Hydroponic Gardening

What is hydroponics?
The word, Hydroponic, comes from Latin and means working water. Simply put, it is the art of growing plants without soil.

How do plants grow without soil?
The plants are grown in an inert growing medium to hold the root structure. Nutrient minerals are added to the water to effortlessly feed the plant.

What are the advantages of hydroponics?
• Plants can be grown in lots of locations. There is no need for good quality soil.
• Much less water is required – about 90% less compared to growing in soil.
• Plants grow faster and can be planted at higher density.
• Quality fresh vegetables from your own backyard.

Tell me more about the water?
First, the pH is balanced to the ideal level for the plant. Then nutrients are added. These characteristic are measured with meters than can be relatively inexpensive (under $20 on eBay).

What kinds of vegetables can be grown?
A very broad variety of vegetables can be grown hydroponically. Leafy greens and herbs are quite simple. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries are other examples. These plants may require different type of hydroponic systems to grow optimally.

Do you need to grow in a greenhouse?
Many people equate hydroponics with greenhouses. There are some advantages to growing in a greenhouse – more controlled environment, longer growing season, some pest management. But a greenhouse is not required, especially in the Bay Area with our mild climate. In fact some vegetables grow better outside.

How hard is it to grow and how much does it cost?
Hydroponics can appear intimidating, and there are systems that can be quite expensive. But the sample A-Frame system can be built and running for under $300, including all of the supplies to start growing. And the maintenance is on par or less than a traditional outdoor garden.

What is the difference between hydroponics and aquaponics?
There are a variety of different hydroponic systems. Aquaponics systems grow fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in.