If you break down the word “hydroponics” in the Greek, (which I’m sure most people don’t do before asking the definition of a word), you will find that it comes from the root words “hydro” which means “water”, and “ponos” which means “labor”. People have the choice to plant their gardens in soil, or they can plant their gardens in water. Those that do decide to grow in water are practicing the art of hydroponic gardening. Hydroponics is also commonly taught in University Biology centers for research and study.
Just as much as plants use their roots to search for nutrients in the soil during traditional gardening, the water you are using to grow in hydroponics requires a nutrient rich water solution. The plants are also placed within a pot with a growing medium, which is essentially a replacement of the soil creating an environment your plants can grow in. Special growing mediums provide your plants with a dark environment and an anchor point to stabilize the plant to ensure proper plant growth. Some examples of growing mediums would include Rokwool (mineral wool), perlite, gravel, or coconut husk.
Depending on the growing medium you use, some are inert, which means they do not have any nutritional value for your plants. This allows the gardener to have complete control over the nutrient levels during the growing process.
Advantages of Hydroponics:
Hydroponics is being adapted all around the world as an efficient method of food production. The reasons for this include:
- No soil is required for hydroponics
- Water used within a hydroponic system can be recycled and reused which allows for water conservation and lower water costs
- A hydroponic gardener or farmer has complete control of their plants nutrition levels which allows for lower nutrient costs and bigger produce yields
- A controlled hydroponic system allows the blockage of nutrition pollution that is released into the environment through traditional gardening or farming due to the controlled environment within the system
- Hydroponics allows for stabilized and higher growth rates and yields
- The mobility of the container offers the luxury of getting rid of pests and diseases much more easily.
Hydroponics has also been recognized as an establish branch of agronomy. Agronomy is basically the technology and science of completely using as many elements that we can of the plants we grow. This includes using plants for food, fuel, fiber and reclamation.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics:
The only disadvantages of hydroponics that we have identified would be the initial cost of set up. Traditionally, if a home hydroponic gardener opted for the easier method of hydroponics, known as ebb & flow, then depending on what you are growing, like vegetables or herbs, etc., you could recoup your costs in anywhere from 12-24 months and have your own quality, home grown food. Any other disadvantages would result from human error in hydroponic growing. Just be smart, ask questions and follow the basics of hydroponics and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.