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How To Use Hydroponics

Hydroponics -- growing plants using nutrient sources other than dirt -- takes a lot of dedication and discipline. Find out if you've got what it takes.


  • Step 1: Install a drip emitter system, with plastic supply lines connecting each plant to control the drip from a submersible pump in a reservoir.
  • Step 2: Order and insert plants into the hydroponic environment or insert seeds or cuttings in starter cubes. Research your plant's lighting needs and choose the correct intensity, size, and color lights for growth; Cuttings will need 18 to 24 hours of light immediately.
  • Step 3: Educate yourself regularly about structure and environment if you build your own hydroponic system, continually monitoring temperatures of roots, environment, nutrition, and the interaction of chemicals with the growing medium.
  • FACT: For the first time since Tiberius attempted it in the first century, John Woodward began hydroponics by growing mint plants without soil in England in 1699.
  • Step 4: Create a water bath system as an alternative, using a floating styrofoam plate for plants, with roots dipped through holes into the water, which is oxygenated with an air pump.
  • TIP: Soil is a mineral reservoir for a plant, but is not essential to the growth of a plant except to hold it. Roots can get their nutrients from water alone.
  • Step 5: Decide between a passive environment or an active pump system. The passive option uses aggregate as a medium, allowing the plant's capillary system or a candle wick to absorb nutrients. The active pump moves the nutrients in solution to prevent root rot.
  • TIP: Organic compounds in active systems tend to be hard to work with, sometimes clotting and blocking pump action.
  • Step 6: Use spring or distilled water in an open system, in which the water and nutrients are delivered to the plant only one time; or a closed system, which recaptures or recycles the water.
  • Step 7: Make a hydroponics system by cutting holes for plants in the top of a 14-gallon, opaque rectangular tub and fit net baskets or pots in the holes.

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