This Modular Hydroponics System Will Give You Fresh Vegetables Year-Round
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants indoors without using any soil. Instead of pulling mineral nutrients needed for growth from the ground, plants get all of their nutrition through a nutrient solution supplied to their roots.
Hydroponics works in a variety of scenarios—from growing a small collection of herbs in a kitchen all the way up to numerous plants in a large-scale commercial operation. People with limited or no outdoor space, such as urban residents, apartment dwellers, or renters who can’t have an outdoor garden, find hydroponic growing especially useful.
Many types of plants grow well hydroponically. Some of the best plants to grow in a hydroponics system include herbs, lettuce and greens, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. As a rule, avoid plants that grow tall like corn, have deep taproots like potatoes, or grow in a vining nature.
Should You Try Hydroponics at Home?
Absolutely. Hydroponics is a great way to try growing healthy plants at home without the use of soil. While it may seem counterintuitive, plants grown in hydroponics have higher yields and present a host of other advantages. Just remember to watch out for foodsafe materials in your system.
How Does a Hydroponics System Work?
While plant growth involves many metabolic processes, plants grow primarily because of three main items: essential nutrients, water, and sunlight. In a traditional garden, soil anchors the plant and acts as a reservoir for water and nutrients. A hydroponics system eliminates the need for soil by providing a nutrient-charged aqueous solution directly to the roots that keeps the plant fed and hydrated, while supplemental lighting solutions mimic sunlight.
More on soil-free growing
In a hydroponics growing system, plants are either suspended directly in the aqueous solution or grown in a soil-free medium such as coconut coir, rock wool, LECA, vermiculite, or perlite. The plant’s roots receive the nutrient solution in either an active system or a passive system.
- Active systems use pumps to circulate and aerate nutrient solutions, delivering the nutrients to the plant’s root zone for uptake.
- Passive systems have no pumps or moving parts. The nutrient solutions are fed to the root zone through flooding, gravity, or capillary action.
More on supplemental lighting
Because natural light is limited indoors, plants grown in a hydroponics system typically receive supplemental lighting. Hanging lights above the plants and controlling their brightness mimics the natural cycles of daylight and darkness that plants need to grow.