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Essential Guide to Hydroponics: Growing Plants and Vegetables without Soil

by Newsy Siso on Jan 6, 2016

It may seem counter-intuitive at first - how can a plant possibly grow without that all-important soil? Yet it has been done for decades and has proven to be a reliable method that produces top-quality plants in a much shorter time than growing them the traditional way. Growers all around the world are amazed at how effective the hydroponics system is. Not only can a hydroponics system be installed by anyone and anywhere - the method may very well solve the world’s hunger problem someday!

How plants grow

A plant is an organic creature – it feeds, it expels byproducts, and it grows. And whilst there are vast differences in how they grow, all plants need the basics: and of course, this includes water, air, nutrients, light, and a medium to grow in or on. Water, of course, because it ensures nutrient transfer, cools the plant, and hydrates it. The air provides the necessary carbon intake. The nutrients – most notably nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (the NPK formula described on almost all fertilizer packages) allow the plant to create amino acids and proteins. Light provides the necessary energy (most notably the blue and red spectrum), and the medium, usual soil of some kind, gives it stability and strength.

Why plants need soil

In nature, the right soil is of priceless value. First of all, it anchors the plant in the ground, giving it stability and strength by allowing the plant to grow a vast network of roots. These roots not only provide stability during bad weather, but they also transfer the nutrients within the soil to the plant so it can make its own food. The soil needs to have the correct density, nutrient content, and PH value. How, then, is it possible to grow without that all-important soil?

Hydroponics: growing without soil

Growing without soil is nothing new – the principles of soilless growing have been known by the experts since 1860. By feeding the plants a nutrient solution directly on their roots, the grower can control exactly how many nutrients the plant receives. The process has many advantages: growing can be done indoors, it’s less messy, and, thanks to the many breakthroughs in technology, the process is more scientific. It results in a very scientific approach, with consistently high-quality yields in urban environments.

The nutrient solution

The nutrient solution (containing the all-important NPK formula as well as a wide range of micro-nutrients) is applied directly to the roots, either through a drip-mechanism, a spray method, or a flood and drain system. The roots of the plants absorb the nutrients much quicker and the plants grow stronger and faster as well.

A hydroponic setup

A hydroponics setup is excellent for all types of growers because of the scientific principles behind it. Thanks to easy-to-use hydroponic supplies, the grower can control every step of the process and can get great yields in a faster time as well. Especially in urban environments, it has been hailed as a breakthrough, promising big, healthy, and delicious plants that may one day eradicate the world’s food shortage. As any hydroponics expert (such as those from Chesterfield Hydroponics Centre) will assure you, a hydroponics setup can be installed virtually anywhere.

There is, of course, a learning curve, but any beginner with the right hydroponic supplies can excel in this growing method – keep it simple and start small, and after a while, the hydroponic system will amaze even the most experienced grower. 

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