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Hydroponics Basics

If you’ve got a small space and want to grow some vegetables, try hydroponics!

No soil required.

If you’ve got a small space and want to grow some vegetables, try hydroponics!

What is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is growing plants using nutrient-rich water, without any soil.

Is this possible? Yes! If you’ve ever cloned a plant by cutting a stem and putting it in water, you’ve essentially just grown a plant using hydroponics.

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Vegetables, from large scale operations and even home growers are being grown hydroponically, everywhere. Some of the vegetables you get at the grocery stores are most likely grown hydroponically.

You’ll need a few main ingredients to grow a plant without soil:

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  • Nutrient-rich fertilizer solution
  • A way to get oxygen to the roots
  • Sunlight

Why is hydroponics awesome?

For one, you can have a garden anywhere around the world, regardless of soil type. If you live in a building with no yard, you can have a hydroponic garden since we don’t need soil. Some hydroponic systems require an aeration pump (like the ones in fish aquariums), so you’ll need electricity. Luckily, if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you can use solar panels to power your hydroponic system.

If you live in a cold climate, you can grow indoors inside a greenhouse. Not enough sunlight? No problem. Use grow lights.

Ideally, your plant solution should be between 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets any colder, you’ll slow the growth of your plant, any hotter and you risk getting algae and mold.

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Keeping a pH between 5.7 and 6.3 for your aquaponic solution is best for your plants. (Use a PH tester to measure)

What supplies will I need to grow plants hydroponically?

You’ll need a way to keep the plants standing up without soil. So be creative here.

Some people tie their plants up with string. Some bury their plant roots in a growing medium such as gravel, Rockwool, perlite, sand, or nothing at all (just letting the root sit in the nutrient water).

You’ll need some nutrient-rich fertilizer solution to feed your plants. Some people have even used plain water-soluble Miracle Gro.

There are many hydroponic systems that you can choose from.

Some basic methods to do hydroponics

Here are some of the most common methods to grow plants using hydroponics

• Aeroponic hydroponics – This involves the nutrient-rich solution to be delivered via mist or spray to supply the plant roots. This keeps the roots moist while still getting its oxygen.

• Flood-and-drain hydroponics – This system involves water to fill up and empty itself from the plant container. This allows the plant to get it’s nutrients and oxygen.

• Drip hydroponics – The nutrient-rich solution gets to the plant root using a drip method which allows oxygen to reach the roots.

• Water culture hydroponics – This usually involves submerging the plant root in the solution and using air pumps and air stones to deliver oxygen to the roots using bubbles.

Here are some of my favorite hydroponic systems

A hydroponic system using an A-Frame

As you can see, there’s no one way to do hydroponics

Every system has a way to deliver nutrient-rich solution, oxygen, and light to the plant. As long as you have a way to get those 3 things (oxygen, fertilizer, and light) to your plant, you’re on your way to growing hydroponically.

Photo: Unsplash

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