What is Hydroponics? Edit
Hydroponics is the growing of plants without the use of soil, and most of the time with artificial sunlight. Plants are fed through water that is doctored with nutrients, simulating the normal environment that soil and sunlight provide.
Why grow hydroponically? Edit
- Less disease susceptibility
- Because hydroponics is normally used indoors, many of the pests that infect plants outside are not present. This allows "organic" pesticide-free growth, and none of the plant and yield loss associated with such infections/infestations.
- Grow in all seasons
- In many areas of the world, it is not easy to grow outside due to temperature and humidity extremes. Hydroponics provides a stable environment to grow almost any plant.
- Predictable and rapid growth
- Because most aspects of a hydroponic garden are controlled, the ability to specifically administer nutrients and types of light at particular times results in plant growth rates and predictable growth patterns that are not possible in traditional gardens.
- For high-value crops, hydroponics provides a reliable supply of nutrients to plants, in an environment that is controlled, so loss of plants can be minimized.
- Hydroponics makes for an interesting and entertaining hobby.
How do I get started? Edit
The best place to start is a local hydroponics store. Being a niche market, these dealers are generally happy to discuss at length the ups and downs of hydroponics, and can guide you in the right direction in choosing a setup that works for you. Hydroponics is generally a highly equipment-intensive method of growing plants, so you can expect to spend a few hundred dollars on a small system for your personal use.
Is Hydroponics Commercially Viable? Edit
Yes! many of the "live" lettuces you see in the supermarket are grown hydroponically because of the high-quality produce that it fosters. A great example is HydroSerre, located in Mirabel, Quebec, that has constructed vast greenhouses for the growth of hydroponic lettuce using the lettuce raft system.
However, in most home systems, unless you are growing a very high value crop, you will most likely incur a net loss. But the intrinsic reward of presenting friends and guests with fresh home-grown produce may very well negate that cost.