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Hydroponics is the art of gardening that does not require soil. Hydroponics is a Latin word that means “working water.” In the absence of soil water is at work, by providing nutrients, hydration and oxygen to plant life. The careful regime of hydroponics can make plants thrive from watermelons, jalapenos and orchids. Hydroponic gardens require minimal area and require 90% less water than conventional agriculture. They also grow beautiful fruits, flowers, and vegetables in half the amount of time.

Hydroponics might sound like cutting-edge technology, however the roots of hydroponics can be traced all the way to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates River was channelized into channels that swam down the lavish gardens’ walls. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote of witnessing floating gardens in China. The concept of hydroponics wasn’t just an invention of the ancient ages. NASA began cultivating aeroponic bean seedlings on the space station in the late 1990s. This opened up the possibility of sustainable farming in space. Hydroponics is a long-standing and dynamic way to conserve water and increase crop growth.

What is hydroponics?

Hydroponics Hydroponics is the cultivation and care of plants with no use of soil. Inert media is utilized to grow hydroponic herbs, plants, and veggies. They are then nourished with oxygen, nutrients, water, and other media for growth. This system encourages fast growth, stronger yields, and higher quality. If a plant is grown in soil, its roots are perpetually looking for the right nutrients to sustain the plant. The plant doesn’t need to use any energy to support itself if its root system is directly exposed to water and nutrients. The roots are able to utilize the energy they used to acquire water and food to sustain the plant. The result is that the growth of leaves is accelerated and so does the blossoming of fruits or flowers.

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants sustain themselves. Plants capture sunlight with chlorophyll (a green pigment found in their leaves). They use the light’s energy to split the water molecules that they’ve taken in through their root systems. The hydrogen molecules react with carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates, which plants require to survive. This allows oxygen to escape into the air. This is an important factor in preserving the planet’s habitability. For photosynthetic purposes plants don’t require soil. They need soil to supply the nutrients and water. These nutrients are added directly to the root systems of plants by flooding, misting or immersion after they are dissolved in water. Hydroponics has proven that direct exposure of nutrient-filled water can offer more efficient and flexible growth methods over traditional irrigation.

What exactly is hydroponics?

Hydroponic systems allow for the precise monitoring of the environmental conditions like temperature and pH balance. This ensures the greatest exposure to water, nutrients and other nutrients. The principle behind hydroponics is simple. It gives plants precisely what they need and when they require it. Hydroponics provides specific nutrition specific to each plant. They let you control exactly how much light the plants get and for how long. The pH levels can be controlled and adjusted. In a highly customized and controlled conditions, growth of plants accelerates.

A variety of risks can be minimized by controlling the environment that the plant is grown. Many variables can negatively impact the growth and health of the plants that are that are grown in gardens and fields. Fungus can spread disease to plants. Rabbits and other wildlife can eat the vegetables in your garden. Pests that eat crops like locusts are capable of taking out crops in just a few hours. Hydroponic systems remove the uncertainty of cultivating plants both in and out of the soil. The soil’s mechanical resistance means that seedlings mature faster. Hydroponics is a healthier and better quality method of growing vegetables and fruits by eliminating pesticides. Hydroponics eliminates any obstacles, to allow plants to develop quickly and vigorously.

What are the components of the hydroponics system?

It is important to know the basics of hydroponics so that you can maintain a productive system.

Growing media

Inert media supports hydroponic plants’ weight and helps anchor the root structure. While growing media is a substitute for soil it does not give the plant any nutrients. The porous media, instead, stores nutrients and moisture from the nutrients, which it then delivers to the plant. A lot of growing media are pH neutral, meaning that they will not alter the balance of your nutrients. There are many media options available. The specific hydroponic system and the plant will determine which media is best suited to your requirements. Hydroponic gardening media is available at both local garden shops and nurseries and on the internet.

Air pumps and air stones

Plants can drown quickly when immersed in water. Airstones release tiny oxygen bubbles throughout the nutrient solution reservoir. The bubbles disperse the dissolved nutrients evenly throughout the solution. Air stones do not produce oxygen by themselves. These stones need to be connected to an external pump with opaque food grade plastic tubing. The opacity will stop algae from growing. The most commonly used components of aquariums are air pumps and stones. They can be bought easily at pet shops.

Net pots

net pots come with mesh planters that can hold hydroponic plants. The latticed material allows roots to access the sides and bottoms of the pot. This gives them more oxygen and nutrients. Net pots provide better drainage than clay or plastic pots.

Which six types are available for hydroponic systems?

There are a variety of hydroponic techniques. However, all are modifications or combinations of six fundamental hydroponics systems.

1. Systems to cultivate deep water

Deep water cultivation hydroponics simply involves plants suspended in aerated drinking water. DWC systems, which are also known deep water culture are among the most popular types of hydroponics. DWC systems make use of net pots to contain plants as well as a large reservoir of nutrient solution. The solution keeps the plant’s roots hydrated and gives them constant access to water, nutrients and oxygen. Deep water cultivation is thought by many as the most pure form of hydroponics.

The root system is suspended in water, so the proper oxygenation of water is vital to ensure the survival of the plant. If there isn’t enough oxygen, the roots will drown. The reservoir must be fitted with an air compressor that is able to provide oxygen to all the areas of it. The bubbles from the air stone will also help circulate the nutrient solution.

You can easily assemble an advanced deep-water culture system at your home or classroom using minimal hydroponics equipment. To store the pots that are net it is possible to use an old aquarium or clean bucket to hold the solution. DWC plants shouldn’t have their roots submerged into the solution. It is not allowed to submerge stems or vegetation. Even the roots should be kept about an inch and half over the waterline. They will not dry out because the air stone bubbles off the surface will splash on the roots.

What are the advantages of deep water systems for culture?

  • Simple maintenance After you have your DWC system is in place, you will not need to do any maintenance. Just replenish the nutrient solution as required and ensure that the pump is pumping oxygen into the air stone. The nutrient solution usually needs replenishing every 2-3 weeks, but this does depend on the size of your plants.
  • DIY appeal: In contrast to other hydroponic systems, deep-water cultivation systems can be constructed inexpensively and quickly by yourself, using just a quick run to your pet store and local nursery to pick up the air pump as well as other nutrients.

What are the drawbacks of deep-water system of culture?

  • limitations: Deep water culture systems are adept at cultivating lettuce and herbs, but they struggle with bigger and slower-growing plants. DWC systems aren’t ideal for anything that flowers. However, you can grow tomatoes, bell Peppers and squash in the DWC with a effort.
  • Control of temperature It is essential that the water solution you choose to use does not exceed 68°F, and never be below 60°F. DWC systems use water that is stored and is not circulated. It can be more difficult than normal to regulate the temperature.

2. Wick systems

In a wick system, plants are nestled in growing media on the tray which is placed on top of the reservoir. This reservoir holds an water solution that is enriched with the dissolved nutrients. Wicks move from the reservoir to the tray for growing. Water and nutrients travel through the wick, allowing it to be absorbed by growing media around the roots of the plants. These wicks are made from simple materials such as string, rope, and felt. The hydroponics system that uses wick systems is the simplest kind. Wick systems are hydroponics that are passive which means they don’t need pumps or other mechanical components to operate. This is perfect for situations when electricity is not accessible or reliable.

The capillary action process is the reason the wick systems function. The wick absorbs water it’s immersed in like a sponge, when it comes into contact with the porous Grow Bags media, it releases the solution of nutrients. The wick system hydroponics is only suitable if the growing media is capable of facilitating the transfer of water and nutrients. Coco coir fibers (from the outer husks coconuts) are ideal for retaining moisture. They also have the added benefit that they have a neutral pH. Perlite is pH neutral. It’s extremely porous which makes it ideal to be used in wicking systems. Vermiculite has a very porous structure, and also a great capacity for cation exchange. It can also conserve nutrients for later use. These three growing media are the most suitable for hydroponic wick systems.

Wick systems work slower than other hydroponic system therefore it’s not practical to grow plants with them. For every plant you place in the growing tray, ensure that at the very least one wick is flowing out of the reservoir. The wicks must be put close to the roots of the plant. Though capable of functioning with aeration, many people do choose to add an air stone or air pump to the wick system’s reservoir. This can provide additional oxygen to the plant.

What’s the benefit of a Wick System?

  • Simplicity A basic wick system can easily be installed by anyone. It does not require any maintenance once it is operating. Your plants will never be dry since the wicks supply water to them all the time. You will see the growth of lettuce in a system with wicks, resulting in a great return on your investment.
  • Space-efficient:Wick system are very discrete and can be positioned anywhere. It is a perfect system for teachers, novices or anyone who is interested in learning about hydroponics.

What are some of the drawbacks to wick systems?

  • LimitationsLettuce and other herbs such as basil, rosemary, and mint are quick-growing plants that don’t need much water. On the other hand, will struggle to thrive in a wick system due to of their high requirement for nutrients and hydration. Other plants won’t survive in a climate that is always moist. Wick systems can kill root vegetables such carrots, turnips, and other root veggies.
  • Susceptible to rot:A hydroponic wick is always damp and humid. This increases the chance that fungal outbreaks and rot can occur in the organic growth media and on the roots of your plants.

3. Nutrient film technique systems

Systems that use the Nutrient Film Technology (NFT), suspend plants over a continuous flow of nutrient solution. The solution is washed over the root systems. The channels that hold the plants tilted allow water to run along their lengths before it drains into the reservoir. The reservoir is then airstone-aerated. Submersible pumps pump the nutrient rich water out of the reservoir and back up to the top. The nutrient films technique is a recirculating system for hydroponics.

NFT technology differs from deep hydroponics in water culture. In an NFT system the plant’s roots aren’t submerged in water. Instead, the stream of water (or “film”) is flowing just at the end and not the roots. The roots’ tips will draw moisture up towards the plant while the root system that is open is oxygen-rich. The bottoms of the channels are grooved, so the film that is shallow can flow across the tips of the roots easily. This prevents water from pooling on the root system, or clogging it.

Even though nutrient films technology systems continuously recycle water, it’s recommended to flush the reservoir frequently and refill the solution with nutrients each once a week. This will ensure that your plants are getting enough nutrition. NFT channels must be designed with an angle that is gradual. The slope must not be too steep because the water can swell down and cause damage to the plants. Too much water can make the channel overflow and the plants could drown. NFT hydroponics systems are extremely popular because they can support multiple plants per channel. They can also be mass-produced easily. Lightweight plants, such as mustard greens, lettuce and also strawberries, are better suited to nutrient film technique systems. To support heavier fruiting plants like cucumbers and tomatoes Trellises are required.

What are the advantages of using nutrient films?

  • Low usage: NFT Hydroponics does not require large amounts or nutrients. It is also harder for salts build up on the plants’ roots because of the continuous flow. Nutrient film technology doesn’t require growing media. This saves you the cost of buying media and the hassle of changing it.
  • Modular Design Nutrient Film Technique Systems are ideal for commercial ventures with a large scale. Once one channel is in place and functional, it’s very easy to expand it. You can fill your greenhouse with multiple channels supporting different plants. It’s recommended to supply each channel with its own reservoir. This will ensure that you don’t end up losing the entire operation in the event an issue with the pump or illness.

What are the drawbacks of a nutrient-film technique?

  • Plants can die if the pump is not working properly and the channel ceases to circulate the nutrients. If your plant isn’t receiving enough water, it could die in a matter of hours. A NFT hydroponic system requires constant monitoring. It is important to be attentive when checking the efficiency of the pump.
  • Overcrowding: The channel can get clogged if too many roots are growing or if they are too close. If the channel becomes obstructed by roots and a swath of roots, water won’t be able to flow through and your plants will be starved. This is especially true of the plants at the bottom of the channel. Take into consideration removing plants from the bottom of the channel, or shifting them to a smaller one if they seem to be performing poorly.

4. Ebb- and flow systems

Ebb or flow hydroponics is a method for filling a growing bed with nutrient solutions from below. The submersible pump in the reservoir has a timer. As the timer starts, the pump fills up the grow bed with water and nutrients. When the timer is stopped, gravity slowly drains water from the growing bed and discharges it back into the reservoir. A overflow tube is installed in the system to prevent the flooding from reaching a certain point which could cause damage to the fruit and stalks of the plant. The plants that are part of the “ebb and flow” system are not continually exposed to water like the other varieties. The plants absorb the nutrients through their roots, even when the growing bed is continuously being flooded. The roots dry out after the water has gone and the growing beds become empty. The dry roots then oxygenate in the interval before the next flood. The interval between floods will be determined by the size of the grow bed and how large your plants are.

One of the most popular hydroponic gardening methods is the ebb and flow system (also known as flood and drain). The plants are able to benefit from a high level of oxygen and nutrition that encourages rapid and vigorous growth. The ebb and flow system is easily modified and customized. The growing bed could also be filled with different net pots, as well as other vegetables and fruits. The ebb-and flow system is the most versatile hydroponic system. It allows you to experiment with the plants and other media.

Ebb and flow systems can be used to grow almost any kind of plant. Your grow tray’s size and depth are its primary limitations. Root vegetables require more space than lettuce and strawberries. The most popular Ebb flow crops are peppers, tomatoes, beans and peas. There is the option to put trellises directly on the grow bed. Hydroponics with ebb and flow is a popular method of growing plants. These media are lightweight and washable, they can be reused and re-used. They drain as well. This is an important quality in ebb and flow systems.

What are the advantages to an ebb/flow system?

  • Versatility It is possible to grow bigger plants in an ebb-and-flow system than with other systems for hydroponics. Ebb-flow hydroponics is ideal for vegetables, fruits and even flowers. The best way to ensure that your plants receive the most yield is to make sure they have the proper sized grow beds and nutrients.
  • DIY appeal: There’s no shortage of ways to build an ebb/flow hydroponic system in your own home. An easy way to get all the components you require to build an ebb/flow setup is to visit the pet and hardware stores. Ebb and flow systems can be more challenging to set up than DIY systems like wick or deep water culture. They do permit a greater variety of plant life.

What are the disadvantages of an ebb or flow system?

  • Pump Failure As with any hydroponic system that relies on a pump for its operation, if the pump stops functioning and your plants be in chaos. Monitoring the flow system is essential to ensure that your plants are in good health. The plants won’t get the right amount of nutrients and water if it is flowing too fast.
  • Rot and root diseases:Sanitation are vital for an effective ebb and flow system. Root diseases, rot and other issues can arise if the bed does not drain correctly. Insects and mold are attracted by a dirty flow system. You can cause damage to your crops if you do not keep your environment clean. Some plants don’t respond well to rapid pH changes caused by extreme flooding and draining.

5. Drip systems

In the hydroponic drip system, the reservoir that is aerated and rich in nutrients pumps solution through a network of tubes to the individual plants. The solution is slowly dripped into the soil around the root system, keeping the plants well-nourished and moist. The most common technique for hydroponics is the drip, especially for commercial growers. Drip systems can be used for both individual plants and large-scale irrigation.

There are two types of drip hydroponics systems that are recovery and non-recovery. These types of systems are more popular among smaller at-home growers. The extra water is drained from the grow bed and put into a reservoir. Then, it is recirculated in the next drip cycle. Systems that do not have recovery let the excess water run through the media before it is released into the surrounding environment. This is a more common practice among commercial growers. Although non-recovery drip systems may sound wasteful Large-scale growers are extremely conservative with water usage. These drip systems only deliver the exact amount of solution that is needed to keep the media surrounding the plants. Non-recovery drip systems use complicated timers to minimize the amount of waste.

The plants that are grown in a drip plant system need to be sensitive to variations in pH of their nutrients. This is true for any system that has wastewater that is recirculating through the reservoir. The solution is diminished by plants, and this can change the balance of pH. Thus the grower will require more monitoring and adjustments to the reservoir of solution than in a system that is not recovering. The growing media may also become oversaturated with nutrients, so they’ll need to be washed and replaced periodically.

What are the advantages of drip-systems?

  • Wide range of plant options: A drip-system can accommodate larger plants than other hydroponics systems. This is the reason it is so attractive to commercial growers. A properly-sized drip system can be utilized to support all kinds of plants, including onions, pumpkins, and melons. Drip systems can hold more growing media than other types and can accommodate bigger root systems. Drip systems work best with slow draining media, like rockwool, coco coir, and peat moss.
  • Scale: Drip systems can easily accommodate large-scale hydroponics. New tubing can be attached to the divert or reservoir system to grow additional plants. An existing drip system can be updated with new crops. This is one reason for why drip systems are very popular in commercial hydroponics.

What are the drawbacks of a drip system?

  • Maintenance If your plants are grown with a nonrecovery drip system at home, you’ll need to do a lot more maintenance. You’ll need to consistently monitor pH and nutrient levels in your water as well as draining and replacing it if required. Plant matter and debris can also clog recovery system lines, so it’s important to regularly cleanse and flush the lines.
  • ComplexityDrip system could quickly become complicated and intricate. This is less important for professionals hydroponics but it is still not the best system for home growers. You can use simpler systems like the ebb-flow system for hydroponics at home.

6. Aeroponics

Aeroponics systems hang plants in the air, and expose the naked roots to a moist, nutrient-rich mist. Aeroponics systems use enclosed structures, like towers or cubes, to hold many plants in one. A reservoir is used to store water and nutrients. The solution is then pumped into a pump that disperses it as fine mist. The mist is usually released from the top of the tower, which allows it to cascade down the chamber. Aeroponics is a system that continuously mists the root of the plant similar to NFT systems, which expose the roots to nutrients film at all times. Other systems spray the roots regularly with mist, more similar to the flow/ebb system. Aeroponics doesn’t require any substrate media for survival. The root’s constant exposure to air allows them to drink in oxygen and grow at an accelerated rate.

Aeroponics systems use less water than other kind of hydroponics. It requires 95 percent less water for an aeroponic crop to grow than a plant that is grown in an irrigation garden. Vertical gardens Because their vertical design takes up little space, they can accommodate several towers to be placed in the same place. Aeroponics produces high yields and can be produced even in confined spaces. Aeroponic plants are also more efficient than hydroponically-grown plants because they have a higher oxygen supply.

Aeroponics allow for simple harvesting year-round. Aeroponics is a great way to cultivate vines and nightshades (e.g. bells, tomatoes and eggplants) in a controlled setting. Lettuce, baby greens, herbs, strawberries, watermelons, and ginger all thrive. Obstacles are too heavy and bulky to be grown aeroponically. Underground plants with deep root systems such as carrots and potatoes are also not able to be grown.