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Frequently Asked Questions About Hydroponics
Q. What is hydroponics?
A. Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. The plants thrive on the nutrient solution alone. The medium (rockwool) merelyacts as support for the plants and their root systems, and perhaps to hold moisture around the roots. The growing medium, if any, is totally inert.
Q. What are the advantages of hydroponic versus soil grown plants?
Plants will maintain optimum nutrient and moisture levels in hydroponic systems, which offer several benefits: healthier plants, faster growing plants and plants that will be more disease resistant as they are not stressed by drought. The root systems stay smaller on hydroponically grown plants, so the plant can concentrate its growth energy on producing plant mass, rather than roots. Allows the grower to have more plants per square foot of growing space. Hydroponically grown plants never get root bound, so they do not need repotting. Hydroponic produce has a longer shelf life than soil-grown produce. Hydroponics is clean.
No soil means no weeds or soil borne pests and diseases.
Q. Can plants be grown organically and hydroponically?
A. Organic and hydroponic growers have typically regarded each other somewhat suspiciously. The two growing methods were at one time thought to be incompatible, however there is some common ground. Hydroponic growing is based on immediate and 100% nutrient availability. Organic fertilizers typically break down over a period of time via bacterial action in the soil.
Q. What types of plants can be grown hydroponically?
A. Anything can be easily grown, but some plants prove to be more space efficient. Some plants we suggest are tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot chiles, lettuce, spinach, chard, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, beans, snow peas, herbs, flowers of all types and house plants.
Q. Do you really get better yields in less time?
A. Absolutely. The plants, receiving everything they need, tend to be healthier, faster growing and generally more productive.
Q. What about taste? Will the flavor compare to produce from my outdoor, organic garden?
A. You bet--perhaps even better! This is simply due to the fact that the hydroponically grown plants are getting everything they need, when they need it and the plants are not stressed.
Q. Do we use any pesticides? If so, what kind?
A. Generally, indoor environments demand less pesticides for obvious reasons. Hydroponic growing eliminates soil borne pests, as well. However, if pests do become a problem, one can choose to use insecticidal soaps, natural pyrethums and, in most cases, beneficial insects. These controls will be completely safe to use on edible crops and are also environmentally safe.
Q. What is the best growing medium?
A. There is no clear cut answer to this questions. Different mediums work better for different situations and different crops.
We have chosen to use rockwool by Grodan, which holds a tremendous amount of water and offers a buffer against drying in the case of electrical outages or pump failures. Rockwool will maintain a 60/40 water to air ratio even when completely saturated, which makes for extremely healthy root growth.