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Tips for Hydroponic Growing

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When winter comes to the north, many home gardeners pack it in and wait for spring. The cold weather, snow and hardened soil make it impossible to grow anything outside. However, if you have use of a greenhouse and are interested in hydroponic growing, you can still get great tasting vegetables year round.

What is Hydroponic Growing – Simply put, hydroponic growing is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Hydroponics can increase growth rate by up to 50% compared to a soil-grown plant and increase yield. If you lack space or are snowed in by winter, hydroponic growing is a great alternative to a soil garden.

What Makes Hydroponic Gardens Grow – Research indicates that the reason behind hydroponic-grown plants' increased growth rate and yield is due to a surplus of oxygen and direct water to the roots. Though plants grown hydroponically don't get necessary nutrients from the soil there are organic nutrient products that can flow easily through your hydroponic system.

Types of Hydroponic Systems – There are several common techniques for beginners including ebb and flow and the top drip system. With ebb and flow, potted plants are arranged onto a drain table which is then filled with 2-3" of water and nutrient solution which is pumped into the drain table. The solution is then brought in through the hole in the bottom of the pots. After soaking for a few minutes, the reservoir is drained.

With the top drip system, the nutrient solution is help in a reservoir and is pumped through tubing to the base of the potted plants. The excess solution is then released through the hole in the bottom of the pot and returned to the reservoir.

Lighting – No matter which hydroponic system you choose, lighting will be very import to the success of your garden. Working in a greenhouse means limited sunlight and without a lighting source your plants won't grow very well. Look for hydroponic starter kits that have lighting included since it will be easier to match the ballast to the lamp and bulb wattage.


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