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Introduction to Hydroponics
What is Hydroponics?
Wikipedia defines Hydroponics as “the method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil”.
It is thought that hydroponics was first used in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon! However more recent history has attributed the introduction of hydroponics to the English Philosopher Francis Bacon, thanks to his 1627 book Sylva Sylvarum, in which he published work on growing plants without soil. This mantle was taken up by John Woodward in 1699 who discovered plants grown in spearmint experienced better growth than plants grown in distilled water. Later work by German botanists Julius Von Sachs and Wilhelm Knop, further laid the foundations of this science, but it was Frederick Gericke of the University of California at Berkeley who first publicly pushed for soilless agriculture to be used commercially. It was also Frederick, in 1937, who gave the process the name Hydroponics. Hydroponics was used by the US Army during World War Two to feed soldiers stationed in the Pacific Islands. NASA continues to develop Hydroponic techniques in order to grow food on Mars.
What are the benefits of Hydroponics?
The main benefit is that nutrient solution is applied directly to the root zone so the plant doesn’t need to work so hard at the base and will subsequently grow larger and at an enhanced rate, producing more fruit. A hydroponically-grown tomato plant will produce fruit at about 8 weeks, compared to 12 weeks from a soil grown plant. This benefit has not gone unnoticed by commercial growers. If you shop at a supermarket, you will have already tasted Hydroponics tomatoes. However with a faster life cycle these benefits can be extended to the home-grower and institutions such as schools and colleges where students can gain a better understanding of food production and the plant life-cycle. Of course with an unreliable climate in the UK, Hydroponic gardening makes food production possible all year round. It also conserves water as most systems recycle the nutrient/water mix. Another benefit is that you won’t be bothered by soil-borne pests and subsequently your plants don’t have to be subjected to pesticides.
If you've ever placed a plant clipping into a glass of water in the hopes that it will develop roots, you've practiced in a form of hydroponics. Hydroponics is a branch of agriculture where plants are grown without the use of soil. The nutrients that the plants normally derive from the soil are simply dissolved into water instead, and depending on the type of hydroponic system used, the plant's roots are suspended in, flooded with or misted with the nutrient solution so that the plant can derive the elements it needs for growth.
The term hydroponics originates from the ancient Greek "hydros," meaning water, and "ponos," meaning work. It can sometimes be mistakenly referred to as aquaculture, or aquiculture, but these terms are really more appropriately used for other branches of science that have nothing to do with gardening.
As the population of our planet soars and arable land available for crop production declines, hydroponics will offer us a lifeline of sorts and allow us to produce crops in greenhouses or in multilevel buildings dedicated to agriculture. Already, where the cost of land is at a premium, crops are being produced underground, on rooftops and in greenhouses using hydroponic methods.
Perhaps you'd like to start a garden so that you can grow your own vegetables, but you don't have the space in your yard, or you're overwhelmed by pests and insects. This article will arm you with the knowledge you need to successfully set up a hydroponics garden in your home and provide suggestions of plants that will grow readily.
Are you new to hydroponic gardening? Don't worry, we know it can be a confusing world if you've just started out in this field. That's why we prepared a section which covers all the basics of hydroponics. Find out what hydroponic gardening really means, what its advantages and disadvantages are, how far back in time it goes, as well as several other bits of useful general information. The articles in this section aren't just for beginners though, as you will also find advanced advice and in-depth information on General Hydroponics.
Choosing a hydroponic system will depend on several variables: what you're growing, where you're growing it, how much are you willing to spend as well what you plan to do with your crop (eat, sell, smoke and whatnot). The choices are quite varied and we're not just talking product and brand-wise. You will have to choose from ebb and flow systems, nutrient film technique systems, water cultures, drip systems, aeroponic systems and many more. Find out which of these suits you best in this section of our website.
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