7 Little-Known Facts about Hydroponics that You Should Know

Hydroponics in gardening

Creating a balcony garden is all about containers, soil, and a water can, right?
No. Going for only a container garden would mean that you missed out on a lot. Besides pots and containers, you also have vertical gardens, and hydroponics.

What Is Hydroponics?

Unless you’re talking about water plants, then normal plants grow in soil.
This is not the case for hydroponics. They grow in a water solution that contains nutrition. Sometimes you’ll hear about it under its other name: soil-less culture.
Hydroponic plants are often crops. You can grow cucumbers, strawberry, bell pepper, chili pepper, tomatoes, salat, and many other kinds that will make you a nice harvest.
With a hydroponic garden on your balcony, you’ll be self-sufficient in no time. Especially, when you discover the following seven little-know facts.

Fact #1: Hydroponics Use Less Water

Hydroponic plants use less water than plants that grow in soil. How weird is that? It’s a fact, though.
To grow 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) tomatoes in an open field, you’ll need 60 liters (15.85 gallons) of water.
To grow the same amount of tomatoes in a hydroponic balcony garden, you would only need 22 liters (5.81 gallons).
Why would it be so? Because when your plants grow in soil, a lot of the water is wasted because it drains too far away from the roots. Plus with a larger surface, more water will evaporate and disappear into the air. Thus, the plants cannot use that water.
When grown in a hydroponics environment, there is not the same kind of spill. The plant roots have direct access to the water. There is typically a smaller surface around the plants which allows very little of the water to evaporate.

Fact #2: Hydroponics Use Minimal Space

You can keep hydroponics in towers and have many plants on one small spot. Or you can hang them on the wall or even under the ceiling of your balcony. Those are places you would otherwise not have a chance to use for growing crops.

Fact #3: Hydroponic Plants Can Drown

Ever heard of plants dying because of too much water? It happens. The plants can drown if their roots don’t get oxygen, just like we can.
Therefore, you must add air stones or air pumps to your containers to support your plants with oxygen. Speaking of oxygen…

Fact #4: You Need 6 Items for Your Hydroponic Balcony Garden

Besides the plants, there are six more items you must have to grow your crops.

  • A place to grow your plants. It can be a tower, “pockets” that can hang on a wall, or tube-like containers hanging under the ceiling of your balcony
  • Fresh water. Goes without saying. Tap water will often contain chlorine and salts which has to be removed first. Some water will have too high a PPM (above 300) in which case you will need to lower it first. Both of these issues can be handled with the right filter.
  • Oxygen. Aeration. When plants grow in open fields, there are small bubbles of air in the soil. That doesn’t naturally occur in water. Therefore, you must supply your plants with oxygen through a system of air pumps or by adding air stones to the water.
  • Nutrients. Plants that grow in open fields will let their roots find nutrients in the soil. Your hydroponics won’t have any soil, so you need to provide the nutrients in the water.
  • Root support. In open fields, the surrounding soil supports the roots of the crops. With hydroponics, you need other material, like peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or coconut fiber.
  • Light. Make sure your crop gets the amount of light that is fitting for its kind. If you don’t have enough sunlight on your balcony, or if you move your hydroponic system inside during the winter, you’ll need to supply the light in other ways.

    You can buy cool white or full spectrum fluorescents for your newer plants and use metal halide bulbs for older plants. You can get LED lights and other lights either on tripods or to hang from the ceiling.

Fact #5: You Can Grow Hydroponics All Year Long

If you grow your crop in a hydroponic tower, you can move it to a warmer place with sufficient light during the winter and grow plants all year long.

Fact #6: You May Need to Change the Water

Even though a hydroponic system uses very little water, you will need to add more. But you may also need to completely change the water.
Some plants won’t grow in the same water after a while. You need to research based on the crops you choose whether or not this is the case for them.

Fact #7: Hydroponics Grow 2 Times Faster

It can take up to 100 days to have tomatoes ready to harvest, when you plant them as seedlings in an open field.
When you grow them as hydroponics, you can eat your first tomatoes after 30 days if you plant them as seedlings. If you saw seeds, it will take around 60 days.

What Do You Think? Would You Add Hydroponics to Your Balcony?

Hydroponics may not be just as easy to get started with as containers with soil. But they have many other advantages like using less water, growing all year long, and taking up much less space.
There are very few disadvantages that you won’t also have with plants grown in soil.
For a balcony garden, hydroponics can be ideal.
And once you’ve set up the system, they demand very little care. Only some fresh water from time to time, maybe a change of water. Added nutrients. Some light. And then that you keep an eye on the plants to see that they grow as they should.
You’ll be able to grow your crop much faster than if you grow them in soil, which means that you’ll be able to enjoy the fruit of your labor in no time.

Haven Greensprout

I've found my passion in balcony gardening, relishing the simplicity and joy it brings to my urban life. The thrill of harvesting my own veggies has transformed my balcony into a lush oasis, proving there's unmatched delight in homegrown goodness.

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