Hydroponic farming means growing plants in the soilless environment. The plants get their nutrient from the water their roots are in. When we are not using soil we get several advantages. First, we control the plant’s nutrients. We can change it if we want to get optimal growth or taste of the plant.
The growing environment is clean and dry. We can pack more plants in a growing area. The lack of soil prevents weed growth and we don’t need a shovel to dig in. It also means that diseases are much less likely to occur.
The growth rate is much faster than in a conventional growing. As the nutrients are immediately available to the plants. Another advantage is that oxygen is available to the roots. Hydroponic plants believed to grow 30-50% faster than soil-based plants do. One study report bigger growth of 10.5 times of lattice in hydroponic grow compared to conventional growing. This is a dramatic result. It opens the ability to grow most the vegetables we eat in our daily lives.
When fertilizing with solid fertilizer it needs several months to decompose and reach the plants. In a hydroponic system, the impact of nutrients is immediate. We can actually change the water nutrients and check the resulting effects on the plants to get optimal growth. We can also change the nutrients throughout the growth cycle of the plants.
Sensitivities of hydroponic gardening
There are some sensitivities to hydroponic gardening. The water contains fertilizers so microbes grow in them. The microbes divided into two parts. Aerobic (Use oxygen for energy) and anaerobic (Use sugar for energy). To prevent anaerobic bed germs as Salmonella we need the water to contain oxygen. The best way is to insert air into the water similar to aquariums. The less efficient way is to make sure that the water container is open to fresh air. This is the reason “deep water culture” systems use aquarium air-pump to saturate the water with oxygen.
The plants have more sensitivity to irrigation problems. If you forget to water soil-based growing, the plants can dry out in week’s time. In a hydroponic system, the plants dry out in a day. (And can recover in a day also).
The water fertilizers content impact the plants fast and strong. You can kill your plants by putting too high nutrient into the water. The PH level also impacts the plants. The desirable PH level is in the range 6.1-6.9 (6.3 is optimum). In my experience, putting one cup of fertilizer into 1.5 liters water bottle works just fine. When I measured the PH level and added lemon juice to reduce PH level – I killed my plants.
Hydroponic system in apartments
Hydroponic systems allow us to grow some of the food we consume. We can get fresh, pesticide-free and even organic vegetables by growing them in our apartments. The hydroponic systems are clean, silent and not impact our daily lives. (Although my wife claims that I convert our living room into a farm).
If you have a balcony, you can use “deep water culture” hydroponic systems. They are based on containers stand on the apartment floor. These systems have 4-8 holes for plants and use aquarium air pump to oxygenate the water. A Nice feature is a buoy that shows you the water level without opening the box. If you see only the top of the buoy, you know it’s time to add water in.
In apartments without a balcony, you use a “windowfarm” type system which hangs over a window. It gets its light from the sun and can grow a salad per week.
These systems allow people to create “Home Gardens” within their apartments and grow some of the vegetables they eat in their day-to-day lives.
Recently we got development in ‘full spectrum” led grow lights. This made it possible to install windowfarms hydroponic systems on apartment walls. Led lamps supply the light needed by the plants. This is already achieved in northern countries like Finland.
Growing plants in apartments also supply additional oxygen. Generated by the plants in their photosynthesis reactions. This enriches the apartment with clean and pure air. Some cities with heavy air pollution and this give way to have a better climate in the apartment.