How to Grow Cost-Effective Hydroponics

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After decades of research, in the 19th century German and European botanists developed hydroponics, or soilless cultivation. They discovered that plants do not require soil to grow, only the nutrients that soil provides. By letting roots soak in nutrient-rich solution, or by supporting them with an inert medium and passing nutritious water across them often, they can grow better than when using traditional methods. Hydroponics can be done cheaply to utilize the principles of the art, without a big hit to your bank account.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Drill
  • Sand, perlite, gravel or mineral wood
  • Hydroponic nutrient solution
  • Seeds or sprouts
  • Drill 10 to 12 holes in the side of the bucket 1 to 2 inches up from the bottom and spaced evenly around the bucket. Use a small drill bit when using a grainy inert medium, such as sand.

  • Fill the bucket halfway full with the inert medium of your choice, or if the plant has deep roots at maturity, fill the bucket more than halfway.

  • Wet the medium lightly with plain water and plant seeds or sprouts into the system. Seeds have a recommended depth on their packaging and should be used with sand or similar mediums; they should be watered twice daily with plain water until they begin to sprout. Sprouts should be used for mineral wood or other chunky mediums; their roots can be gently guided into the material and will wind in tightly on their own.

  • Water your plants once or twice a day, depending on how quickly they dry out. Water the plants with a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 nutrient solution until they are a month old, at which point their dosage of nutrients should gradually increase until they have a fully nutrient solution. Judge the health of the plant by its appearance and give more nutrients to withering plants. Stop watering when the solution seeps from the bottom of the bucket.

Tips & Warnings

  • Let your bucket drain into another dish and reuse the nutrient solution on younger plants, which require a higher dilution.
  • Some plants, including many herbs, require little water and may suffer under constantly wet conditions; watering cycles should reflect a plant's needs.
  • Don't use a bucket that has come into contact with harmful chemicals or toxins.

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References

  • Photo Credit three fresh hydroponics tomatos image by Flashon Studio from Fotolia.com
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