A hydroponic garden is a garden where plants are grown without the use of soil. Hydroponic gardening is advantageous for a number of reasons. When a plant is placed in the ground and the soil is the means by which it obtains its nutrients, the root systems are often more developed than the plant itself because of the effort the roots have to exert to search through the soil to find the necessary nutrients. When plants are grown by way of hydroponic gardening, the roots do not need to search out the required nutrients for survival. The nutrients are simply added to the water. Resulting root systems are smaller and the growth effort of the plant is focused on the plant itself rather than on development of the root system.
A big advantage to hydroponic gardening is that the grower is able to have control over all of the aspects that influence the growth of the plant. Variables such as light, temperature, humidity, pH levels, and nutrients can be identified, specifically measured, and administered to the plant. The same nutrients are required by virtually every plant, so coming up with a nutritional plan is not overly complicated. Some of the nutrients required by nearly all plants consist of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, boron, copper, iron, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc. These nutrients are combined to form a type of hydroponic fertilizer that is added directly to the water. When complete control can be had over the growth of the plant, the growers are able to better estimate exactly how and at what rate the plant will grow over a period of time.
With hydroponic gardening there is less maintenance. There is no need to weed because the process of growing plants in the water eliminates the problems that accompany soil-borne diseases and insects. Plants are able to grow more closely together because their root systems are less complex and therefore they do not need to compete for under-surface space. Hydroponic gardening can take on a number of different mediums. These are classified by the methods that are used in providing nutrient solution to plants. The different hydroponic gardening mediums include: manual (passive), wick, ebb and flow (flood and drain), drip, NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), and aeroponics.
The simplest form of hydroponic gardening is the manual or passive method. In this system you are in control of when your plants are watered and how much water they receive. The most popular method of hydroponic gardening is the aeroponic method. In this method, nutrient solution is sprayed or misted onto the roots of hanging plants every few minutes. Wick systems involve having the plant float on a tray on top of the nutrient solution. The ebb and flow technique operates by flooding the trays or pots with nutrient solution and then draining it back into a reservoir or separate holding tank. A drip system uses a pump that is controlled with a timer. When the timer turns the pump on, nutrient solution is dripped onto each plant. The recovery drip system collects excess run off solution for recycling while the non-recovery drip system does not. An NFT system provides a constant flow of nutrient solution without the use of a timer.
Hydroponic gardening can be used with virtually any plant. Large scale hydroponic gardens typically specialize in plants meant for human consumption. Due to the fact that hydroponic gardening is an easy, clean, and effective method for growing plants, more and more eco-friendly conscious consumers and gardeners are giving their attention to this method of plant production. When plants are grown in a hydroponic environment, they are typically healthier and produce higher quality fruits, flowers, and foliage. One disadvantage to hydroponic gardening is that it is not without its costs and the methods that are used in hydroponic gardening are not necessarily available for use by the general public.