What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics, also referred to, sometimes incorrectly, as hydroculture, water culture, nutrient culture or hydro growth, literally means 'water' (hydro) and 'working' (ponics) but, but practically, it means growing flowers, vegetables, fruit, herbs, peppers etc. in water that contains a nutrient solution. Traditional soils are never used. Although the soil is not required for the plant growth, the elements, minerals and nutrients present in soil are required. An hydroponic system allows absolute control of the nutrients contained in the water.
What are the benefits of growing hydroponically?
There are no soil based diseases. Growing seasons sometimes become irrelevant. You have full control over the plants growing conditions. Hydroponics uses about one tenth of the water needed to grow the same amount of produce using traditional methods. Hydroponics uses less fertilizer than used to grow equivalent amounts of traditionally grown produce. Generally speaking, there is a more intensive production in a smaller space.
Can I transfer plants from soil to an hydroponic system?
Absolutely! All you have to do is rinse the roots by gently dipping them in and out of water to remove as much soil as possible. Care should be taken so the plant doesn't go into plant-shock as can sometimes happen. After the roots are thoroughly clear of soil, the plant can be set into whatever medium is to be used and a watering regime can begin for about a week or so to aid swift recovery from transplanting.
Is hydroponics organic?
Not really, but hydroponics is a very pure form of horticulture which uses a fraction of the water and fertilizer that soil-based horticulture uses. There is no need for herbicides in hydroponics because there are no weeds. Most hydroponic growers use integrated pest management or biological control to keep pests and insects from causing damage. Most hydroponic fertilizers are a mix of premium grade water soluble fertilizers, but some companies have developed organic hydroponic fertilizer that can be certified as 'organic'.
What can I grow with hydroponics?
Nearly all types of plant life will grow hydroponically although there are a few that don't like damp and continuous watering. Most home growers plant vegetables or fruit such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peas or herbs etc. These flourish in an hydroponic system.
What does PPM mean?
PPM stands for Parts Per Million and can be used as the measurement of a number of different things. In hydroponics, it is most commonly used to measure the amount of TDS - Total Dissolved Solids in a nutrient solution or how much Co2 is in the atmosphere.
Can I make a business using hydroponics?
Hydroponics can definitely be financially lucrative. If you are already a market gardener or run a small family farm, you're half way there. In a 10,000 square foot greenhouse, you can grow about 4,0000 - 5,000 pounds of tomatoes every week. Lettuce growers are picking mature heads of lettuce in under 4 weeks, and with 20,000 square feet of growing space, can produce nearly 3,000 heads per week. The cost of establishing a commercial hydroponic greenhouse operation is quite reasonable when considering the potential profit and the intensive volume of high-quality produce that can be grown on a small lot.
How can I tell if my seeds are viable to use?
Fill a glass with distilled water and place your seeds in it. After 24 hours the viable seeds should have sank to the bottom. Seeds that are still floating will probably not germinate.
Do I need a greenhouse?
It is recommended if room is available, but definitely not necessary. A greenhouse provides protection from environmental factors such as heat, cold, wind, rain and insect intrusion. In most climates a greenhouse is recommended. The type of greenhouse and the environmental control equipment varies widely depending on climate. There are many hobbyist growers that use shelves in the hall, or an attic, or unused bedroom etc. This type of growing requires the use of some lighting system.
Can I do hydroponics part time as a hobby?
On a hobby scale, hydroponics has become very popular. It's easy to grow great plants or flowers, it's a 'clean' way of growing, and an indoor hydroponic garden can be used to grow anything from flowers to plants, foliage, herbs, vegetables, fruit, peppers etc. A hobby system can serve as a beautiful show piece and a point of conversation between like-minded people.
Source: George Pattenson Hydroponics FAQs http://www.squidoo.com/hydroponicfaq