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Hydroponics A soil-less approach of gardening. Green Ray Hydroponics 

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    Hydroponics

    A soil-less approach of

    gardening.

    Green Ray Hydroponics

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    Hydroponics - Hydroponics is the method of growing plants without soil.Instead of nutrients in the soil, plants thrive on a nutrient solution which contains the

    minerals that the plants need. So, rather than searching throughout the soil for minerals,

    your plants are able to get nutrients easily, directly from the nutrient solution. Grow

    media -- such as gravel, peat, vermiculite, Perlite, coco, old rubber tires, rockwool orexpanded clay aggregates -- is often used to support the plants and their root systems

    and perhaps to hold moisture around the roots. The growing medium is not a source of

    nutrients in itself.

    Why grow hydroponically?

    Hydroponic gardening is an easy, environmentally sound way to grow a wide variety

    of healthy plants. It offers numerous benefits including:

    y Plants grow up to 50% faster than in soil because they have easy access to

    food and water.

    y It is possible to garden indoors all year round

    y Nutrients are directly available to plants and don't get bound up

    y Little or no pesticides are necessary. Plants start out in a disease-free

    medium.

    y Smaller containers can be used because the roots can grow without being

    root bound

    y Gardening is possible where it would not be normally e.g. poor soil, rocky

    areas, even balconies. With the use of artificial lighting it is even possible tosuccessfully garden in a spare room or garage.

    y Less labor is required than growing in soil because no digging or weeding is

    required.

    y Since plants do not need to compete for nutrients, more can be grown in a

    smaller area.

    y The increased control over growing conditions makes it easier to provide the

    best possible environment for plants, leading to better quality produce and

    higher yields.

    y Fast growing healthy plants grown by hydroponic methods are more resistant

    to pests and diseases.

    y You will also notice improved flavor and texture in hydroponically grown fruit

    and veggies

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    General Advantages

    Higher crop yield

    Less water required

    Possibility to grow crops outside of climate

    No need for crop rotation

    Continual growth throughout the year

    Little risk of weeds or parasites

    Possibility exists to grow outside of our atmosphere

    General Disadvantages

    Cost (initial, cost to run)

    Higher maintenance (constant supervision, pH testing, lighting

    adjustments)

    Requires specialized knowledge and equipment

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    System Types

    There are two types of hydroponics systems for delivering the nutrient

    solution:

    Passive

    Active

    Passive Systems:

    Basic

    Easier to set up for the novice gardener

    Require materials that retain moisture longer (i.e..vermiculite

    and sand)

    Portable, simple, inexpensive

    Ideal for starting seeds, root cuttings and experimental

    purposes

    Common types:

    1. Wick system

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    Wick System

    Wicks anchored in a medium stretch down to a reservoir and draw solution upward to

    reach the roots.

    Disadvantage

    Plants do not grow to full maturity because of limited aeration and root zone volume.

    The Water Culture System

    The Water Culture System is the simplest of all active hydroponic systems.

    The platform that holds the plants is usually made of Styrofoam and floats

    directly on the nutrient solution. An air pump supplies air to the air stone that

    bubbles the nutrient solution and supplies oxygen to the roots of the plants.

    Water culture is the system of choice for growing leaf lettuce, which are fast

    growing water loving plants, making them an ideal choice for this type of

    hydroponic system. Very few plants other than lettuce will do well in this type of

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    system. This type of hydroponic system is great for the classroom and is popular

    with teachers.

    A very inexpensive system can be made out of an old aquarium or other water

    tight container.

    Disadvantages

    The biggest drawback of this kind of system is that it doesnt work well with large

    plants or with long-term plants.

    Active Systems

    Uses pumps and other devices to pour the solution into the system and gravity to

    drain off the excess to be reused.

    Require mediums that drain rapidly, such as smooth gravel

    Types of Active Systems

    Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

    Ebb & Flow

    Top Feed

    Aeroponics

    Sub- Aeration

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    Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

    NFT uses little or no medium and uses a continuous solution flow over the roots

    Can produce large- scale crops cheaply in parts of the world where soil quality is

    poor

    NFT can produce 106 times more lettuce annually on a 2 1/2 acre operation than

    by conventional farming

    Disadvantages

    The greatest problem facing NFT has been root die back caused by inadequate

    oxygen in the area around the root system

    This causes water stress which causes wilting and blossom end rot of fruit crops

    such as tomatoes.

    This system is susceptible to equipment failure and problems arise due to

    support of the plant

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    DripSystems

    Drip systems use pumps to carry the solution to the medium, and gravity to drain

    it back to a reservoir

    These are reliable, require low maintenance and can withstand short term

    equipment failure because of the growing medium

    They are suitable for large scale growing of all types of plants

    Disadvantages

    A disadvantage of this system is that it is expensive and difficult to set up

    Top feed systems can use a variety of growing mediums and are available in a

    wide range of configurations

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    Ebb & Flow

    The most popular system due to its low maintenance and low cost

    Utilizes a growing bed full of medium that is flooded with solution and allowed to

    drain

    Best suited for growing seedlings, transplants and ornamental potted plants

    Ebb & Flow

    There is little risk of equipment failure because there is a growing medium that

    retains water and allows oxygen to get to the roots

    Ebb & Flow systems allow for uniform fill and complete drainage during the

    irrigation cycle thus leading to uniformity in plant growth

    This type of system can be made automatic with the use of computers

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    Aeroponics

    Uses sprayers to bathe the roots with a nutrient -oxygen mist

    Plants are artificially suspended

    Used most widely in lab studies, but not for large-scale commercial use due to

    expense of setup and maintenance.

    NASA has experimented with the combination of Aeroponics and NFT in order to

    conserve nutrients for the use of hydroponics in space

    The chief advantage of this type of system is efficient utilization of greenhouse

    space by arranging the plants vertically

    Disadvantages

    A disadvantage of Aeroponics is regulating the consistency of the sprayers to

    assure constant nutrient flow.

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    The Nutrient Solution

    The key to success of a hydroponics system

    Contains various combos of nutrients specifically engineered to mimic those in

    soil

    Made up of: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur,

    Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Boron, Copper

    Nitrogen- Production of leaves and growth of stem

    Phosphorous- Development of flowers, fruits, leaves and stems and growth of

    roots

    Potassium- Used by cells during assimilation of energy

    Calcium- Spurs root growth and helps plant absorb potassium

    Magnesium- Helps distribute phosphorous throughout the plant

    The Nutrient Solution

    Sulfur- Heightens the effectiveness of phosphorous and used in the production of

    energy

    Iron- Important in the production of chlorophyll

    Manganese- Aids in the absorption of nitrogen

    Zinc- Necessary in the transfer of energy

    Boron- Its purpose has not been determined

    Copper- Needed in the production of chlorophyll

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    Growing Medium

    Growing medium is used to lend support to the roots and plant

    A variety of growing medium are utilized for their individual qualities in various

    types of hydroponics systems

    Growing Medium

    A few popular examples of growing medium are:

    Sand

    Brick shards

    Vermiculite / Perlite

    Gravel

    Rockwool

    Sawdust

    Polyethylene Sheeting

    The Future of Hydroponics

    Advances in lighting technology

    Use will expand to third world countries

    Reduced cost

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    What is HydroponicsVegetables Gardening?

    The science of hydroponics refers to the process of growing vegetables or fruit, withoutusing actual soil. Despite the fact that all plants grow in soil naturally, it's actually not thebest environment for them. Soil can lack nutritious substances, water, it contains all

    sorts of pests that put the vegetables health in danger and so forth. Using a hydroponicsvegetables gardening system on the other hand, will eliminate most of these problems,since you won't be growing these vegetables in soil, but in a nutritious substance thatmay vary with each system.

    Benefits of Hydroponic Vegetable Gardening

    Besides the actual benefit of eliminating all the problems that occur when a plant growsin soil, hydroponic vegetables gardening has a couple more aces up its sleeve. Forexample:

    y A hydroponics vegetable system is easy to set up and even create from scratchy You will produce extremely nutritious vegetables

    y Oftentimes, the size of the vegetables grown in a hydroponic system is increased

    in comparison to vegetables grown in soil

    y Besides being a nutritious source of food, a hydroponic vegetables system can

    also make a great landscape dcor

    y It's a very rewarding and satisfying occupation from a personal and spiritual point

    of view

    The fact that you can grow your vegetables indoors is a tremendous benefit in its own.

    Plants grown using hydroponics vegetable gardening systems don't even needsunshine, they can use the system's own light source for photosynthesis. So basically,your veggies will grow by their own life clock, regardless of the season or the time of theday outside. Besides allowing them to grow off-season, your system will also help thevegetables grow a lot faster then if they would be out in their natural environment.