January 31, 2013

Hydroponics 101

It’s common knowledge that if it’s green and grows from the ground, it probably needs water to grow. What’s becoming more popular is the art of growing things in water. Hydroponics is a subcategory of hydroculture (which falls under the giant umbrella of horticulture), which uses nutrient solutions in water to grow plants, instead of the traditional method of using soil. Basically, instead of having to spend hours on your knees playing in the grass, you can prop up a few Mason jars and sit at your kitchen table with a cup of coffee.

There are two sides to the argument of hydroponics, though of course the positives highly outweigh the negatives. For starters, hydroponics is a definite advantage in environments where the soil does not allow for gardening or crops of any sort. The direct contact with minerals in the water supply is also considered a positive of hydroponics. However, it is also a negative — if something happens to go wrong in the nutrient culture, the plant will die a lot quicker than it would had it been growing in soil. Still, the pros far outweigh the cons. With potential for a higher crop yield, as well as lower costs of water and nutrients, hydroponics seems to be a good alternative for growing flora. It’s easier to harvest using hydroponics and there is no damage or risk from pesticides. After all, there is no soil for insects to thrive and hide in, so there is no reason to use pesticides on the growing plants.

Granted, there are still some branches of hydroponics that use a medium to cultivate the roots of the crops planted, like clay pellets or sand, or even sheep wool. Each of the mediums has its own pros and cons, and it is my belief that using a medium such as the aforementioned taints the ‘purity’ of hydroponics.  Of course, that’s just my opinion on the matter, and I’m sure there are a hundred reasons why I’m wrong. Still, it is something to think about.

Why should you even care about hydroponics? Water plants, big whoop — right? Well, let’s think about it. Some homes have giant outdoor ponds crafted professionally for the right price and they are filled with beautiful specimens of flowers that only grow well in the water. Hydroponics makes it so you can do this same thing with almost any other rooted ‘thing.’ Interestingly enough, food and flora crops aren’t the only crops that see benefits from being grown via hydroponics. According to hempfood.com, cannabis (or marijuana) is a plant that grows lusher and healthier when properly germinated and grown using this method. The page proceeds to give you a few tips about growing your own crop of cannabis, though I would highly suggest checking your local laws. There may have been a lot of changes recently state-to-state (even country-to-country), and it’s best to be sure you aren’t stepping on any toes before trying your own experiments. Still, you could always start with traditional roses or lilies if you really want to try your hand at hydroponics. Who knows, someday you could grow your own salad out of your own sink!

Image Credit: Photos.com

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