In the late 1950s, the Space Age brought massive amounts of technological progress all around the world, culminating in the landing of the moon with Apollo 11 in 1969. One of the areas we found advancement in is small-scale, vertical farming, or hydroponics. Thought to have been in use since the ancient Babylonian times, hydroponics have only made significant headway recently due to the new knowledge of nutritional optimization for plants. With more and more people living in apartments in cities every year, massive gardenscapes grow less frequent among young people. Those who still want to grow their own food small-scale will probably have to turn to the weird world of vertical farming, and probably won’t know where to start. That’s where you and I come in. Here’s a quick overview of modern hydroponics systems and why you should implement them in your landscape packages.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics comes from the combination of the Greek roots “hydro” and “ponos,” meaning “water” and “labor/work” respectively. Hydroponics is essentially farming through nutrient and mineral rich water in place of soil, massively reducing the size requirement for a farming system. Plants don’t necessarily need soil to grow, it’s just for thousands of years, that’s been the easiest way for us to transport nutrients into plants so that they’ll give up potatoes and tomatoes. Since the plants don’t have to waste time spreading their roots throughout the water, it’s theorized that hydroponics is even faster than traditional farming methods since the energy is delivered straight to the plant.
Why Grow Hydroponically?
As previously mentioned, space is a big issue today. Now we’re not setting up a multi-floor rice paddy, or feeding an entire community with this, but a small garden with a few herbs and vegetables is really valuable to some people. The maximum efficiency nutrient deliverance system allows for plants to taste better and are more healthy for you. Control is also a major plus, since you’re able to move plants in and out of the system and monitor nutrients better than you would in soil. And, if you’ve been keeping up on climate change, you’d know how important water conservation is. Hydroponics use almost 66% less water than traditional farming methods, since all the water goes directly to the plant, not the soil!
Basic Hydroponic Systems
- Wick System – Passive, non-recovery system that uses wicks (rope, felt) to transfer nutrients from water to a planting bed. Works best for small plants and beginners.
- Deep Water Culture – Passive recovery system where the roots are suspended in a reservoir of nutrient rich water, constantly oxygenated water.
- Nutrient Film Technique – Active recovery system where plants are placed in a trough with nutrient rich water running through it. At the end of the trough, the water recycles back up to the top through a pump in the reservoir.
- Aeroponics – The future! The newest and most expensive. Not unlike the Nutrient Film Technique, plants are suspended and roots exposed to the air, where a sprinkler douses them in nutrient-water.
No one should ever say no to diversification. To a common landscape company owner, setting up a hydroponic system should be a piece of cake and grants them access to an even larger market of customers who wouldn’t be able to afford or need larger landscaping projects. It’s a fun project for everyone involved, and it’s great to see how quickly your plants grow with a futuristic farming system!