Even gardeners who may not possess a proverbial green thumb have the ability to grow herbs, plants, vegetables, and blooms with relative ease. The hydroponic method does not rely upon soil, but a nutrient-rich medium, such as rockwool, peat moss, or clay pellets. As a result, plants are able to have direct access to the nutrients and oxygen they need to thrive and flourish. In order to reap the rewards hydroponics offers, gardeners must be aware of the basic systems to choose from.
Benefits of hydroponics
One of the most significant advantages of hydroponics is that it can increase the rate of growth. From this method, vegetables, flowers, and other fruiting plants typically yield more than their soil-bound counterparts. This is primarily due to the fact that plants do not need to focus their energy on expanding their root system or finding essential nutrients, as the nutrient-rich solution provides them with all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need.
Another key benefit of hydroponics is that it is eco-friendly. The system has an enclosure, which helps to prevent water evaporation. Additionally, there is no soil runoff, which decreases pollution and toxin release into the environment.
Selecting a hydroponic system
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing a hydroponic system, such as budget, available space, and maintenance. There are six common types of hydroponic systems, and gardeners can make small modifications to each to produce the best possible yield for virtually any crop.
The wick hydroponic system consists of two layers. The bottom reservoir of the system contains water and nutrients, while the top layer has a growing medium. The two reservoirs connect via a wick, which draws the nutrient-rich water into the growing medium, where it comes into contact with the roots. This budget-friendly and easy hydroponic method is suitable for smaller plants that do not require an abundance of water to grow.
A hydroponic drip system involves a timer and submersed pump. When the timer automatically switches on the pump, small quantities of water drip directly onto the bottom of each plant and medium. This method is ideal for organic nutrients, as traditional nutrient solutions can clog the system.
There are two variations of this type of system, including recovery and non-recovery. With a recovery drip system, the reservoir collects and reuses excess solution. The non-recovery system requires less upkeep, but does not recycle the nutrient solution.
Ebb and flow
For plants that fare well with long spans of dryness, the ebb and flow hydroponic system is often an ideal alternative. It involves flooding the plants with the nutrient solution at specific time frames, then allowing the solution to gradually flow back into the reservoir. This method also requires a submersible pump and timer to ensure that the roots receive the proper amount of nutrient solution.
Nutrient film technique
The nutrient film technique hydroponic system consists of a tilted reservoir that receives a continual flow of nutrient-rich solution. The roots are the only part of the plant that come into direct contact with the nutrients, which enables the top of the plant to receive more oxygen and increase its rate of growth.
An aeroponic hydroponic system is great for small spaces or first-time hydroponic gardeners. There are even aeroponic garden kits that come with everything gardeners require to grow their own garden with no prior experience. This system involves suspending the roots of the plant while misting them with a nutrient-rich solution. Gardeners can either use a spray nozzle that produces a gentle mist or a pond fogger that releases the solution every few minutes.
The water culture hydroponic system features a Styrofoam layer that sits directly on top of a reservoir, allowing the roots to suspend in a nutrient-rich solution. An air pump forces air into the reservoir to provide the roots with the oxygen they need, and helps reduce the risk of drowning. This method is one of the easiest and requires very little maintenance. However, the plants must not come into direct contact with light to prevent algae growth, which has the potential to ruin the harvest.
How to buy hydroponics equipment on eBay
Sellers on eBay feature a wide selection of hydroponics equipment with convenient shipping options. Simply search for a general search term, such as "hydroponics", then narrow your results by type, condition, and price to find the hydroponics equipment you need to grow your own garden. You can also look for local sellers to reduce shipping costs and times, or a hydroponic kit to get all your supplies in one convenient package.