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Hydroponics: Plants Without Soil

by Jessica Zhang

It’s common knowledge that plants grow in soil, but plants can be grown in other mediums as well. In hydroponics, plants are grown in a nutrient solution that is diluted with water, delivering nutrients that plants would usually get from soil to the plants. The plants are usually grown in a pot with some kind of growing medium and access to water (how water is delivered depends on the hydroponics system). The growing mediums used in hydroponics do not count as soil because they are inert, which means they don’t contain nutrients. Some examples of water could be used would be coco coir and clay pebbles. The growing mediums help the plant stay upright and retain oxygen and the nutrient-water solution. 

Hydroponics has become more and more popular due to its many benefits. Plants grown hydroponically grow faster and use less water than plants grown in soil. Due to being given a direct route to nutrients via the nutrient- water solution, the plant can use the energy it normally uses to search for nutrients in the soil to grow leaves. When grown in a closed environment, there is no need to use chemicals like pesticides since in the hydroponics system there is no soil, which can carry diseases, fungi, and bugs. Once fully set up, hydroponics systems are relatively hands off while you can reap the rewards.

With all these benefits, it’s kind of surprising hydroponics hasn’t taken over the agriculture industry yet. But as in all good things,  it has some pretty big downsides. Firstly, the initial costs of starting a hydroponics system is very high. Additionally, if a disease happens, to get into the hydroponics system, it will affect all the plants (unless the plants have resistance to that disease) as they share the same water source. To get rid of the disease would then be a messy affair with lost of cleaning. Many hydroponics systems also rely on electricity, so if electricity goes out for too long, it is likely that the plans would die.

Despite all the cons, hydroponics is worth a try. Afterall, even the lettuce stems or onions grown in water are considered hydroponics. If aiming to be a little more complex though, go with an easy hydroponics system like the deep water culture hydroponics system, which costs less to start, is easy to set up, and doesn’t require electricity. In a few months, perhaps a new batch of hydroponically grown vegetables would be ready to consume.

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