Home Improvement and Interior

|

Livia Land

Posts Tagged ‘soil growers’

Indoor Hydroponic Gardening

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Hydroponic gardening, (from the Greek words hydro, water and ponos, labor) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, or coconut husk.

In the 19th century, researchers discovered that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is also a standard technique in biology research and teaching.

Hydroponic gardening is often defined as “the cultivation of plants in water.” Research has since determined that many different aggregates or media will support plant growth; therefore, the definition of hydroponic gardening has been broadened to read “the cultivation of plants without soil.” Growers all over the world are using hydroponic gardening techniques due to the lack of a large water supply or fertile farmland. Home gardeners have used hydroponic gardening on a smaller scale to grow fresh vegetables year round and to grow plants in smaller spaces, such as an apartment or balcony.

Greenhouses and nurseries grow their plants in a soilless, peat or bark-based growing mix. The nutrients are then applied to the growing mix through the water supply. Therefore, this is also a type of hydroponic gardening. Soilless gardening offers many advantages to the home gardener. Since a sterile medium is used for hydroponic gardening, there are no weeds to remove, and soil-borne pests and diseases are minimized, if not eliminated completely.

Properly grown hydroponic plants also are healthier and more vigorous because all of the necessary growth elements are readily available. The plants can mature faster, yielding an earlier harvest of vegetable and flower crops. Hydroponic gardening uses less space since the roots do not have to spread out in search of food and water. This small space requirement makes hydroponic gardening ideal for home gardeners, and it makes better use of greenhouse space.

The big advantage to hydroponic gardening is the ability to automate the entire system with a timer. Automation reduces the actual time it takes to maintain plant growth requirements. Automation also provides flexibility to the gardener as one can be gone for long periods of time without having to worry about watering the plants.

Hydroponic gardening offers many advantages for commercial agriculture. Cultivating plants without soil eliminates the need for vast farmland and allows crops to be produced in greenhouses or even in the desert sands. Hydroponic gardening techniques also allow for precise water and nutrient application directly to the roots of each plant. Water is reused in these systems and less is lost through evaporation and run-off. Therefore, arid lands, such as deserts, can be transformed into productive lands using limited amounts of water.

Growing plants with hydroponic gardening is not difficult if one understands the basic principles. As long as plant growth requirements are met, there are numerous hydroponic systems that can be used.