Hydroponic Gardening and Aquaponic Systems
Aquaponic systems is the combination of regular agriculture and aqua-culture, the farming of fish. Aquaponics is extremely water efficient using only 10 percent that is used in regular farming. Another benefit is the added output in vegetable yields. More produce in less space which means less energy is used for the output. No nutrient supplements are needed to treat the water as the fish provide this requirement. With an aquaponic setup you get freshly grown vegetables and fish from the same system. It’s like getting 2 for the price of 1.
Hydroponic gardening is a method of gardening without soil. Though the process is growing in popularity it has had its opponents. One of the reasons is many people still connect it to growing marijuana. I’m sure this has sometimes been the case, but a lot of marijuana has been grown in soil, too, and we can’t shut down all dirt gardens because of that.
But as I have talked to many gardeners world-wide I’ve learned that many people are beginning to see the necessity of developing hydroponic gardening.
One of the obvious reasons is that land is a valuable commodity that’s quickly being overdeveloped in many geographical areas. This makes having a way to grow food without soil extremely important for future generations.
Some of the benefits of hydroponic gardening include:
• Less water waste. Hydroponic systems that are set up to recycle can use as little as 10% of the water that normal soil gardens require.
• Nutrient levels are easy to measure and balance.
• More plants can be grown in a smaller space making the use of the space much more efficient. Hydroponic gardens can use as little as one-fifth the space of regular soil gardens.
• Less chance of pests and diseases. Therefore there’s no need for chemical pesticides.
• Hardly any fertilizer is needed to keep the nutrients and ph levels in balance.
• Water and nutrients can be recycled.
Another benefit of hydroponic gardens is they use artificial light. This means they are not dependant on the seasons of the year. So instead of a crop in the spring and maybe one more in the fall they have a year round gardening season.
The popularity of hydroponic gardens is growing in urban areas where there are few yards available for gardens. They can be placed in basements or rooftops since dirt and sunlight are not required.
One of the ways I hope hydroponic garden expands is into poorer countries where resources are scarce. Since they require less water, smaller spaces, no pesticides or fertilizers, they are perfect for cultures dealing with poverty and lack of food.
Another added benefit is they are environmentally friendly. Since water and nutrients are recycled they use less natural recourses. This is another reason I think they’ll explode in popularity before long. With the added emphasis society is placing on “going green” it’s impossible not to see the advantages that hydroponic gardening has for the environment.
If you’ve ever spent a weekend weeding your garden (as I often have) you can see why less maintenance could be a huge advantage for this type of garden.
However, there are still a few problems with hydroponic gardening that will need to be addressed before it reaches its full potential.
The initial cost of setting up a hydroponic garden can be high. Once the equipment is purchased, it can be cheaper to maintain than a normal garden. But the beginning costs can be more than most people are willing to invest.
Another thing you need to be aware of is the need for a back-up power source. If you have a power outage your garden will be in trouble unless you’ve planned for that possibility.
Some people feel that hydroponic gardening is too technical. Though it’s true it may require more technical knowledge than a backyard soil garden, it’s not that complicated. A little research into how to set up your system and keep the nutrients balanced and you’re on your way.
With land in shorter supply every year and the need for food growing — it’s easy to see why hydroponic gardening will play an important role in the future.