Hydroponics allows you to grow plants in water that has nutrients in it, and without the use of soil. It is necessary, however to give some means of support to root systems and this is provided by things like vermiculite, peat moss, clay pebbles, rock wool or perlite. Plant roots come into direct contact with the nutrients and also are able to access oxygen, both of which are needed for their growth.
Hydroponics ensures an increased growth rate in plants and this can be as much as twenty five percent, while produce also increases by about a third. The plants do not have to work hard to draw the nutrients from water and can manage this even with smaller root systems, thus allowing growth to concentrate on other parts of the plant. It is necessary to control the pH levels and nutrients carefully. Less water is also used, as most hydroponics systems are in enclosed spaces, where evaporation losses are then reduced. Hydroponics systems may take time to set up and can be expensive to set up with the right containers, root support mediums and pumping systems for providing water.
You need to pick up some basic supplies like containers, a light source, support medium for the roots, plant food and of course, the plants you want to grow. You can get plants that produce all the year round, so that you always have greenery around your home. One of the first steps in starting hydroponic gardening is to prepare the plant holder. This can be a smaller container, which you may have to place in a bigger one, so that water is retained. This smaller container needs to have some drainage so that the roots of your plants do not get too wet. A few holes at the bottom of the plant container will serve this purpose. It can also help if holes for drainage are also made on the side of the pot and these are properly spaced out. The second step is to create some space at the bottom of the larger container. You can do this, by laying down a layer of clay pebbles or other hard material, which is the support medium that will give some space between the larger container base and the base of the smaller one, so that water can also fill up this space. The roots will sometimes find their way through the holes and also access this lower space and have more supply of nutrients from the water there.
You are now ready to start planting as the next step of your hydroponics garden. It is best to buy plants from the nursery that are past the seedling stage and have sprouted sufficient roots and leaves. These plants will most probably be in soil and may come to you in plastic bags. Carefully remove the plant from the bag, and then clear the soil from its roots. Use water at room temperature to gently remove the soil from the roots, and see if you can do this without touching the roots themselves. You now have to prepare your smaller container, with the holes to receive the plants. You need to create a layer with clay pebbles or any other growing medium you have decided on similar to the base you prepared in the larger container. The next step is to actually place the plant in this prepared container. Hold the plants so that you support the roots with one hand and put it down on the medium base you have created, so that some of the roots sit along the bottom. Let the other roots remain at higher levels, so that they have to find their way down to the water. Once the plant is stable and supports itself, fill up the container with the support medium that you have decided on, so that the base roots are covered.
Your next step has to be to place this container that contains the plant into the larger container in which you have prepared a base with the support medium. Make sure that the container is stable and rests firmly on the base that you have prepared as support. You can use any material for this support, just as long as it is firm enough, as it has no other function rather than acting as a support. Your plant is now ready for growth. You can leave this larger container with the smaller one that has the plant, in the sun, if you have such an area in the home. Alternatively, you can set up a light with a proper reflector, so that light is directed on to the plant. You can also use sensors that keep the light switched off during the day, so that your costs for electricity remain in control. Let your nursery advise you on the wattage of the bulb you will require for the plant in question and the distance that you need to keep between the light source and the plant. You may have to create a separate support structure for your lighting. Just make sure that it is sturdy and position it in such a way that it does not require you to move it around. It should not obstruct you in the future when you are tending to the plant or providing it the required nutrients.
You now need to move to the final stage of feeding your plants with the nutrients that you have purchased when you first arranged for supplies. Mix this nutrient in water and pour it into the smaller container till the roots in the plant container are not fully submerged. Get in a kit that allows you to check the pH level in the water and maintain the suggested level by changing the water once a week. Your plant is now on its way to growth.