Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Hydroponics // The basics

Hydroponics // The basics
Hydroponics is a subsection of agriculture in which plant are grown without the use of soil. The nutrients, often delivered from the soil, are instead derived from a liquid nutrient diluted in water. Most hydroponics system work on a cycle system. This works by pumping water up to the highest point of the system and letting gravity feed the water back into a tank or reservoir and then the process continues. The plant's roots are suspended in the nutrient water and uptake the desired amount of fluid.

A popular hydroponic system design
You can grow a huge variety of plants with the hydroponic method. Some consist of tomatoes, strawberries , Raspberries, Lettuce, Various salad greens (kale, spinach, rocket, etc), Carrots, Radishes, Cucumbers, Coriander, Basil, Mint and Parsley.

Hydroponics is not just another method of growing vegetation, it offers a wide variety of advantages of traditional soil based methods. As the global population increases, there will be less space for arable based farming to take place. However hydroponics will allow for us to produce crops in greenhouses, underground and anywhere else. Currently, hydroponic systems are being diploid in rooftop cities and deserts where farmland and general space is at a premium.

Underground bomb shelter converted into hydroponic farm in London ...
Hydroponic farm under London
in an old bomb shelter
Furthermore, hydroponics is cheaper than soil based activities as it only uses 1/20th of the water, it does not require pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals, as there’s no chance of damage because of soil diseases or pests and plants can be grown at any time of the year in less space.

I am currently making a system similar to that in the graphic above. It features a 350mm x 100mm PVC tube that is mounted on to a 9 litre storage box. I am then going to use a 12v washer pump to transport the nutrient water up to the plants. A pump like this can either be bought online or salvaged from an old car a scrapyard. I got mine for £1 and it worked as if new. I will run the pump of the solar power provided from my shed's solar panel for a short time each day.

Overall my system should cost around £20 ($26) and have the ability to run over and over again. For the nutrients, I am using 'plant focus essential nutrients'. With this, I will be growing coriander and basil as a test. I will post updates when the system is running as well as when the plants begin to grow.

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