Hydroponics is a convenient way to grow plants inside or on a porch. The system consists of a reservoir for the nutrient solution and a tray or tube to support the plants in the solution. A timer can be used to precisely regulate the application of the nutrient solution.
A hydroponic garden can be used to grow plants year round, as well as to grow plants out of their natural area. The plants grow faster and produce more fruits and vegetables. More plants can be grown in a hydroponic garden than in the same area of soil, because the roots do not have to spread to find water and nutrients. There are no weeds, and fewer pests and diseases, as no soil is used in the system.
Provide adequate air circulation to a hydroponic garden as its important to prevent fungal diseases caused by stale moist conditions. Air circulation allows plants to remove more carbon dioxide from the air to use in photosynthesis.
Use a nutrient solution made with a fertilizer specifically formulated for hydroponics. The solution will contain large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, phosphate, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. It includes smaller amounts of boron, copper, iron, manganese and zinc. The ideal pH of the nutrient solution is between 5.0 to 6.0.
The fertilizers become concentrated and can burn the roots of plants as the water evaporates from the nutrient solution. Add more water, but no more fertilizer, to the original fill line on the reservoir.
Changing The Solution
Change the nutrient solution in the hydroponic system every two weeks when the nutrients are depleted. The water can be used on houseplants or outside plants. The roots of the plants will not dry out as fast if the solution is changed on a cloudy day or after the sun sets.
A hydroponic garden needs at least eight to 10 hours a day of high-intensity light. If the system is inside, use grow, sodium vapor or metal halide lights. The lights should be placed high enough above the plants so they provide adequate light but do not burn the foliage.
Warm-season crops grow better in daytime temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, with a nighttime temperature around 60 degrees. Cool-season crops prefer daytime temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees, and a nighttime temperature around 50 degrees.