Hydroponics

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Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Many designs have been in use for decades.  It is believed that hydroponics technology dates back to the time of Babylon. Its many methods are amply illustrated in books, in research papers and on the internet.  All methods depend on electricity use, except for one.

 

The NO Electricity method has been in use in Hawaii and many other places for tens of years. The Method's originator is Professor Bernard Kratky of the University of Hawaii.  The method is known as Kratky Method. 

Kratky Method Illustration

Kratky Method

 

  

 Kratky method is the simplest of all Hydroponics.  You can use this method anywhere in the world.

 

While all other methods use pumps to aerate nutrient solution this method does not.  It provides plant with oxygen directly from air.  The roots grow partially exposed to moist air inside growing containers as in the sketch on the right.  

 

At seedling stage (when 2-3 weeks old) seedlings receive nutrient by capillarity. The bottom 2   cm of the seedling net cups or bags is immersed in the nutrient liquid.  As liquid recedes due to evaporation and consumption by plant, roots grow longer and stay partially immersed in water. The uncovered part of the roots stays exposed to moist air absorbing the oxygen.  

 

 When nutrient is down to 3-4 cm at the container bottom the plant you have two choices: Harvest the plant and let roots die or add nutrient up to 5-6 cm and maintain that level until the plant ends production.  You can add nutrition manually or rig it with supply pipe controlled by a float valve as illustrated 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like all living beings, plants life depends on Oxygen, water and nutrition.  Nutrition is normally dissolved minerals.  Minerals can be chemicals or natural.  The natural minerals are often provided by seawater or sea salt. Producers of commercial nutrients (fertilizers) disagree sea water can be as benefit al to the plants as their products.  It is up to growers to experiment and decide their best choice.

At seedling stage.

At maturity stage

Float Valve

In these grow containers Inverted cups support radish try in lieu of hanging to the wall

The sketch above illustrates using Buckets as grow containers. At the left nutrient level is shown at the initial stage.  At the right nutrient level is shown at an advanced growing stage with float valve replenishing nutrients.  Using buckets as illustrated may not be the best way because you need to drill holes for the plants.

               Advantages of Hydroponics

 

  • Grown in containers grower save 90% of the water normally lost in the ground

  • Not competing with weeds and other plants for nutrients plants grow bigger and produce more 

  • With readily available nutrients plants can grow closer to each other to save space

  • Plants are not exposed to the diseases that normally come from soil

  • Stacked plants in small spaces can be easily protected from frost and weather damage

  • Protected plants survive longer and have an extended period of production

  • Under protection growing and harvesting cycles continues 365 days of the year.   

 

 Note:

 

In all designs you need to make choices about container sizes and the way you desire to provide the plants with nutritional water.  Your choices will have to take into consideration the kind of plants you will grow, the available space for growing, plans' maximum exposure to sun and what is convenient for you.

 

A head of lettuce uses 4-5 liters of water from seedling transplant to harvest.  Herb plants and most leafy greens use similar amounts.  A cucumber plants uses 200 liters or more while tomato plant uses 250 -300 Liters. Yet these quanteties are less than used water in the case of growing in the grownd

 

 6- Stacking Buckets