Organic Hydroponics for Beginners
Hydroponics is the practice of growing vegetables and plants using mineral nutrient solutions rather than soil. The only difference between regular hydroponics and organic hydroponics is what you decide to feed your plants. Much of the work involved in this type of gardening is learning about it, getting it set up and learning how to make adjustments when they are needed. The food is in the water, which is the key element in hydroponics. The three main things you have to focus on are:
- how you can get the food and water to the plants
- how to know how much water to give the plants so that they won’t drown
- how to avoid any serious problems
There are many ways of making sure your plants get the food that they need to survive and grow.
1. Watering by Hand. This is an easy method of feeding the plants. You mix vermiculite, perlite and coconut coir together in water. Since none of these contain any nutrients, you will have to add a plant food supplement to the mixture. Coconut coir and vermiculite do retain a lot of the water, so these minerals will help the containers stay moist for a few days. You can also use sphagnum peat, which is the basis for potting soil, in the containers as well and this retains water.
2. Reservoir. The reservoir feeding method is perhaps the easiest way of feeding the plants. Place a layer of about two inches of nutrient solution in a large container and place the containers with the plants in them down into this. You can have small holes in the bottoms of the containers to make sure that the roots grow out into the nutrient solution. Use an aquarium pump to provide constant bubbles in the solution. This will keep the plants from drowning. It is important that you do not allow any light to reach this solution because if it does, algae will develop and this will kill the plants.
3. Flood and Drain. This method has also been called the Ebb and Flow Method in which the plants sit in their own container away from the nutrient solution. From time to time, a pump will kick in and will flood the containers with the nutrient solution and then drain it back out again.
4. Drip System. In the drip system, the plants are separate from the nutrient solution as well. A pump pushes the solution through several tubes, which drips onto the plants from the top. This is the hardest method to use because it is difficult to control the drip rate.
Any of these methods will work with organic gardening. The best feeding solution to use is a teaspoon of Maxsea 3-20-20 dissolved in a gallon of water for the first ten days that the plants have roots. After that, you don’t have to worry about a high nitrogen content damaging the plants so you can increase it to a solution of 600 ppm of Maxsea16-16-16. You can finish off with two teaspoons of 800 ppm of Maxsea 3-20-20. Flush the crop with plain water before you harvest to improve the taste.