Hydroponics is the art of growing plants in an enclosure where they rely on a nutrient rich solution for growth rather than obtaining minerals from the soil. Plants that grow in such systems mature early and yield up to 30% more than those that are in the natural environment. Some of the crops that thrive in hydroponic systems include lettuces, kales, spinach, roses, and strawberries.
The components of a hydroponic system
The growing chamber is the platform on which plants grow. It consists of a collection of perforated trays with inert media that is linked to the irrigation system. It is then enclosed in a UV stabilized net that regulates temperature and protects the plants from pests and diseases.
The inert media is the substance that supports plant roots. It is made from a variety of materials such as clay pellets, perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss. This media is the one that absorbs and retains the nutrients and oxygen that plants need to grow.
The reservoir is the part that holds the fertilizer used to nourish the plants. It is connected to the trays by a pumping system that delivers nutrients to the root zone in cycles. Most hydroponic systems have submersible pumps whose horsepower corresponds to the capacity of the reservoir.
Delivery tubes are a network of pipes that carry fertilized water to the plants. Most systems feature standard garden irrigation tubes with connectors. Some hydroponic systems also have sprayers and drip holes for distributing nutrients.
Aerators are devices that boost oxygen supply. They are especially important in hydroponic systems because soilless cultures are not capable of maintaining optimal aeration for plant growth. Air pumps also boost the circulation of nutrients.
Hydroponic filter systems are devices installed in the hydroponic unit to remove dirt and impurities in the water. They fall into two categories of ultrafine and micro filters. Ultrafine filters remove harmful chemicals in the system while micro filters protect the water supply equipment from blockage by sediments. Some hydroponic filter systems are self-cleaning, meaning that they keep the system running without the need for regular maintenance.
Difference between hydroponics and aquaponics
Aquaponics is similar to hydroponics in that it relies on a nutritious solution to grow plants. However, in aquaponic systems, feed crops by spraying a fertilized mist on the roots of suspended plants that do not rely on inert media. The other difference between hydroponics and aquaponics is that aquaponics utilizes a closed loop system where water from fishponds feeds plants. The plants extract nutrients from fish waste before the water flows back into the ponds.
Hydroponic herb garden
Several popular herbs, such as basil, rosemary, chives, watercress, and parsley, do well in hydroponic systems. Herbs that grow in such an environment have a stronger flavor than those that grow in ordinary gardens. Whether you want to grow herbs for domestic use or a commercial purpose, a hydroponic herb garden is an investment that will amaze you.