By: Aimee Jarrels, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Pender County
Hydroponics gardening has recently become popular because of urbanization, climate change, and land infertility. The increasing food production challenges taught people to develop innovative ways of gardening to address these ongoing concerns. Among the contemporary methods of gardening is Hydroponics Gardening.
Hydroponics is the method of cultivating plants without using soil where the plants are suspended in nutrient solutions. The term “hydroponics” was first used in 1973, a word coined by the Father of Hydroponics, Dr. William Frederick Gericke. The word hydroponics means water work, a combination of the Greek words ‘hydro’ means water and ‘ponos‘ which means labor.
Hydroponic systems vary and can be made accordingly. Among the common system structures are Wick System, Ebb and Flow system, Drip system, Deep water culture system, and Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system. Wick System is done by placing absorbent material with a wick running from plants in the nutrient solution. This method is best for small plants. Ebb and Flow System works by flooding the grow bed to a certain level and time. The Drip System is the most popularly used where the nutrient solution is provided to individuals plants. Deep Water System works by placing the roots of the plants suspended in nutrients by an air stone. Lastly, the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System, allows the nutrient solution to flow throughout the whole system from the reservoir to the plants’ root system.
The use of hydroponic gardening allows higher production in a shorter amount of time. It allows efficient water use, and a hydroponic form of gardening allows those who live in urban and small spaces to have a fresh harvest all year-round. There are also fewer pests and diseases since the environment can be controlled. The initial cost of setting up the system and the technical knowledge pose a challenge to those who want to venture into this innovative gardening method.
Whether this method provides more benefits than limitation, it sure gives us a glimpse of the many and wide array of how food production has evolved to address the current global food problem.