The dictionary's definition of hydroponics is; "cultivating plants in water." But a more practical definition is: "growing plants in a water and nutrient solution, without soil." Hydroponics allows a gardener to grow plants, fruits and vegetables in a more efficient and productive manner... and with less labor, time and gardening area needed.
Hydroponics is the term used to describe any way in which plants can be grown without soil. These methods include growing plants in containers of water or 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 and a method of delivering the plant's 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 outside, the majority of it is done 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 base, without ever having to stress the plant due to lack of nutrients or water.
If soil everywhere was of high quality, if everyone who wanted to grow plants owned the ground to plant it on, and had the time to cultivate it ... then hydroponics may have been only used in the most necessary circumstances.
But the truth is, soil varies greatly in its quality and consistency. When we plant outdoors in the best of soils, large amounts of fertilizer is 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.
Before we go into detail on what you can grow and the different methods of hydroponic gardening, it's important to get a clear understanding on ...
What can I grow in my hydroponic garden? A better question is; what can't you grow in a hydroponic garden. The list of what you can grow hydroponically is only limited by the ease of which the plants can be grown. You can grow most house plants, flowering plants, vegetables, several different kinds of fruits and many different kind of herbs.
The 4 main methods of hydroponic gardening: The methods of hydroponic gardening can be divided into 4 broad categories - each category is defined by the method of nutrient delivery.
In deep water culture (DWC), the plants are grown with the roots drenched in nutrient solution. In an aeroponic system, the plants’ root systems are misted with nutrient solution while they are suspended above the nutrient chamber or reservoir. In an ebb and flow system, the nutrient solution floods a tray filled with plants on timed schedule. The fourth main method is a drip system, where the nutrient solution drips into the growing medium.