How Does Your Garden Grow

| 3/26/2019 8:27:00 AM

Country MoonHydroponics is the new kid on the block when it comes to gardening. The name literally means “working water,” and the whole concept is that plants can be grown in a nutrient-rich solution without soil. This whole idea is actually not new at all but was born in the 17th century. Modern hydroponics didn’t come into its own until the last 100 years.

Root systems are supported in an inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, or vermiculite. The basic concept is that the plant roots come into direct contact with the nutrient solution while also having access to oxygen so they don’t drown. The nutrient solution, which is basically a type of fertilizer, is determined by individual growers and can be either organic or non-organic.

Like most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to using hydroponics. The main argument for investing in this type of system is that plants have an increased rate of growth with increased yield. Plants mature 25% faster and produce 30% more crops than if they were grown in soil. Plants don’t have to work as hard to obtain nutrients so even small root systems will provide the plant what it needs. Thus, plants can put more emphasis on growing than on expanding its root systems.

All of this occurs because the nutrients and pH balance are critically monitored and controlled. Because systems are enclosed, less water is needed, which makes these systems ideal for areas where water is not plentiful.

With all of these advantages, the downside is that these systems are usually more costly than their soil counterparts, and they take longer to set up. Managing hydroponics requires a lot of time since nutrient levels and pH balances must be monitored daily.

Perhaps the greatest risk is a pump failure which can kill plants within hours of the malfunction, depending on the size of the system. Growing mediums can’t store water like soil can, so plants depend on a continuous fresh supply of water.

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