Why should I use Hydroponics?
Hydroponic gardening is a great way to grow your vegetables, fruits, and herbs under totally controlled conditions. You’ll hear many a naturalist extolling the virtues of growing food and perennials in the earth, under the sun. However, many of their arguments are misguided; defying logic and the great results obtained from hydroponic growers all over the world.
Perhaps it is more “natural” to grow using nature, but you’re also at the mercy of many environmental and pest-related variables that you simply cannot control: humidity, heat (and cold), cloud cover, wind, and pestilence.
The word hydroponics comes from two Greek words, “hydro” meaning water and “ponics” meaning labor. The concept of soil less gardening or hydroponics has been around for thousands of years. The hanging Gardens of Babylon and The Floating Gardens of China are two of the earliest examples of hydroponics.
How it Works
Hydroponic gardening is easy and fun once the concept and principles are understood. In the basic hydroponic system, the inert soil-less medium contains essentially no nutrients of its own.
Environmental Benefits of Hydroponics
- They take up to 50% less land to grow the same amount of crops: Leaving more land for other uses such as wildlife reserves and also saving trees, which would otherwise be cleared for agricultural purposes.
- Less water usage: In fact, less than 10% the amount that would be required for growing in soil. The only water lost with hydroponics is through evaporation, or occasional changes to the feeding solution.
- 60% less fertilizer is required: The hydroponic growing solution circulates through the plant’s roots, the plant absorbs what they need, and you never lose anything due to settling or crystallizing in the soil
All the nutrients are supplied by the nutrient (fertilizer) solution. This solution passes over the roots or floods around them at regular intervals, later draining off.The extra oxygen around the roots is able to speed the plants’ uptake of nutrients. Plants grow faster hydroponically because they are able to assimilate nutrients faster. The growth rate on a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than a soil plant, grown under the same conditions. The yield of the plant is also greater. Hydroponic plants also have fewer problems with bug infestations, funguses and disease. In general, plants grown hydroponically are healthier and happier plants.
- Reduced fossil fuel consumption: Food is shipped all over the world to places where agriculture is hard or impossible – or where certain foods cannot be grown due to shorter growing seasons. With hydroponics, you can grow those foods locally!
- Less pesticide use: Due to the fact that you’re growing indoors and eliminating soil (which hold bacteria and many common insects), there’s no need for toxic pesticides to protect your plants.
At Pindfresh, we use the N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique) system of hydroponics to grow our produce. We have tried various systems and found this to be the most effective for us. This is a fairly simple technique wherein a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is re-circulated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully, also known as channels. In an ideal system, the depth of the re-circulating stream should be very shallow, little more than a film of water, hence the name ‘nutrient film’. This ensures that the thick root mat, which develops in the bottom of the channel, has an upper surface, which, although moist, is in the air. Subsequent to this, an abundant supply of oxygen is provided to the roots of the plants. The main advantage of the NFT system over other forms of hydroponics is that the plant roots are exposed to adequate supplies of water, oxygen and nutrients. It is particularly efficient in growing leafy greens like all types of lettuce, herbs, spinach etc.