What is hydroponics?
The easy answer is growing plants without soil in a nutrient rich solution. There are several ways to set up a hydroponic system but each have a few things in common.
- They must allow enough room for the roots to grow.
- They must offer proper aeration for the roots so they do not drown in the water.
- They must offer a pH balanced and nutrient rich solution specific to the types of plants you are growing.
- They must offer sufficient lighting of the proper spectrum to support photosynthesis for proper growth
What is aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a division of hydroponics that suspends the plants above the nutrient rich reservoir. The roots are fed the nutrient laden water either by drip irrigation, misting, fogging or highly aerated bubbles. The most widely recognized aeroponic system is the Aerogarden by Aerogrow.
If you have the cash to lay out for the Aerogarden it is a very nice system that has all the necessary parts, pieces, nutrients and even seeds to make a small seroponic system work. Whether it’s for flowers to britghten your mood or herbs to brighten your food there are a number of plants that can be grown in the Aerogarden appliance.
If you are more frugal and like DIY projects search for homemade aerogarden and you will find a number of alternatives. None of them are as pretty as the aerogarden and it will take some time and expertise, but the DIY systems all seem to be practical and will grow plants. Make sure you have enough space to accommodate a Rubbermaid tub with a lid and an external lighting apparatus. Space issue and the potential for marital problems because of a loud ugly tub sitting in the front window. The only place I have that has the space is the back porch, but it is way too cold out there right now so I’d have to rig up heating to.
Year Round and Urban Applications
Upon doing further research on hydroponics and searching on ebay I came across another idea – vertical hydroponic gardens. I searched how to make a vertical hydroponic garden and I found a grass roots movement called WindowFarms.org. They encourage the use of hydroponics to grow herbs, greens, and fruit crops year round in available window spaces. Their system can either be purchased or built with readily available tools and items and repurposed plastic water bottles (they suggest using ones made by Nestle). Their community forum and blog, our.windowfarms.org, offers the opportunity to read about the experiences of others using the windowfarms idea and how they have succeeded, modified and improved the basic windowfarms concept. So whether you are a gardener that longs to have fresh produce from your garden in the dead of winter or an apartment dweller who does not have an outdoor space available for gardening a window farm is a space saving way to “get your green on” :D.