In past blogs, you might have read about vertical gardening and companion planting. So are there other ways to efficiently garden? What about hydroponic gardening? If you don’t know what that is, take the word apart, and you’ll find that hydroponic is Latin for “working water.” Hydroponic gardening is another way to cultivate food but without the need of soil! All you need is plenty of light, a growing medium to replace soil, oxygen (don’t drown your plants!), and some special, nutrient water that often contains phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients. With this method, the plants do not need to worry about spreading their roots to get their necessary nutrients to grow, and instead come in direct contact with the source.
Advantages and Disadvantages to Hydroponic Gardening
Plants in a hydroponic system can be grown at almost any time and anywhere. Is the growing season over? Try hydroponic gardening! Often combined with vertical gardening, some designs for hydroponic gardening can help you maximize space! When the system is well maintained, plants experience quicker growth and can produce a higher yield. A hydroponic system is controlled by you, such as the pH of the water, the light if grown indoors, and its nutrient contents, and that comes as a disadvantage for some people because this system requires constant maintenance.
Additionally, growing plants in a hydroponic system reduces risks of pests and wildlife that feed on vegetation or trampling over them. Since no soil is being used (hooray, no weeds!), you don’t run the risk of harmful bacteria or fungus that can make your plants sick. However, this doesn’t mean that your plants are immune in hydroponic systems, and can easily get diseased if you decide to slack on maintenance. Like cooking on a stove top, pay attention to your plants! It will definitely take some time to set up your hydroponic gardening, and it will be a lot pricier than your usual gardening shopping list of dirt, seeds, fertilizers, etc., making both the initial cost and the cost to maintain it expensive.
From a global perspective, the population is always on the rise. That means there are more people to feed...and that means more resources are needed to produce these foods. Plants in a hydroponic system use “less water,” or due to its closed system, water is reused more efficiently and you have no need to worry about soil runoff. Now compare it with its traditional land cultivation counterparts, where 70% of water usage goes towards agricultural production and it is largely due to unsustainable irrigation practices. If we want to sustainably cultivate our lands, hydroponics is a viable solution. (Boylan, 2020)
Growing Mediums and Hydroponic Systems
In many hydroponic systems, a growing medium is used to support the plants’ weight, anchor its roots, and increase its efficiency to retain moisture. Growing mediums include but are not limited to: peat moss, vermiculite, coconut coir, rockwool, and more. Depending on how you want to create your hydroponic system, you may not always require a growing medium. An example of this is Aeroponics, and in this case, the plants are suspended in the air with their roots exposed to oxygen and often sprayed with nutrient-filled mist. Other systems include the Deepwater Culture, Nutrient Film, Wicking, Ebb & Flow, and the Drip System. Consider coming up with your own design using these methods, or if you aren’t sure what works best for you, this site can give you advantages and disadvantages of each system, and some tips along the way!
What are your thoughts on hydroponic gardening? Do you already have or are considering starting one? Hydroponics, another efficient way to garden- how many times have I said hydroponic?
If you'd like to learn even more about hydroponics, then please check out Hydroponic Gardening – Yes, You Can! by Rocio Espinoza, marketing team lead and content writer at Porch!
Vertical Roots. 2020. The What and Why of Hydroponic Farming. Available at: <https://www.verticalroots.com/the-what-and-why-of-hydroponic-farming/>.
Woodard, J., 2019. What Are Hydroponic Systems and How Do They Work?. Fresh Water Systems. Available at: <https://www.freshwatersystems.com/blogs/blog/what-are-hydroponic-systems>.
Eden Green Technology. 2020. 10 Benefits of Hydroponics | Eden Green Technology. Available at: <https://www.edengreen.com/blog-collection/benefits-of-hydroponics>.
Stephens, O., 2019. Is Hydroponic Gardening Cost-Effective? Cost Breakdown. Thehydroponicsplanet.com. Available at: <https://thehydroponicsplanet.com/is-hydroponic-gardening-cost-effective-cost-breakdown/>.
Nps.gov. 2021. Hydroponics: A Better Way to Grow Food (U.S. National Park Service). Available at: <https://www.nps.gov/articles/hydroponics.htm>.
Boylan, C., 2020. The Future of Farming: Hydroponics. PSCI. Available at: <https://psci.princeton.edu/tips/2020/11/9/the-future-of-farming-hydroponics>.