Hydroponics has become one of the most popular methods of growing plants both commercially
and at home in recent years.
Not only are hydroponic gardens a really cool feature to have in your home, but they can produce the healthiest plants with the quickest growth rates.
Many different plants can be grown in a hydroponics system including edible plants and herbs. Having a fresh herb garden on hand can enhance what you produce in the kitchen!
The best thing about hydroponics is the yields that it produces! With a simple care procedure including temperature, light and nutrient regulation plants will grow quicker and more abundantly than if you were to use any other method. In addition it’s great to utilize a small space and add some greenery to your environment if you have a small outdoors space, or even none at all!
Making sure you are feeding your hydroponics the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals means
that your plants will grow as quickly and healthy as possible, readily fight off disease and even
taste better! It is important to ensure nutrient levels remain correct and consistent.
Planting and growing plants in soil has been done for thousands of years. Lot’s of land is needed and soil quality diminishes over time. Although effective, is this really the best and most fruitful way of growing your plants? The answer is no.
Hydroponic systems work in a number of ways as there are a few different variations. The most common are types that pass concentrations of nutrient rich water by the roots of plants.
One example of this is the NFT system where water is left to run by plant roots, usually on a ramp, allowing gravity to do all the work. Another example is a wick system where an absorbent string can be left in the nutrient solution at one end and placed where it can be accessed by the roots at the other.
Using a hydroponics plant system has a number of benefits:
● Water is conserved. Rather than water escaping into surrounding areas it circulates the system again and again until it is absorbed and utilized by the plants. It is only topped up, there is no waste water.
● Less care is needed. The plants if left under the correct light don’t need monitoring for irrigation or nutrients as all plants are receiving the same nutrients that are being fed into the system and always have access to water.
● Hydroponics produces a higher yield because there is never a shortage or resources so plants can always be growing to their full potential.
● Less space is needed. Plants are allowed to grow packed closely together so the available growing space can be utilized. In addition the systems can also be layered on top of one another vertically which means that not only is the area of space made use of, the rooms/area can be used as a whole.
● Soil and the growing resources that are needed along with it become redundant. These can be expensive and so cost is kept to a minimum
Plants grown hydroponically need very specific good quality nutrient supplements. Using generic fertilizers is not adequate. It is unlikely that they would dissolve properly and as a result the nutrients would not be available for absorption and the system could become blocked up and fail all together.
Plants that do not receive the correct nutrients in good quantity will be stunted in growth meaning that less of the plant is available for consumption/use and they will not grow to their full potential.
The quality of the plants can also decrease, leaves can yellow and plants grown for food will not have the desired flavor. They can wilt and discolor making them unsightly. With prolonged lack of nutrients the plants could die altogether
So what do plant’s need to be supplied with to avoid all of these catastrophic results? Here’s a rundown of what you should be monitoring and supplying your hydroponic plants:
Sulfur: Sulfur is an abundant, non metallic nutrient. This nutrient is highly important in aiding the growth and survival of plants. It is used to build up chlorophyll which is needed for photosynthesis. It is also used to make up proteins in the plants. If sulfur is not present for absorption the plants will turn pale or yellow.
Nitrogen: Nitrogen is a colorless, odorless gas that is plentiful in earth’s atmosphere. It is unreactive. The nutrient is also vital for forming chlorophyll. It is one of the most common deficiencies in plants. A lack of this nutrient can mean that plant leaves become spindly and yellow.
Calcium: This nutrient is a reactive metal found in the earth. It is needed to form the structure of the plant. It does this by being incorporated into the building process of plant cells, most importantly the plant cell walls and plant cell membranes. If calcium is not supplied plants will grow much slower, leaves may curl and root tips will begin to die.
Manganese: Manganese is a brittle and hard metal. It is toxic at high levels to humans but is very important for healthy plant growth. It is involved in germination and resistance to pathogens that can contaminate roots but more importantly it aids in photosynthesis and nitrogen assimilation.
Zinc: This nutrient is found within the earth. It is important for the makeup of enzymes which are used in metabolic processes in plants. When zinc is not present the plant’s leaves will turn yellow but the area around leaf veins will remain green.
Potassium: Potassium is a very soft, silvery coloured metal. It is very reactive with oxygen. Potassium is a great nutrient for helping the growth of fruits and flowers. Without this nutrient plants will wilt, especially in the sun. Smaller leaves will grow much slower.
Chlorine: This toxic gas is highly corrosive. It is a green/yellow color in its natural form. This nutrient is important for photosynthesis as it opens and closes stomata. This allows carbon dioxide to be taken in for the process of photosynthesis itself. Without it, oxygen could not be released and carbon dioxide can not be taken in. The plant could not grow or live.
Iron: Iron is the most common element on earth, It is a metal, essential to plant growth. It is essential in the structure of chloroplasts and has part in the making of chlorophyll. Without it plants would go into chlorosis – lack of chlorophyll enabling photosynthesis.
Sodium: This is a reactive metal. In plants it is used to aid metabolism and photosynthesis. More sodium means more growth.