Your Guide 2 Hydroponics

Everything you need to know about growing plants without soil

Hydroponics refers to the practice of growing plants in a solution of water and mineral nutrients, without any soil. It is almost always performed indoors, with the aid of an artificial light source. For many people, the term conjures up images of a strange and futuristic world of food production. The truth is that the concept of hydroponics is not a new one - in fact, the recorded history of hydroponics dates back to the 17thcentury. However, it has only been in the past half-century that the science of growing plants without soil has become well-understood.

Hydroponics (sometimes referred to as “soilless culture”) is a popular growing technique because it eliminates the problems of inadequate mineral nutrition and water supply that are associated with soil-based crop cultivation. At the same time, hydroponics allows gardeners to have full control over environmental conditions like light, ventilation and temperature.

In addition to the control it offers gardeners, there are a number of other advantages to hydroponics gardening. Hydroponically-produced plants generally grow faster, have bigger yields and even look and taste better than their soil-cultivated counterparts. However, there are obstacles that every hydroponics enthusiast must overcome. Setup costs can be very high, and many of the most popular hydroponics techniques require a great deal of technical knowledge.

A common misconception regarding hydroponics is that water can completely replace soil as the medium in which plants are grown. This is not always true. Many plants still require support for their roots, so an inert medium is often used in place of soil. Examples of hydroponics growing media that are frequently used include rockwool, perlite and vermiculite and even gravel.

Today, both amateur hydroponics gardening and commercial hydroponics farming are multimillion-dollar industries. There are almost as many brands of hydroponics nutrient solutions available for sale on the Internet as there are brands of cereal in a supermarket.

Hydroponics gardening is most beneficial to plants that bear fruit, such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Flowers and leafy plants like lettuce, spinach and herbs also thrive in a hydroponics system. Many hydroponics hobbyists grow the same plants that they would in an outdoor garden - only they do it year-round!