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Why Hydroponics?

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Hydroponics is a method of gardening in which plants are given the nutrients they need through a water solution instead of through soil or other growth media. It’s become an increasingly popular choice both for home growers and for specialty agriculture businesses.

Is hydroponics right for me?

There’s no perfect method for growing, and what would work best for you depends on factors like space constraints, geography, and how much time you have to manage your garden. Hydroponics offers a number of advantages that are worth considering:

  • Labor - Hydroponics generally requires less labor; plants can be grown in smaller containers and you don’t have to deal with planting mixes or weeds.
  • Yields - A hydroponic setup will often produce higher yields in a shorter period of time.
  • Nutrition - You can control all the nutrients and chemicals your plant uses and is exposed to. Adjusting pH and fertilizers is straightforward, and changes can be made right away.
  • Pests - A hydroponics setup kept indoors has a much lower risk of infestation by pests such as insects and birds. If pests do become a problem they are usually much easier to manage than in a conventional outdoors garden.
  • Seasons - unlike with outdoors setups, a hydroponics garden can grow year-round so long as you can provide the conditions your plants need to thrive.
  • Conservation - Well-managed hydroponics setups are incredibly efficient in water use. In closed systems, even water normally lost to evaporation is reclaimed.
  • Space - The efficiencies of hydroponics mean less space is required for the same plant yield.

Doing hydroponics well means staying on top of your garden and making sure the plants are getting what they need. The flip side of being able to control exactly what your plants use for nutrition is that you’ll have to make sure what they need is available to them.

We’ll be starting a series of weekly posts on hydroponics techniques, covering everything you’ll need to get started with your own indoor garden. Happy growing!

Example of the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) method of hydroponics. Photo from Oregon State University, available under a Creative Commons license.

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