Hydroponics is growing plants with a liquid nutrient solution in place of soil. The most common growing systems are water, aqua- and nutriculture, which immerse plant roots in nutrient solution; aggregate culture system, in which plants are supported by a nonnutrient supplying material (such as sand, marbles or gravel) and watered with nutrient solution; and aeroponic hydroponic systems, which mists hanging roots with aerated nutrient solution. In fact, the only limitation to a hydroponic system is your creativity, and many gardeners enjoy the unlimited possibilities that hydroponic growing offers. As long as the roots are coated with solution, the plants are kept at the proper temperature, and they receive sufficient light, the sky is the limit.
Hydroponics has grown in popularity in recent years because it offers many advantages over soil growing. By concentrating and including only the nutrients that plants need to grow, plant root systems do not have to work as hard to pull nutrients out of the soil. This saved energy is translated into faster, larger growth and higher yield.
Hydroponic growing also offers opportunities for gardeners who cannot grow traditionally. Hydroponics are often used in areas where the soil is too poor to support plant growth. Gardeners who are limited by available space also prefer hydroponic growing. Since hydroponically grown plants have smaller root systems, more plants can be grown per square foot of garden.
How Easy is Hydroponics?
Growing hydroponically can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. Nutrient solution can be purchased or made from scratch. A variety of hydroponic kits are available on the market that range from a few basic parts to complicated pumps, timers and computer hook-ups. Expert gardeners or hobbyists can even construct their own hydroponic system to suit their needs. This is why some consider hydroponics the perfect gardener's hobby.