by Abby Lanes
Hydroponic Gardening Systems
When you lack the land for a traditional garden, consider one of the hydroponic gardening systems in order to raise vegetables indoors.
Hydroponic gardening techniques were brought into modern agricultural practice with the invention of nutrient additives and formulas in the early 1900s. Originally hydroponic gardening utilized water as the growing medium. Today hydroponic gardeners use various other forms for growing medium.
There are six basic types of hydroponics growing medium systems in use today: wick, water culture, drip, ebb and flow, nutrient film technique and aeroponic. There are other growing mediums available today but the are variations of these six basic types of hydroponics.
Hydroponic Gardening Systems – Wick Systems
Of the hydroponic gardening systems the most suitable for indoor gardening is the wick system.
Most indoor gardeners prefer wick systems as the simplest ways to grow plants. The wick system is passive, so it has no moving parts. Growing plants using the wick method is very simple. A wick is simply placed into a container of nutrient solution. The wick draws the nutrient solution into the growing medium, so there is no need for any additional moving parts.
Other components of the wick hydroponic gardening system usually include:
* Growing medium
* Growing tray
* Hydroponics system air pump
* An air stone
To use the wick hydroponics system, you’ll need to include a growing and rooting medium. Perlite, vermiculite and Pro-Mix are commonly used for grow medium with hydroponic gardening systems. The major problem with the wick system is that plants requiring large amounts of water may use up the nutrient solution faster than the wick can supply it.
Ebb and Flow
This hydroponic gardening system is also known as the “flood and drain” method, The ebb and flow indoor system works by temporarily flooding the grow tray with nutrient solution, and then draining the solution out of the tray and back into the nutrient solution holding tank.
A submerged pump run by a timer is responsible for continuously cycling the nutrient solution. The timer turns the pump on, and the nutrient solution is pumped into the grow tray. Then, when the timer shuts the pump off, the nutrient solution flows back into the holding tank. This process is carefully timed, and repeated several times throughout the day. The size and type of plants, humidity, temperature and the type of growing medium used can all affect the number of times the hydroponics system will “ebb and flow”.
Water Culture System
Another easy hydroponic gardening system that is simple to set up is the water culture system. Components include:
a floating platform
The floating platform acts as a foundation system and holds plants in place while the roots dangle in the nutrient solution. The air pump is located outside of the tank and pumps air through the line to the air stone. The air stone, in turn, aerates or “bubbles” through the nutrient solution, providing oxygen for the plant roots.
An ideal plant to grow using the water culture hydroponics system is leaf lettuce. Leaf lettuce is a plant that grows quickly and requires a lot of water, making it a good match for this type of hydroponics system.