How can you eliminate your fears and doubts about hydroponic grow systems? The same way you eliminate all fears: By facing them!
Get to know everything you can about hydroponic grow systems. We fear what we don’t know. In this article, we’re sharing with you all you need to know about hydroponic grow systems so you can eliminate your fears and doubts about hydroponic grow systems.
The first thing you need to know is what is hydroponics? Hydroponics is the art of gardening without soil. Sounds easy enough, but to be honest it isn’t. It is not easy to grow plants without soil. In addition, you have to figure out how it all works.
To grow plants hydroponically, one has to set up a hydroponic system, but choosing the right system is important. Most times it’s just trial and error, but articles like this can assist you in making the right decision.
The next thing you need to know is how to transform normal water into a nutrient-rich solution. Normally, plants receive all their nutrients from the soil. However, there is no soil in a hydroponic system.
Nutrients therefore become the most important and most basic need of plants in a hydroponic grow system. Hydroponic plants are more delicate than plants that grow in soil, but they are of a higher quality due to the lack of fertilisers, pesticides, and microbial organisms that usually plague plants grown in soil.
This is not said to make you more fearful. But once you understand this fundamental truth, you have started the 12-step process of eliminating fear and doubts about hydroponic grow systems.
Learn how to detect deficiency in plants
As mentioned earlier, nutrients are the basic needs of hydroponic plants. There are two types of nutrients: macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that plants need in large quantities, while macronutrients and micronutrients are needed in small quantities. If therefore plants do not receive sufficient amounts of nutrients it will impact their growth, and they could possibly die.
As humans show signs of sickness, plants show symptoms of deficiency when they are lacking nutrients. Each nutrient has a different symptom so if you study each nutrient you will learn to identify the symptoms of deficiency.
The main macronutrients plants need are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium, while the main micronutrients are magnesium, zinc, copper and iron.
When your plant is deficient in Nitrogen the leaves turn yellow and you observe abnormal growth or short growth. If you notice this symptom it means your plant is in need and must receive high amounts of nitrogen.
When your plant is deficient in Phosphorus, the leaves become dark green, and sometimes littel white or yellow lines appear on old leaves. This deficiency also slows growth.
If the leaves of your hydroponic plants are turning yellow or you see brown or yellow spots on plant leaves then this shows the deficiency of Potassium. This is the third main nutrient that plants need to grow.
When plants are deficient in Calcium, dark spots appear on new leaves. The tips of leaves also show signs of burn when plants are deficient in Calcium.
Another micronutrient that is essential for plants is magnesium. A deficiency usually present as veins on older leaves.
Common signs of zinc deficiency in hydroponics is a reduction in the length of internode and leaf size.
A deficiency in Copper is not detrimental to the growth of a plant. And usually plants have sufficient copper.
Iron deficiency appears when there is a problem with the uptake of iron. Like magnesium deficiency, visible veins appear on plant leaves.
Thanks to nutrient manufacturers like Green Planet, Advanced Nutrients and General Hydroponics, you don’t need to know the amount of nutrients for your hydroponic grow system.
All you have to do is follow the instructions on the label or in the manual. Canadian Hydro Supply are the number one suppliers of these nutrients in Canada.
Now that you know enough about nutrients, the basic needs of plants, it’s time to learn about the hydroponic systems and how they work. Without an understanding of how hydroponic systems work, you will have fears and doubts because we fear what we don’t know.
There are six (6) basic types of hydroponic systems and many variations, but they all pont back to these six:
1. Deep Water Culture (DWC) systems
Deep Water Culture systems, also known as DWC systems, are one of the easiest and most popular types of hydroponic grow systems. A DWC system dangles net pots holding plants over a deep reservoir of oxygen-rich nutrient solution. The plants’ roots are submerged in the solution, providing them with perpetual access to nutrients, water and oxygen.
2. Wick systems
In a wick system, plants are nestled in a growing media on a tray that sits on top of a reservoir. The medium must be able to facilitate nutrient and water transference.E.g. Perlite. The reservoir houses a water solution with dissolved nutrients. Wicks travel from the reservoir to the growing tray..These wicks can be made of material as simple as rope or string.
The wick absorbs the water it’s immersed in like a sponge, and when it comes in contact with the porous growing media, it transfers the nutrient solution. Water and nutrients flow up the wick and saturate the growing media around the root systems of the plants.
Wick systems are passive hydroponics – meaning they don’t require mechanical parts like pumps to function. This makes it ideal for situations where electricity is either unreliable or unavailable.
3. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) systems
Unlike with Deep Water Culture hydroponics, the roots of the plants in an Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system are not immersed in water. Instead, NFT systems suspend plants above a stream of continuously flowing nutrient solution that washes over the ends of the plant’s root systems.
The channels holding the plants are tilted, allowing water to run down the length of the grow tray before draining into the reservoir below. The water in the reservoir is then aerated via air stone. A submersible pump then pumps the nutrient-rich water out of the reservoir and back to the top of the channel. Another name for the NFT technique is a recirculating hydroponic system.
Even though NFT systems are constantly recycling water, it is wise to drain the reservoir and replenish the nutrient solution every week or so. This ensures your plants are being delivered ample nutrition. NFT channels must be angled at a gradual slope.
If they’re too steep, the water will run down the channel too fast without properly nourishing the plants. If too much water is being pumped through the channel, the system will overflow and the plants can drown.
4. Ebb and Flow systems
Unlike the previous systems mentioned, the plants in an Ebb and Flow system are not constantly exposed to water. While the grow bed is flooded, the plants drink up the nutrient solution through their root systems. When the water ebbs and the grow bed empties, the roots dry out. The dry roots then oxygenate in the interval before the next flood. Hence the term, ebb & flow.
Ebb and Flow systems (also called flood and drain systems) are one of the most popular hydroponic growing methods, perhaps because Ebb and Flow systems can accommodate almost any type of vegetation. The abundance of oxygen and nutrition the plants are supplied with encourages quick and vigorous growth. The ebb and flow system is easily customizable and versatile.
5. Drip systems
In a hydroponic drip system, the aerated and nutrient-rich reservoir pumps solution through a network of tubes to individual plants. This solution drips slowly into the growing media surrounding the root system, keeping the plants moist and well-nourished. Among commercial growers, the drip systems are the most popular and widespread method of hydroponics. Drip systems can be individual plants or massive irrigation operations.
There are two configurations of drip system hydroponics: recovery and non-recovery. In recovery systems, the excess water is drained from the grow bed back into the reservoir to be recirculated during the next drip cycle. In non-recovery systems, the excess water drains out of the growing media and runs to waste.
And last, but not least, is the aeroponics system. Aeroponics systems suspend plants in the air and expose the roots to a nutrient-filled mist. In an aeroponics system, water and nutrients are stored in a reservoir and then pumped to a nozzle that atomizes the solution and distributes it as a fine mist. The mist is usually released from the top of the tower, allowing it to cascade down the chamber.
Some aeroponics continuously mist the plant’s roots, much like NFT systems expose the roots to the nutrient film at all times. Others function more like the Ebb and Flow system, spraying the roots with mist in intervals. Aeroponics systems use less water than any other form of hydroponics. In fact, it takes 95% less water to grow a crop aeroponically than in an irrigated field.
With aeroponics, great yields can be produced even in confined spaces. Furthermore, because of their maximized exposure to oxygen, aeroponic plants grow faster than other hydroponically grown plants.
Water and its pH
The final thing you need to know to eliminate your fears and doubts about hydroponic grow systems is that the invigorating powers of water are at the very core of hydroponics. Water bathes your hydroponic garden in nutrients, regardless of the system used, and vitalizes them, promoting their vibrant growth.
Unfortunately, most water is full of contaminants, and they pH is unbalanced for plants. Again, suppliers like CHS provide pH balanced products that take the guesswork out of hydroponics.
About Hydroponic Grow Systems
And there you have it, the most important things you need to know to eliminate your fears and doubts about hydroponic grow systems. We trust that you have learned enough about hydroponic grow systems to eliminate your fears and doubts.
Remember: Hydroponics is the art of cultivating crops without soil. It’s an acquired skill, but one that you can learn. If you master setting up a hydroponic grow system, you will succeed in hydroponic, and you will eliminate your fears and doubts about hydroponic grow systems.
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