With gardening season rapidly approaching, we’re soon going to hear a lot about the importance of soil and how much of a difference the quality of soil can make in a plant’s growth. And it’s true; soil is important. But it’s not crucial for a plant’s growth like water is.
During the 1900s, scientists learned that the important mineral nutrients that are absorbed by plants come from water. Soil does act like a mineral nutrient reservoir in nature, but it is not required for plant growth. If we bring those essential mineral nutrients into a plant’s water supply through an artificial method, soil is not really needed for the plant’s growth at all! That’s what hydroponic gardening is all about.
Hydroponics can be quite challenging, especially when you first give it a shot; but it’s also very rewarding after you learn the basics. Once you choose your indoor grow lights, understand the different types of hydroponic systems and learn the skills of indoor gardening, this method can be just as or even more enjoyable than outdoor gardening for many people. And it’s especially beneficial for folks who don’t have the room for a typical soil-based garden.
One of the biggest advantages of hydroponics, especially for people who aren’t particularly patient, is the unusually fast growth rates. This happens because the plants don’t have to grow roots down into soil to mine for food. Just about any type of plant, vegetable or fruit can be effectively grown through hydroponics, assuming that the appropriate blend of nutrients is used.
Among the different hydroponic growing systems are hand watering, the reservoir method, the flood and drain method, the drip system, the nutrient film technique, the wick system, and aeroponics. Instead of soil, plants can be grown in an inert medium such as rockwool, expanded clay pellets, perlite, perlite/vermiculite mix, perlite/coconut coir mix or volcanic rock chips. When you’re thinking about trying this comprehensive system of gardening, you’ll need to consider the nutritional and lighting requirements of the specific plants being grown. You’ll also want to develop a feeding plan prior to planting.
While there are some upfront costs to setting up a hydroponics system, over the long haul your expenses are significantly reduced. Other advantages include having more control over pests and disease, which makes for healthier plants, the simplicity of maintaining proper nutrition levels, your ability to reuse the water and the fact that your plants do not release any gases.
Yet another advantage to hydroponics is that you can do it indoors and keep it a secret. Why would you want to keep it a secret? Well, for one thing, that’s a good way to protect it. If you spread the word about the fact that you’re growing some of your own food in an indoor garden, you’re inviting problems should an emergency arise. People who are desperate enough during a crisis may become your unwanted visitors if the neighborhood knows you grow food.
So go ahead and keep your indoor garden a secret. You will have established it for the purpose of keeping yourself and your family fed during a crisis. When the time comes, you may opt to share some of your bounty with family members, neighbors and friends. But that will be your choice, and they’ll be happy that you were prepared. In the meantime, you will have control over your survival food if you limit the number of people who know about it.