Hydroponics gardening guide – growing mediums used in hydroponics – Soil less Mixtures and Coconut Fiber

Hydroponics gardening guide – growing mediums used in hydroponics – Soil less Mixtures and Coconut Fiber

Soil less Mixtures

There is a great amount of soil less mixtures available, which contain different ingredients. Sphagnum moss, perlite, and vermiculite are the most widely spread hydroponics components, used in such mixtures.

Being organic, soil less growing media are usually used for container gardening wick systems or on-recovery drip systems. It is also possible to use soil less mixtures in recovery systems, however, it is necessary to remember that because of very fine particles in such mixtures, they can clog tubes, pumps and drip emitters, when used without a good filtration system. By the way, according to the urban gardeners, one can use panty hose as a filter: just fit it to the return line and to the pump inlet, and all the tiny particles will be filtered out.

Most soil less mixes form a good growing medium for multiple hydroponic and organic gardens, because they can hold water well, have great wicking action, and, at the same time, they provide a reasonable amount of air to the roots of growing plants.

 

Coconut Fiber

The popularity of coconut fiber as growing medium increases rapidly around the world. Being the first totally organic growing medium, providing highest performance for hydroponic systems, coconut fiber may soon become the most popular growing medium ever. It is interesting to note that coconut fiber is, actually, a waste product, which contains the powdered husks of coconuts.

In comparison to rockwool, coconut fiber is characterized with higher oxygen capacity and water retaining. These features are important advantages for hydroponic systems with intermittent watering cycles.

Coconut fiber also contains a lot of root stimulating hormones, thus offering some protection against fungus infestation and other root diseases. The mixture of 50% coconut fiber and 50% expanded clay pellets is considered to be the perfect growing medium.

However, it is necessary to underline one precaution when buying coconut fiber. Avoid purchasing a low grade coconut fiber, which is very fine grained and contains a high level of sea-salts. Such coconut fiber will have negative and disappointing effect on hydroponic system.

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Organic Hydroponics for Beginners

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.

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Organic gardening in hydroponics – Nutrients reservoir and growing medium management

Organic gardening in hydroponics – Nutrients reservoir and growing medium management

The organic hydroponics system pre-supposes that the reservoir will not supply nutrients to the plants; thus, there will be no need to constantly check the ppm and pH balance of water. It will make wet only the lower part of the medium and the secondary roots. This system gives a gardener an opportunity to grow plants as easy as it is in soil growing without troublesome balancing of the chemicals and pH level of the water.

The technique of the organic hydroponics allows supplying organic nutrients to the upper soil-mixture layer, as in traditional plants growing. The liquid forms of the organic nutrients are mixed according to the necessary concentration and then poured onto the top of the medium upper half.  Beware, though, of pouring too many nutrients!

This experiment will help you learn how much liquid with hydroponics nutrients you should pour on your plants for its excess not to drip into the lava rock layer and, consequently, into the water reservoir. If you find out that there is an excess of feeding liquid and it drips through the lava rocks into the grow bed, you can either soak it up with a cloth, or you can use other form of fertilizer, the one without liquid. It is also reasonably to change lava rock.

However, if only a small amount of organic nutrients is noticed to drain into the reservoir, there will be no problem, as the volume of water there is much larger. Reservoir water should be changed every 1-2 weeks, similarly to the standard hydroponics nutrients chemical reservoirs

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Organic gardening in hydroponics – The Hydroponics “Ebb and flow” System

Organic gardening in hydroponics – The Hydroponics “Ebb and flow” System

“Ebb and flow” hydroponics system is an example of the common arrangement of the indoor garden. Such system is composed of the upper grow bed, which is a box or tray that holds containers with plants. Those individual containers may be filled with various mediums, the most frequently used ones being rockwool, coconut fiber, lava rock, perlite, vermiculite or styrofoam pellets. The best mediums are those that are porous and can accumulate some water for a long time: lava rock is said to be the best in this respect.

The other part of the hydroponic system is the lower bed – the reservoir with the mix of water and nutrients dissolved in it.  Aquarium pump, regularly triggered by a timer, sends water solution up into the tray with plants.

The most important thing is to keep the correct composition of water solution in the reservoir – this is the key factor of the hydroponic garden flourishing. Many beginners find it difficult to maintain the right pH level of the water, necessary amount of nutrients, and their correct ratio. 

Standard organic plant nutrients are available to fertilize plants; however, many people are reluctant to do that, as they think such fertilizers will quickly make the water reservoir dirty. Indeed, organic nutrients interact with the organisms in water, which leads to their decomposition. Specialized concentrated nutrients, on the other hand, keep the reservoir relatively clean, since they are synthetically made and thus they cannot interact with the organisms in water. Nonetheless, such “clean” fertilizers will severely burn the plants roots if used in access.

Being pumped into the grow bed, water with a fertilizer saturates the plants and returns to the reservoir lacking the previous amount of nutrients and ppm (parts per million). Thus, its composition is always different and changeable. That is why a gardener should always monitor water solution, controlling its pH level and plant nutrients amount.

To plant your organic garden, you can use young plants, hybrid seeds, native seeds or seeds that you’ve harvested by yourself. Learn tips for choosing and planting seeds and young plants in your organic garden in this free gardening video lesson. Expert: Gale Gassiot Bio: Gale Gassiot makes her own organic compost or “gardener’s black gold.”

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Hydroponics Gardening for Organic Vegetables – Introduction

Hydroponics Gardening for Organic Vegetables – Introduction

Hydroponics gardening or growing plants in the growing media other than soil has been known to humans since ancient times. It is known that during the times of King Solomon, people practiced soil-less gardening, which later became known as hydroponic gardening.

The word “hydroponics” is derived from two Greek words: “hydro”, which means water, and “ponics”, which stands for labor. The principles of gardening without the use of soil were developed many and many years ago. Since then this type of gardening demonstrates certain valuable benefits in comparison to traditional growing plants in soil. One of the key benefits is that hydroponic plants grow 30-50% faster than plants, grown under the typical conditions in soil.

Traditional organic gardeners have always demonstrated certain level of contempt for hydroponics as the type of efficient and successful gardening. The followers of the traditional soil gardening consider hydroponics to be a kind of chemical gardening. Organic gardeners have always been pretty pessimistic as to supplying their plants with a balanced and calculated set of chemicals, which is a common practice among hydroponics gardeners. However, such an attitude of wide publicity and professional gardeners to hydroponics had changed after Steve Fox demonstrated his achievements in hydroponics gardening.

One of the key components of hydroponics gardening is growing media, an inert material, which unlike soil, does not supply any chemicals or nutrients to the plant. There are multiple types of growing media used today. The examples are sand, gravel, coconut fiber, perlite, and vermiculite. Amazingly, but even air can be used as a growing media for growing hydroponic cultures under the certain conditions.   

The undeniable benefit of hydroponic gardening is that it protects the fertile soils from exhaustion. Besides, it does not presuppose the use of chemical pesticides and other chemicals, which are extremely harmful for the environment. In general, hydroponic gardening may ensure greater yields and, at the same time, let the fertile soil regenerate itself for further organic farming.

Though hydroponic gardening also uses some of the chemicals to feed the growing plants, all the chemical plant fertilizers and nutrients are contained within the enclosed area of hydroponic greenhouse and do not spoil the open air, water or fertile soil.

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Starting your own organic hydroponics gardening setup – hydroponics gardening supplies and points to remember

Starting your own organic hydroponics gardening setup – hydroponics gardening supplies and points to remember

When Starting your own organic hydroponics gardening setup, you should remember that you will need to arrange two beds or layers in your hydroponic garden. The upper bed is, actually, a box to keep the plants in. This box should contain a growing medium for the plants to grow in. You can use perlite, coconut fiber, lava rock, Styrofoam pellets, rockwool or vermiculite for this purpose. The main thing about medium is that it should be able to keep a small amount of moisture for a long time. Experts assure that lava rock is best in this respect.

The lower bed is necessary to keep the water with the dissolved nutrients in it. The water is pumped with the help of an aquarium pump to the upper bed in order to water the plants. This procedure is repeated several times a day at equal intervals, being controlled with a timer.

Gardeners sometimes find it difficult to maintain the pH level of the water, its nutrition rate, and the ration of nutrients at the right level. These are, actually, the key factors, due to which a hydroponic garden or an organic hydroponics prospers. If these three crucial things in gardening are kept in balance with the help of Organic fertilizers, such technique of plants growing is called an Organic Hydroponic Garden.

Organic fertilizers are better for the plants than the chemical ones, as the latter are capable of burning the roots if used in higher concentrations.

When water solution is pumped to the trail with plants, it is partly absorbed by the medium and by the plants roots till saturation point. Consequently, the pumped water, returning back to the reservoir, contains lesser amount of parts per million (ppm) than before. 

Organic nutrients make hydroponic gardening easier, as they do not contain any chemicals, which can change the pH level or ppm of the solution. As a result, many problems, listed among the most common ones of organic hydroponic gardening, get solved on their own.    

It is a common knowledge that the upper part of a plant’s root uptakes nutrients, while the lower one absorbs water. To increase plant’s saturation with nutrients, it is possible to directly add them to the upper part of the roots, which, in the long run, will result in the more efficient organic hydroponics. To introduce such technique into your organic hydroponic garden, you should develop an organic hydroponics system.

The container can be similar as in the hydroponics gardening, or it can be a coir fiber container. It should be half filled with lava rock at the bottom. Then it is preferably to use a medium divider (e.g. coir fiber). The upper part of the tray should contain a mixture of 1/3 horticulture perlite of coarse grade, 1/3 potting soil, and 1/3 of large horticulture vermiculite.

When all this is set, it is necessary to place this container in the grow bed, with water level being a bit lower than the mixture of soils. Such arrangement will ensure the higher efficacy of the organic hydroponic gardening.

Lava rock with the secondary roots of the plants will be submerged in the water, and it will also serve to make this water flow up and moisten the soil mixture. At the same time, the upper layer of medium will be free to absorb the nutrients added directly to the primary roots.

Such hydroponic system saves a gardener from constant controlling and maintaining of the pH level and ppm of the growing medium. Nevertheless, beware of adding too many liquid nutrients to the soil layer: they may leak into the lava rock layer and disarrange your organic hydroponics gardening.

My name is guy. I am the founder and owner of the urbangardenershop.com.au . I fell in love with hydroponics gardening. As time went by I gathered a vast knowledge base and 2 years ago I decided to find a way to make hydroponics gardening a hobby that anyone can peruse. I added a hydroponic gardening information center to our hydroponics supplies site that offers a large range of hydroponics articles. Thank you for your interest and feel free to ask questions on hydroponics gardening in our site

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Hydroponics Gardening for Organic Vegetables – hydroponics supplies and system over soil grown plants

Hydroponics Gardening for Organic Vegetables – hydroponics supplies and system over soil grown plants

hydroponic plants receive all the nutrients they need for growing and fruiting from the growing liquid with all the nutrients dissolved in it. Hydroponic nutrients are available in great variety at specialized hydroponic stores. By the way, both chemical nutrients and organic nutrients can be used for the needs of hydroponic gardening. The only thing to remember is that organic fertilizers require more skills, time, and attention to use them effectively.

Hydroponic gardening allows anyone to grow organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers. A little research, learning and training, combined with enthusiasm, will soon bring the first success in hydroponics to you.

Today, there are many ready-made hydroponic systems available on the market. They are not too expensive, but such systems can really help to make an easy start in hydroponic gardening. For the beginning gardeners it is even recommended to choose simple inexpensive hydroponic systems – they are enough to give you the necessary experience. Of course, you can always build you own system to suit all your particular growing conditions and requirements, when you have enough experience and understanding of how hydroponic system works.

If organized properly, hydroponics gardening can even be easier than traditional plants growing. For example, with hydroponic system it is much easier and less time-consuming to test and maintain the necessary pH level in comparison to the regular soil gardening, where even the pH level testing can be a very challenging task, not speaking about maintaining it on the required steady level.  

After all, it is necessary to remember, that in spite of the fact that hydroponics differs significantly from traditional gardening, it is nothing but an alternative approach to grow the same fresh, tasty, and healthy food. Just spend some time to research the topic, evaluate all the benefits of hydroponic gardening – and you will see that there are many advantages offered by hydroponics. Growing healthy organic vegetables without polluting and exhausting fertile soils is definitely one of them.

My name is guy. I am the founder and owner of the urbangardenershop.com.au . I fell in love with hydroponics gardening. As time went by I gathered a vast knowledge base and 2 years ago I decided to find a way to make hydroponics gardening a hobby that anyone can peruse. I added a hydroponic gardening information center to our hydroponics supplies site that offers a large range of hydroponics articles. Thank you for your interest and feel free to ask questions on hydroponics gardening in our site

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