The idea of growing plants without dirt is a foreign concept to many traditional growers but hydroponic gardening has been around for thousands of years and is beginning to show resurgence on small farms. In its simplest form, hydroponic gardening can be envisioned as a plant stuck through the top of a glass canning jar with its roots covered with fertilized water. Despite the simplicity of the concept, there are different ways to accomplish the same result and the size of the operation will determine in which direction the hydroponic farmer goes.
There are different methods in which the nutrients are delivered to the plants in hydroponic gardening, including static, continuous and ebb and flow. The roots of the plants can also be held in place by a growing medium or essentially left dangling in the nutrient-rich water. Experimentation since the early 19th century has shown benefits to hydroponic gardening and research continues today to find better methods of growing plants without the need for soil.
In tradition gardening, the soil works as a storage reservoir for all the fertilization needed by the plants. The soil holds in the nutrients, releasing them to the roots as needed while in hydroponic gardening the hairs of the plant’s roots can sip at the nutrient-rich water at any time they need something to eat.
Healthier, Larger Fruit Produced In Hydroponic Gardens
When plants are growing in soil, the roots typically grow larger than on plants in hydroponic gardening. This allows the part of the plant above the soil, or in this case, out of the water, to grow larger and the fruit it bears to grow bigger. Most plants grown through hydroponic gardening are larger, bear more fruit and have a better taste and texture than the same plants grown with traditional gardening methods.
The growing medium used to hold the roots in place in hydroponic gardening is also based on the opinion of the grower. Rockwool is the most common growing medium, is lightweight and reusable and allows the plant to have a firm grasp on its growing environment. Clay stones, rocks, and sand are also commonly used in hydroponic gardening.
With static immersion, the roots are below the water level on a constant basis, with the water changed about once a week to maintain fertility in the hydroponic gardening. With continuous flow, the water is constantly changed in the growing tank, with fresh nutrients continually available to plant roots and with ebb and flow, fresh water is supplied to the growing tank where it slowly drips away into a reservoir from which it is recycled back to the growing tank.