Hydroponic or aeroponic gardening can be a good alternative if your local soil is unsuitable for vegetable plants. Hydroponics is also a good choice if you don't have enough gardening space or would like to grow vegetables year-round. Because hydroponic gardening uses a sterile growing medium, weed, disease and pest problems can be minimized. Plants grown in a hydroponic or aeroponic system may be healthier and produce larger harvests.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil, instead using a growing medium for support. Because the growing medium is sterile, the hydroponic gardener provides nutrition to the plant by feeding it a liquid hydroponic nutrient solution.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a form of hydroponic gardening in which the gardener suspends the plants with the roots hanging into a dark chamber. A pump connected to a timer sprays aerated nutrient solution on the roots periodically.
Advantages of Hydroponics
Hydroponic systems have several advantages over aeroponic systems. They tend to be simpler and cheaper. Some can even be built from common materials and customized to fit your available space. Some hydroponic systems are passive, with no moving parts and no risk of plants dying in the case of power loss.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
Hydroponics is a labor-intensive gardening method requiring frequent pH testing and constant monitoring of the plants to ensure proper nutrition and lighting. And while you can build inexpensive hydroponic systems, they are still more of an investment than soil gardening.
Advantages of Aeroponics
An aeroponic system oxygenates the nutrient solution before spraying it on the plant roots. The oxygen aids in nutrient absorption, which can result in faster plant growth, larger plants and bigger harvests.
Disadvantages of Aeroponics
The major disadvantage of aeroponics is the cost. Aeroponic systems are more expensive than most hydroponic systems and are completely dependent on a power source to run the air and nutrient pumps and the timer. Even a short interruption in power can result in the roots drying out and killing your plants. But if you want higher yields, the risk may be worth it.