Hydroponic gardening is the method of growing plants which uses hydrophilic medium such as gravel or clay balls and liquid solution instead of soil. The liquid solution contains all the required nutrients that plants need to grow. Plants don’t really need soil to grow. What they need are the nutrients that soil contains. In a traditional garden, a plant puts almost all its energy in developing a large root system because it is looking for food and water deep in the soil.
In hydroponics, the nutrients that plants need in order to grow are delivered directly to the roots. Since plants no longer have to look for food on their own, their growth and energy are refocused on producing foliage, fruits or vegetables and flowers. The root system of plants in a hydroponic garden are smaller compared to those planted in soil. Thus, you can plant more and yield more for less space.
All you need are certain hydroponic garden supplies such as a bloom enhancer and you’re ready to reap the benefits of hydroponic gardening. These benefits include the ability to optimize plant growth and health, having smaller and more efficient root systems, less time-consuming maintenance, less water usage and larger yields in a smaller space.
Most people think that a plant which is grown in a hydroponic garden is directly suspended into the liquid solution. However, this is just one type of hydroponic gardening called N.F.T or Nutrient Film Technique. Aside from N.F.T, there are numerous methods and variations used in hydroponics.
1. Wick System – This is the simplest form of passive hydroponic gardening. This is known as a passive system since it does not consist of any moving parts. It uses a wick which transports the nutrient solution from the reservoir into the growing medium. This system may use different kinds of growing mediums such as Vermiculite, Perlite, Coconut Fiber and Pro-Mix. The problem with this system is that bigger plants may require or consume more nutrient solution than the wick can provide.
2. Water Culture – This system is the simplest system in active hydroponic gardening. It uses a platform which floats on top of the nutrient solution. Air is pumped into air stones to bubble out the oxygen and nutrients towards the roots. This hydroponic system is ideal for classroom use as it is one of the most inexpensive systems in hydroponics.
3. Flood and Drain – This system works by filling the grow tray with the required nutrient solution temporarily. This is typically done with a submersible pump and a timer. When it is time to feed the plant, the timer turns the pump on to flood the growth tray with the solution. Then, the timer turns the pump off and the solution flows quickly back to the reservoir.
4. Drip System – This is the most commonly used hydroponic system in the world. It also makes use of a timer and a pump. When the pump is turned on, the solution trickles or drips into the roots on a small drip line. There are two variations of the drip system. First is the Recovery Drip System which collects the run-off solution to the reservoir for another cycle. The second variation is the Non-Recovery System wherein the run-off is not collected for re-use.
5. Nutrient Film Technique – This is the most popular system is hydroponics. It does not use a timer for the submerged pump because the plant is continuously supplied with nutrient solution. When the solution is pumped into the tray, it flows into the roots and is drained back to the reservoir. Typically, no growing medium is required other than air. The plant is usually placed in a small plastic basket wherein the roots are suspended into the nutrient solution.
6. Aeroponic – This system is the most advanced system in hydroponic gardening. In Aeroponic, the roots are left hanging in the air and are adequately sprayed with nutrient solution. Since the roots are suspended in the air, they are sprayed at regular intervals to prevent them from drying out.
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