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What is Hydroponic Gardening?

Landscaping
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Hydroponic gardening is the process of growing plants without soil, using water. In hydroponic gardening, nutrient-infused water is passed directly over the plant’s roots. Because the water contains all the nutrients the plant requires, the need for soil is eliminated.

While the ancient Egyptians and Romans were among the first cultures to use hydroponic systems, the concept has only recently attracted a mainstream following.

Benefits of hydroponic gardening

There are several benefits to using a hydroponic growing system. Experts say hydroponic systems are good in places where land is scarce because plants grown hydroponically often have a greater yield than those grown in soil. Also, hydroponically-grown plants grow at a faster rate than those in soil. This is because with a hydroponic growing system the plant absorbs nutrients faster, which allows it to grow faster and produce greater amounts of fruit or flowers.

In a hydroponic system, the plant’s roots don’t have to search the soil for the needed nutrients. Hydroponically-grown plants also tend to be healthier than their soil-grown counterparts. They have fewer bug and disease problems, as well, which requires less use of pesticides, experts say.

Also, many hydroponic systems are used indoors, eliminating the need for large tracts of land for gardens. This makes hydroponics a good alternative for gardeners who live in apartments or places without yards. An added bonus, experts say, is that without any soil there won’t be any unwanted weeds, eliminating the chore of weeding the garden.

Types of hydroponic systems

While hydroponic systems are as varied as the gardeners who use them, experts say hydroponic growing systems can be split into two basic types: solution culture and medium culture.

In solution culture, the plants are suspended in the nutrient solution. In the medium culture, a medium such as gravel or sand is used to support the plants. (In traditional gardening, the medium is soil.) In both systems, the nutrient-infused water passes over the plants’ roots, providing everything needed for growth. And since the roots are exposed, the plant processes oxygen much more efficiently.

There are some downsides to hydroponic gardening, of course. The equipment – ranging from nutrients to growing lights - can be expensive. Also, some gardeners think it might be too complicated for them. But experts say there are a number of resources available, from books and the internet to professionals at nurseries, garden centers and universities, to help home gardeners navigate hydroponic gardening.

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