Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil, instead using nutrient rich water. Often times a grow medium is used to stabilize the root system, anchoring the plant. Roots are in direct contact with the nutrient rich solution while also being exposed to oxygen. The plant gets exactly what it needs, when it needs it, and in the right amount that it needs. Since the plants roots don’t have to search for nutrients and there’s plenty of it, plants get bigger and grow faster.
Tomato roots after a couple weeks in a bubble bucket
How Does Hydroponics work?
Plants don’t need soil to survive. Water allows the roots of the plant to take the needed nutrients out of the soil and use it for growth. Since soil isn’t always the most fertile in all areas and plants use up the nutrients that are in the soil, plants use a lot of the energy expanding their roots system in search of more nutrients. This root expansion takes away energy that the plant uses for other growth of foliage, flowers, fruits and vegetables. That is why plants grown hydroponically in the right conditions will grow larger, faster, and taster better. You can tell the difference.
With hydroponics, plants receive nutrient rich solution directly to the plants root system. Along with nutrient solution the plant roots need to also be exposed to oxygen. Hydroponic methods and systems can vary from super simple to more complex. Many people think of big elaborate systems or grow rooms in a tucked away room when they think of hydroponics. That’s not always the case. Hydroponics is a growing trend with both backyard gardeners and commercial growers. On top of a better quality product, plants are exposed to less disease, chance of drought, and since plants grow faster they can produce more, quicker. What’s great is you don’t have to have special parts or some elaborate system to grow hydroponically. Even a pot filled with gravel and a plant watered by hand is growing using hydroponics. Over time hydroponic systems have become easier to use and the process much cheaper to do. It has really grown in popularity among those wanting to bring fresh grown produce to their tables and also their communities. Many older buildings in urban areas have been turned into hydroponic grow houses, providing urban areas with fresh local produce.
Looking to just try hydroponics on a smaller scale? There are systems out that there to meet everyone’s needs and budget. I recommend starting out with something simple, expanding tour knowledge and expanding from there. A bubble bucket system or compact bubble system is a great starter system. They are both easy to maintain, don’t need much nutrients, and don’t rake up much room. I will warn you though, hydroponics is addictive. Once you grow that first crop and discover all the advantages of growing hydroponically, you will want to grow more varieties and expand your garden!