The benefits of hydroponics and how to do indoor gardening without soil.
Indoor gardening is fun, but for your plants to flourish, one must keep in mind that such a feat requires hard work. However, for many folks, plant cultivation is more than just a hobby. Are you one of them, and are you planning to level up your game by indoor gardening without soil?
Don’t be intimidated — it’s possible and probably easier than you think. Gardening without soil, also called hydroponics, is not just beneficial for indoor planting and aesthetic purposes. It’s especially beneficial for those who don’t possess a large land patch and only have minimal space in their homes.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics originated from a combination of the Greek words “hydro” and “ponos.” Both words mean water and labor, respectively. In colloquial language, hydroponics refers to gardening without soil.
It is a modern, sustainable way to cultivate herbs, vegetables, and fruits without worrying about soil, land space, and climate.
How is gardening without soil done?
Hydroponics is made possible with a powerful substance referred to as a “nutrient solution.” Hydroponic nutrients consist of water mixed with other elements that are necessary for a plant to grow. A nutrient solution typically contains water, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorine, boron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.
Some nutrient solutions lack good chemistry and ingredients, resulting in failures for those who do their gardening without soil. For you to succeed in hydroponics, you must purchase only high-quality nutrient solutions.
Proper methods for gardening without soil
Now that you’re aware of how hydroponics works, it’s time to act. There are several methods of gardening without soil. Some are a bit pricey and require less manual labor, while some are affordable but need more time and care. Whichever way you choose, the efficacy will be the same if you follow the methods below.
Rocks and Pot Method
This hydroponics method is perfect if you’re on a budget or new to hydroponics and don’t want to commit yet. The best way to test the waters (pun intended) is by trying the rocks and pot method.
What you’ll need are essential items such as a pot, gardening rocks, or any inert growing media of your choice, the plant that you want to grow, and the nutrient solution. This method is cost-effective, but it will require more time from you as you have to water your plants around 3-4 times a day with a nutrient solution.
This hydroponics method helps you water your plants without doing it manually 3-4 times a day. This technique won’t cost you a lot. And it’s perfect for people who have busy schedules but still want to see greenery in their homes.
The flood/drain system works by utilizing a plastic container filled with potted plants and a solution-filled reservoir on top. This system uses a submersible pump that connects the reservoir and the bottom of the container.
When you turn on the pump, the container fills with water, and when you turn it off, the water travels back to the reservoir with the help of the pump. To effectively use this method, the container should be above the reservoir for gravity to pull the nutrient solution down.
You will need to install an overflow fitting to regulate the water level. With this fitting, when the water reaches the top, it’ll return to the reservoir. You can set the pump’s timer according to your needs to make gardening without soil automated and convenient.
Like IV drips in hospitals, the drip method is also an effective way of planting without soil. People who don’t have a lot of time but want to cultivate plenty of plants will benefit from this method.
It’s like the flood/drain method as it involves the use of a pump and reservoir. However, instead of the plants being watered by adjusting the nutrient solution levels, hydroponic drip kits use a tube that serves as an irrigation catalyst for numerous pots.
Nutrient Film Technique
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system uses the drip method at the start, but instead of using a primary container, it requires a more complex trays system that resembles rain gutters. The plants are lined up in rows of trays with basket holes that are evenly spaced. This arrangement makes it possible for the system to water the plants equally.
Unlike the two systems listed above, the NFT hydroponic system only waters the plant’s root, which exposes it to more oxygen. Furthermore, the NFT technique containers are quite pleasing to the eyes and are perfect if you want to impress your guests.
For gardening without soil and avoiding much of the labor, the aeroponic system is outstanding. It’s a hydroponics method that combines the principles of the NFT and flood/drain systems.
Similar to how NFT looks, it also has rows of evenly spaced “basket holes.”. However, this method uses different tube sizes to irrigate the roots of the plants equally.
The tubes will fill with water, using a much smaller tube placed inside a large tube. The other small-diameter lines have holes cut every 6 inches. Plants grow in these holes. These cuts allow the excess water to come out so it can return to the reservoir.
For an aeroponic system that works well, consider purchasing a kit that includes a high-pressure pump that runs 24/7.
The Benefits of Gardening without Soil
You may argue that you can stick to the traditional way of gardening indoors by using a pot and soil. However, there are many benefits that gardening without soil can provide you that the conventional way cannot.
1. Space won’t be an issue when indoor gardening without soil
Planting with soil requires more space. If you live in a condo or a small area, hydroponics is the perfect choice for you. Gardening without soil allows you to grow more with less space.
2. Soil is terrible at holding nutrients
If you choose to cultivate plants with soil, you must know that your plants will need more room to grow. However, there’s a chance that the water you’re feeding might not reach the roots at all.
With hydroponics, your plants’ roots receive ample hydroponic nutrition and are equally watered. Unlike the traditional method, this technique is where some plant roots may take more water, leaving the unreached ones to die.
3. Avoid disease and improve pest control
Pests often hide underneath soil — gardening without soil significantly reduces their chances. Because hydroponics offers more control, you’ll find this modern way quite profitable. This is especially true if you’re in the business of selling plants.
4. Indoor gardening without soil saves water
Contrary to what you might think, hydroponics saves more water than the traditional way of growing plants. In fact, studies show that cultivating plants with soil uses ten times more water than gardening without soil.
5. No More Weeds
Outdoor plants look marvelous, but this scenery also entails the growth of weeds. Watering a patch of soil doesn’t guarantee the water you’re using will only be fed to the plants’ roots. Instead, you have the arduous task of pulling out weeds regularly.
6. More Harvest
Because hydroponics allows you to water your plants precisely and equally, your harvests will be more consistent and plentiful. This consistency lets you budget correctly, and it maintains your overhead costs. Added to that, indoor gardening without soil helps you avoid the volatility outside environmental factors can bring.
Why you should switch to indoor gardening without soil
No matter your cultivation goals, the easiest way to achieve success is through indoor gardening without soil. It helps avoid inconveniences and offers many benefits such as control, less labor, better results, and more consistency.
The cost to get started with some of these techniques can be a bit daunting. But, in the long-run, hydroponics is better both economically and environmentally. If you’re still unsure, consider starting with a small container and a nutrient solution to see if indoor gardening without soil is for you.