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Hydroponics – Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The nutrients in a hydroponic system get blended with water and sent smack-dab to the root system. Now that’s efficiency. Hydroponics produces superior root growth to plants pushing up through the hard ground every time because plants with an abundance of oxygen can suck in nutrients better than toothless toddler with a pixie stick.

Hydroponics includes several growing methods. Water culture systems use no added mediums. Some of the more popular water culture systems include raft systems, nutrient film techniques, and aeroponics. Aeroponics involves plant anchoring with rigid pipes, screens or films. In each water culture system, nutrients get blended into the watering supply by artificial means. The grower suspends the plants’ roots in order that these may soak up the fertilizer directly from the water. Alternatively, they may mist the plants with a solution in spray form. Many hydroponic methods do utilize a medium in which to grow, however. Relatively inert materials comprise these mediums; these help hold in the nutrient rich moisture and also provide a support for the plants’ roots. Some common medium-based systems include ebb and flow, run to waste, drip feed, and bottom feed systems.

Systems may also be active or passive. Active systems use pumps, timers and other electronic gadgets that monitor the process. Passive systems may also incorporate various gadgetry. They differ from active systems, however, because they rarely use pumps and may count on wicking materials to draw nutrients into the root system. These could be made from strips of capillary matting, felt, or nylon rope. Torn tightey-whitey pants or mismatched socks will work in a pinch. Never use dyed materials for the wick, as colors could be toxic to the plants.

ropagating plants hydroponically can involve any number of methods. One of these is like traditional germination, in which the plant goes to seed and then growers collect the seeds to begin the cycle of growth all over again. Plants may also be grown from stem cuttings. Not all plants are capable of reproducing by this method, but growers consider it a highly effective technique, none-the-less.

Germination and growing temperatures can vary quite widely from plant to plant. For example, lettuce thrives in cooler temps, but tomatoes are sun worshippers. It’s crucial to check your plants’ growing requirements regularly. Hydroponic plants need pruning like conventionally grown plants, too. This enables the plant to devote more energy to the shoots that remain. Pruning is best left to those with the no-how, however, as one slip of the scissors could mean the end of the plant!

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