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These systems work by using nutrients dissolved into water (or another mineral-rich solution) using mediums like expanded clay pebbles, gravel or mineral wool. Plants are grown with their roots in the solution while the plant itself is supported above the solution.
As long as the plant receives the nutrients it needs to grow, the soil really isn’t needed. This type of gardening allows for plants to grow in greenhouses or entire buildings dedicated to agriculture – or in your basement. Since, for some avid gardeners, space or environment might be the biggest roadblock to successful outdoor gardening, this system allows for everyone to garden year-round regardless of how much space they have.
Setting up a hydroponic system is not a small task, and it requires a consistently dedicated space within your home. While this type of gardening might be intriguing to you, you might find yourself asking whether it’s worth it to go through all of this when so many people can successfully garden the regular way with soil.
The biggest, and probably most obvious, benefit to this type of gardening is that it allows you to grow plants where regular agriculture just isn’t possible, such as in urban centers or northern climates where farmland isn’t plentiful or fresh produce isn’t readily available due to environmental factors.
The second benefit from these kinds of system is for the environment. Studies have shown that hydroponics uses approximately 10 percent of the amount of water that its soil-based equivalents do. And since these systems do not require any kind of pesticide, there aren’t any chemicals or other damaging agents released into the air.
Finally – and for some gardeners most significantly – plants grow faster and produce a greater yield through hydroponics. When set up right, hydroponics plants will grow about 30-50 percent faster than ones planted in a soil-based garden.
There is more than one kind of hydroponic system, and which one you select will depend on what is right for you. The kinds of systems you can set up are:
- Wick systems
- Drip systems
- Nutrient film technique
- Ebb and flow systems
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Hydroponic systems are flexible and can be created on a large or small scale to fit your space and budget. Even better, most of the equipment needed to start a hydroponics system can be purchased from gardening centers or home improvement stores, so you don’t need to place special orders or have everything shipped to you.
Have you ever planted a hydroponics garden? What advice would you add on getting started? Share your tips in the section below:
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