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Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a scientific approach to cultivating plants using a water solution infused with nutrients and a growing medium other than soil.  The word Hydroponics is derived from the prefix hydro=water and ponics=toil or work.  Plants grown hydroponically are either grown with their roots submerged in the nutrient solution alone, or in a clean growing medium.   Examples of possible growing mediums are gravel (Hydroton or Higromite ) , rock wool, perlite, and coconut husk. Plants have grown in water based solutions since our planet’s beginnings.  There is evidence that many cultures from the Babylonians to the Aztecs to the Chinese have used hydroponics in various forms to grow vegetables.  About 75 years ago during the back end of the Great Depression there were two Berkley science researchers who wrote a book called The Water Culture Method for Growing Plants without Soil brought a new awareness to this science.  Those two men developed many nutrient filled solution formulas that we still use today.    Essentially, plants need air, water, and nutrients.  Notice I didn’t say soil.  Plants don’t need soil but they do need the nutrients found within soil.  Plants grown in soil basically behave much the same way as hydroponics in that, when they are watered, the nutrients in the soil dissolve into the water and the roots of the plants drink up the nutrients along with the water.  Hydroponics just removes the dirt from the equation.  Various plants require different nutrient solutions.  The beauty of soil is that it allows the plants to take only what it needs.   This is efficient in that the plant is completely self regulating.  But, the beauty of hydroponics is that the nutrient solution maintains an optimum nutrient level to provide a maximum opportunity for growth in a minimal amount of time.  Hydroponics can be grown in low water areas with minimal amount of water evaporation, grown without soil in poor soil regions, and can be grown indoors and closer together with vegetable yields that outpace their soil bound counterparts.  More and more commercial growers are turning to hydroponics in greenhouses as they can eliminate most pests and weeds, grow year round, and drastically increase production. Hydroponics provides a way for the home gardener in colder climates to continue their hobby over the winter with the help of indoor artificial UV light.  It provides a method to grow fresh food in the lean times of winter and gives you a replenishing self sufficiency freedom that can’t be obtained efficiently any other way.    

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