The art of growing plants without soil as the growing media may sound more of a futuristic concept.
However, hydroponics gardening is a concept that dates way back in history as far as the 7th century.
There is a lot to be said in regards to the pros and cons of hydroponics.
It’s only that the mass integration and popularity of hydroponic gardening is still very new to many people.
All in all, today, hydroponic gardening is gaining popularity to an extent that most of its proponents are considering it as the key to the future of farming.
This is basically because hydroponics has displayed so many benefits to the gardeners.
Hence, this is one of the major reasons why it has been adopted by so many people.
Vegetables are grown in a hydroponic garden
Plants grown through hydroponics have exceedingly high quality, consumes lesser resources and less space. When compared to the traditional methods of farming.
The hydroponically grown plant produce has not yet overtaken the field grown ones but soon enough hydroponics will take the foothold.
Today they are so many myths about hydroponic gardening with most of them having a bias towards the pros.
This means that the cons are in most cases ignored but what most people don’t get is that just like any other culture systems, hydroponics too have both sides of the coin.
Hydroponics will not just give you better yields by itself.
This is not some black magic, its science. In that, you need to be an expert to succeed in this.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is more of a soil less method of gardening where the cultivation of plants happens in an aqua-based environment. In most cases, the medium used is commonly peat coir, clay pellets, brick shards, wood fiber, vermiculite and perlite among others.
Hydroponics is a viable farming method that guarantees you of great produce especially when it comes to growing foods such as vegetables among others.
However, it still comes with a few shortcomings just like any other type of gardening.
In that case, if you are wondering if hydroponics is good for you, then this article has your best interests at heart.
If you would like to know the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics before dipping your toes into this niches, you are at the right place.
Pros of Hydroponics
⦁ Saves on Space
When using hydroponics to grow your plants, you will require way less space than in soil gardening.
For that reason, hydroponics is ideal for any urban dweller who would like to grow a few favorite crops.
Or better still, anyone who lives in a yard with limited space.
Plants which are grown hydroponically have smaller roots than in the normal garden. Hence, will only require little space to thrive.
More to that, it will be easier for you to start gardening with hydroponics since you can incorporate the ideal lighting to your hydroponic system.
And unlike in normal gardening, you don’t have to worry about things like crop rotation throughout the seasons.
Hydroponics is convenient to the type of gardening that works to eliminate this limiting factor that affects most of the traditional gardeners.
⦁ Better Crop Yields
In most cases, the initial investment in hydroponics gardening is always higher, especially for the hydroponics equipment.
However, with proper planning and execution of your hydroponics system will give you a bountiful of yield.
In addition to that, hydroponics encourages the plants to grow well in specific conditions for instance in the desert.
This is because hydroponics provides the exact amount of nutrients and plants get to utilize the supplied water effectively.
The best part about hydroponics gardening is that you can grow your crops indoors all year round since you are not affected by any limiting factors like seasons.
And when the elements needed by the plants are applied in the correct manner, that plants could even yield way earlier than the plants grown in the normal gardens.
There are certain benefits you’ll love about hydroponics gardening especially the efficiency it presents to the gardeners.
This is because hydroponics works under a guiding principle that requires you to use only the nutrients plants might need to grow healthily and thrive.
In that case, the hydroponics gardening always works to minimize the wastage’s that occur in normal gardening.
— CX Horticulture (@CXHorticulture) January 12, 2016
This includes wastage of water since water is always used directly to the plant roots in hydroponics gardening.
When you minimize wastage of water, you also lessen the runoff of fertilizers from your plants.
More to that, you don’t have to worry about weeds dominating your garden.
And better still, diseases, and pests will not be a problem for you now.
But before all this happens, you need to acquainted with the basics of hydroponic gardening.
Also, you need to understand the requirements of every plant you would like to grow hydroponically.
Photo Credit Ildar Sagdejev
⦁ Hydroponics Gardening Saves on Water
When it comes to hydroponics gardening, the plants are likely to use only 10% of water when compared to the field grown plants.
This is because water used in the hydroponics system is always recirculated.
In that, plants will always consume the amount of water they require then the runoff water is collected and returned to the hydroponics system.
Therefore, in hydroponics gardening, water loss can only occur in two major forms.
This includes evaporation and leaks from the hydroponics system.
However, if you have an effective hydroponics system, you will either minimize water loss or don’t have any leaks at all.
In the USA alone, agriculture tends to use up to 80% of surface water.
In that case, when food production increases by skyrocketing numbers in future, water might be a critical issue and hydroponics will be the most viable alternative for the large-scale production of food.
⦁ Effective Use of Nutrients
In the hydroponics system of gardening, you always have full control of the amounts of nutrients your plants consume.
Therefore, before getting started, it is important that understand the nutrient requirements of every plant you would like to grow.
Nutrients should be mixed with the water accordingly at different stages for effective absorption.
Since all nutrients are contained in the hydroponics system, there is no loss that occurs or changes in the nutrients like in the soil gardening of plants.
Photo Credit By Oregon State University
⦁ Faster Growth Rate
I know you must be wondering whether plants grown hydroponically grow faster than the ones grown in the soil. Well, the answer is yes.
In hydroponics gardening, you have full control of the growing environment of your plants.
Ranging from the nutrients, temperature, lighting system, moisture and much more.
Therefore, in hydroponics, you have the chance to create the ideal conditions for each plant.
Since the nutrients are supplied in sufficient amounts and directly to the roots.
Plants no longer have to waste a lot of energy while trying to reach out for diluted nutrients.
In that case, all the energy in the plants is instead focused on production and growth.
⦁ No Weeds, Fewer Pests, and Diseases
If you have ever grown crops in the soil, you will understand just how irritating it can be to have weeds in your garden.
Apparently, this is one of the most time-consuming tasks for most gardeners since you will have to hoe, till, plow and so on.
Generally, weeds grow on soil, therefore, if you work on eliminating soil as the medium, of growth, it will be much easier for you to eliminate the weeds too.
More to that, when you eliminate soils, your plants will by far be less vulnerable to most of the plant’s pests and diseases.
Some of them include; gophers, birds as well as diseases such as Pythium.
The best thing with hydroponics is that you as the gardeners always get the chance to control the surroundings and variables.
In that case, your plants will be much safer than when soil grown.
Photo Credit By Ildar Sagdejev
⦁ Less use of Herbicides and Insecticides
Where there is no soil involved, there is definitely lesser weeds, pests, and diseases too.
In that case, there will also be a lesser need to use chemicals.
This way, you will have the chance to grow healthier and way cleaner foods.
Hydroponics simply ensures you cut down on the use of insecticides and herbicides unlike in the soil-grown crops. In that case, while following the modern criteria of food safety, hydroponics is the way to go.
You are at a better chance of consuming healthy and non-contaminated foods when using hydroponics as the way if farming.
Actually, hydroponics is the best method for organic gardening.
⦁ Less Transplanting Shock
In most cases, we first germinate seedlings in a medium temporarily before moving them to the growing area.
This case also applies to the hydroponics systems too.
In this case, the seedlings can be grown in diverse propagation medium. They can be moved easily to the system, as opposed to when using soil.
This is because, when using hydroponics, you tend to reduce the propagation time over when using the soil-based growing.
⦁ Hydroponics gardening makes a great hobby
Besides being used for the production of foods on either large or small scale, hydroponics makes a good hobby too. It’s always the best way to get back in touch with nature.
in that, after the long stressful days at work, you can go back home to your small hydroponics corner to play around with the systems as you lay back the plants while checking up on them too.
Cons of Hydroponics
The benefits of hydroponics gardening greatly outweigh those of the traditional farming methods.
However, there are still a few shortcomings. This has kept the hydroponics from being implemented on large scale.
When it comes to hydroponics gardening, you must invest quite a fortune to get equally good yields.
Although most of the home-based hydroponics can be set up quite cheaply, most of the large-scale operations come with a higher price tag. Ranging all the way to millions of dollars.
This is because large-scale hydroponic gardening will require more specialized technical knowledge and equipment to run effectively.
For that reason, the cost is one of the major shortcomings of hydroponics gardening.
This is because both the operational and upfront costs are always higher in hydroponics gardening. When compared to the normal gardening in the soil.
⦁ Needs Constant Monitoring
Most of the large-scale hydroponics gardens always require constant monitoring.
This is because someone always needs to be there to check the lighting, oxygen levels, amount of nutrients in the solution and much more. Actually, the plants need careful monitoring from specialists for them to thrive.
Also, unlike the traditional gardens, hydroponic plants are susceptible to power outages.
In an event of power outage, all your plants could dry up and you could lose everything in your hydroponics garden. Keep in mind to plan ahead for that possibility.
⦁ High Consumption of Power
In line with the previous point, most of the large-scale hydroponics gardens tend to have very high power consumption rates.
Therefore, power consumption is always a concern in this type of gardening.
This is because most of the indoor hydroponic plants depend on artificial lighting for survival, unlike the soil-grown plants which use the natural light from the sun.
⦁ Extra Sanitation is Required
Unlike the traditional methods of farming, hydroponics requires an extra level of sanitation for the plants to thrive.
In hydroponics farming, you are growing your plants in a closed system using water.
For that reason, it’s very easy for pests or any plant infections to spread to other plants that share a similar reservoir for nutrients. All in all, this is never so much of a big problem in the small-scale hydroponic growers.
Generally, hydroponics has a whole list of notable advantages that seem to overshadow the disadvantages.
For that reason, hydroponics has proven to be a beneficial option for most of the growers.
There are so many varieties of hydroponics out there that you can consider. It’s up to you to decide which one will best suit your needs.
However, you need to know that hydroponics could be rather intimidating at first, but with practice, things will get better with time.
Check out an easy method for growing lettuce below. One i really enjoyed!