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Hydroponics - What is Hydroponic Gardening

How to Grow An Herb Garden With Hydroponics

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Aerogarden

Aerogarden

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Hydroponics is the term used to describe growing without soil. It is also known as soil-less gardening. This includes the basic plant in a container of water, or a more intricate form of hydroponics, growing in a non-soil medium like gravel, sand, vermiculite, crushed rock bricks or even Styrofoam.

Why Choose Hydroponic Herb Gardening

There are several reasons that you may choose to grow your herbs hydroponically. Let's take a look at some of them.
  • Sterile Environment-First and foremost, using a soil-less medium means a sterile growing environment. Soil borne pests and diseases are not present as they are in natural soil. Weeds are eliminated in soil-less medium, where they are a constant battle in conventional gardening.
  • More Plants In Less Space-Growing hydroponically means growing in such a controlled environment, that you can concentrate growth in a tighter area. Your entire garden can fit on the counter top for instance, and take up no more room than a toaster.
  • Optimal Conditions- Because of this controlled environment, your output is much greater. There is less stress on the herbs from disease and weeds, that the plants grow faster. The lighting is optimal, no rainy days, or widely fluctuating temps. All these contribute to faster growing, healthier herbs.
  • How To Grow Hydroponically

    In order to be successful at a hydroponic herb garden, you need the correct supplies. These include the container, the lighting, the optimal temperature, and the nutrients.
    • Container-From elaborate watering tables in a greenhouse, to a small, self contained unit on a counter, there is a hydroponic garden that is right for every herb gardener. Your hydroponic container must be non reactive, easy to clean, and the correct size for the plants.
    • Lighting -No matter how good a system you have for your herbs, they will not thrive without proper lighting. With hydroponics, you can keep your hydroponic garden in a location that receives the proper amount of light needed, or provide artificial lighting sufficient for herb growth. When considering a location, using a light meter is a good way to measure the amount of light that falls on a surface. Light meters are often found in where photography supplies are sold.
    • Temperature- Regulating temperature is another essential requirement for a successful hydroponic garden. When using the natural lighting in a room, it is important to measure the temperature near the window, to account for drafts. Remember that hot air also rises, and hanging gardens are going to have their own temperatures. When using artificial lighting, temperature becomes easier to manage, although drafts and heating units should not be too close to the garden.

      The optimal high temperature for a hydroponic garden is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is the optimal high, with a 10 degree fall in temperature being the low. Plants require this fall in temps to signal that they can then rest, or stop producing energy.

    • Nutrients - Because hydroponics means controlling every aspect of a plant's growth, nutritional needs are important. For most of us, buying a pre-made solution is the most economical and safest way to feed our hydroponic gardens. Although it is not too expensive when you figure the single amounts of nutrients needed, often they are sold in large quantities that can add up cost-wise.

      Because there is no soil, all the nutrition must come from the applied solution. The nutrients, often called nutrient salts, is usually measured and then dissolved in water. This water is then poured over your aggregate, or pumped through the hydroponic system.

      Even the most carefully measured nutrient will result in a buildup of unused salts over time. It is essential that your hydroponic system is flushed with clean water on a schedule, commonly every two weeks, to remove the excess nutrient salt buildup. This buildup will affect the uptake of proper nutrition by the plant's roots and cause problems if not removed regularly.

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