All About Hydroponics – Mediums & Methods: Part One
When it comes to hydroponics, there are a few different methods you can try to get the best growth from your plants. It is possible to get bigger yields in a short time with less dirt. For those of you who don’t know, hydroponics is the method of growing plants using nutrient-rich water in an inert medium. Therefore plants spend less time growing roots, and more time dedicated to growing the initial and most important parts of your plants.
Growing plants using the method of hydroponics can help to provide an increase of up to 30% to your plant’s yield size. This is purely because of the intense nutrition they are exposed to.
There are quite a few different growing mediums which people use in hydroponics, each aiding different plant needs.
To start with, Perlite is used for soil and hydro settings, as it keeps roots aerated. Likewise, it’s great for if you have plenty of water around your plant’s roots. However, Perlite isn’t the best at retaining water.
Rockwool retains a good amount of water and is perfect for almost any hydro system. It is typically used for seedlings and cuttings but can also be used for young and mature plants.
Clay pellets and pebbles
Whereas Clay pellets and pebbles are one of the most popular mediums. The roundness of the pebbles lets water easily flow back into the nutrient reservoir, whilst giving roots and an exceptional path to grow.
When it comes to hydroponics, there are a few different methods you can try.
Deep Water Culture
Deep Water Culture is a hydroponic growing technique where roots sit in a bucket or a series of buckets. Oxygen is vital to the growth of any plant. The air pump makes sure roots don’t drown by creating bubbles containing oxygen. This allows your plant’s roots to breathe whilst still taking in enough nutrients. DWC is mainly for beginner growers or small scale growers.
Nutrient Film Technique
Nutrient Film Technique involves submerging your roots in water and letting roots hang down in an angled tray. This should have a low, steady flow of water running down the tray into a much larger reservoir. Therefore the tips of the roots pick up the nutrients flowing below and let your plant’s roots receive the correct amounts of air and nutrients for fantastic growth.
Alternatively, aeroponics consists of suspending your plants in the air, giving them a steady flow of water. The plants are then fed by a mist of nutrient water onto their roots. It’s actually pretty simple to set up an aeroponic system. However, this method is geared more toward professional and experienced growers. An Aeroponic system will also run on a timer, so if your power goes out and your timers and misters won’t work, it’ll eventually lead to dry and infected roots. Therefore ruining your crop.
Wicking is probably one of the oldest and easier hydroponic techniques you can use. With this method, you simply put your plant in its medium, then put it into a grow tray. Beneath the tray is a reservoir of water which the wick soaks up and transports it through to all the plant’s roots.
Drip systems are great for any level growers. You start by setting a timer for the length of time you want to drip for. Then, your plants get a simply slow drip of the solution, directly to their roots through a drip tube. You’ll want to use a slow draining medium to help your dripper constantly feed your plants roots. However, drip systems to tend to block more frequently.
It’s important to remember that even if your system doesn’t need an air pump, adding an air pump with an additional airstone will help to keep your nutrient solution oxygenated. A non-oxygenated solution will go stale, making nutrients nothing but useless. So use an airstone to keep your water fresh. It’s also important to keep a close eye on pH levels and the NPK ratios of your nutrient solutions and this can be done with a PH meter.
So there we go, just a few of the mediums and methods you can use to grow plants hydroponically. For more info on mediums and methods keep your eye out for part two of our All About Hydroponics – Mediums Methods blog post. Alternatively, subscribe to our mailing list and you’ll never miss a new blog post ever again.