Hydroponic technology has been used for centuries. The earliest mention of its use was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They used some type of pump to move water in the desert to pots or garden beds probably filled with sand which would allow quick drainage. Its considered one of the ancient wonders of the world.
The earliest published work on growing plants without soil was in the 1627 by Sylva Sylvarum by Francis Bacon. He wrote about growing plants in soiless medium and shortly thereafter water culture was born. Today, the use hydroponics gardens are growing expedientially. Most of the orient, middle east, and Australia have been using it for years. The U.S. is finally coming on board starting with small hobby farms and now growing into large farms. They are realizing the days of tilling up vast area of land,adding to the carbon chain has to end. . Most systems have the same basic structure: A water container, water pump, growing containers, air pump, growing medium, plant nutrients, and of course plants or seeds. Hydroponic systems come in a variety of styles and designs. All are effective in their own way. Just click on the systems below to learn a little about each. Another great thing about hydroponics, you can grow it anywhere, indoors or outdoors.
Plants just need a few things for optimal growth:
There are seven main types of hydroponic systems to choose from:
The biggest advantage of hydroponics is the conservation of life giving water. Most land based farms pump millions of gallons on their crops daily to keep them growing and alive. Hydroponics uses water conservation techniques to save water for plant growth.
Most diseases that effect plants are soil borne. Eliminate the soil, decrease the risk of disease. Most hydroponic systems use a soiless medium like perlite, coco coir, gravel, or small round clay pebbles. Other types of systems use not growing medium at all.
Almost any porous medium can be used. I have heard of people whom sheeps wool, sawdust, or even packing peanuts as medium. I personnally use perlite and gravel. It allows quick drainage, is cheap, and readily available almost anywhere.
If set up right, you can expect super, fast growth. I often grow plants in both soil and hydroponically to see which system works best. Hydroponic plant growth is faster, larger, and healthier then soil born plants. Usually double the growth in half the time. Faster growth, means larger yields, saving you both money and labor.
You can also grow more plants in less space. Soil grown plants are competing with nutrients, water, and air. All which are available in large amounts in a well built hydroponic system.
I have had some people ask if the food tastes the same as traditionally grown veggies. I have tried both grown types and have not noticed a difference. I can say the hydroponically grown veggies do seem to stay fresh longer and have fewer blemishes. Its also easier to grow organically with hydroponics. You can raise your plants off the ground and fewer insects and pests will affect them.
If you buy the commercial systems, your biggest issue will be cost. The systems can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars and depending on the system you choose can cost a lot of your spare time.
But I can generally create a great system cheaply with everyday items.