Whether you’re a green thumb looking for a Do-It-Yourself gardening method, or an entrepreneur looking to start your own agricultural business, hydroponics is the solution to a simpler, more cost-effective, and hassle-free plant growth. In this article, we will discuss how Hydroponics can do wonders and why you should take advantage of it.
What Is It?
Simply put, hydroponics refers to an agricultural method where plants are grown in soil-free beds nourished by a continuous supply of nutrients and minerals in water – liquid fertilizer.
What Do You Need?
This is an instructional intended for beginners. Here, we will make use of the simplest, affordable, yet quality, materials in order to make a basic hydroponics set-up.
- Grow Tray / Hydroponic Tray – This is a vessel used for holding plants when applying the hydroponic system. Hydroponic trays are usually shallow and wide to provide room for plant growth. Ideally, prepare one with a lid.
- Heater Mat – This mat is responsible for providing warmth and heat to the grow tray as it nourishes the seeds inside it. Heater mats are necessary if you plan on growing seeds in a cool place.
- Starter Cubes / Starter Plant Plugs – These are usually pots of organic mass or stone wool (inert insulators out of rocks and stones) that hold the seeds in place as they grow inside the hydroponic trays.
- Ziploc Bag (Optional) – Other people use this to allow seeds to germinate faster, subsequently putting the sprouts inside the trays.
- Light – This can be natural light or artificially-generated light called grow lights.
How Is It Done?
- Preparing the Starter Plant Plugs
- Submerge your plant plugs under clean water for an estimate of one hour.
- After the soaking is done, place some seeds inside the plug holes. For other seeds that do not germinate, you may add more.
- As soon as they grow, you may take out unhealthy ones to give space for the healthier ones to sprout.
- Preparing the Hydroponic Tray
- Place approximately one inch of liquid fertilizer (half potent) or clean water.
- Position the light source.
- Arrange the heater mat, if necessary.
- You may close the lid to let the humidity and warmth stay inside the tray.
- Setting Plant Plugs Inside Hydroponic Tray
- Place the starter cubes or starter plugs inside the hydroponic tray.
- Put additional water or half-potent liquid fertilizer as soon as the supply in the tray decreases.
When Can we Transplant?
As to when the transplant can take place, maintain the half-potent liquid fertilizer until your seedlings grow bigger. As soon as they do, you can now use the pure (fully-potent) solution to sustain their growing process. Their rate of growth depends on the kind of plants you are trying to grow. In around two weeks to four, the roots of the seedlings will start to branch out from the cube or plug’s bottom. After this, sprouts will begin to emerge. Once they reach a height of approximately three inches and numerous leaves are already visible, your plants are now ready for transplant.
- Watering the Plants – It is suggested that you water your plants from up top with the liquid nutrient fertilizer. Doing so keeps them from being dried out. This also provides the roots ample time to grow in a downward manner.
- Artificial Lights – Do not put your lights too near your plants. This may cause them to burn.
What Are the Benefits of Using Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is known for its approach to a more fruitful and advantageous agricultural undertaking. It isn’t shocking why plant-growers in this era are preferring to explore this method. Just take a look at all its benefits!
- Year-Round Planting – Because of this method’s need for accessible and convenient resources and materials, growing plants can be done at any time of the day and on any day of the year.
- Soil-Free Methodology – With the current-world scene’s limited land area, this alternative is preferred by more and more people because of its hassle-free and soil-free process.
- Space-Saving – Since the materials needed to plant using this system are so minimal and manageable, you won’t require much space – allowing you to use the area more efficiently. You can ideally plant anywhere.
- Conservation of Resources – Hydroponics gives you the freedom of controlling the variables present in the entire process, thus, resources are conserved and preserved for further future planting. And because you can do so, you can grow more regardless of the planting environment.
- Quicker Plant Growth – Due to the fact that hydroponics makes use of a more focused tactic, evident in the use of a more potent approach in providing for the plant’s nutrients and essential needs, the rate of plant growth is increased.
- Weed-Free Growth – Because weeds are mostly associated and caused by the soil, your plants will grow healthy and weed-free.
- Less Pests and Insects – Fewer Pesticides and Insecticides – Also because of the soil-free approach, your plants now are less prone to soil-originating pests and insects, thus requiring less use of the chemicals to eliminate the said problem.
- Time-Saving – Basically, because of the control you have over all the plant essentials as well as its quick hassle-free growth, the hydroponics approach saves you a lot of precious time – thanks to less work and maintenance.
What Are the Risks of Using Hydroponics?
As with every other thing in life, hydroponics has some disadvantages to it. They are somehow rather trivial since most are fixable and preventable. Nonetheless, it’s still better to keep yourself informed.
- Expertise Requirement – While anyone can start their own small hydroponic system, creating a rather larger one can be quite complicated. With all kinds of tools and equipment necessary for optimal planting and growth, knowledge on this approach and preferably experience as well are needed to sustain larger undertakings.
- Organic or Not? To this day, debates are still going on with regard to whether or not plants grown in the hydroponic setting are organic or not due to the fact that they may not be getting microbiomes since they’re not cultivated in soil. However, some planters have tried exploring the use of organic growers and introducing them to the existing hydroponic system. Nevertheless, continued research and studies are still being done for this said issue.
- Electricity and Water – In this approach, you will use mostly electricity and water. As we all know, accidentally putting both in contact leads to electrocution, which is why safety and care should always be observed at all times.
- Power Source – Because the process makes use of electricity, power shortages or outages can hinder and result in problems with your plant’s growing environment. This, however, can be avoided if you have back-up generators at bay.
Are You Convinced?
Now that you know all the basics of hydroponics – what it is, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages. It is time to decide whether or not this approach is beneficial enough to try. Personally, after examining its risks and benefits, I would definitely say this is worth a shot. Not to mention, it’s starter-friendly! So what’s it going to be?