By definition, hydroponics is the art of growing plants without soil, instead choosing the grow them in a nutrient-rich solution in water. It’s an alternative, efficient solution where you give the plant the exact amount of nutrients that it needs when it requires them, resulting in the plant growing as healthy as possible.
Many gardeners choose to opt for the hydroponics method for various reasons, not only does it save time – experts claim that hydroponic plants can grow at least 20% faster – but it also saves about 90% of your water by using the reservoir system. This is because the reservoir is covered to prevent evaporation and it’s also sealed, so water can’t seep out. Typically, a gardener is having to water the plants daily, effectively wasting a lot of water by doing this. However, with hydroponic systems, the plant only takes in as much as water as it needs, leaving the rest in the reservoir where it can be used for later. This system means that plants don’t have to be watered for a few days, sometimes even a week!
Because all of the nutrients the plant needs are in the solution, it no longer needs to spread out its roots in search of nutrients and oxygen. So this means that there is more space available for even more plants to grow – a fact that is especially appealing for urban gardeners who may not have the space required for traditional, leafy gardens plants.
There are six main hydroponics systems that gardeners use to grow their plants, but most beginners usually prefer the Deep Water Culture system (DWC). The other systems are called Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain), Wicking, Aeroponic, Nutrient Film Technique and Drip.
The Deep Water Culture system is what most experts recommend that beginners use at first, since it is low maintenance and requires the least amount of materials, hydroponics supplies and knowledge to get started. You can purchase the supplies required from a hydroponics equipmentstore.
First of all, you need to make sure that your DWC will be placed in an area where your plant will receive direct sunlight for at least six hours a day. If this isn’t possible, you can purchase an indoor artificial grow light for hydroponics plants, these can also be bought in hydroponics stores.
You will need a reservoir and also some nutrient solution to fill it up with. Then you suspend the plants roots in the solution so they receive the constant supply of nutrients, water and oxygen. You then need to buy an air pump and air stone to pump bubbles – this is so you can have a continuous oxygen supply to oxygenate the nutrient solution. The air pump and stone are the most common method of oxygenating the nutrient solution. These items are very important as without them, the plants will suck the oxygen they need out of the water and will “drown”.
Although it may seem complicated and confusing for a beginner, the Deep Water Culture system is very simple to set up and it is low maintenance, making it perfect for a hydroponics beginner to utilise. Of course once you become more confident, you can try out the previously mentioned methods to grow your plants in an efficient, time-saving way.