Hydroponics 101

Hydroponic gardening is simply growing plants in a water and nutrient solution without soil. Hydroponics allows you to grow plants and fruits and vegetables in a more efficient and productive manner; literally anywhere, with less labor, time and gardening area needed.

Hydroponic gardens can be grown indoors, outdoors, and even in small spaces, using several different methods. These methods include growing plants in containers of water or in other soil-less mediums, including sand, crushed rock, gravel and vermiculite.  

The science of hydroponics proves that the only things needed to grow plants are water, nutrients, and a method of delivering the plants food to the root system. The soil itself is simply the backbone for the roots so they have a stable place to grow.

Although hydroponic gardening can be done outdoors, most gardens are indoors or in a greenhouse. Because hydroponic gardening is so efficient, very little space is needed compared to a conventional outdoor garden. In hydroponic gardening, you provide the exact nutrients that your plants need by directly feeding the root system, without ever having to stress the plant due to lack of nutrients or water.

Hydroponic gardening is superior to traditional gardening in most cases. If soil everywhere was of high quality, and if everyone who wanted to grow plants owned the ground to plant it on and had the time to cultivate it, then hydroponics might be rarely used.

However, soil varies greatly in its quality and consistency. When we plant outdoors in the best of soils, large amounts of fertilizer are not needed for proper growth. Many of us, especially city-dwellers, townhome owners or apartment and condo dwellers lack even a small plot of land to grow plants. Even if you live in the tiniest of apartments you can raise fruits, herbs, vegetables and flowering plants. You can raise plants hydroponically in pots or individual containers and adapt your hydroponic garden to any size space available. 

Hydroponics Versus Soil

Hydroponics is gardening without soil. In hydroponic gardening systems, plants are placed in a growing medium and nutrients are provided directly to the roots.

Many people are surprised that plants don't require soil to live, but soil can sometimes be a very inefficient growing medium. Plants expend a great deal of energy growing root systems so they can search the soil for the water and nutrients they need to survive. By providing constant and readily available nutrition, hydroponics allows plants to grow up to 50% faster than they do in soil.

Hydroponics - The Future

"Gas and food prices are increasing, persuading people to take matters into their own hands." The National Gardening Association expects 43 million American households to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries this year." That's up 19 percent over last year, according to a household survey the group conducted in January (Sutter, 2009).

People are enjoying the satisfaction of growing their own food, the enhanced flavor and the saved money they benefit by doing it themselves.

"Environmentally friendly" has become a mantra amongst those wanting to preserve our planet and stop the exploitation of the very land we depend upon. With this, many are utilizing the benefits of composting and growing their own food. This trend to protect and sustain our fragile planet is one that will continue to grow in the future. The movement towards a more health conscious society is on the rise, providing an unmeasured opportunity for hydroponics and organic gardening.  

Not only are individuals growing their own food, but restaurants and even grocery stores have implemented their own gardening centers to offer fresh, local produce to their customers. They have heard the voice of the people wanting uncontaminated foods grown in their own community.