Have you ever heard of plants growing without soil? Roots of trees not grounded deep within the surface but floating in the water? Well, this is what hydroponics is all about. Hydroponics is a technique to grow plants in water i.e. without soil. In hydroponics, we use inert media like coconut peat, peat moss, etc for supporting the plant and nutrient solution to provide the essential nutrients for growth.
So now you must be like, I have lots of water in my home. I can grow my own vegetables. Well, there is a cache here.
Hydroponic plants are grown with the help of nutrients that get dissolved in the water from where plants directly get the required nutrition to grow faster and healthier. Studies have shown that plants that grow hydroponically are much better in nutrient quotient and have a faster growth cycle as compared to plants that grow in the soil.
- Common Vegetables You can Grow with Hydroponics
- Advantages of Hydroponics
If we look at the history of hydroponics there are glorious and great examples all around the world, one of them being the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The technology is not new but the advancement in the access of information through the internet and the decreasing space for home gardens especially in the metro cities covered with skyscrapers, hydroponics is finding a new life where people are starting to build their own home gardens in their own balcony and eat organic fruits and vegetables.
Hydroponics is a system of growing plants and crops in a water-based homogeneous nutrient mixture combined with an inert medium like coconut coir, expanded clay, perlite, pumice, etc.
So, as stated above the three main components of hydroponic agriculture are
1. Organic Seeds
3. Inert Grow Media
In case you are looking to start with hydroponics, these are the three main things you would want to have before starting.
There are a lot of varieties available in the market when it comes to each of the components of hydroponics culture because it is used both at a commercial scale to grow organic veggies and sell them off at the nearest superstore near you. This technique is also used by kitchen garden enthusiasts and people who simply like to have their own homegrown organic food for dinner.
So let us tell you about what kind of plants you can really grow with this coming of age hydroponic technology. Here is a list of common food items that you can grow on your balcony using hydroponics.
Common Vegetables You can Grow with Hydroponics
For starters, these are some of the crops that you can grow hydroponically in your backyard or balcony garden.
Since you are beginning your journey with hydroponics you must be reckoning what is so good about hydroponics in the first place. Well, there are many documented benefits of growing plants with hydroculture. I will list a few of them here for you.
Advantages of Hydroponics
1. No soil involvement
Which means you can grow your crops anywhere you like. On the roof, on the balcony, inside your bedroom, where you want.
2. Hydroponics tend to grow faster and save lots of space
3. Creating beautiful spaces.
It is not just about growing crops or farming. With hydroponics, you can build your own aesthetically pleasing hanging gardens.
4. 24X7 growing capability
In case you want to jump deep into this tech, there are hydroponic growers which can grow crops 24×7, with no interference from the outside weather.
5. Saves Water too
It saves water. Yes, it does, as plants absorb nutrients directly from the mixture, you can use that water for other plants and trees as well.
6. No Pest no extra growth
As there is no soil involved there is no extra thing other than your freshly brewed hydroponic crop.
7. Space Optimization
You can actually grow 20 times the yield which you would get with soil farming. You can stack the systems one upon another. Many commercial hydroponic companies have multi-story hydro gardens harvesting tons of greens per year.
8. Easy Harvesting Methods
In the traditional way, a lot of manual labour is required to harvest the crop. In hydroponics, you just need to either cut the leaves and leave the roots or pluck the fruit. Easy and clean.
9. Fresh and Organic
Hydroponics gives a normal person the ability to grow his own green veggies or fruits and these are 100% organic. Can you imagine the freshness of a fruit you just plucked from the plant? It’s awesome!
As with anything in this world, hydroponics also has some disadvantages. You must have already guessed some of them from above. I will list them below.
1. Entry Cost is High.
This means that the setup is not cheap. In traditional farming you can easily plant the crops into the soil, you just need seeds. Here, you also need to grow media and nutrients along with seeds.
2. More supervision required
Some plants require constant nutrient support and temperature control. You need mechanical solutions like a digital timer, exhaust fans, air pump, etc to sustain your hydroponic system
3. Technical stuff
Some people may not know how to check pH levels or humidity. One has to be a little tech say to be able to successfully grow good crops with hydroponics.
4. Strict parameters
You need to feed your plant the exact amount of nutrients and light for it to grow beautifully. If you give extra sunlight or artificial light or the concentration of nutrient solution drops, the plant will show an immediate reaction.
5. Electricity cost may be high
Due to the high usage of grow lights and air pumps, electricity costs increase with hydroponics.
6. Manual Pollination
Due to the controlled environment, in crops like hydroponic tomatoes manual pollination is required.
7. Expertise Required
In cases when you grow a crop that requires a complex setup, you can easily ruin your crop if you don’t get expert advice. So, for most people, it is only spinach and other greens as they are easy to grow.
8. Growth of Microorganisms
If your grow media or any part of the hydroponic system grows microorganisms like any kind of bacteria or fungus, it is very difficult to control it. The only option that most people do is to flush out the whole system.
9. Limited Production
Although you can grow more in less space, still due to technical and cost limitations, the production of hydroponic crops is limited.
There are many different types of hydroponic farming and a huge inventory of products to choose from for your home garden or if you want to start your own commercial hydroponics factory. We will try to cover each of those in-depth.
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