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Let's start by defining hydroponics. Literally, the name means working water. Simply put, it is the art of gardening without soil. There are six basic kinds of hydroponic systems with hundreds of possible variations.
The Pharaohs of Egypt enjoyed fruits and vegetables grown hydroponically. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was believed to be a hydroponic garden. In India, plants are grown directly in coconut husk; hydro at the most grassroots level. If hydroponics is a "new" technology, it is a new technology in general use for thousands of years. Hydroponics is not new -- just different
Plant growth is a real and natural happening. Plants require basic, natural things for normal growth. Hydroponics supplies the plant with what it needs, when it needs it. There is no genetic mutation that takes place inside the equipment nor are there any mysterious wonder chemicals introduced to the plants roots that trick them into thinking they're on steroids. With the production of more refined nutrients, it is now possible to grow completely organic produce with hydroponics. You can't get more natural than that
Growing plants hydroponically is far more earth friendly than conventional gardening on numerous levels. As we are coming to realize that water is our most precious resource the first point worth noting is that hydroponics uses 70 to 90 percent LESS water than conventional gardening. The second greatest ecological benefit is that no fertilizer runoff escapes into our lakes, rivers and aquifers. These two items alone, water conservation and the non-pollution of lakes and streams, are major plus values.
As we've stated, hydroponics is growing without soil and no bells or whistles are required to accomplish this. An inexpensive bucket or nursery pot, filled with a hydroponic growing medium and hand watered with a hydroponic nutrient is hydroponics. A sheet of Styrofoam filled with net cups and floating on an aerated tank is hydroponics and as a point of fact, this system is very popular for elementary school science projects. The technological potential for automation and total environmental control is virtually limitless but in no way required to have a beautiful and abundant hydroponic garden. Basic hydroponics can be taught to the very young, the very elderly and anyone open to learning a few new tricks.
As with any hobby, there's always a new toy to buy or things you may want to upgrade as you expand your knowledge. Gardeners are dedicated to their passion and whether that is bonsai, orchids, organics, kitchen gardening, etc.. there are always things to spend money on. However, it is also just as easy to achieve amazing results while staying within any size budget.
Hydroponics is used extensively the world over. It is used in countries where the climate prohibits or limits growth and where the soil is too poor to support large-scale crop production. It is also used in countries, including the USA, where once fertile soil has been so abused and over farmed that it is now depleted or toxic. In British Columbia, 90% of all the greenhouse industry is now hydroponic.
Hydroponics is as easy to use outdoors under the sun as it is indoors. One advantage to gardening indoors under grow lights is that you, not Mother Nature, control the seasons, making the growing season twelve months long. However, that is still true whether you grow in soil or hydroponically. Soil gardening can be done indoors and hydro can be done outdoors.
Hydroponics requires no pesticides
This is one myth that we wish were true.The need should be greatly reduced because a strong healthy plant is much less susceptible to attack than a weaker plant. Also, soil-born pest will be totally eliminated but even in an indoor environment, intruders still find their way in, catching a ride on your person or sneaking through tiny crevices. Monitor any garden carefully so you can catch problem insects when they first appear and your need for toxic products will be minimal.
Hydroponics can't turn a cherry tomato into a beefsteak tomato but it can turn it into the best cherry tomato it can be. Therefore, start with the best genetics possible.
Getting a plant to grow to its highest potential in common soil is difficult because of the hundreds of variables in the soil's make-up which influence the plant and its growth. It is the ability to control these variables that makes hydroponics superior to conventional gardening. In addition, factor that a plant in soil expends a great portion of energy working for its food in a way that hydro plants do not. The diva existence of a hydroponic plant allows it to send that extra energy into faster growth, dense vegetation, larger yields and more flavorful produce.
Henry Ford once received a letter from a depression-era bank robber responsible for the deaths of several law enforcement officers, killed in their attempt to stop him as he fled the crime scene. In his letter, he thanked Mr. Ford for making his Model A Ford such a good getaway car.
The use of hydroponics for illegal purposes is stressed by the law enforcement community whenever an efficient and successful growing operation is uncovered. This paints a false and slanderous picture of an industry and method which may well hold the key to solving world hunger. The percentage of hydroponic systems being used for illegal purposes parallels the percentage of Ford Motor cars used in bank robbery getaways. Somehow, the multitude of hydroponics systems used in normal, legitimate growing operations just doesn't make it on the evening news.
Yes, hydroponics is popular with illegal growers. This popularity is founded on the same principles that make it popular with legal growers -- a bigger, better, higher quality crop.
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