Organic farming is under the Limelight in recent days and most of the people who live in urban areas have realized the importance of growing their own food. Organic farming is easy for those who live in independent or semi-independent houses as they can grow some plants in the small land around their houses or by making use of terrace space.
But what about those who live in a multistoried apartment, there is rather any space around their house to grow even the tiniest plants, nor can they make use o the terrace space. They can, of course, grow some ornamental plants in their balconies but it is not going to be of any use in the plethora of growing one’s own food. Growing indoor plants with soil and water might dirty the otherwise ornamented indoors and with children around the entire task get even more complicated.
New technology of growing plants in the house interiors without making use of soil is now trending the internet. It is by far the best known and the cleanest method of indoor cultivation.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the method of growing plants without soil, but by making use of mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. By this method, it is possible to grow terrestrial plants by exposing only their roots to the nutritious liquid or by supporting the roots of the plants physically in an inert medium such as gravel or perlite. The nutrients that are used in hydroponic systems come from duck manure, fish excrement, and certain chemical fertilizers. Some important plants that grow best hydroponically are peppers, tomatoes, lettuces, cucumber, and marijuana.
Advantages of growing plants through Hydroponics:
This is one of the best known and proven technology for those who accept gardening as their hobby and also for commercial food producers. There are a number of advantages for hydroponics over the soil medium. Plants that are grown through hydroponics need not develop extensive root structures to search for its nutrients. It is possible to test and adjust the pH levels of the nutrient medium. With the help of this method plants are raised in a perfectly pH balanced and inert medium. Thus the plants are required to spend minimal energy so as to acquire nutrients through its roots from the medium. The energy that is saved by the roots is spent on its flower and fruit production. Its other advantages are,
- It is possible to grow plants all through the year
- It helps to save water as the nutrients for the plants are controlled
- More plants can be grown in the given area
- The flavor of the crop is excellent and enhanced
- Plants grow pretty fast with increased yields
- There is absolutely no need for weeding
- There are no soil born pests that can affect the crop
- There is a reduced need for pesticides in this method of cultivation
- There is no need for re-potting as the plants do not root bound.
Types of hydroponic growing techniques:
There are several types of hydroponic growing techniques which includes,
- Water culture
- Irrigation by a drip system
- Wicks system
- Nutrient film technology
- Aeroponic system
- Flood and drain system( ebb and flow)
A hydroponic system is a structure which includes trays, A-frames and towers that can hold water or other inert media and also have places to grow the plants. There are two basic categories of a hydroponic system a liquid culture solution and an aggregate culture. In the solution system, the roots of the plants grow in the nutrient-filled solution directly. Whereas in the aggregate system such as sand, gravel or small clay pellets, the roots of the plants should grow in the medium. In both the methods, the hydroponic system supplies the three basic essential ingredients for the plant’s roots to grow, water or moisture, oxygen, and nutrients. Different types of hydroponic systems are available to meet the comfort levels of the individual in growing the plants hydroponically as discussed above.
Where to get these hydroponics systems:
Hydroponics system for growing plants in the home is available from a number of commercial suppliers. One has to choose the system that fits their needs and that adapts to the space they can allocate for growing the plants. It is also possible to design and build their own system. An advantage to building one’s own hydroponic system is that one can customize their design to fit the space and the type of plants one wishes to grow.
Nutrients and medium required to grow plants through hydroponics:
For growing hydroponic plants one needs to use a mix of primary, secondary and micronutrients that are designed for hydroponics specifically. The nutrients that are used for hydroponic system differ that fertilizers and nutrients that are used to grow plants in the soil. Apart from water, plants can be grown in Rockwool, clay rocks, perlite, coconut fiber, and vermiculite. All of these inert mediums do not break down quickly and supply slow and steady nutrients for the plants growing in them. It is important to avoid medium that can become too wet and soggy as the roots can suffocate from the lack of oxygen.
The air pumps used in the water system enhance the dissolved oxygen in water and supply enough oxygen to the submerged roots. For lighting, different types of lights can be used but metal halide systems are the preferred source of light by many gardeners. Other types of artificial lighting source include LEDs, high-pressure sodium bulbs, compact fluorescents bulbs, and high output fluorescents. For growing plants in an outdoor environment, sunlight is the best source of natural writing.
Hydroponic gardening is not the same as organic gardening, but its ecological values of hydroponics are the same as that of organic gardening. It is possible to grow all houseplants, vegetable and fruit plants in this method. The solution is best for growing plants with shallow roots such as Spinach, lettuce and some herbs. With the right balance of all growing conditions, it is possible to gain yields that exceed traditional gardening and organic gardening methods.