Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Add to My MSN

A Hydroponic Gardening Primer

2/28/2013 4:09:26 PM

Tags: hydroponic gardening, aquaponic gardening, organic gardening, Maryann Robinson

What exactly is hydroponic gardening? Though it may sound complicated, it’s really not.  The word "hydroponic" comes from the Greek "hydro," meaning hydroponic gardenwater, and “ponic,” meaning work. The basic concept is this: growing plants in a nutrient rich water solution rather than in soil.

So, if you don’t use soil, what do you put the plant in? Instead of soil, hydroponic growing utilizes an inert growing media. Some examples are coconut fiber, rockwool and different types of "grow rocks."

Coconut fiber is also called "coir" and is similar to peat moss but is a renewable resource.  It’s the fibrous husks of coconuts ground into a peat moss-like consistency.

Rockwool is a moisture-retaining media made from basalt rock. It is super-heated and melted down before being spun out like cotton candy. It’s then shaped into cubes, blocks or slabs.

Sunleaves Rocks are irregular-shaped, porous stones made of shale rock. They’re a byproduct of brick-making.

Hydrocorn is an expanded clay medium.  It is puffed lava rock with a clay coating. 

Growstones are very light pumice-like stones that are made out of recycled glass dug out of landfills.

All these inert medias are just used to give the roots something to anchor onto in order to support the plant. All the nutrients required by the plant to produce chlorophyll, which they use for food, must be provided by you. That is why it is very important to use a fertilizer that is specifically designed for hydroponics. Many soil fertilizers might not contain all the necessary elements the plant needs for healthy, vigorous growth.

You may think that hydroponics is a relatively new concept in gardening, but this assessment couldn’t be farther from the truth. The ancient Aztecs grew food crops on rafts in nutrient-rich lakes and streams, and it is also believed that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon may have been one of the first ventures into the wonder of hydroponics.

There are different types of hydroponic systems, most of which recirculate the nutrient solution, conserving water in the process. The simplest type of system is a deep water culture, or DWC.  All you need to make a DWC system is a reservoir (or bucket), a net basket, grow media, an air pump and stone.  You simply place the plant in the net basket with the grow stones (the rock-type media works best for this type), fill the bucket with water and add hydroponic fertilizer. Oxygenate the water with the air stone and submerge the net basket with the plant in the solution. Voila!

There are, of course, other types of systems that have more components. Ebb-and-flow (also called fill-and-drain) systems employ the use of a grow tray and a reservoir. The grow tray sits on top of the reservoir and the nutrient water is pumped up from the bottom reservoir to the grow tray to feed the plants. It’s usually set on a timer, so when the flood cycle stops, the water drains back down in to the reservoir. Many drip systems work this way also. The timer kicks on the drip cycle and the excess water drains back down.

With all types of hydro systems, there are a few general rules:

1 Always maintain you pH (acidity or alkalinity) between 5.5 and 6.5

2 Change out your reservoir with fresh water and nutrients every two weeks

3 Always use hydroponic fertilizer

4 Have fun growing

I’m attaching a simple hydroponic experiment that is fun for children and adults to this blog to get you started down the hydro path. If you have any questions about hydroponic gardening feel free to contact me at the Worm's Way Facebook page or website.   Happy hydro!

Hydroponic projects for kids 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Photo by Fotolia/Kenishirotie 



Related Content

The Aquaponics Source Announces Publication of “Aquaponics Gardening"

“Aquaponics Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together” offers advice a...

Phil's Dancing Carrots

If you are challenged by growing carrots, you might consider transplanting them and growing some dan...

Worm’s Way Celebrates Customer Appreciation Week

Worm’s Way is offering savings, fun events and giveaways for Customer Appreciation week.

Everyday Families Growing Their Own Vegetables

Everyday families can now provide much of their fresh vegetables using Aquaponics. Aquaponics is the...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

wegrow
6/30/2013 4:25:56 PM

Great article! Excellent starting point for my beginner customers! Always love having a written source to recommend to my customers so they can refresh their minds of the info when they get home. The media and method are the two of the first things to decide when putting together a system, and you layed it out right from the get go. Keep it up! www.wegrowhydro.com


greenhair
6/14/2013 7:00:56 PM

i bought a beginners kit from growershouse.com. it was easy to start out.


Carrie Schuhwerk
3/5/2013 12:41:39 AM
Great job Maryann! Love the Do it yourself Hydro system with a two litre.







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.