If you have a hydroponics system you know that one of the most important elements is the nutrients solution/fertilizer. Only with it, your plants can get all the nutrients they need. In this article, we will go through the basics of setting up a hydroponics system and how you can get the most out of it with MARPHYL Soil Enhancer made of 100% wild marine phytoplankton from Vancouver Island.
And to avoid any confusion, let us clarify that the name “Soil Enhancer” doesn’t mean that you can use it only on the soil. Keep reading and you will learn that MARPHYL Soil Enhancer is perfect for any types of hydroponics as well as soil-based growth systems.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the art of growing plants without soil. The root system is supported using an inert medium (perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, vermiculite, etc.). This setup allows the roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution and have access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth.
The hydroponics technique has been utilized by many civilizations throughout history. One of the most famous examples is Hanging Gardens of Babylon – one of the wonders of the ancient world. The gardens were built partially on top of ziggurats, and plants were irrigated on channels.
NASA has been doing a lot of research on hydroponics. Unlike travelers on Earth who have the convenience of roadside diners and fast-food restaurants, the dining options for space travelers are limited. As NASA’s astronauts prepare to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration with increasingly lengthy missions, scientists are trying to find a way for them to grow their own food and one of the options is hydroponics!
Advantages of hydroponics
Higher growth rates. Some hydroponic growers claim that their plants mature up to 25% faster than the ones grown in soil.
Higher yield up to 30% more than if using soil.
Less water used as the system is enclosed, which results in less evaporation.
Better for the environment (no waste and pollution from soil runoff).
Saves space. You can have many more plants growing close to each other, as they don’t need to spread their roots out into the soil to find the nutrients they need.
No worries about the changing seasons, as crops can be grown all year round.
Access to Roots. The roots are a clear sign of the health and well-being of your plants. Hydroponic system makes it easy to monitor the health of your plant’s roots and corrects any deficiencies or problems before they develop further.
No soil-borne diseases and pests.
To start with hydroponics you will need a few basic elements
Hydroponics system is a special structure that holds water and/or other inert medium and provides places to grow plants. You can build your own system or buy a ready-made solution. Nowadays, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Inert hydroponic medium
New kinds of growing medium pop up on the market almost every day. Some of the common types are rockwool/stonewool, oasis cubes, vermiculite, perlite, coconut fiber (coir), peat, lava rock, fiberglass insulation, composted bark, pea gravel, sand, expanded clay, sawdust, pumice, foam chips, polyurethane grow slabs and rice hulls. Each alternative has its pros and cons, and the choice will depend on many variables, including the size and type of plants you wish to grow and the type of hydroponics system you use.
Expanded clay pebbles
Unlike most commonly available plant food, hydroponic fertilizers must contain the entire spectrum of necessary nutrients. The reason being that most plants rely on 16 nutrients to grow and reproduce – carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), boron (B), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), and chlorine (Cl).
Of these 16, only three are available through water uptake and air: carbon through CO2, hydrogen, and oxygen. The remaining thirteen nutrients are the mineral nutrients delivered to plants through nutrient solutions (hydroponics fertilizer).
pH and EC meters
Supplying the correct ratio of nutrients in adequate levels is only a part of the nutrient management process. To keep those nutrients available to plants, you have to control the pH levels as different nutrients are soluble at different pH values.
The best light source for your plants is the natural one. Simply place your hydroponics system where your plants can get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If it is not an option, you will have to provide artificial lighting using indoor grow lights.
The ideal humidity for a room where you hydroponics system will be set up is between 40% and 60% relative humidity. Higher levels—especially in rooms with poor air circulation—can lead to powdery mildew and other fungal problems. Depending on your climate, you may need a humidifier or dehumidifier to adjust the relative humidity in the grow room to an optimal level.
Time and plants
You can grow with hydroponics both inside and outside. Any plant can be grown with hydroponics, but note that some are more challenging than others.
Are you curious about hydroponics? Would you like to try it yourself? Leave all your questions and comments below!
Arantza and Benjamin, founders of MARPHYL Marine Phytoplankton