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Embracing Hydroponic Gardening

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For many people, the thought of growing plants is an insane idea. Hydroponic cultivation has been around for thousands of years, and many small farms have started to adopt this gardening form.

In its simplest form, hydroponic gardening can be seen as a plant stuck through the top of a glass canning jar with its roots filled with fertilized water. Given how easy it can be to set up a hydroponic greenhouse, there are many ways you can do the same job, depending on the scale of your hydroponic setup.

Hydroponic Setup

Here are some example methods of a hydroponic setup:

  • Static- In a static hydroponic system, plants are grown in a tub of nutrient solution. This setup is most common in homes where plants can be grown in glass jars with only enough root out of the solution to provide oxygen.
  • There is a tray above the nutrient solution reservoir in its simplest form. The tray is either filled with growing medium (the most common of clay granules) and planted directly or with medium-sized pots in the tray. A simple timer causes the pump to fill the upper tray with a nutrient solution at regular intervals, after which the solution drains back into the reservoir. This keeps the medium regularly flushed with nutrients and air.
  • In continuous flow solution culture the nutrient solution constantly flows past the roots. It is much harder to automate than the static solution culture because sampling and adjustments to degree and nutrient concentrations can be made in a large storage tank that serves potentially thousands of plants.

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/embracing-hydroponic-gardening/ by Paolo Reyna on 2021-01-22T13:13:22.823Z

In traditional gardening, the soil works as a storage reservoir for all the fertilization needed by the plants. The soil holds in the nutrients, releasing them to the roots as needed while in hydroponic gardening the hairs of the plant's roots can sip at the nutrient rich water at any time they need something to eat.

Healthier, Larger Fruit Produced In Hydroponic Gardens

When plants grow in the soil, the roots usually grow larger than those of plants in hydroponic gardening. This allows the part of the plant above the soil, or in this case out of the water, to grow larger and the fruit it bears to grow larger.

Most plants grown by hydroponic gardening are larger, bear more fruit, and have a better taste and texture than the same plants grown by traditional gardening methods.

Here are some examples of the mediums used in the hydroponic garden:\

  • Expanded Clay - Also known as 'Hydroton' or 'leca' (light expanded clay aggregate), trademarked names, these small, round baked spheres of clay are inert and are suitable for hydroponic systems in which all nutrients are carefully controlled in water solution. The clay pellet is also inert, pH neutral, and does not contain any nutrient value.
  • Rockwool - Is probably the most widely used medium in hydroponics. Made from basalt rock it is heat-treated at high temperatures then spun back together like candy floss. It comes in lots of different forms including cubes, blocks, slabs, and granulated or flock. Rockwool is an excellent inert substrate for both 'free drainage' and recirculation systems. In free drainage or run-to-waste systems, the risk of disease spread is significantly reduced.
  • Coir - Coco peat, also known as coir or coco, is the leftover material after the fibers have been removed from the outermost shell (bolster) of the coconut. It took 10 centuries to make this waste a viable plant substrate. The first description of the coco process dates from the 11th century and was recorded by Arabian traders.

Marco Polo described the process of extracting coconut fibers in 1290. This process has remained unchanged for centuries. Coco peat was a waste product from factories that used coconut fiber as raw material for the production of sailing ropes, chair seats, and mattress fillings.

With static immersion, the roots are constantly below the water level, with the water changing about once a week to maintain fertility in hydroponic gardening.

With continuous flow, the water is constantly changed in the growing reservoir, with fresh nutrients continually available to the roots of the plant, and with ebb and flow, fresh water is supplied to the growing reservoir where it slowly drains into the reservoir from which it is recycled back to the growing reservoir.

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About The Authors

Paolo Reyna

Paolo Reyna - Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.

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