Hydroponics is the practice of gardening with no soil. Hydroponics, which is Latin meaning “working water,” means that water provides oxygen, nutrients, and hydration to plants. Hydroponics ensures that plants thrive, from watermelons and jalapenos to orchids. Hydroponic gardening requires minimal space, uses 90 percent less water than traditional agriculture and can produce stunning flowers and fruits in a fraction of the time.

Although hydroponics may seem like modern technology, the origins of hydroponics is rooted in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it dates back to the ancient world. The Euphrates river was diverted into channels which were a part of the lavish gardens’ walls. Marco Polo in 13th century China wrote about floating gardens. Hydroponics was not just an invention of the ancient ages. NASA started growing aeroponic bean seedlings aboard a spacecraft in the 1990s. This led to the possibility for sustainable agriculture in space. Hydroponics is a dynamic and long-lasting method of conserving water and growing crops.

What exactly is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is the practice of cultivating plants without using soil. The hydroponic plants are herbs, vegetables, and even flowers. The media is comprised of inert growing media that is supplied with nutrients, oxygen and water. This method promotes quicker growth, higher yields, and better quality. The roots of a plant are constantly searching for the right nutrients to nourish it. If a plant’s root system is exposed directly to nutrition and water it does not have to exert any energy in sustaining itself. The energy that the roots would have expended to acquire food and water could be redirected into the plant’s maturation. The growth of the foliage is encouraged as are the flowering and fruiting of flowers.

Photosynthesis is the method by which plants can maintain themselves. Plants capture sunlight with chlorophyll (a green pigment found in their leaves). They use light’s energy for the breaking down of water molecules they’ve absorbed through their root system. The hydrogen molecules and carbon dioxide are combined to create carbohydrates that are used by plants to provide food. This permits oxygen to escape into the air. This is an important aspect in maintaining the planet’s habitability. To produce photosynthetic energy, plants do not need soil. They need soil to provide the water and nutrients. You can apply nutrients to plants’ root systems through flooding, misting and immersion if they are dissolving in water. Hydroponic innovations have proven the direct application of nutrient-rich water is a more effective and versatile method of growth over traditional irrigation.

What is the process of hydroponics?

Hydroponic systems allow for precise monitoring of the environmental conditions like temperature as well as pH balance. This allows for maximum exposure to nutrients, water and other nutrients. Hydroponics follows a simple principle. It provides plants with precisely what they need and when they need it. Hydroponics offers customized nutrition solutions to every plant. They can be used to adjust the amount of light that plants get, as well as the length of time they stay. You can adjust the pH levels. The growth of plants is increased in highly customized, controlled environments.

Many risk factors can easily be controlled by you. The conditions that plants grow in is an important aspect of their growth and health. Fungus in the soil can cause disease to plants. Animals like rabbits can take your garden’s fresh vegetables. Pests like locusts can descend upon crops, and then eat them in an afternoon. Hydroponic systems can stop the unpredictability growth of plants in the open or in soil. Seedlings grow faster and more quickly with no mechanical resistance from soil. Hydroponics permits the production of healthier and higher-quality fruits, vegetables, and flowers by eliminating pesticides. The plants are free to grow vigorously and quickly without any obstacles.

What are the parts of a hydroponics plant?

In order to maintain a healthy hydroponic system, you will be required to know the components that help hydroponics work smoothly.

Media that is growing

Hydroponic plants are often grown in inert media which support the weight of the plant and secure its root structure. While growing media is utilized as an alternative to soil, it does not provide any nutritional support to the plant. Instead, the porous medium keeps the nutrients and moisture in the nutrient solution that it delivers to plants. Many media for growing are pH-neutral so they won’t alter the balance of your nutrients. There are a variety of media that are available. Your hydroponic plant and system will decide which one works best for you. Hydroponic gardening media is available at both local garden shops and nurseries and online.

Air pumps and air stones

Plants that are submerged in water can quickly drown if the water is not adequately oxygenated. Airstones release tiny bubbles of oxygen throughout the nutrient solution reservoir. These bubbles also distribute the dissolved nutrition evenly. Air stones aren’t able to produce oxygen on their own. They need to be connected to an external water pump by transparent tubing made of plastic. The opaque will prevent algae from setting in. These components are very popular in aquariums and can be readily purchased from pet stores.

Net pots

Net pots are plantsers made of mesh which contain hydroponic plants. The latticed materials allow roots to access the sides and bottom of the pot. This gives them more nutrients and oxygen. Net pots also offer better drainage than traditional clay or plastic pots.

What are the six kinds there of hydroponic systems,

There are a myriad of hydroponic techniques, however each one is an adaptation or combination of six basic hydroponic systems.

1. Systems for deep water cultivation

Deep water culture hydroponics are basically plants that are suspended in Aerated water. DWC systems are the most well-known and easiest method of hydroponics. DWC systems have net pots that hold plants suspended over an oxygen-rich reservoir. The solution helps keep the roots of plants well-hydrated and provides them with constant access to water, nutrients and oxygen. Some people consider deep water cultivation to be the purest form hydroponics.

The root system is always submerged in water, which is why proper water oxygenation is essential to ensure the survival of the plant. The plant can die if it doesn’t get enough oxygen. Install an air stone to an air pump near the bottom of the reservoir in order to provide oxygenation to the entire system. The bubbles from the air stone can also aid in the circulation of the solution of nutrient.

A deep water culture system can be constructed at home or in the classroom at the least amount of expense. It is possible to use an old or clean aquarium to store the solution and place a floating surface like styrofoam on top to hold the pots. DWC systems shouldn’t allow roots to be submerged within the solution. You should never let any portion of the stem, or vegetation, get submerged by the solution. The roots must be kept at a minimum of 1 inch and a half over the surface of the water. Air bubbles appear from the surface, and then splash onto exposed roots. They’re not in danger drying out.

What are the advantages of deep water culture systems

  • Simple maintenance Once your DWC system is in place it is not necessary to perform any maintenance. Just refill the nutrient solution as required and ensure that your pump is running oxygen into the air stone. It is generally not required to refill the solution every 2-3 weeks. However, this will depend on the size of the plants.
  • DIY appeal: Deep water cultures are inexpensive and simple to construct.

What are the disadvantages of deep water systems for culture?

  • Limitations Although deep water culture systems excel in the cultivation of herbs and lettuce however, they are not as successful growing taller and slow-growing plants. DWC systems don’t perform well with flowers. However, you can grow tomatoes, bell Peppers and squash in the DWC with a bit of work.
  • Control of temperature It’s crucial that your water solution doesn’t exceed 68°F and not fall below 60°F. DWC systems are static, which means that the water isn’t circulating. This makes it more difficult to regulate the temperature.

2. Wick systems

A wick system is where plants are planted in growing media and put on top of a pot. This reservoir holds water with minerals that are dissolved. The wicks move through the reservoir until they get to the tray for growing. Water and nutrients flow through the wick, and then fill the growing medium within the roots of the plants. Wicks can be made from string, rope, or felt. This is by far the most simple form of hydroponics. Wick systems are passive hydroponics which means they don’t need mechanical parts like pumps to operate. This is why they are ideal for situations where electricity is unavailable or not reliable.

The capillary action mechanism is the reason the wick systems function. The wick absorbs water, and then transfer nutrients back to the medium. Only wick system hydroponics will work if there is growing media that allows for transfer of water or nutrients. Coco coir fibers (from the coconuts’ outer husks) are ideal for moisture retention. They also come with the added benefit that they are pH neutral. Perlite is pH neutral and very porous, making them ideal for wicking systems. Vermiculite is also very porous and has a high cation-exchange capacity. It is able to conserve nutrients to be used later. The three media that are growing are the best for hydroponic wick systems.

Wick systems are slower than hydroponic systems. This makes it more difficult to cultivate crops using these systems. For each plant you put in the tray for growing, ensure that at the very least one of the wicks is flowing out of the reservoir. These wicks should be placed close to the root system of the plant. Although they are able to function with aeration many people prefer to add an airstone or pump to the reservoir of the wick. This will add oxygen to the hydroponic system.

What are the benefits of a wick system?

  • Simple A simple wick system can easily be set up by any person. It doesn’t require much care once it is operating. The plants you plant will never be dry because the wicks provide water to them constantly. The plants like lettuce thrive in a one-way wick system. This will guarantee an excellent return on your hands-free investment.
  • Space-efficientWick Systems are small and simple to set up anyplace. They do not require power to operate. It’s an ideal system for students, beginners and anyone interested in hydroponics.

What is the downside to Wick systems?

  • The limitationsLettuce (and other herbs such as mint and rosemary) are quick-growing and don’t require huge amounts of water. Due to their high demands for nutrients, and the need for hydration, tomatoes struggle to survive in the wick system. Other plants can’t thrive in an environment that is constantly moist. Root vegetables such as turnips and carrots are not able to thrive in a structure that has wicks.
  • Susceptible to rotA hydroponic wick system is always humid and damp. This makes it more likely that fungal diseases and rot could be present in the organic growth media or on the roots.

    3. Nutrient film technique systems

    Systems using the Nutrient Film Technology (NFT), suspend plants above a continuous stream of nutrients. The solution is washed over the root systems. The channels that support the plants are tilted to ensure that water can run down the length the tray before flowing into the reservoir below. The water in the reservoir is Aerated with an air stone. Submersible pumps pump the nutrient rich water out of the reservoir and back up to the top. The nutrient film technique is a recirculating hydroponic system.

    Unlike with deep water-based hydroponics the plant’s roots in an NFT system are not submerged in water. Instead, the stream or “film” is only flowing over the roots. The roots’ tips will draw moisture up towards the plant while the open root system has plenty of oxygen. The channels’ bottoms are grooved to allow the film to easily pass through the tips of the roots. This stops water from pooling and damming up in the root system.

    Although nutrient film technology systems continuously recycle water, it is important to drain the reservoir and replenish the nutrient solution once a week. This will ensure that your plants receive sufficient nutrients. NFT channels must be angled with an upward slope. A steep angle can cause the water to flow through the channel, but not adequately nourish the plants. If too much water is being pumped into the channel, it will overflow and the plants can drown. NFT hydroponics is a well-known commercial system because it can accommodate multiple plants per channel and is quickly produced in mass quantities. Lightweight plants, such as mustard greens, lettuce, as well as strawberries, are better for nutrient film systems. To support larger fruiting plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers, trellises will be required.

    What are the advantages of using nutrient films?

    • Low usage: NFT Hydroponics does not require large quantities or nutrients. Since the water is constantly flowing and salts are not able to build up over the root system. Nutrient film technology systems don’t require the growth of media. It is possible to reduce the cost of buying media and the hassle of replacing it.
    • Modular design: Nutrient film technique systems are perfect for large-scale and commercial endeavors. When you’ve got one channel up and functioning, it is very easy to expand. Multiple channels can be utilized to accommodate different plants in your greenhouse. It is recommended for each channel to have its own separate reservoir. It’s unlikely to stop all of the operation if the pump malfunctions or if a disease spreads to the water.

    What are the benefits of using a nutrient film technique?

    • A failure of the pump: When the channel ceases to transmit the nutrient film through the pump, your plants will become dry. Your entire crop could die if it isn’t being given water within hours. You need to be vigilant when maintaining an NFT hydroponics system. You must be sure to observe the performance of the pump.
    • Overcrowding occurs when plants are placed too close to each other, or when the growth of roots is too extensive, it can cause the channel to get blocked. If the channel becomes blocked by roots and a swath of roots, water won’t be able to flow and your plants will be starved. This is especially relevant to plants that are located at the bottom. If you find that the plants on the bottom perform lower than the rest of the channel, you should considering removing them or switching to smaller units.

    4. Ebb and flow systems

    Ebb-and-flow hydroponics involves flooding the growing bed with a solution of nutrients from the reservoir below. The timer is part of the submersible pump that is located in the reservoir. As the timer begins it will fill the growing bed with the nutrients and water. When the timer stops, gravity slowly drains the water from the growing bed before flushing it back into the reservoir. A overflow tube is installed in the system to stop the flooding from reaching the limit which could cause damage to the fruit and stalks of the plants. An ebb & flow system is not as dependent on water. The grow bed is flooded and the plants absorb the nutrients through their roots. The roots dry out after the water has gone and the growing beds are empty. The dry roots then oxygenate in the interval before the next flood. The dimensions of your garden beds and the size the plants you have will decide the time the interval between floods.

    Systems for flow and ebb (also known as flood and drain systems) are one of the most well-known hydroponic growth methods. The plants are able to benefit from an abundance of oxygen and nutrition that encourages rapid and vigorous growth. The ebb & flow system can be easily modified and customized. The grow bed can also be filled with different net pots and other fruits and vegetables. The ebb-and-flow system is perhaps the most flexible hydroponic system. It lets you play around with different plants and media.

    Ebb and flow systems can accommodate almost all types of vegetation. Your grow tray’s size and depth are the main limitations. Root vegetables require a much deeper bed than lettuce or strawberries. Peas, tomatoes cucumbers, beans, carrots, and peppers are all well-known flow and ebb crop varieties. Actually, you can even attach trellises directly to the grow bed. Hydroton and “Grow rocks” are two of the most commonly growing media for hydroponics with ebb-flow. These are cleanable and reusable light weight, and although they retain moisture, they will also drain. This is a crucial quality for ebb flow systems.

    What are the benefits to the ebb flow system?

    • Flexibility It is possible to grow bigger plants in an ebb-and-flow system than you can with other hydroponics systems. Fruits, flowers, and vegetables alike are very responsive to ebb and flow hydroponics. You can expect a huge harvest if you are careful to provide your plants with the right sized grow bed, nutrition and other essential items.
    • DIY appeal: There are many ways you can build your own ebb-flow system in your home. All you require to build an ebb-flow setup is a visit to your local hardware or pet store. While Ebb systems cost more than DIY methods like wick or deep-water culture but they provide a more diverse selection of plants.

    What are the drawbacks of an Ebb-flow system?

    • Pump Failure As with any system of hydroponics that depends on a pump for its operation, if the pump stops functioning, your plants will go mad. Monitoring the flow system is essential to ensure that your plants are healthy. The plants will not receive enough nutrients and water if water rushes into and out of the system too fast.
    • Rot and disease:Sanitation, maintenance and inspection are crucial for an ebb/flow system. Rot and root diseases can develop if the bed isn’t draining well. An unclean flow and ebb system could grow mold and attract insects. If you do not maintain cleanliness, your plants will suffer. Additionally, some plants do not respond well to the rapid pH change caused by of the flooding and draining extremes.

    5. Drip systems

    A hydroponic drip system delivers the nutrient rich water solution, aerated through a network of tubes to the individual root systems of plants. The solution drips slowly on the roots to maintain the moisture and nutrients. Drip systems, particularly popular with commercial growers, are the most widespread type of hydroponics. Drip systems can be individual plants or massive irrigation operations.

    There are two kinds of hydroponics with drip systems. In systems that are recovering, which is preferred by smaller, at-home growers, excess water is taken out of the growing bed and returned to the reservoir, to be recirculated during the next drip cycle. The excess water in a the non-recovery system is drained from the media and goes to waste. This method is much more popular with commercial growers. While non-recovery systems might seem like a waste but large-scale growers tend to be very conservative in their water use. The drip systems only created to supply just the right amount of solution to keep the growing medium around the plant moistened. Non-recovery drip systems use complicated timing devices and feeding programs to minimize waste.

    You will need to adapt to changes in the pH level of the nutrient solution if you grow plants in a drip-recovery system. This is the case for any system where wastewater is recirculated back to the reservoir. Growers must monitor the solution reservoir and alter it more often than they would in a non-recovery system. The plants can also drain the nutrients in the solution as well as alter the pH. It is possible for growing media to become too rich in nutrients, and should be replaced frequently.

    What are the advantages associated with drip systems?

    • A variety of plant options: A drip system can accommodate plants that are larger than most other systems for hydroponics. This is why it is so attractive for commercial farmers. Properly sized drip systems can be used to support all kinds of plants, including onions, pumpkins, and melons. Drip systems hold greater quantities of growing media than other systems, which allows them to help support the bigger root systems of these plants. Drip systems work best with slow draining media, such as coco coir, rockwool, and peat moss.
    • Scale: Large-scale hydroponics operation are possible using drip systems. New tubing can be attached to a reservoir or divert system to allow for the growth of more plants. Existing drip systems can be altered to accommodate the new crop. Additional reservoirs may be added to accommodate different timers that meet the requirements of the plant. This is one reason why drip systems are so popular in commercial hydroponics.

    What are the disadvantages of a drip-system?

    • Maintenance If you’re growing plants at home with drip systems that do not self-recovering it will take a lot of work involved. It is important to monitor the pH and nutrient levels of your solution. It is essential to drain and replace if necessary. It is also important to flush out your recovery lines frequently, as they can become clogged with plant matter and debris.
    • ComplexityDrip Systems can quickly become complicated and complex. This is not as essential for hydroponics professionals, however it’s not the ideal system for home growers. There are a variety of simpler systems, like flow and ebb, that lend themselves better to hydroponics at home.

    6. Aeroponics

    Aeroponics systems suspend plant roots within the air then expose the roots to an ozone of nutrients. Aeroponics frameworks are enclosed structures, like cubes or towers which can house many plants at once. A reservoir stores water and nutrients. The solution is then pumped through a nozzle, which disperses the fine mist. The mist is blown down the chamber by being released from the tower’s top. Some aeroponics constantly mist the root system similar to the way that NFT systems expose the roots to the nutrient film at all times. Some are more of an ebb-and flow system that sprays the roots with mist at regular intervals. Aeroponics do not need substrate media to thrive. The roots’ constant exposure to air lets them absorb oxygen and grow at a a faster rate.

    Aeroponics requires less water than other types of hydroponics. Aeroponics requires less water than irrigated fields to cultivate crops. Vertical gardens is designed to take up less space and allow the towers to be housed in a single location. Aeroponics produces high yields and can be produced even in confined areas. Additionally, due to their maximized exposure to oxygen, aeroponic plants grow faster than other hydroponically grown plants.

    Aeroponics permits harvesting all year round. Aeroponics allows for the development of vine plants and nightshades like bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. Other plants like baby greens (lettuce), watermelons (watermelon), strawberries, and ginger also thrive in an aeroponic environment. Obstacles are too heavy and bulky to be grown aeroponically. Plants that have deep root systems such as carrots and potatoes can also not be grown.