Hydroponics (HY-dro-PON-ix) literally means, “working water”.
- Plants grown hydroponically can mature 25% faster and produce 30% more than the same variety grown in soil. This is because plants are grown in a readily available nutrient-rich solution and they do not have to spend valuable energy developing roots to seek out food.
- In hydroponics, the grower is responsible for providing all the necessary nutrients.
- Because hydroponics systems typically recycle the nutrient solution, plants in these systems actually use less water than their soil-based equivalent.
- Hydroponics can be set up indoors and out.
- Great for those with limited gardening space because several plants can be grown together in a small area. In addition, you rarely contend with soil-borne disease or weeds!
Types of Hydroponic Systems
If you have ever taken a cutting from a houseplant and placed it in a container of water to establish roots, you have used a passive hydroponics method! With no moving parts, passive systems are great for beginners because they are inexpensive, portable and simple to set up and maintain.
Active systems employ pumps and other devices to deliver nutrient solutions to plant roots. Here are some of the preferred types of active techniques:
Deep Water Culture (or Continuous Aeration Technique)
With this self-contained method, plants are suspended above the water level and a submersible pump is used to constantly bathe roots in nutrient solution. As plants mature, the roots will grow into the continuously circulating reservoir. See the Sunleaves Garden of Ease.
Flood and Drain (or Ebb and Flow)
For this approach, plant roots are intermittently flooded with nutrient solution. The frequency of the flood depends on the type of growing medium and the size and type of plant, but typically 15 minutes every 2-4 hours during the day. Roots are nourished and aerated as the cycle repeats. See the many kits with mix and match components available.
This is a substrate system where a pump delivers solution from a main reservoir to drip emitters positioned at the base of each plant via individual supply lines. Depending on the growing medium, some will drip continuously while others are set on a timer to drip 15 minutes every 2-4 hours during the day. Drip systems that use stonewool cubes and slabs give you the most margin of error as they retain water incredibly well. See the General Hydroponics CocoGrower, EuroGrower, EcoGrower and Waterfarm.
In Aeroponics, plants are suspended without the use of a growing medium and their roots are continuously sprayed with a fine nutrient- and oxygen-rich mist. With this virtually unlimited access to oxygen, roots have maximum potential to absorb nutrients and plants can grow at a phenomenal rate. These systems have a small margin of error and are recommended for more experienced gardeners. Delicate sprayer nozzles must be kept free of debris as they can clog easily, and equipment or power failure can cause total crop loss very quickly. Popular for cuttings and fast harvesting plants. See the AeroFlo and RainForest.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT):
A bare-root system, generally involving a gutter system, in which nutrient solution is constantly pumped over plant roots at a depth of 1/4” to 1/2” to form a thin film of nutrient, giving roots access to nutrient and air simultaneously. The solution cycles between the main reservoir and the grow channel (or gulley) which is tipped at a slight angle to create the desired film effect and prevent roots from damming the channels. See individual hydroponics components that can be used with this technique.
We are excited to announce the Customer Appreciation events for 2014!
As a thank you to our Worm’s Way customers, both near and far, we are happy to announce Customer Appreciation Week 2014, August 11 through August 15. Enjoy 20% savings on all online orders using promo code CAW2014. Frequent Farmer Gold (FFG) members will also receive a free gift with every online order. Thanks again for being a Worm’s Way customer.
Don’t miss out on the 2014 Customer Appreciation Day, August 16, at all Worm’s Way retail locations. As a thank you to our customers we will be offering store-wide discounts, free samples and raffles.
We hope to see you at this all day event.
Roger, the Worm’s Way garden expert, shows how to make your own DIY guano tea! Along with insider tips, take a look at some of his secrets to making the most out of your guano tea!
Tired of sharing your fresh produce with animal pests? The good news is you don’t have to pollute and poison your garden to drive out deer and other destructive critters. There are plenty of natural preparations to try instead.
Natural products typically pose less of a threat to the environment than their synthetic counterparts. As such, it’s always best to use pesticide waxes, soaps and sprays sparingly and according to label directions.
Dealing with Deer
You don’t find many deer in hair salons or Laundromats. Maybe it’s because they dislike our scent so much. Gardeners can use this to their advantage by hanging up sweaty socks or spreading around hair clippings. Because deer are also repelled by strong smelling deodorant soap, you can hang several bars roughly 3 ft off the ground all around the garden.
If you want to keep deer away from specific plants, mix up a solution of a few egg yolks to 1 gal of water and spray directly on plants to be protected. A number of commercial preparations such as Deer Stopper, derived from rosemary oil, mint oil, cinnamon oil and putrescent whole egg solids, are also available. It is highly effective in preventing deer, elk and moose damage on all shrubs.
Rabbits, Squirrels and More
You can make especially tasty plants more difficult for rabbits and other small animals to access by surrounding them with thorny rose clippings or brambles. Animal Stopper is a highly effective formula for preventing armadillo, gopher, groundhog, rabbit, raccoon and skunk damage to all shrubs, flowers, edible crops and turf areas. With rosemary oil, mint oil, cinnamon oil and putrescent whole egg solids as active ingredients, this product works by smell, taste and feel. It lasts for approximately 30 days, regardless of weather and covers an area of 1,000 sq ft.
Got moles? Because they love to feed on grubs and Japanese beetle larvae, you can send them packing by targeting their food supply in a couple of ways. Release live, beneficial nematodes to control over 250 different insects in the soil now. In the Fall, apply Milky Spore-a naturally occurring bacterium which is lethal to Japanese beetle larvae. Japanese beetle grubs exposed to Milky Spore die within 7 to 21 days, and as the grubs decompose, they releases billions of new spores which remain active in soil for up to 20 years.
Nan says: “After my vegetable garden failed to produce much last year, I knew I needed to step up my game. Early this spring I applied Sunleaves All-Purpose Bat Guano to all my beds. I can already see a huge difference in crop quality, and my kale is already a foot tall! This guano is easy to use, effective and it’s all purpose NPK ratio allowed me to fertilize the wide variety of plants that I wanted in my garden plot!“
Mike says: “Earth Juice Catalyst is a must have component from the Earth Juice line. It works great to fuel growth and is OMRI listed for organic production. The product offers an array of natural occurring enzymes, hormones, vitamins, amino acids and many other benefits, that will aid in stimulating plant growth and production. It can be applied by watering as an additive or as a foliar feed. This product improves growing mediums, encourages compact growth and increases yields, while improving on other teas and fertilizers.“
Clint says: “Root Riot Cubes are a perfect way to start seeds for indoor or outdoor gardens. They provide a perfect environment for your seeds to sprout with just the right amount of nutrient and beneficial microbes to get the plant started strong. Root Riot cubes are also the perfect medium for rooting clones. Transplanting your delicate plant to its final home has never been easier than with this style of cubes. For the greatest success when using Root Riot cubes check on them daily! These are best used in conjunction with the following items for the perfect environment: Super Starter Humidity Dome, Standard Flat Black w/ Holes and Standard Flat Insert, 72 Site.“