First of all, the gardener must decide what type of garden he wishes to plant. There are many styles of gardens from which to choose, including traditional tilled gardens, raised bed gardens, container gardens, and hydroponic gardens.
Though not as well known as some garden types, hydroponic gardening has gained a popular following. The term hydroponic, coming from the Greek words hydros (water) and ponos (labor), was introduced in 1937. It describes the process of growing plants without soil, by using water fortified with a mineral nutrient solution.
Advocates of hydroponic gardening say that the method offers many advantages. Hydroponics can produce plants that grow at a rate of 30-50 percent faster than those in soil. This is because plants growing in soil must expend much energy growing roots that are long enough to glean the necessary water and nutrients from the soil. In hydroponics, the nutrients are readily available to the plant, and it does not have to exert much energy in order to obtain these nutrients. Consequently, plants grown in a hydroponic solution tend to produce higher yields than their soil counterparts. These improved growing statistics may be due to accelerated root growth from the extra oxygen in hydroponic solutions.
Hydroponic plants also tend to avoid many of the problems associated with soil-growing plants, such as bugs, funguses, and many diseases. Thus, hydroponic growers have reduced reliance on pesticides, leading to healthier plants and healthier people. And, of course, healthier plants produce higher yields.
Additionally, it is easier for hydroponic gardeners to monitor the pH and nutrients levels in which they are growing their plants.
Hydroponic gardening is advantageous to environmentally-minded individuals because it uses less water, and of course less soil, than traditional methods of gardening. In fact, when a hydroponic gardener uses a recycling hydroponic system, the water usage is only about 10% of that used in a traditional soil garden. These advantages of hydroponics are particularly beneficial in areas where soil erosion and soil contamination is a problem.
Another big advantage is that hydroponic gardening uses much less space than traditional gardening. In fact, a hydroponic garden only takes about 20% of the space of a regular garden in order to produce a similar yield. For city dwellers, this means that a hydroponic system can produce sizable yields even in cramped spaces.
Though the initial cost of starting a hydroponic garden is more than that of starting a traditional soil garden, a hydroponic garden is less expensive to maintain.
Gardeners interested in implementing a hydroponic system must decide whether they would prefer to buy or build such a system. Buying an inexpensive hydroponic system is usually the best first step for a beginning hydroponic gardener. Once the gardener feels more comfortable with the operation of a hydroponic system, she can begin building a customized system.
Though hydroponic gardening may seem daunting at first, if the gardener does her research and becomes familiar with the method, she can enjoy the many benefits of hydroponic gardening for years to come.