Hydroponic gardening is often called the cultivation of plants in water. It is quickly getting popular due to the lack of a large water supply or fertile farmland and is perfect for urban gardening. Actually, the method is not new. The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World, used a form of hydroponics to cultivate the plants.
The word “hydroponics” was derived from the Greek word hydro, which means “water,” and ponos, which means “labor.” It is a technique of gardening that involves growing plants with their roots in other nutrient sources besides soil.
Today, research has since determined that many different aggregates or media will support plant growth, not just soil, and hydroponic gardening is just one of them.
Advantages of Hydroponic Gardening
One of the most blatant advantages of hydroponics is that it saves space. For this reason, home gardeners have adopted the technique, growing fresh vegetables and plants even in apartment balconies. What’s more, hydroponic gardening has become a widely preferred method for greenhouse gardening because of its space-saving benefits.
Hydroponic gardening uses a sterile medium. For the home gardener, this means that there are no weeds to remove and no soil-borne pests to worry about. In addition, diseases caused by these pests are minimized, if not eliminated completely.
It has also been found that properly grown hydroponic plants are healthier and more vigorous. This is because in hydroponic gardening, no soil is used, which means that the nutrients are more readily available to the plant. Thus, the plants can mature faster, yielding an earlier harvest of vegetable and flower crops.
The big advantage of hydroponic gardening is the ability to automate the entire system with a timer. This reduces the actual time it takes to maintain plant growth requirements. Automation also provides flexibility to the gardener. With hydroponic gardening, you can be gone for long periods of time without having to worry about watering the plants.
What Plants Need
All plants, whether grown hydroponically or traditionally, require nutrients, water, light, and air to grow. If grown in soil, your plants obtain nutrients and water from the soil. Uptake is slow because while soil provides the nutrients, it also impedes the roots’ access to these nutrients.
In hydroponic gardening there is no soil involved. And because water and nutrients are always available, plants are never stressed. You can make sunlight and air available by outdoor hydroponic gardening system. However, if you prefer to do your gardening indoors, you may need to use artificial devices to provide adequate light and air circulation.
Metal halide lamps and sodium vapor lamps used in conjunction with incandescent light bulbs are often used in hydroponic gardening. But gro-lights, or fluorescent lights may also be used.
Oxygen is needed to keep plant roots alive. Healthy roots (which are white in color) are responsible for the uptake of all nutrients for the plant. It is impossible for plants to survive if the roots die. Even if you have all the growth requirements of plants on hand, they would still be useless since the plants would not be able to use them without roots.
To keep adequate oxygen supply, hydroponic gardening uses air circulation. This technique mixes the air and allows the plant to draw out the carbon dioxide necessary to carry on photosynthesis.