WHAT CAN BE GROWN USING HYDROPONICS?

Most vegetables can be grown hydropOnically, including salad vegetables such as Lettuce, Radish, young Onions, Celery, Endive, and produce such as Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, Potatoes, Carrots, Leeks all produce excellent yields.

Peas, Beans and other legumes mature satisfactorily.

Most flowers, particularly annuals, grow well in a hydroponic system, and hydropnics is successsful for Carnations, Roses, Gardenias, etc.

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HYDROPONICS - GARDENING WITHOUT SOIL

Hydroponics is the art and science of growing plants without soil by means of hydroponic nutrient chemical solutions.

Hydroponics consists of growing plants in a suitable rooting medium which gives the roots access to balanced and aerated nutrient solutions, in the presence of adequate sunlight or artificial lighting using plant grow lights.

WHERE CAN HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS BE USED?

While hydroponic grow systems are commercially most successful in sunny climes, on barren lands where fresh produce has scarcity value, and for out-of- season or highly-priced flowers or vegetables, the indoor gardening technique is adaptable for gardening pleasure, profit and experiment.

A hydroponic system of gardening can be used where soil culture is impossible—in towns, flats, flat house roofs, etc.

ADVANTAGES OF GROWING PLANTS USING HYDROPONICS

The advantages claimed for hydroponics are much higher yields and uniformity of growth, virtual freedom from weeds, greater resistance to disease, and savings in time and labour in looking after the plants during growth.

Plants cultivated in a hydroponic system can grow 30-50% faster compared to plants grown in typical conditions in soil.

Larger numbers of plants can be grown in small areas as less space is required between plants.

Weeds can be easily controlled.

Plants can be cultivated in a climate controlled environment.

Hydroponic cultivation using hydroponic lighting is a valuable way of obtaining a fresh, supply of homegrown produce all year round.

Staggering the start times of each crop will provide a continuous supply of fresh crops.

CONTAINERS FOR HYDROPONICS

Tanks or troughs for hydroponic gardens can be made from a variety of materials - metal, wood, concrete, etc. or window boxes and plant pots can be used.

Zinc or galvanised metals, however, should be avoided, unless painted over with bitumen, as zinc in excess is often toxic to plants.

Dimensions should be about those used for growing plants in soil.

The hydroponic tanks must be constructed to drain easily.

Ready made hydroponic tanks or complete hydroponic growing kits are available to buy online or from garden centres.

ROOTING MEDIUM FOR HYDROPONICS

Various aggregates are used for the rooting medium.

A depth of at least 6 inches is desirable with the container filled to within 1 or 1 inches of the top.

Fine gravel, crushed stone, coconut fibre, cinders, broken brick, or granite chips, with a proportion of sand, may be used.

Sand alone is good - preferably a neutral lime-free sand, such as red, silver or white sand, coarse in texture and washed.

One of the most useful materials as a rooting medium in hydroponics is vermiculite which holds moisture well and is sterile and light

METHODS OF FEEDING WITH HYDROPONICS

Two methods of feeding are practised in hydroponics: surface-watering, and sub-irrigation.

Simple surface watering, using a sand culture, consists of regular watering with a watering can or hosepipe, using an appropriate nutrient solution. This system works satisfactorily with pots or small containers.

For sustained feeding of hydroponic nutrients, automatic overhead spraying of the sand beds with a dilute nutrient solution is used commercially.

An alternative to allow the dilute solution to drip-feed continuously from a tank through a feed line, the surplus solution being collected in a sump and pumped back to the reservoir.

Another modification is to apply dry mixed nutrient salts periodically and water them in.

In subirrigation, the tank is periodically flooded with dilute solution from below, then allowed to drain.

The drained solution is collected and re-used. By means of a pump, the system can he made automatic, but the solution needs periodical renewal.

The solution enters the beds through short lengths of plastic tubing when the bed is extensive.

NUTRIENT SOLUTIONS FOR HYDROPONIC GARDENING

Ideally, the composition of the nutrient solution should be calculated to suit the plant species to be grown and the conditions under which it is grown.

Balanced nutrients can be bought already prepared for dilution, in compound or tablet form from garden centres that sell hydroponics supplies.

HYDROPONIC LIGHTING

Due to research and and the reulting advanced technology growing plants indoors using supplemental lights has become a popular way to grow a variety of crops all year round.

Hydroponics, using indoor plant lights, led lights or grow lamps,  is the preferred way of cultivating plants for many growers

GERMINATING SEEDS FOR HYDROPONIC GROWTH

Small seeds are best raised separately in pans or boxes, using vermiculite or John Innes Seed Compost, and the seedlings transplanted to the beds with as little disturbance of the roots as possible.

Large seeds such as those of Peas, Beans, Sweet Corn, etc., are best placed direct in the aggregate.

Bulbs should be inserted up to their shoulders.

Seeds germinate quite readily under hydroponic conditions, and plant growth is more rapid and sustained, than in soil culture.

SUPPORTING PLANTS

Plant tissues do tend to be softer and less hardened, and therefore supports, in the form of canes, wires and fillis, will be needed for the taller-growing plants. Otherwise, cultivation should follow normal horticultural practice.



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How to grow plants and vegetables using methods of hydroponics gardening, hydroponic nutrients, indoor plant lights, hydroponic growing kits, grow boxes, grow lights