I know sometime while you are scrolling down your social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram, you come across your friend’s post about being a Plantito/Plantita. Did you know that there’s this method of farming which is Hydroponics?
To give you a brief definition of what we are about to discuss here today, Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. This can be done either in water or with the help of a medium like cocopeat, foam or rockwool. If you are still new to it, then don’t worry we will tell you what exactly it is and how it works.
Hydroponics has been a way to grow healthy and organic veggies for the last few centuries. Although considering this an “organic” is still under heavy debate in public forums and facebook groups. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil or other media to anchor the plant roots. Instead, hydroponic gardening uses a water-nutrient solution that is directly applied to the roots of plants.
So what really is Hydroponics?
Actually, Hydroponics refers to the method of growing crops in a nutrient-rich solution without using soil. Instead, we expose the plants to an ultra-fine mist that provides a specific level of nutrients. A gardener will prepare a nutrient-rich solution on which he or she will water the plants.
In some areas in the Philippines, Hydroponics is one of the preferred growing methods of choice because it delivers water and nutrients efficiently to the plant’s roots without the costs of applying them to the soil. Unlike other types of traditional gardening and farming where plants are grown in rows or as one large garden, hydroponics (can) grows crops in vertical structures with multiple levels. This allows them to maximize the amount of crop that they can grow on a small piece of land.
Venturing into hydroponics requires good lighting, as well as a good watering system (though this factor can be easily addressed nowadays). Plants should be kept in water with nutrients and growth enhancers, as it is the water that will help them grow.
I can personally say (my personal opinion), Hydroponics is an efficient method of growing crops — and it’s a great option for urban farming, too.
Does it really work?
Well, obviously YES! Here’s a sample full grown lettuce in a backyard Hydroponics garden.
Anyway, Hydroponics is a great way to grow your plants because it only uses water and nutrients solutions more efficiently than old and traditional methods. The water and nutrients that the plants need are provided directly to their roots, so that less water is wasted.
Several people I’ve talked to said that the best place to grow hydroponically is in a vertical system, which maximizes the plant’s exposure to light. They even mentioned that compared to traditional farming, plants grown hydroponically are healthier and bigger.
Hydroponics makes use of water and nutrients in plants that are most efficiently absorbed by the roots. The amount of water and nutrients used depends on how fast the plant is growing, so it is important to keep a close eye on the levels of nutrients you are adding into the water.
Why should you consider hydroponics?
For obvious reasons, As the population has expanded over the years (Philippine population: 109.6 Million as of 2022), there has been a need for more food. Meaning, more people equals more mouths to feed.
Because of this, modern industrialized farming has developed and helped produce a greater supply of fresh and cheap food. However, this form of farming also brings many problems with it. Modern agriculture has caused pollution and greater strain on resources. Hydroponics is not only one solution to these problems today; it is a solution for the future too. Experts say that by 2050, 80% of all food produced will be consumed in cities rather than rural areas. Right now, most cities are only “sucking in” food and wasting much of it; but if they became producers of food as well, they would help solve the world’s future food problems.
With the world’s population approaching 7.8 billion as of 2022 and the demand for food increasing just as quickly, farming must now be done in cities, as well as on land outside city limits.
Basics of Hydroponics
As we have mentioned several times already in the previous paragraph, the hydroponic setup involves growing plants in a liquid nutrient solution that contains all the nutrients needed for healthy plant growth. That’s the idea behind the basics of hydroponic method of gardening or farming.
As a regular farmer may encounter, environmental factors often limit plant growth, and therefore, by providing a nutrient-rich solution to the roots of a plant, you provide it with an optimal supply of nutrients and water. This nutritional efficiency makes a plant live up to its potential by making it more productive. The nutrient-rich solution is delivered in a number of ways—a decent and cheap submersible pump can be used to circulate the solution throughout the container or grow bed, while drippers or sprayers can carefully deliver it directly to each individual root system.
Depending on the type of hydroponics set up you are doing (yes, there are several set ups), there are several ways to water plants in an artificial environment.
- The first way is to place the plants in an inert substance, as mentioned before, and flood its roots with the solution.
- The second way is to place the plants on the inert substances and spray water on them using a solution dripper.
- The third option places the plants on a film that slightly slopes, and this allows the solution to trickle down to the roots of the plants.
- Or, if you want, you can suspend your plant in air, and occasionally spray mist on it to get moisture into its roots.
Advantages of Hydroponics
I just want to list down all the Pros and Cons of using the Hydroponics method in planting/farming. It’s up to you if you give it a go or not.
The Quality Soil Requirement
While cultivating a plant at home is often thought of as a hobby reserved for those who have gardens. Hydroponics opens up the possibility of gardening to people without outdoor space, or who live in areas where soil isn’t suitable for growing plants. I’m talking about small spaces like condominiums here in the Philippines where spaces are limited. It also increases the number of places you can grow a garden—from your backyard, to your living room!
Potentially quicker harvest time
Plants rarely reach their full growth potential in soil (that’s true!). There are usually several limiting factors hindering the plant (full) development. In soil, plants seek out nutrients that are unevenly distributed and potentially blocked off because they are bound to different soil particles.
Some or several nutrients are unavailable in the soil where the plant is growing because the organisms in the dirt already have difficulty separating the supplement hotspots (excrement) into a structure that is accessible to the plant’s roots. It is also possible for the plant development to be forced by an absence of water or too much water.
Too much water can limit the amount of oxygen available to the roots and hinder natural processes important for the roots to take up nutrients and water. Hydroponics washes the roots in a precise mix of essential nutrients with an equalization of water and oxygen.
Plants can develop all throughout the year
Hydroponics offers a way to extend the growing season. In fact, hydroponics can be used to grow crops outside the normal growing season. Plants respond to the temperature of the roots, rather than the leaf temperature.
It is possible to grow winter crops at 100 degrees Fahrenheit if the root temperature is kept in an ideal range between 65 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also possible to grow warm-weather crops in cold climates by keeping the root temperature above freezing.
Through use of heaters and chillers, or simple practices like covering a hydroponic supply with mulch or UV plastic sheets, a hydroponic gardener can control water temperature and improve crop growth.
Can be used in any area and any region
Hydroponics is a method of cultivation in which plants are grown in nutrient solutions, rather than soil. It permits planters to cultivate in areas that do not have quality soil, and it allows plant specialists to cultivate in areas where the climate or water supply would make conventional agriculture difficult or impossible.
Hydroponic systems use significantly less water than traditional growing methods and can make desert farming a profitable venture. Many harvests—including lettuce—have been produced in space with hydroponic systems.
Usage of water is less
Hydroponics uses less water than traditional farming since any water that isn’t taken up by the plant can be reused. In soil, much of the water is lost to evaporation and waste.
In hydroponics, evaporating can be reduced or eliminated by covering the water reservoir and collecting all waste water to be reused.
Weeding and Herbicides No More!
Hydroponic growers do not need to spend time weeding their gardens. Besides not having to worry about herbicides harming your plants, hydroponic farmers also do not need to confront the potential harvest harm of herbicide float when a breeze incidentally blows herbicide onto your garden and harms or slaughters your valuable plants.
Reduces the need for pesticides
Hydroponic gardens, particularly those outside, may be susceptible to infestation. Hydroponics can help decrease bug infestations. Hydroponic gardens present fewer hiding places for pests that will burrow into soil or stow away in rotting plant material.
When combined with indoor cultivation strategies, hydroponics offers the possibility of a totally bug-free garden if preventive pest control measures are practiced.
Simpler and Less work
Hydroponic gardening is easier than traditional gardening, as it requires less work and effort. Hydroponics can be done with the use of fertilizers that are easy to obtain, and there is no weeding involved at all. Hydroponics may seem intimidating to novice gardeners, but after a few harvests, most people get the hang of it.
Easy to master, and the results are easy to duplicate
Hydroponic yields develop rapidly, thereby enabling producers to get more involvement with a shorter timeframe. When a cultivator gets the correct formula for that environment and chooses the crop properly, it is anything but difficult to recreate the procedure.
Hydroponics enables the producer to imitate specific nutrients available and water system recurrence. Indoor hydroponics gardeners can easily recreate light power, light term, temperature, mugginess, carbon dioxide levels, and wind stream to develop steady yields all year without the regular and yearly variations experienced by conventional plant specialists.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
This time, we’ll go over the disadvantages of Hydroponics. It’s important for us to know these facts so we can consider every aspect when venturing into something we don’t know yet.
Requires your time and attention
Just as any beneficial activity in everyday life, dedication and mindful behavior leads to acceptable yields. However, in soil-borne plants, plants can be left alone for quite a long time and weeks; they still manage in a short timeframe.
The unstoppable force of life and soil will help manage if something isn’t adjusting. That is not the case in hydroponics. Plants will die more rapidly without appropriate consideration and knowledge. Remember that your plants are reliant upon you for their survival. You should take great care of your plants and the system upon initial establishment. Then you can automate everything later, but you still need to measure and prevent sudden issues with activities, and do regular maintenance.
Requires specialized knowledge
The operation of your hydroponic system requires a specialized level of knowledge for the equipment you are using, what plants you can grow and how those plants will survive in a soilless environment. Mistakes made in setting up your system and the plants’ development capacity now could mean destroying your entire crop.
System failure dangers
Since you are relying on a power source to run the entire system. If you don’t take precautions for a power outage, the system will cease working immediately, and plants could dry out rapidly and die in a few hours. Therefore, an alternative power source and plan should be arranged and prepared, particularly for large-scale systems.
Initial Cost is High
New gardeners can spend several hundred dollars (depending on their garden’s size) for initial hydroponic equipment. This includes containers, lights, a submersible pump, a clock timer (whether mechanical or wifi type) and growing media such as rockwool, horticulture foam or cocopeat. Once the system is set up, costs are reduced to just nutrients and power to keep water flowing and lights on.
It is important to consider the cost of starting a hydroponic garden, especially if you’re on a budget.
Plant illnesses and pests can cause large-scale damage to crops
If you are growing plants in a closed system utilizing water, it is important to be concerned about the possibility of disease or vermin infestation. An infestation is less likely to occur if you work with a small-scale operation. However, if you choose to grow large quantities of plants in a larger setup, it is important to plan for these issues early on by utilizing clean water sources and developing materials and checking your systems often. If an infestation does occur, you should sanitize the water, supplement and entire system quickly.
Different types of hydroponics.
Continuous Drip System
The drip system is an active growing method that can be operated in a recovery or non-recovery way. Pumps with supply lines that go to each plant are used in this growing system. A timer-controlled and standardized method of feeding the solution through drips is connected to the pump. The pumps are what make continuous drips possible in this method, which is easily made into a recovery system by placing a tray under the plants to catch any unabsorbed solution and return it to the supply container for recirculation. However, recovery systems pose the possibility of causing the solution’s effectiveness to lessen as it is reused, as less potency will be present due to its recycling. The use of timers can help improve efficiency by allowing for more precise timing on when nutrients are being fed, but they also allow for mistakes to be made if not operated correctly by anyone overseeing them.
The drip system is easy to control and is simple to set up. Using river rock as the growing medium can help control the flow of water, ensuring that each plant gets enough moisture. Drip-style hydroponic systems offers a great deal of flexibility to its user.
The Aeroponic system is one of the high-tech hydroponic systems. It uses the same basic principles as the other hydroponic systems—nutrient solution is delivered to plants’ roots via water instead of soil—but it differs in its misting method. The nutrient solution is delivered via a pump that sprays fine droplets onto the roots, which are suspended in air. The main reason for using this method is that plants do not have to be disturbed when transplanting from one pot to another; instead, they can simply be placed into a bucket of aeroponic solution and left there until transplantation becomes necessary.
Plants you can grow in Hydroponics?
Hydroponic gardening is a technique that uses water instead of soil to grow plants. Growing plants hydroponically indoors has several advantages over traditional gardening. Whether you want to grow your own herbs, fruits, or vegetables, you will find hydroponic gardening quite rewarding. You can grow anything from houseplants to flowering plants and even vegetables in any season and weather conditions. This article provides a list of the best plants for different hydroponic systems, as well as interesting information about each one.
Hydroponic gardening is growing in popularity due to its ability to produce pesticide-free and organic vegetables. Some of the vegetables that thrive in a hydroponic garden are the following: lettuce, asparagus, spinach, beans, cabbage, broccoli, beets, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and peas. Leafy greens grow very well hydroponically and require less maintenance. You can also grow watercress indoors—making hydroponic systems a perfect choice to cultivate this low-growing perennial. Be sure to harvest it before the flower buds appear so it remains edible.
Hydroponic gardening is a way to grow many flowers in close proximity. Most flowers do well in a hydroponic culture. The challenge is that every plant has particular needs—potassium, for example, or phosphorus—and these must be met if the plants are to flourish. Some plants can grow simultaneously in one unit; others need more space. You need to be knowledgeable and very careful in matching flower species, so they get the right nutrient mix. Succulents are not a good choice for hydroponic gardening, as they grow better in dry conditions.
Takeaway: I hope this tutorial has given you some guidance to start your hydroponic journey.
You might be wondering why hydroponics is gaining popularity among the farming communities. Well, the answer to that is because it can produce more product in a lesser amount of time. Not only does it also use a minimum of natural resources but it also requires less labor for its operation. As hydroponics has gained more attention in recent years as possibly the best solution for food production in the future, especially in space.
All the advantages that a hydroponic system has to offer, make this style of growing the most popular and widely used one. As more and more people become aware of all the benefits of hydroponics, you can expect this method to be in demand for many years to come. If you’re planning on setting up a hydroponic unit at home, then you’ll need to plan things out well. You need to know if you have enough space in your home for a hydroponic garden and you need to know about some critical factors that you have to take into account before making any decisions. You will find a lot of information about hydroponics on the internet, but knowing what is about it is an entirely different affair.