What is Hydroponic Gardening and what are it's advantages?
Simply put, hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants, without soil, by providing food and water directly to the roots of the plant. By doing so, we eliminate the need for the root system to expand looking for food and water, so the energy normally used by the plant to search for food is used for faster upward growth and fruit production.
Since we don't have competing root systems, we can grow significantly more plants using hydroponics in a given area than those grown in soil. In addition, we recirculate the water and nutrients, so hydroponic gardening ends up using a fraction of the water, with no fertilizer run-off.
Another primary advantage to hydroponic gardening is control. You can quickly make adjustments as necessary to the strength of the nutrient solution, the pH, temperature, etc. to provide the perfect growing conditions and you eliminate soil as a breeding ground for common garden pests, reducing the need to apply harmful pesticides.
Maintaining hobby hydroponic systems is really very easy, requiring a minimal amount of time. Daily maintenance should take no more than about 5 minutes, just checking to make sure the nutrient reservoir is topped off and the pH levels are correct. Every couple of weeks, your nutrient solution should be replaced with a fresh batch. The old nutrient can be used to water houseplants or landscape plants around the home.
What is the hardest aspect of hydroponic gardening?
Learning to pronounce the word 'hydroponic' correctly! Seriously, while hydroponic gardening may sound like rocket science to many, it is a very easy to master method of gardening.
What is a hydroponic medium?
Even though we have eliminated the soil, plants still require a place for their root systems to develop. A hydroponic media is an inert substance that can provide some support for the root system that has no nutrient value. Almost any inert substance can be used. A few examples include sand, gravel.
Are there any drawbacks/setbacks to hydroponic gardening?
Are there any drawbacks to hydroponic gardening? Since we don't have a large, supportive root system, heavy fruiting crops like tomatoes and peppers may have to be trellised, depending on the hydroponic system used and variety. Root crops like carrots and potatoes present a special challenge as well, although while a bit more difficult to grow hydroponically, it can be done and with pretty spectacular results as well.
What is the difference between organic farming and regular farming?
Regular farming is done with no consideration for the chemicals put onto the plants or the soil. Most of the weed killers, pest killers and fertilizers contain chemicals. Many of these chemicals are quite deadly in their concentrated forms. Some chemicals in the past caused many problems including birth defects, breathing difficulties and cancer. These have been removed from sale now but how many others have not yet been sufficiently tested. Tests have been done on most but there is always some concern as to the effects chemicals may have in untested or unexpected situations. Sometimes you may use weed killer along with insect killer. Perhaps the two combined could produce unexpected results. There are also long-term exposure effects to be taken into account. Some chemicals have not been in regular use long enough to have had the accumulated effects studied.
Most people know to wash their fresh fruit and vegetables before eating them. How do you know they have been washed thoroughly enough? How do you know that the residue from the chemicals has not been absorbed into the body of the vegetable? Do you want to take the risk with your family's health?
Organic farming only uses natural weed killers, pest control and fertilizers. If you buy organic food the land where it is grown has to be checked and certified. All products used to grow the plants have to be natural. That's why it's so expensive.
When you grow organic food at home you don't need to get it certified but you know what you have put onto the plants and soil. You can even make your own fertilizer from kitchen scraps. The best way to do this is to have a worm farm. The worms break down the scraps much faster than just leaving it to rot. The liquid from the worms is a great liquid fertilizer and when you clean out the trays, the compost is a perfect complement to your garden.
To get rid of garden pests you can use a spray of hot dish washing water. This kills many pests. A spray made from garlic is another great natural pest control method. Lavender, chamomile and garlic grown as companion plants help to control pests as well.
Weeds are best controlled by just pulling them out before they are established. They rob nutrients from the plants you want to grow so it's usually best to remove them. Sometimes you can use some weeds as protection for delicate seedlings, if you live in harsh conditions. The weeds can act as shade or a wind- break until the seedlings are strong enough to grow alone.
Organic farming is a little more labor intensive than regular gardening but is really worth the extra work. You will benefit from the healthier food and the time spent exercising in the fresh air will do you good too. The absolute best thing about home-grown organic food is the taste. If you haven't tasted fresh food straight from your garden, you will be amazed.