With summer in full bloom, a lot of city dwellers wander farmers' markets longing for a way to grow food for themselves. Investing in a balcony garden is not always ideal, taking up space year-round and only producing food in the peak summer months. Hydroponic systems are a great solution for those looking to grow year-round, offering a variety of solutions for all apartment-sizes and budgets.
So what is a hydroponic system, anyways? If you have ever placed a plant clipping in a glass of water in anticipation of its growing roots, that is hydroponics in its most basic form. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, where the nutrients required by the plant are dissolved in water and readily available for the plant to absorb.
If you are interested in giving hydroponic growing a shot, read ahead to learn the basics and discover our team’s top picks for those looking to get started.
First and foremost, there are two main approaches to growing: passive hydroponic systems, and active hydroponic systems. The passive hydroponic system is great for those starting out, as it offers a simple approach without the need for many inputs. The active hydroponic system is great for those seeking higher yields, although it requires some upfront investment in equipment.
Passive Systems: Top 2 Staff Picks
By far the simplest and easiest to use, without any moving parts. Plants are placed in a growing medium like coco coir (coconut fibre)
, and/or vermiculite
. The water-nutrient solution is housed in a reservoir and drawn up to a growing medium with a wick, where it is readily available for the plant roots.
Kratky Method: This is easy to use and a cost-effective method for growing leafy green veggies. In this case, the tips of the plant roots are soaking directly in the water reservoir. Fill the reservoir once with nutrients and water, and voila! Set it and forget it, simply watch your plants grow.
Active Systems: Top 2 Staff Picks
Deep Water Culture (DWC): This is an inexpensive active system that incorporates an air pump. Plants are placed in net pots, allowing their roots to sit in the nutrient-water solution. The air pump adds oxygen into the water, benefiting the health of the plant.
Ebb & Flow (flood and drain): This active system incorporates a water pump and a timer. Plants are potted in a growing medium, where lower roots are exposed and temporarily flooded by the water-nutrient solution in the grow tray. Excess water is drained back into the reservoir and recycled for ease of use.
While these are our top picks, there are several other systems available depending on your needs, like Drip Systems, Nutrient Film Technique Systems, and Aeroponic Systems
(We've included diagrams of these systems for comparison).
We are always happy to answer any questions in store
or feel free to comment on this post. Let us know what else you'd like to discover or explore in the world of garden and hydroponics.
Regardless of what system matches your needs, we want to hear about your home growing experience! Tag us on social media @hydrotechhydroponics
and join our growing community.
Happy growing plant lovers!