Simply put, hydroponics is soilless gardening. A method of growing plants without soil. The process uses mineral nutrients dissolved in water to feed the plant. It allows gardeners remarkable control levels over nutrients, water, lighting and other required factors thus allowing gardeners to maximize their yields with the space they have.
Here are some types of hydroponic gardening.
- Nutrient film technique (NFT)
This is what people expect every time the hydroponics topic comes up. NFT involves a continuous flow of nutrients where the nutrient solution is pumped onto a grow tray then drained into the reservoir.
Plants are normally grown in small pots with their roots suspended in the nutrient solution.
- Aeroponics/ Fogponics
Unlike NFT, Aeroponics involves the plant roots being suspended in the air and the roots get the nutrient solution via misting.
The nutrient pump is controlled by a timer as roots will quickly dry out if the misting cycle is interrupted.
- Water culture
Though it is the simplest, very few plants do well in this system apart from lettuce.
The roots of a plant are immersed in water with nutrients solution and an air pump is used to oxygenate the water.
- Ebb and Flow / Flood and Drain
This system works by flooding the roots zone grow tray temporarily. It uses a pump sank in water that has a timer. The timer controls the flooding then drains the solution back to the reservoir.
- Drip System
Similar to other systems, a timer controls a submerged pump which pumps the nutrient solution through a series of raised water jets. It has a recovery system that collects the excess nutrients solution and takes it back to the reservoir.
- Wicks system
Considered the simplest hydroponic technique, the system uses wicks in the growing medium to draw up the nutrients solution from the bottom reservoir.
The success of hydroponics lies in the fact that it gives plants exactly what they need when they need it. Climate is no longer a limitation when growing plants. With modern lighting, you can grow whatever plant you want to grow at any time of the year.