The Hydroponics Guide for Beginners
Since the dawn of early humans we have relied on agriculture to produce our food. For thousands of years the way to grow food was soil based and climate dependent. There were a few advanced cultures growing in innovative ways as far back as 2000 years ago, but fundamentally speaking farming hasn’t changed much for thousands of years. It wasn’t until about 100 years ago that new methods of food production were formally explored and developed. In the past hundred or so years these new methods of growing have changed how people can access food, and has redefined resource economies globally. The most pivotal of these innovations is the development of Hydroponics.
Hydroponics is a set of growing methods that rely on water to deliver nutrients to plant roots directly, with no soil or medium acting as the delivery system. The term “hydroponics” is derived from the word “hydro” (water) and the Greek word “ponos” which means “labor.” Using hydroponics systems is an excellent way to grow a garden of your own, even if you do not have access to any outdoor space. Traditional gardens require outdoor space, soil beds and plenty of sunlight to thrive. A well set up hydroponics system effectively provides all of that artificially in a controlled setting. The general operation of such a system is different than that of a soil garden. You can make changes to the plant nutrient levels in more exact ways, and tailor your light spectrums and levels to produce different tastes, textures, and growth effects.
When compared to setting up a traditional soil based garden, hydroponic setups are definitely more complex to DIY and often require daily monitoring to ensure the plants are receiving their required nutrient levels. Since there is no soil present, hydroponic systems make up for the lack of soil based nutrients by adding nutrients manually and balancing the waters pH to closely mimic the nutrient and pH contents of any desired soil type. For the success of your garden it is crucial that you (or automated sensors!) monitor the nutrient solution and pH in your garden to avoid killing your plants.
Nutrient solutions are comprised of groups of minerals and compounds split into three main groups; Macronutrients, Secondary Macronutrients, and Micronutrients. Within each group there are different compounds that have their own vital roles to play in ensuring the growth and success of your plants. Usually these will come labelled as A,B, and C nutrients, or Grow, Micro, and Bloom. Using a mix of Grow and Micro you can get most plants growing great. To get a fruiting plant to start making flowers and fruits, Bloom mixes will come pre-formulated to give plants an extra kick of energy to focus on producing harvestable fruits and veggies!
A decade or two from now who knows how advanced our agricultural technology might be! At Aeroasis we see a future where everyone has access to fresh food through the use of small scale, in home automated growing appliances. The blend of automation and hydroponics can lead us to a world with more resource autonomy, more access to clean healthy food, and a deeper connection to the food systems that affect us all daily.