simply, hydroponic gardening is the method of growing plants in a
nutrient enriched water solution without the benefit of soil. Since
plant food and water are delivered directly to the roots of the plant,
energy normally used by the plant to find these elements through root
growth is redirected into upward green growth and fruit production.
When properly maintained, hydroponically fed plants grow and produce
faster than their soil grown counterparts. In addition, since root
systems do not compete for the food supply, more plants can be grown
in a smaller space.
hydroponic systems consist of a nutrient reservoir, a growing tray,
a method for delivering the food and water to the roots, such as a
pump or wick, and the substitute medium used in place of soil. Since
root systems don't expand to provide plant support, trellising of
many plants is necessary. The hydroponic method has several other
advantages over soil-grown plants. Hydroponic systems recycle their
nutrient solution for use in the next watering cycle, reducing fertilizer
waste, run-off and conserving water. Nutrients can be more precisely
measured and altered to meet a plants changing needs based on weather
conditions and other variables. Pest control measures are reduced
by eliminating one of their most common breeding grounds, soil. And
since hydroponically grown root systems are not competing with each
other for nutrients and water, more plants can be grown in a smaller
Home hydroponic systems do have to be monitored. Control of pH and
nutrient strength are the most critical factors in successful hydroponic
production. Most food crops do best in a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. pH
levels must be monitored while nutrient tanks should be drained, cleaned
and replenished with fresh nutrient solution every 3 to 4 weeks.
is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. The pH of the soil solution
(nutrient solution) determines the availability to the plant roots
of various elements (plant food). A pH of less than 7 indicates acidity,
7 is neutral, and above 7 is basic (alkaline). Hydroponically grown
plants prefer a pH level between 5.8 and 7.0, slightly acidic for
proper nutrient uptake.