You’ve probably heard the word hydroponics before. And, if you’re into gardening, it may just be something you can use at home, especially if you live in the city.
To help you understand this new gardening concept better, we look into what hydroponics is and also discuss the pros and cons of hydroponic gardening.
This will help you get a clearer idea of whether or not it is something that’s suited for your home garden.
What is Hydroponics?
In its very essence, hydroponics is gardening without soil. Instead, they grow in a water-based environment.
At first glance, the concept of hydroponics may not seem like it makes sense. After all, we’ve been taught that plants need sunlight, soil and water to survive.
That’s where hydroponic systems come in. These systems are grow boxes that allows plants to grow without having to be planted into the soil. To do so, hydroponic systems supply the plants with a solution the provides all the nutrients they get from the soil.
This technology allows you to grow plants even if you don’t have a lot of land. It also lets you create your own garden without using soil.
Hydroponic systems vary in size. You’ll the find the small, easy to use sets that are ideal for use in and outside the home. And, there are large scale systems that are used commercially.
Benefits of Hydroponic Gardening
In recent years, hydroponics has gained popularity because more and more people now live in cities. Due to the shortage of space and how expensive it can get, you don’t always have enough room to grow a traditional garden.
Here are some of the major benefits of hydroponics.
Less Space is Needed and You Don’t Need Fertile Ground
Traditional gardening involves growing plants on the ground. This means that you need a lot of space if you want to grow many plants in your garden.
This isn’t always a luxury we all have. It depends on where you live and what kind of home you have. In addition to space, you also need a lot of soil. More importantly rich, fertile soil.
Not all soil is well-suited for gardening or farming. This is why you can’t just grow plants anywhere. And, if you’re somehow successful, you can sometimes be surprised by what plants actually grow in the soil you have.
Hydroponics doesn’t require soil. This makes is easier and less messy to start, especially if you don’t have a lot of space.
Also, it’s easier to grow these systems anywhere. They require 20-25% less space compared to traditional gardening. And, you can grow them indoors.
You Can Grow Plants Any Time of the Year Even Winter
If you live in a city that experiences four seasons, then you know that winter isn’t the best time for plants. There’s very little sunlight, snow mold is an issue and the environment becomes less than ideal for growth.
This is why most gardeners will bring their plants indoors during the winter and take them back out when spring time comes.
Indoor hydroponics don’t have this problem. You can set them up indoors using artificial light. Together, this ensures your garden is growing and well taken care of all year round.
Thanks to this, you’ll be able to yield more because there’s no interruption during the colder months.
Let’s You Farm in Urban Environments
More and more people are moving into urban environments. And even when you don’t it always seems that cities are expanding outward to accommodate growth.
While they’re great for our economy, the urban setting doesn’t give you a lot of space for growing a garden. Often, due to the expensive cost of land and rent, you won’t have a lot of space at all for your home.
As a result, many people live in apartment buildings to make use of the space more efficiently.
If you live in a building, or don’t have a big yard, hydroponics lets you create your own garden indoors or on top of you home. That’s not something you can do with traditional farming.
Vertical gardening is another great solution to small spaces. Whether you hang them on walls or in containers, planting vertically lets you use less space and plant more.
Because they can be stacked over each other, hydroponic systems also give you the benefit. This lets you farm even when there isn’t a lot of space available. Plus, because you can set them up indoors, they’re not susceptible to winds or harsh weather.
You Use Less Water Compared to Regular Gardening
One common misconception about hydroponics is that they use more water than traditional gardening. Many people believe this because the systems are water-based.
But, because hydroponic systems recycle water they actually use much less water than you would with traditional gardening. In fact, the latter uses 20 time more water than hydroponics.
Hydroponics have been shown to produce better yield compared to traditional gardening. The main reason or this is efficiency.
Hydroponic systems run throughout the year. This gives them more uninterrupted time. In addition, they’re kept away from harsh weather. Thus, strong rains, winds and snow that can destroy crops or set back your harvest aren’t problems you need to worry about.
No Soil-Based Diseases or Pests to Worry About
One other reason that hydroponics produces a higher yield is that there’s less soil-borne disease and infestations. These problems can destroy an entire harvest for traditional farms.
Pests, fungus, insects, weeds and infestations aren’t problems with hydroponic systems. All of which can harm your pants.
Less Labor on Your Part
Hydroponics eliminates a lot of the manual labor required in traditional gardening. This includes cultivating, tilling and fumigation. It’s also easier to harvest and replant.
So, you spend less time working and more time seeing them grow and harvesting them.
Disadvantages of Hydroponic Gardening
More Expensive to Set Up
The main drawback to hydroponics is its initial cost. It is actually quite affordable for many home gardens. And, these small systems are easy to set up.
But, if you want to create a larger garden, the set up costs can go up fairly quickly. Commercial hydroponic farms can easily get into the tens of thousands and even to the millions of dollars depending on the scale of your farm or garden.
You Need to Monitor It Regularly
Hydroponics rely on technology. This means you need to make sure everything is running smoothly. Unlike traditional farming where the sun always rises in the morning and sets late in the afternoon, you’ll need to make sure the lighting always works in your hydroponic garden.
In addition, you also need to monitor that proper amount of solution is fed to the plants consistently.
Higher Energy Costs
Indoor hydroponics use artificial lights as a substitute for sunlight. If you have a large set up, do expect your electric bill to go up as well.
Power Outages Affect Your Plants
Unlike traditional outdoor gardens that rely on nature, hydroponics rely on electricity. This means it’s important to have a constant supply of power.
Indoor hydroponic systems often use artificial light to help plants grow. Without power, they won’t have the proper amount of light needed to do so.
In addition, these systems supply nutrients to plants via solution. When power outages occur and the water supply stops, this can be a problem.
The System is Dependent on Water
While there aren’t soil-based problems to deal with, you do need to make sure your hydroponic system uses good quality water.
This means the water is clean and doesn’t contain heavy minerals or other impurities. Also, because water travels faster through your entire system, any disease can spread much faster than it does in soil.
Planting Mistakes and Malfunctions Quickly Affect Your Crop
Mistakes and system malfunctions affect plants faster, without soil acting as a buffer.