure to the hydroponic system leads to your plants dying quickly. The advantage to using these store-bought nutrients is they are pre-mixed and contain all the necessary elements the plant needs.

Another huge advantage to hydroponics over soil, is that for the most part, the crops growth is relatively stable and the yields greater. Reports from a number of sources estimate your plants grow 5-10 times faster than soil and your harvest will be approximately 2-3 times larger. In soil, a plant has a complex branching root system that is needed to get food and water from the surrounding soils. The opposite is true with hydroponics. Because it is so it easy for the plants to get the water and nutrients directly out of the water reservoir, the plant needs a smaller root system and obtain the same amount of food and nutrients. In this way, you can expect to see a plant with a very small root system underground and a very large plant above the ground. This makes hydroponics an ideal solution for a rocky, soil poor landscape that would otherwise not be conducive for conventional horticulture.


Hydroponic gardening has many advantages over conventional means and is good for the environment. Hydroponic growing uses less soil. Topsoil erosion doesn't come into play since hydroponic gardening systems use no topsoil. The use of water is a fraction of what is needed in conventional gardening because of the water is reused along of the nutrient solutions. This reusing and recirculation of the water and nutrients means less water and healthier plants.

Fewer pesticides are necessary in hydroponic crops - or they're not required at all since your gardens can be grown indoors in controlled environments. This is great for people living in parts of the country with extreme weather conditions. Because hydroponics can be used indoors you can adjust the temperature as you normally would for yourselves. It would be impractical at best, to maintain optimal growing conditions outdoors but it becomes easy when using hydroponics. Progress has been rapid, and results obtained in various countries have proved it to be practical and to have several advantages over conventional growing methods.

Building on a good thing

Taking the science to the next level and growing on the success of your basic system include the use of manufactured sunlight in a closed environment- growing your plants in enclosed tents under hydroponic lights. With artificial lighting your plants grow faster and bigger. With the tent you can move your self-enclosed system to a different location with minimum effort. With the use of lights, the grow cycle can be predictable and elongated. The nutrients you feed your planted can be balance and altered for different purposes. For example, If you were to enhance your system with CO2, your plants will grow even faster.

Finally, I have firsthand knowledge of a closed-loop commercial hydroponic system in practice and thriving in Milwaukee, WI. This group grow their produce and lettuce in warehouses under controlled lighting with the aid of manure from farm raised fish in the system which fertilize the greens. They grow this bounty and sell to local restaurants eliminating the need for trucking in produce and saving fuel, energy and pesticides while their client eat fresh, local pesticide-free local fare with a fraction of the energy normally used.

Kelley Murphy, the author, owns his own media production business in the healthcare vertical market, as well as a new e-commerce business owner of promoting and selling a responsible lifestyle and eco-friendly green products online. Looking to rid the world of plastic, follow his blogs and shop for the best selling green products online Visit GottaBGreen.

Source: EzineArticles
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