What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics in a nutshell is growing plants in water instead of soil. No it isn’t just plopping your plants in a bucket of water and expecting in to provide you with fresh tomatoes, there is a little more to it than that.

Needs of Your Plants

Plants need a few things to grow and thrive

Sunlight – plants of course need light for photosynthesis which is the process the plants use for growing. A little correct though, it doesn’t have to be sunlight, it can be artificial as long as it is the correct wavelength.

Nutrients – like everything else alive plants need food.

Water – along with food plants need to drink as well.

What they don’t actually need is soil. In conventional gardening soil is a means to support the plats and to hold and deliver nutrients but if you could find a substitute for this you could get rid of soil. Soil is also a means to transmit diseases and fungus to your plants so they could be better off with out.

How Hydroponics works.

In a hydroponic system we are getting rid of the soil and using another means of support and nutrient delivery. Most systems will use a net pot (think of a small pot with lots of holes) filled with a medium such as hydroton (expanded clay balls) this provides support for the young plant until its roots get established.

Next the system will flow water to the roots of you plants. Not just plain water but water with dissolved nutrients in it. This is actually better for your plants because the roots don’t have to spread out looking for nutrients since it is delivered right to the roots. Another benefit of this is you don’t have to spread your plants out as much, thus getting more plants in a smaller amount of space.

You can do hydroponics outdoors, using the sun as your light source or bring it inside with artificial lights. This is beneficial as you can grow year round in any climate.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

There are many different ways and types of hydroponics, each with their own benefits. You can build them as small as a bucket or… The sky is really the limit on sizes. Lets go over the main types of systems

Deep Water Culture – DWC for short
Nutrient Flow Technique – NFT
Ebb and Flow (fill and drain)