Growing vegetables is not always an easy task but it offers the best outcomes as you get to eat your food from your own garden, knowing every part and solutions that went in to get them growing.
Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil, straight in nutrient-full water, is an artificial food growth technology.
So far, it’s been done mostly for feeding research teams in harsh environments like the arctic but because of its versatility and very fast-growing rates it’s starting to be used by the common gardeners to get more crops out of their plants.
Using this method, you can have tomatoes for example all year round, winter or summer, no matter what climate you live in. This method can be used in any environment and from anywhere, even in a sealed room in space.
Advantages of hydroponics
One popular way to grow your veggies is by getting rid of the middleman and place them straight into water containers. It sounds easy but the process is a little more complicated than that.
Getting rid of soil usage has a lot of advantages but a few disadvantages as well.
- Plants don’t need to spend their energy to create and expand their roots to reach more nutrients anymore. With hydroponics, the nutrients are put in water into a concentrated solution that reaches the root directly. The energy saved by that will be used by the plant to grow more crops instead.
- Plants grow in any weather or climate as they are set up in a totally controlled environment, with constant light, air composition, and temperature. They are not exposed to the outside world at all.
- No need for bug killers or weed control as they are basically in a contained environment like a greenhouse. No bugs can infect the crops and as there is no soil, there is no mold formation or unwanted weeds. This means that there is no need to spread toxic chemicals into the environment to stop these pests from killing your crops.
- Water efficiency. If you live in a place where water resources are scarce, then hydroponics is the solution because the whole system doesn’t promote water exposure to too much heat, and the controlled humidity will keep the water from evaporating from anywhere else but the plant’s leaves. Not only that but water absorption by the soil or weeds is basically inexistent.
- Soil is a consistent environment that provides the right factors for plant growth. For example, it recycles and replenishes nutrients for the plants to grow and it absorbs unwanted water or bacteria. Without it, there is no untouched control over important elements like temperature.
- Vulnerability of the crops without soil to protect them. There are so many intricate details that go into growing plants this way. Any sudden change for too long and your crops will start dying quickly. Imagine a power outage of a few days or disrupted supply of nutrient concentrate that goes into the water. The plant basically depends on you instead of the soil to get what it needs.
How to keep the temperature down
The most important thing that soil does is regulate temperature. Plant roots thrive in cooler environments which soil provides.
Here are some great ways to prevent that:
- Use growth chambers that are away from direct sunlight, preferably in a basement. It will be much cooler down there and the temperature will be relatively consistent.
- Use AC constantly to keep your temperature in check. Also, during light exposure time, make it cooler than normal as the many lights switched on will warm the room up.
- If you don’t have a basement and you have to keep your reservoirs under sunshine, try painting them white or beige to reflect some of the heat instead of attracting it with black containers.
- Increase the size of your reservoir. Even if you’re just doing it from passion of growing veggies sustainably and you’re only having small batches, try increasing the volume of your reservoirs as it will be harder for the water to warm up in large quantities.
- The instant way to cool the water is by having a chiller. It works as an AC unit but for water and it will instantly cool it down. However, this method is the most expensive one and can double your electrical bill.
One day, this can be the only sustainable way to have food and survive but before then, it’s great to learn about how hydroponics work and what you need to do in order to be able to sustain plant growth. With more farmers getting the information they need about this technology and how to do it right we hope to help making the world a better place by providing sustainable food to a starving population during worsening climate change conditions.