What Is Hydroponics? A Definitive Guide for Beginners
What is hydroponics? If you’re seeking a way to develop your green thumb but lack the outdoor space to grow herbs, vegetables, and other plants, consider exploring hydroponics. Hydroponics is ideal for growing your own food and more because it saves space, conserves water, encourages faster and healthier growth, and more. If you’re considering exploring the field of hydroponics, here’s a definitive guide for beginners like you.
What’s It All About?
The name says it all. The term hydroponics breaks down into hydro for water and ponics for work. Plants are grown not in the ground but are instead suspended by an inert medium like sand, gravel, or other substances, and draw their food and water from a nutrient-rich solution, usually containing phosphorous, nitrogen, calcium, and others. This allows the gardener to set up a garden practically anywhere and grow all year round.
It Saves Space, Soil, and the Earth
When you set up your hydroponics system, you're putting less strain on the earth by not taking up space or depleting the soil of nutrients. You keep the water supply cleaner by using less water than you would in regular soil—by some reports, as much as 10 times less water. That's because hydroponics recycles the water it uses, rather than allowing it to run off and enter the ecosystem. This is another way harmful pesticides and other chemicals commonly used in farming are kept from entering the environment.
It's Farming and Work Without the Traditional Farm Work
Hydroponics isn’t without its own daily chores. You need to monitor the crops and make sure they’re receiving the necessary water and nutrients. Bigger systems demand greater technical expertise, and you need to have some familiarity with horticulture. On the other hand, no weeding, tilling, soil changing, or other backbreaking farm work!
Choose a System
We’ve learned what is hydroponics with this definitive guide for beginners, but what are hydroponic systems? Hydroponic systems come in various forms. The most basic method is the wick method, as described above. The plant roots grow through the aforementioned medium while an absorbent wick brings up water and nutrients from a tray below. With an air-gap system, the plant roots are partially dipped in the solution while the upper half is exposed to the air. More advanced methods and systems include raft, ebb and flow, top feeder, nutrient film technique (or NFT), and aeroponics. But make sure you can walk before you run! Fancier equipment costs more, which leads to our next section...
Don’t Break Your Piggy Bank
When just starting out, it’s all about getting a feel for the processes and pleasures of hydroponic gardening. As such, you don't need to buy top-of-the-line equipment or set up elaborate growing systems through your home. After you read up on the basics, there are plenty of discount hydroponics supplies available, so you can get growing right away!