Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, rather than employing the traditional method of using soil. The term hydroponics has been derived from two Greek words, ‘hydro’ meaning water and ‘ponics’ meaning labor. The concept of using soil less gardening or hydroponics has been in use since centuries, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China being the earliest examples. However, scientists began experimenting with hydroponics around 1950 and since then, countries like Holland, Germany and Australia have successfully cultivated plants using this method.
The basic idea behind hydroponic gardening is to give the right amount of nutrients to the plants at the right time. This helps in monitoring the exact amount of pH, nutrients, water and light that is received by the plants. Some popular growing mediums that are used in hydroponic gardening include perlite, gravel, sand, expanded shale, Rockwool, Hydroton, pebbles, coconut fiber and vermiculite. Just like any other system, hydroponic gardening too has certain advantages and disadvantages. Hence, before your go ahead with setting up your own hydroponic garden, evaluate the pros and cons carefully. Read on further to know them.
Advantages Of Hydroponic Gardening
- The biggest advantage of hydroponic gardening is producing more plants by using less space. Plants grow faster in this method, thus, there is less time between transplanting a seedling and harvesting it.
- Hydroponics is gardening without soil. Since all the nutrients are pumped to the plants through water, this method does not require much soil.
- Since plants grown in hydroponic gardening do not use soil, the risk of plants developing soil borne diseases is eliminated.
- In places, like an apartment balcony or the terrace where soil is not available for cultivation, hydroponic gardening serves as the best option to grow fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Hydroponic gardening proves to be highly beneficial in deserts, rocky and stony land, in mountainous districts or barren and sterile areas where plants can be produced at a relative low cost.
- Weeds become practically non-existent and, hence you require fewer pesticides for the plants.
- Since no digging or weeding is required, less labor is involved in growing plants hydroponically.
- The environment of the roots can be easily controlled and manipulated for temperature, darkness, humidity and nutrient mix.
Disadvantages Of Hydroponic Gardening
- The main drawback of hydroponic gardening is cost. The initial cost of maintenance, equipments, nutrients, hoses, lighting and cultivation collectively turns to be expensive, when growing plants hydroponically.
- Pump-driven hydroponic systems are susceptible to power outages. Hence, it becomes necessary to have a back-up power source available, while building a hydroponic garden.
- Hydroponic plants are sensitive to any changes that take place in the environment. Thus, in case of any deficiencies, the plant will show off immediately.
- Since all the plants share the same water and nutrient mix, any occurrence of diseases or pest manifestation can spread quickly through the entire growing system.
- Growing plants hydroponically require a lot of technical knowledge. While using such a system, one has to provide much more support to the plants and learn how to provide the proper amount of nutrients and lighting.
- Another disadvantage of this system is that not all plants can be grown hydroponically, which leaves you with limited options.