Hydroponics gardening is the method of growing plants without the use of soil. You can use this method of gardening to grow almost any plant, from flowers and herbs to edible vegetables and fruits. Many are seeing hydroponics as a viable method of mass producing edible vegetation in the near future, as precious resources such as water and minerals are growing scarce, and the population is continually growing. Its accessibility, scalability, and its cost benefits are seen as the greatest benefits.
There are many different types of hydroponics gardening. Ebb and flow, aeroponics, continuous-flow solution culture, and deep water culture are just a few of the systems in use today.
Ebb and flow, simply put, is just that- the ebb and flow of nutrients and nutrient rich water. Plants are placed in a tray filled with some sort of grow medium (such as Hydroton or clay granules). This tray is connected to a pump, which is physically below the tray. At regular intervals, the pump will fill the tray with the nutrient rich solution, and when the tray is submerged, the plants will have access to it. The pump then turns off, and the remaining nutrient solution is drained back into a reservoir. This happens at a continuous cycle. Except for the need to add some more nutrients and water after a period of time, the nutrients and the water is continually reused.
Aeroponics is the method of growing plants in an environment that is saturated with a water mist or aerosol of nutrient solution. The roots of the plants are suspended in the air, within a chamber.
In a continuous-flow solution culture, the roots of plants are continuously exposed to a shallow flow nutrient and water solution. The nutrient film technique, or NFT, is a popular variation. This is a great way to have high yields, as plants are constantly exposed to water, oxygen, and nutrients.
Deep water culture is a method of suspending roots in a nutrient-rich water solution. The plants are held in a netted pot, where the roots are exposed to the solution. Oxygen is provided by the use of an air pump and porous stones.
All of these methods can be used by a grower, and there are success stories with each one. The grower must constantly provide nutrients, clean water, and watch for pests and plant diseases. However, the yield achieved by using any hydroponics gardening method can be much more than traditional methods of gardening.