People are becoming much more aware about the importance of taking care of the environment in recent years. However, we can’t expect everyone to take the same steps as we each have our own unique situation. Given this, it’s critical we develop diverse strategies to better preserve our environment.
Today I will introduce you to Hydroponics which is an excellent sustainable way to grow vegetables and herbs.
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics, in simplest of terms, is a form of farming that is soil free. Hydroponics is based on the basic fact that a plant’s roots absorb nutrients in the form of inorganic ions in water. In traditional farming, a plant must search for their nutrients in the soil.
Thus, if nutrients can be directly provided into the water so the plant can absorb them then the plant does not need soil to grow and the plant’s energy can be directed towards foliage and flowering. Virtually, any traditional plant can be grown with hydroponics.
There are essentially six different types of hydroponics:
- Wick: a completely passive system with very few parts making it a great starter system.
- Water culture: another simple system that is ideal for water thirsty leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach.
- Drip: mineral solution is released directly at the base of the plants.
- Ebb and Flow: the growing tray is flooded with nutrient rich water and then drained at regular intervals.
- NFT: Nutrient Film Technique provides a constant flowing river of mineral solution directly to the roots.
- Aeroponic: roots hang in the air and receive mists rich in nutrients at regular intervals.
Look here for more detailed descriptions and drawings about hydroponic systems.
Environmental Benefits of Hydroponics
While hydroponics offers many practical benefits, they also offer several environmental benefits.
- Hydroponically grown plants only need 10 percent of the water that soil based plants need.
- Well attended hydroponic systems can be run with little or no pesticides.
- Plants growing hydroponically require 25 percent of the nutrients than soil based plants require
- Growing a greater amount of crops locally with hydroponics avoids the environmental impact of food transportation.
- Key Considerations to help you plan your system
If you plan on growing plants hydroponically then consider these 4 questions to help guide you in developing the right system for your situation:
- What type of plants do you want to grow?
- How much space will you dedicate to the system?
- Will you grow inside or outside?
- Are you willing/able to build a DIY or do you need a pre-build system?
Knowing these answers will help guide you on developing the right hydroponic system for you situation. If you are interested in learning more about hydroponics, I suggest checking out my hydroponic blog or instructable which has many DIY guides.
About the author: Chris Wimmer is an urban hydroponic hobbyist who uses hydroponics to maximize his 400 square foot yard and battle the short Chicago growing season. Chris shares his knowledge and experiences at captainhydroponics.com.