Hydroponic gardening means growing plants without soil in solutions that provide all the vital nutrients required. Formed from two Greek words "hydro" or water and "ponics" (ponos) meaning labor or working, hydroponic gardening produces bigger and faster growing plants. Any plant that grows in soil thrives when developed in a hydroponic environment.
Hydroponic gardening dates back several thousand years; it has been identified in Egyptian hieroglyphics by historians and was used in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon along with the floating gardens of both the Aztecs (Mexico) and Chinese. Evolved through changes made to the growing medium involved and the bare-root systems developed in the 1930s, contemporary hydroponic scientists now experiment with the nutrient mixes created and used for the optimum development of plants.
Growing gardens utilizing hydroponic systems provide the best growing environment and nutrients for plant maturity not always possible with soil. This process develops healthier plants, and almost no pest or disease problems occur that are normally associated with soil. Produce grown this way is more beneficial for consumption than those grown in traditional ways, since pesticides and other chemicals are not needed. Other benefits include conservation of water. Plants can grow in close proximity to each other without affecting one another, and healthier plants produce higher yields (or more blooms) at harvest time.
Using a hydroponic system in gardening allows you to produce crops at any time of the year. Vegetables grown this way not only grow faster, but also taste better. Creating the system from start to finish is rewarding, as you possess complete control over the design of it. You can purchase systems in many sizes, and they are easy to put together and use right away. Even individuals without "green thumbs" can grow all types of plants including flowers at any time with ease.
Many people believe that hydroponics is a high-tech system only used by NASA or other scientists in laboratories and at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. However, much of the produce found in markets around the country has come from commercial hydroponic growers. Even container plants grown using growing mediums such as perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum moss or other soilless mixes in place of topsoil is a form of hydroponics.
Numerous myths associated with hydroponics have existed for some time. Some people believe plants grown using this method are superior and more potent than those grown traditionally, but this is not the case. Plants produced with the exact needed nutrients and environments develop into the best form possible, but do not alter the plant in any way. Another common myth is that there is a higher cost of energy needed for a hydroponic system resulting in a high power bill. Using special grow lights of high intensity will not increase your power usage dramatically.