The meaning of hydroponics
Hydroponics is a technology for growing plants in nutrient solutions (water containing fertilizers) with or without the use of an artificial medium (sand, gravel, vermiculite, rockwool, perlite, peatmoss. coir, or sawdust) to provide mechanical support.
Liquid hydroponic systems have no other supporting medium for the plant roots: aggregate systems have a solid medium of support. Hydroponic systems are further categorized as open (i.e. once the nutrient solution is delivered to the plant roots, it is not reused) or closed (i.e. surplus solution is recovered, replenished, and recycled).
Hydroponic growing (as opposed to soil growing) allows you to control the nutrient levels for your plants directly. Because of the higher control over nutrients, hydroponically grown plants generally have a much higher yield than similar plants grown in soil.
Growing with hydroponic system
A plant gets its food source by turning Co2, light and water (or hydrogen) into carbohydrates through a process called photosynthesis. With hydroponics growing, plants are grown without soil so they must get their nutrients from the nutrient solutions added to water. The absence of soil in growing means that hydroponics systems must have some way of supporting the plants while still allowing the bare root sistem maximum exposure to the nutrient solution.
Often a “growing medium” is used for support and to aid in moisture and nutrient retention in hydroponics growing.
Nutrient solution chart for hydroponics
Because they lack media to store water and nutrients, water culture systems need a continuous flow of nutrients to prevent drying out the plant roots. Plants need an energy source in order to grow. With hydroponics growing this energy may come from natural light, which has the full spectrum of color or through the use of different types of artificial lighting (grow lights), which can be selected for specific plant varieties and optimum plant growth characteristics.
Our complete hydroponic system with LED grow lights:
What do you need to start hydroponic production?
- Source of clean water
- The right location
- Specially formulated fertilizer
- Time to attend to the system daily
- A little knowledge of plants or gardening
- A commercial or home made unit
Hydroponic system kit in our store:
To be able to produce vegetables successfully year after year, one needs to be familiar with the basics of hydroponics in term of the plant, growing medium, water and nutrients.
Which crops can be grown in hydroponics?
Basically all high value crops can be grown. Popular in South Africa are tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in drain to waste systems and lettuce and herbs in gravel flow systems.
Where cay you buy seeds?
Seeds are available in small or large packages. Small packets are sold at nurseries, co-ops and retail stores and are suitable for garden – and small-scale hydroponic units. Large packets, suitable for commercial scale production are available from seed companies.
Taking care of plants
Different crops are planted at different spacing. Small-growing plants can be planted close to each other. Large-growing plants need more space to grow and must be spaced further apart.
• Water flow must be checked every day and adjusted when necessary.
• If plants turn yellow, it is normally a symptom of nutrient deficiency, too little light or a disease.
• Inspect the leaves every day for disease symptoms and insects. Act immediately if a problem occurs.
• Tall plants need to be trained and pruned to make optimal use of the expensive greenhouse space.