Growing the hydroponic way is (arguably) not the most natural way of growing things. The traditional way of farming – with soil and outdoors – is still the preferred way of many, simply because we’ve grown up believing our school teachers, who claim that it is nature’s way. However, modern science (and a growing community of hydroponic growers, by the way) claims that it’s the way of the future, and that it may one day pave the way to a world without hunger. So why are enthusiasts so adamant, then? Because there are so many advantages, that’s why. Here is a beginner’s guide to hydroponics, and some important and useful tips.
Hydroponics is a way of growing crops without the necessity of soil. It’s not as strange as it seems – soil provides stability and nutrients, but both can be provided without the use of soil. Stability can be given by means of another growing medium (clay pellets, for example, or rock wool), and nutrients can be supplied by feeding the roots directly with nutrient solutions. The great advantage: it’s all scientific and can be controlled to the benefit of the farmer.
Some helpful hints
For those who are just starting out, the whole process can be confusing or intimidating at times. It shouldn’t be, however. Here are some helpful hints.
- Start with tomatoes and peppers. They’re the easiest crops to grow as they are very flexible and can adjust themselves to different situations. It’ll give the beginner a sense of the system’s potential.
- Choose a neutral medium. Vermiculite, rock wool, or gravel has good anchoring properties without adding any other benefit. It allows you to measure your nutrient solution carefully.
- Have fun and decorate. You can add coloured marbles to your medium. It’s fun!
- Use instructions to your benefit. Don’t underfeed; don’t overfeed. These are the two rookie mistakes. Follow instructions on the label and stay true to the product.
- Watch the PH level. Your nutrient solution can be recycled, but must be changed every once in a while, usually every two weeks. Again, follow the instructions so your solution doesn’t become too alkaline or acidic.
Honestly, it’s not as hard as it seems – in fact, anyone with a green thumb who has been successful outdoors should make an easy transition to growing indoors if they are willing to practice a little patience and study up on the process. Remember, there are plenty of reasons why hydroponics is becoming so popular, and the numerous benefits to the indoor farmer are just some of them; there’s also the environmental and global benefits to consider. Give it a try – it only takes a few mistakes to get it right. Happy gardening!
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