Sep 13, 2013

Hydroponic Systems: Grow a Garden Without Soil



We all know that most plants need soil to grow.  But did you know that what plants actually need are the nutrients in the soil, not the soil itself, for them to grow?  This has been found out by researchers way back in the 18th century. It's the nutrients carried by water that are absorbed by the plants, and soil is just a rich reservoir of these nutrients.

A Light Bulb Moment

This discovery led researchers into thinking that there are more ways to grow plants other than in the soil.  The idea gave birth to the concept of hydroponics.  Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil.  Almost any plant that grows in soil can grow in hydroponic systems.

The introduction of hydroponics flung wide open the doors for more opportunities in food production.

Benefits of Hydroponics Systems

With global food scarcity always part of every doomsday scenario, hydroponic systems provide better odds in favor of food production, for the following reasons:

  • No soil is needed.  Therefore no need for acres of real estate to grow food.
  • Less water is needed.  The water in the hydroponic system is reusable.
  • Can be grown in small spaces.  Imagine a condo unit with thriving lettuces!
  • Healthier plants, higher yields.  Since the environment is controlled, plants are less prone to pests and diseases.
  • Less pollution! 

Start Your Own Hydroponic System Now

Here are some ways you can start a hydroponic system in your home.

1. Vertical Hydroponics  

Vertical hydroponic systems solve the problem of space.  Using frame towers or hanging baskets, more plants can be grown per square area.  The plants in the vertical hydroponic system look like pillars of green and provide a decorative appeal to any home.  One limitation of this system is that the towers can tip over when the plants become overgrown.

Below are some examples of vertical hydroponic systems.  Click on the links for more details about each.




2.   Passive Hydroponics 

An inexpensive type of hydroponic system is the passive system.  Nutrients are fed to the plants through a cloth wick that draws water and endlessly flows to the root.   A medium of sand and vermiculite anchors the plant.  A limitation of this system is that the roots may starve due to lack of oxygen, or become over-exposed to water.


3.  Ebb and Flow Hydroponics

Regular flooding and draining of water to and from plants is called ebb and flow hydroponics.  Kind of like the Nile River inundating Egypt's flood plains to make for fertile grounds perfect for planting.  The plants grow in a medium of either rock, wool or gravel.  There is a time interval for flooding the plants, allowing the roots to dry in between the flooding.

Below is an example of an ebb and flow hydroponic system.




4.   Aeroponics 

Aeroponic systems allow for nutrient water to drain completely from the roots at certain intervals.  There is no medium that anchors the roots.  An open aeroponic setup exposes the roots to air and light after draining the water, while an enclosed system provides a container that shields the roots from light, keeping them humid and protected.

Here is an example of an aeroponic system.







5.   NFT Hydroponics 

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) hydroponic method suspends the plants over a container of nutrient water, while a small pump controls water circulation to keep the plants fed.  The roots get much-needed oxygen from the space between the suspended container and the water.

With this type of system, there is minimal work to be done after the initial setup, and the energy cost is small and owed only to the energy needed by the pump to work.



So there you have it.  You can grow your own food easily and with little expense through the help of hydroponic systems.  You can either purchase from stores or build your own hydroponic system.  Either way, you are assured of an environment-friendly and space-saving way to create your own garden.

Happy gardening!


(Photo credit:  Google and Amazon images)


 
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