What is hydroponic gardening?
In a word – or a few to be exact – hydroponic gardening means to garden without soil. Use nutrients and water but don’t use soil.
Why do it?
Hydroponic plants grow up to 50 per cent faster than normally-grown plants because of the growth mediums used which stimulate root growth – namely the extra oxygen.
Is there more than one way to do hydroponic gardening?
Yes. There are six hydroponic planting systems. They are Wick, Water Culture, Ebb and Flow, Drip, Aeroponic and the Nutrient Film Technique.
What’s the difference?
The Wick system is the easiest to follow and uses a variety of growing mediums, such as Perlite, Vermiculite, Coconut Fibre and Pro-Mix. There are no moving parts and the nutrients are drawn from the medium via a wick.
Water Culture is best for growing leaf lettuce because it loves water and grows fairly quickly. It’s not really recommended for other plants, however.
Ebb and Flow works exactly as it sounds and is sometimes better known as Flood and Drain. The tray is flooded with water which is then drawn back out again with a pump. It’s ideal for lots of different plants.
Drip systems are the most popular and use a timer to control a submersed pump.
Aeroponic systems are a lot more hi-tech and are very involved. The plants are suspended and the hanging roots are misted with nutrients.
The Nutrient Film Technique is the most widely-known system and uses a nutrient pump, air pump an air stone since air is the only growing medium used.
Are there any disadvantages to hydroponic gardening?
Because there is no soil to act as a buffer, any failure in the hydroponics system will lead to plant death. The high levels of nutrient used in hydroponic gardening can also make the plants more susceptible to attack by pathogens. And of course, you'll need to buy the hydroponics system - which can sometimes be expensive.