More and more green thumbs are making the transition from soil to water-based growing mediums. Known as hydroponics, it involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution. Sometimes the plants’ roots are suspended directly in the water, other times in sand, perlite, or gravel with water flowing through them. Regardless, hydroponics offers several significant advantages over traditional soil-based gardens.
1) Grow In Smaller Spaces
Not everyone has the space for a large, traditional garden. Thankfully, that isn’t an issue with hydroponics. You can set up a hydroponics garden using just a fraction of the space of a conventional garden. A typical hydroponics garden consists of PVC pipes with openings through which the plant grows. The top of the plant grows out of these holes, while the roots remain suspended in the nutrient-rich water below. This design ensures a highly efficient use of space.
2) Faster Growth Rate
Plants also grow faster in hydroponics systems. Research shows that hydroponics, on average, deliver 30% to 50% faster growth rates than soil. A tomato plant that usually takes 70 days to reach maturity when grown in the ground, for instance, can be ready to harvest in just 35 days with hydroponics.
3) Greater Yield
Because they require less space and have a faster growth rate, hydroponics gardens generate a more bountiful yield than their soil-grown counterparts. If you’re growing fruits, vegetables or spices, this means you’ll get more “stuff” from your garden. That alone is reason enough for some green thumbs to use hydroponics systems.
4) No Weeds
If you look at examples of hydroponics gardens, you’ll probably notice they all have one thing in common: no weeds are growing in them. Unlike soil gardens, hydroponics gardens aren’t susceptible to the intrusion of weeds and invasive plants. The water-based growing medium is protected from stray seeds, meaning you don’t have to worry about picking weeds.
5) Uses Less Water
It may sound contradictory, but hydroponics gardens use less water than soil gardens. In a typical soil garden, water flows past the plant’s roots where it’s dispersed throughout the soil. Even if this hydrates the plants, however, a substantial amount of water is lost. Hydroponics gardens, on the other hand, use water more efficiently. Water remains trapped in the growing medium, all while being constantly filtered and recycled.
6) Grow Indoors
Hydroponics also allows you to grow plants indoors, and by raising them indoors, you don’t have to worry about temperature changes affecting growth rate. Whether it’s spring or winter, you can grow a healthy garden in the comfort of your home using hydroponics. As long as you control the temperature in your home, neither frost nor heat will harm your plants.
7) Fewer Pests
Since it’s a closed system, snails, slugs, caterpillars and other common garden pests aren’t a problem with hydroponics. Your plants can grow without the threat of being devoured by pests.
8) Fewer Disease
Of course, hydroponics gardens have fewer diseases as well. Disease-causing bacteria and viruses thrive in soil. The moist, organic environment offers the perfect breeding grounds for disease-causing pathogens. In a hydroponics garden, however, there is no soil; thus, the risk of disease is significantly lower. As long you keep the water clean and filtered, your plants shouldn’t succumb to disease.
9) Greater Control
Hydroponics gardens offer greater control over nutrients than soil gardens. If your plants aren’t getting enough nitrogen, for instance, you can add a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer to the water. As the water circulates, it will supplement your plants with this critical nutrient.
10) Cost Savings
While the initial cost of setting up a hydroponics garden may cost more than a traditional soil garden, it will likely save you money in the long run. These gardens require less water and space, have fewer pests and diseases, and deliver bigger yields than conventional gardens. Therefore, you’ll spend less money growing plants in a hydroponics garden than you would in a soil garden.
As you can see, hydroponics offers several advantages over soil gardening. So, if you’re planning to start a garden soon, skip the soil and choose hydroponics instead.