Soil was always considered a critical component for plant growth. However, in recent years, hydroponics farming has become increasingly popular. Hydroponics, just like grow tent kits, gives you greater control over the kind of environment in which your plants grow.
What is hydroponics?
This is the process of growing plants in nutrient-rich water instead of soil. Although it may appear to be a recent invention, hydroponics farming has been in existence since 600 BC. Unfortunately, at the time, sufficient information was not available. In fact, the term “hydroponics” was not used until 1937.
Dr. William Frederick Gericke, also known as the “father of hydroponics”, hit the headlines when he grew tomato vines in mineral-nutrient solutions. He coined the term hydroponics from two Greek words, “hydro” (water) and “ponos” (labour).
The hydroponics market is currently worth $27.29 billion. Population growth, pollution, and pest infestations in soil have made hydroponics the ideal choice for growing plants. In the United States and Canada, 90% of tomatoes and lettuce produced are grown using hydroponics.
If you are curious about hydroponics, these tips will help you successfully grow your plants using this method.
Ensure the quality of water is ideal
Since the plants will be feeding through the water, you need to ensure the conditions are ideal.
The water pH level will determine how well the plants absorb the nutrients. The ideal water pH will depend on the type of plant and the stage of growth.
The water temperature is also important. The ideal temperature is 68-72° F. When the water is too hot or cold, growth is likely to slow down. The plants are also likely to develop mold and mildew.
Should the water become too hot, the water will lose oxygen, one of the essential components for plant growth.
You can control the water temperature using a heater or a chiller.
Balance the nutrients in the water
Before you get into hydroponics, you need to know the nutrient needs of the plants you want to grow. Add the recommended dosage of fertilizer into the water in small amounts.
Soil tends to retain nutrients for a long time. So, the plants only take in the nutrients they need. In hydroponics, the fertilizer dissolves in the water.
Adding too much or insufficient quantities of fertilizer will affect plant health. Some nutrients crystallize when they stay in water for too long, so they will be of no use to the plant if you put in too much.
Clean the hydroponics system regularly.
Over time, the water that is supporting the growth of your hydroponics gets contaminated. Pathogen buildup in the water will negatively affect your plants.
Scrub the grow trays, reservoir, and tubing as recommended. Regular use of freshwater will ensure the plants receive the nutrients and oxygen needed.
Choose the best growing medium.
Hydroponics may not need soil to grow, but they need a growing medium. The best growing medium will facilitate root growth, provide physical support to the plant, and enable easier nutrient, oxygen, and air movement.
The growing medium you choose to use will depend on the hydroponics system you are using. Common hydroponics growing mediums are clay aggregates, rockwool, oasis cubes, pine bark, and rice husks.
If you are growing hydroponics for the first time, you can start small. Grow the crops you need in your kitchen, and expand your operations as you get better at it.