What is Hydroponics?

 

 

Hydroponics is a Latin term meaning Water Workings. With hydroponics you are simply growing plants with water. The plants are grown in an inert medium and feed a nutrient solution, which contains all the elements needed for proper growth. In hydroponics the physiological needs of the plant can be meet without the use of soil. Hydroponics dates as far back the pyramids. There is a long history of hydroponics. It goes back as far as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Hydroponics is becoming more popular as commercial and home-growers look for a better way to grow crops. With hydroponics and the right artificial light source the indoor garden can be amazing.

 

  Hydroponics is becoming more popular as commercial and home-growers look for a better way to grow crops

                                                                                                                                                                  

The Advantages of Hydroponics

1.      There is less labor required in hydroponics. No digging and weeding means less labor.

2.      Plants can be grown in locations which were impossible to grow plants such as desert areas, places with poor soil, and any spare room in the home.

3.      There will be no competition for nutrients and water, since each is fully accessible to the plants.

4.      More can be grown in a smaller space.

5.      Faster growing and more flavors in veggies and fruit.

6.      Your crops do not have to fight the diseases, fungus and pests frequently found in soil.

 

 

 

 

Nutrients

   

Major Elements                           Common Sources

Nitrogen                                 calcium nitrate or potassium nitrate

Phosphorus                             potassium phosphate, also from phosphoric acid used for pH control

Potassium

Calcium

Magnesium                            magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)

Sulfur

 

Minor Elements                    Common Sources

Iron                                         iron chelate (FeEDTA or FeDTPA)

Manganese                            manganese sulfate

Boron                                      borax or boric acid

Copper                                    cupric sulfate, copper chelate

Sodium  

Cobalt

Silicon

 

 

You can buy pre-mixed hydroponics solutions, which need only to be dissolved in water. I recommend buying pre-mixed nutrients. It will make life easier and decrease the chance of failure.

 

 

 

Growing Media

 

 

The media used in hydroponics is an inert soil-free media such as fiber, stone and sand.  These medias need to hold an equal amount of air and oxygen to be considered for use in hydroponics.

 

Grorox is an expanded clay pellet that holds water due to its porous, irregular shape. Groroxs have a neutral PH making them the perfect hydroponics media.


 Cocopeat is a completely organic media made from ground coconut husk. It has the water retention of vermiculite and the aero ration of perlite.

 

Rockwool is made from molten lava that has been spun into glass-like fibers. Rockwool has a good air to water retention ratio and is widely used for cuttings and seed germination. There are environmental issues with using Rockwool. Rockwool is not biodegradable.

 

Perlite is siliceous volcanic rock, which is heated to a suitable point, expanding it from four to twenty times its original volume. Perlite has an enviable record of performance as a propagating and growing medium in hydroponics. It has an outstanding water to air ratio, which is idea for hydropnics.



 

Ph & PPM

The ph of your solution is very important. Without getting to high tech, the ph refers to the potential hydrogen-hydroxyl content of a solution. The ph will tell you if your solution is acid or alkaline. Pure water has a balanced ph of 7.0. If the ph is incorrect the plant will loose it's ability to absorb the nutrients. Most plants will survive in a range of 5.0-7.5 but will grow there best at the correct ph. Experience growers consider 5.5-6.5 to be the idea ph for growing most crops. Below is a chart with the ph & ppm range for different types of plants. The ph of the solution can be checked using different types of tools. Strips, Meter, ph solutions. If the ph is too acid or alkaline you will need to adjust it. There are several things that can be used for this, but I advise using a purchased ph up or ph down solution. PPM (parts per million) is a way of expressing the quantity of one amount dissolved into another (salts into water). You will find that the dissolved substances are measured as ppm, cf or EC (depending on your meter). This is used to determine the strength of your hydroponics nutrients solution. The cf will change over time in all re-circulating methods and will need to be checked. This way you know if you need to add nutrients. Below is a chart with the ranges for different plats.


Vegetable Crops

pH

cF

ppM

Artichoke 6.5-7.5 8-18 560-1260
Asparagus 6.0-6.8 14-18 980-1260
Bean (Common) 6.0 20-40 1400-2800
Beetroot 6.0-6.5 8-50 1260-3500
Broad Bean 6.0-6.5 18-22 1260-1540
Broccoli 6.0-6.8 28-35 1960-2450
Brussell Sprout 6.5 25-30 1750-2100
Cabbage 6.5-7.0 25-30 1750-2100
Capsicum 6.0-6.5 18-22 1260-1540
Carrots 6.3 16-20 1120-1400
Cauliflower 6.5-7.0 5-20 1050-1400
Celery 6.5 18-24 1260-1680
Cucumber 5.5 17-25 1190-1750
Eggplant 6.0 25-35 1750-2450
Endive 5.5 20-24 1400-1680
Fodder 6.0 18-20 1260-1400
Garlic 6.0 14-18 980-1260
Leek 6.5-7.0 14-18 980-1260
Lettuce 6.0-7.0 8-12 560-840
Marrow 6.0 18-24 1260-1680
Okra 6.5 20-24 1400-1680
Onions 6.0-6.7 14-18 980-1260
Pak-choi 7.0 15-20 1050-1400
Parsnip 6.0 14-18 980-1260
Pea 6.0-7.0 8-18 980-1260
Pepino 6.0-6.5 20-50 1400-3500
Potato 5.0-6.0 20-25 1400-1750
Pumpkin 5.5-7.5 18-24 1260-1680
Radish 6.0-7.0 16-22 840-1540
Spinach 60-7.0 18-23 1260-1610
Silverbeet 6.0-7.0 18-23 1260-1610
Sweet Corn 6.0 16-24 840-1680
Sweet Potato 5.5-6.0 20-25 1400-1750
Taro 5.0-5.5 25-30 1750-2100
Tomato 6.0-6.5 20-50 1400-3500
Turnip 6.0-6.5 18-24 1260-1680
Zucchini 6.0 18-24 1260-1680
 

Fruits

pH

cF

ppM

Banana 5.5-6.5 18-22 1260-1540
Black Currant 6.0 14-18 980-1260
Blueberry 4.0 -5.0 18-20 1260-1400
Melon 5.5-6.0 20-25 1400-1750
Passionfruit 6.5 16-24 840-1680
Paw-Paw 6.5 20-24 1400-1680
Pineapple 5.5-6.0 20-24 1400-1680
Red Currant 6.0 14-18 980-1260
Rhubarb 5.0- 6.0 16-20 840-1400
Strawberries 6.0 18-22 1260-1540
Watermelon 5.8 15-24 1260-1680
 

Flowers

pH

cF

ppM

African Violets 6.0-7.0 12-15 840-1050
Anthurium 5.0-6.0 16.20 1120-1400
Antirrhinim 6.5 16-20 1120-1400
Aphelandra 5.0-6.0 18-24 1260-1680
Aster 6.0-6.5 18-24 1260-1680
Begonia 6.5 14-18 980-1260
Bromeliads 5.0-7.5 8-12 560-840
Caladium 6.0-7.5 16-20 1120-1400
Canna 6.0 18-24 1260-1680
Carnation 6.0 20-35 1260-2450
Chrysanthemum 6.0-6.2 18-25 1400-1750
Cymbidiums 5.5 6-10 420-560
Dahlia 6.0-7.0 15-20 1050-1400
Dieffenbachia 5.0 18-24 1400-1680
Dracaena 5.0-6.0 18-24 1400-1680
Ferns 6.0 16-20 1120-1400
Ficus 5.5-6.0 16-24 1120-1680
Freesia 6.5 10-20 700-1400
Impatiens 5.5-6.5 18-20 1260-1400
Gerbera 5.0-6.5 20-25 1400-1750
Gladiolus 5.5-6.5 20-24 1400-1680
Monstera 5.0-6.0 18-24 1400-1680
Palms 6.0-7.5 16-20 1120-1400
Roses 5.5-6.0 15-25 1050-1750
Stock 6.0-7.0 16-20 1120-1400
 

Herbs

pH

cF

ppM

Basil 5.5-6.5 10-16 700-1200
Chicory 5.5-6.0 20-24 1400-1600
Chives 6.0-6.5 18-22 1260-1540
Fennel 6.4-6.8 10-14 700-980
Lavender 6.4-6.8 10-14 700-980
Lemon Balm 5.5-6.5 10-16 700-1120
Marjoram 6.0 16-20 1120-1400
Mint 5.5-6.0 20-24 1400-1680
Mustard Cress 6.0-6.5 12-24 840-1680
Parsley 5.5-6.0 8-18 560-1260
Rosemary 5.5-6.0 10-16 700-1120
Sage 5.5-6.5 10-16 700-1120
Thyme 5.5-7.0 8-16 560-1120