Hydroponic Systems

– Grow Plants Without Soil

By: - Gardening - May 5, 2011
hydroponic systems

Many people don’t have the space to plant a traditional garden, but you can use hydroponic systems to grow plants in nutrient mineral solutions, instead. In lieu of soil, you may use other growing media, like peat, rock wool, sand, gravel and perlite.

If you enjoy fruits and vegetables, you can plant cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries or lettuce in your system. Alternately, flowers can also be grown in a hydroponic system. The growing media you use will not have as much effect on the nutrition of the plants you grow as the nutrient solution. They draw nutrients from the solution, so you need to make sure the solution is there, for them to grow.

When plants are grown in soil, there is a certain amount of tolerance, if your watering and fertilizing are inaccurate. But hydroponics don’t give you a lot of tolerance. The changes you make are more rapid, and mistakes can cost you money and plants. So, you should make the most educated decisions you can.

You can choose from two types of available hydroponic systems – open and closed. Closed systems usually don’t involve any growing media. If you use a system that uses container plants, this could be an open or a closed system.

Closed systems for hydroponics use a nutrient solution that is recirculated, while the concentrations of nutrients are carefully monitored and adjusted. It’s a challenge to keep all the nutrients in balance, and it will need to be analyzed and sampled once each week or more. If you don’t manage the nutrient solution properly, it may not stay in balance.

The simplest type of hydroponic system is a deep water culture system. If you use this type of system, your plants will be suspended in a solution with oxygen-enriched nutrients. Or you may use a wick system, where you run a wick from the plant base to a reservoir, to draw the nutrients upward.

An ebb and flow system is low in cost and easier to maintain. It can be used for potted plants. In this system, you will flood the growth bed with nutrient solution and allow it to drain. How often you flood the plants depends on factors including the water requirements, container size and type of growing medium you are using.

You can also purchase hydroponic systems that work with nutrient film technique, using a continuous flow of nutrient solution over your plants’ roots. This method leaves a thin layer of film around the plants’ roots, which allows them access to necessary nutrients, as well as aeration.

An open hydroponic system uses a fresh solution of nutrients for each separate cycle of irrigation. Usually, the solution is brought to the plants in a drip system. When you use an open system, you must be sure to maintain adequate run-off, so that the nutrients will be well-balanced in the root zone of your plants.


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