Monthly Archives: December 2014

Hydroponics and Root Length

HydroponicsHydroponic gardening makes it possible for those with little to no gardening space grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables without the use of soil. All you need is a container for growing, a liquid nutrient tank, and a grow light. While plants do grow differently in hydroponic gardens compared to outdoor gardens, the results are often better than a conventionally grown plant – making both the gardener and the chef happy.

Passive Hydroponic Systems

This type of hydroponic system feeds nutrients to the plants through a wick system. The nutrients are soaked through a wick and then passed to plant roots through contact. The self-watering plants allow for good growth. However, the plants being in pots promotes them becoming root bound. They are still considered hydroponic because plant nutrition comes from water, rather than soil. Passive hydroponic systems typically do not allow for the reuse of the nutrient solution, so you will have to adjust that accordingly to ensure the plants receive the adequate nutrition required to foster growth.

HydroponicsActive Hydroponic Systems

Active hydroponic systems use mechanics to move the water and nutrients. These systems provide plants with a nutrient rich water solution. Plants are contained with a soilless medium and anchored over the nutrient tank. The nutrient tank recycles the nutrient solution, so you can use and reuse it over and over. However, you will need to check and adjust the pH on a regular basis to ensure it remains within the safe range for the crops you are growing. For most plants, the ideal pH ranges from 5.5 to 6.5.

How the Hydroponic System Affects Root Growth and Length

Hydroponically grown plants have smaller roots than their conventional soil grown counterparts. This is because the nutrition the plant needs is so readily available. Roots grow to provide plant support, but because they are no longer the sole support for growth, they do not have to be as large.

Roots do not have to search for an adequate water supply in a hydroponic environment. As such, you’ll see the same healthy growth as other plant parts, but you will not see the long root growth you would find in a plant that was grown in conventional soil. Plants will have the ability to survive longer with adequate water and poor food than with adequate food and a lack of water. Shorter roots are an indication of the efficient delivery of water and nutrients to the plants. When compared to conventionally grown crops, the hydroponic root systems will always be shorter.

Growing Root Crops with Hydroponic Systems

If you want to grow a root crop, such as beets, carrots, potatoes, or turnips, a passive hydroponic system is best. These plants all do well when they receive adequate water. However, it is important to note that soil may play a role in the texture of the resulting root crop. Experiments with hydroponically grown root crops show that some of the vegetables are oddly shaped.

Soil vs. Hydroponics

HydroponicsIf you are into gardening, chances are you are most familiar with soil gardening – as it is the conventional method to grow plants. However, hydroponics gardening does not require the use of soil and instead relies on water to deliver nutrition to the plants. Hydroponics has several benefits compared to soil growth.

Worry Less About Plant Disease and Pests

By replacing soil with water, you remove the possibility of the plants getting many soil based diseases. As such, it will also remove a lot of pests typically associated with conventional gardening.

Weeding is Not Required

Without soil, you will not have weeds. When you do not have weeds, you don’t have to spend time weeding the garden.

Save Space

Plants need lots of room for the roots to spread when you grow them in soil. Because the hydroponic method gives plants more efficient nutrition, their roots are shorter. Therefore, the plants do not require as much as space to grow. This is an ideal set-up for people who have limited to no gardening space available.

Save Water

When grown in conventional soil, plants require a lot of water. Some of the water seeps into the ground. Some water evaporates out the soil. In other words, not much of the water is actually used by the plant. With hydroponics, a recirculating nutrient reservoir ensures the plant only takes what it needs at the time and leaves the rest in the reservoir for later use. The reservoir is covered so no evaporation can occur or seep from the bottom. As such, the same amount of water used to water a soil plant for a day can last for weeks in a hydroponic system.

Save Time

When in control of the hydroponic environment, you can speed up the plant growth. For instance, conventionally grown lettuce takes about two months to grow in conventional soil, while it can be grown in a month with a hydroponic system. Not only this, but you save time from not having to weed the garden, not having to focus on the time it takes to water and deal with pest control.

HydroponicsGet Control

With soil growth, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature to help your plants grow. In some climates where growing plants is difficult and limited, hydroponics can add variety to the possible crops you can grow. With hydroponics, you become the master of your plant environment. You are in control of the temperature, nutrient solution, humidity, and growth schedule. You are in control of when and how long your plants receive light. You are in control of when and what the plants are fed – and that control can make all the difference in the final harvest.

When you’re just getting started with hydroponic gardening, you don’t have to grow an entire food supply. Start with a few plants, maybe an herb garden, until you feel more comfortable with the idea. Research the requirements for the plants you are most interested in growing, and move on from there.