Hydro Planting

Overview

Hydroponics is a popular alternative form of gardening that involves growing plants without using conventional soil. Instead, you use soil substitutes that specialize in absorbing and recycling both water and nutrients. Hydroponics is a viable option commercial and private gardeners use throughout the world, and it has become more popular because of technological advances.

New Gardeners

Hydroponic gardening takes more time and dedication than soil gardening. Begin with small projects with sturdy plants such as beans to learn how hydroplanting works. Gardening with herbs and common houseplants is a sensible place to start.

Substrate

Substrate is a well-known nonsoil substance built of coarse vermiculite and perlite; it holds moisture for plants while supporting their root systems. Get ready-to-use substrate at gardening stores. You also can use other things, such as gravel or sand, but be sure to rinse these thoroughly to remove impurities such as lime or other dangerous minerals before use.

System

The most basic form of hydroponics involves a system for recycling the nutrients and water that drain from the plant. Ideally, gardeners will use a container about 1 foot by 4 foot attached to a hose. The hose catches drained water from the basin and it is recycled into the plant by hand. Although these homemade systems work well, they do require constant maintenance and attention. You have to water hyrdoponic plants two to three times a day.

Nutrients and Light

According to Howard M. Resh in his book "Hydroponics for the Home Gardener," the the most common problem for hydroponic gardeners is providing enough sunlight to plants. High-intensity artificial lights must provide the same amount of energy as a full day of sunlight without getting the plants too hot. Practice finding the right amount of light for your plants. Meanwhile, all plants need premixed solutions full of the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium as well as several other micronutrients. This will ensure that plants are well fed and resistant to damage from external sources.

Temperature

Indoor hydroponic systems work best with a daily temperature between 60 and 80 degrees, depending on the plants being grown. This constant artificial climate can sometimes even sustain year-round bearing in plants that typically only bloom once a season, such as in many bean plants. This forced bloom, however, will often lead to an early death, resulting in the plants having to be replaced more often than in natural outdoor settings.

Keywords: beginner hydroponic systems, non-soil gardening troubleshooting, homemade water-recycling systems

About this Author

Jonathan Budzinski started his writing career in 2007. His work appears on websites such as eHow and WordGigs. Budzinski specializes in nonprofit topics, as he spent two years with Basic Rights Oregon and WomanSpace. He has received recognition as a Shining Star Talent Scholar in English while studying English at the University of Oregon.