What makes hydroponics different than regular gardening?
Hydroponics uses no soil and plants are grown in a substitute growing media.
The plants still require all the nutrients that they would have obtained
from the soil. A specially blended hydroponic fertilizer is added to the
irrigation water and provides all the nutrients the plants require, even
micro nutrients such as boron, etc. This gives you more control over plant
nutrition and increases production and quality.
Why would we want to replace the soil? Soil is very
inconsistent and most often does not have a balanced nutrient composition.
The types of soils differ from sandy, which is very porous, to clay, which
is very tight. Watering and fertilizing becomes very difficult even for
commercial farmers. It takes years of preparation of your soil in order to
have a decent garden. Even then you have to constantly remove weeds, spray
more for insects, and control soil diseases.
These soil substitutes consist of coconut fiber,
perlite, and sometimes pine bark. These materials contain very little, if
any, nutrients that can be absorbed by the plants, but provide a perfect
soil substitute. A well balanced fertilizer is then added in a hydroponic or
organic solution. Water retention, but not water logging, is the ideal soil
substitute. Porosity is the technical term.
The nutrient solution is the most important part of the
system. You can have varying degrees of success in many substitute soils,
but with the proper nutrient and media you can produce more than you ever
thought possible in less space with less fertilizer, less water, and less or
no pesticides. When you regulate water and nutrition with a good quality
plant variety you have both higher production and higher quality. You can
grow 6-10 times more in a vertical garden than in a normal garden of the