Hydroponic Growing Techniques





Hydroponics. No doubt you’ve Googled it. (Maybe that’s how you got here?) Perhaps you already know that it’s something to do with growing plants without soil—there’s some connection with nutrient rich water, pumps, dissolved oxygen, pH levels, and conductivity meters. But all these practical explanations leave you with one very important question:

Why Grow Hydroponically?

What's wrong with growing in plain old soil or dirt? Is it organic? Isn't hydroponics expensive? In short, why go to all the bother of hydroponics?

Here at Just4Growers, we embrace technology-technology that really makes a positive difference to our growing endeavors and to the wider world. And, if there's one technology that gets usreally, really excited-it's hydroponics. Here's why:

Growth Rates and Yield

Hydroponics is great for impatient gardeners! Growth rates are up to 50% faster than in soil-this means that you can literally see marked differences in your plants on a daily basis. But just because something grows faster, does it mean that it will yield more. The answer, as far as hydroponics is concerned, is a definite YES!

Young cucumber plants just transplanted into a Microgarden hydroponics system with clay pebbles

The key to the success and vigor of hydroponic plants is simple: they get what they want, when they want it, delivered to them on a plate-so to speak. The grower feeds their hydroponic plants a nutrient-rich solution. It looks pretty much like water, but it contains all the nutritional elements their plants need. Whereas in soil, a plant has to expend a lot of its energy resources producing large root structures in order to fully exploit the resources around it.

So, hydroponic plants tend to develop smaller root structures because everything they need is right there. This means that there's a whole lot of spare energy left over that needs to go somewhere. Where? You guessed it: stems, leaves, flowers and fruits-the stuff you can see!

Once a hydroponic plant gets into its stride, there really is no stopping it. More leaves equals more photosynthesis which, in turn, means more energy available to the plant. It's a positive feedback loop that results in staggering growth rates and yields.
Established tomato plants in rockwool slabs

Water Conservation

Fresh water is arguably the most important resource on our planet. So it makes sense to take really good care of it! Growing plants in hydroponics typically uses 80 - 90% less water than conventional agricultural methods! This is a truly amazing figure! How? Active hydroponic systems re-circulate the nutrient solution instead of allowing it to seep away into the ground or a drain. Thus, input water is only lost through evaporation and transpiration.

Control

If you're a bit of a control freak, hydroponics is definitely a gardening technique you should look into! Foliage looking a little pale? With hydroponics you can instantly increase the levels of nutritional elements (such as nitrogen) available to your plants by adding more nutrients. You don't have to wait for inputs to be broken down in the soil-you can remedy the situation right away.

It works the other way too. If conditions in your garden become too warm for some reason, you can dilute your nutrient solution to reduce stress on your plants.

Hydroponic growers can also steer their plants by changing the amount of moisture available in the root zone. Sure, this is possible to some extent with soil-based gardening, but it's so much easier in hydroponics. A dryer root zone will push many plants towards generative (flowers and fruit) development whereas a wetter root zone will encourage vegetative (stems and leaves) development.

Cleanliness and Easiness

There's no easy way of saying this. Soil is dirty! Many people don't want to cart bag after bag of bulky potting mix in and out of their homes. Hydroponics uses clean, inert growing media (some methods, such as Aeroponics and Deep Water Culture, don't use any growing media at all!) Hydroponic plants are also generally less at risk from soil borne diseases such as pathogenic fungi and viruses.

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