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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Growing Hydroponic Produce at Home

Hydroponic plants are fun and easy to grow at home.

Yang Zhen Siang/

Hydroponics is a method of gardening that does not use soil. The technique has been around since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Aztec floating gardens. It is a fun, easy and eco-friendly way to grow fresh produce all year round.


Simple and Cost-Effective Techniques

For do-it-yourselfers, free, detailed plans and videos for creating a system are available online without spending a fortune. Complete systems can also be purchased and assembled at home. There are several different types of hydroponic systems. The right one will depend on the space it will occupy, the types of plants grown and the cost. Several systems have common components such as a reservoir to hold the water and nutrient solution, net pots to suspend the plants, growing media, and an air pump and air stones to supply oxygen to the plants. Systems that move the nutrient solution also require a water pump. Here are examples of the types of systems for home use.

Wicking systems: Most beginners start with a passive hydroponic system that relies on a wick to bring the nutrient solution to the growing medium and the plant roots. A wicking system is best for smaller plants like lettuce, mint and basil. They are the easiest to set up and maintain, take up the least space and are the least expensive.

Deep Water Culture (DWC): In this type of system, the plants are suspended over the reservoir and the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution. DWC is a low-cost, low-maintenance system. Like the wicking system, DWC is not for large plants.

Nutrient Film: This technique delivers a constant thin film of nutrients and water to the roots, which are not submerged. The nutrient film technique ensures that the roots don’t suffocate, a risk with DWC. Vigilance is required to ensure that the roots do not overgrow and clog the channels. This is a great system for a green house.

Ebb and Flow: Also called the flood and drain system, it works by flooding a grow bed with a nutrient solution from the reservoir. Gravity is used to slowly drain the solution from the grow bed and back into the reservoir. A timer is used to allow time for the roots to dry and oxygenate before being flooded again. This system can accommodate a large variety of fruits and vegetables. 

Aeroponics: This system suspends plants in the air and the roots are misted with the nutrient solution. An aeroponics system is enclosed in frameworks or towers. Because the roots hang naked, the plants take in extra oxygen, accelerating their growth. This type of system uses less water than any other system, and their vertical structure permits them to be used in small spaces. However, aeroponics have the highest initial cost and are more challenging for the do-it-yourselfer. Aeroponics systems require more maintenance and attention than other home systems.

Additional Considerations

Begin with sterile seedlings or cuttings, as plants that have been in contact with soil can introduce harmful microbes into the hydroponic system. Use distilled or bottled water to reduce the risk of high levels of chlorine or other chemicals that can harm plants. Lastly, monitor the pH levels to ensure proper nutrient uptake by the plants.

5 Top Tips to Finding Your Next Doctor

1 Keep an Open Mind! Healthcare has come a long way. Today, you have access to practitioners that branch outside of traditional medicine and aim to identify the root causes of conditions while using alternative treatments that may help you get the relief you need. Just because it’s not a pill, doesn’t make it pseudoscience.

2 Build Your Health Care Team. There is no one doctor that can be the be-all-end-all for your health needs. Be sure to have a team of practitioners with different “lenses” and areas of expertise who will treat the root cause and not just the symptom(s).

3   Environment Influences Healing. Health is multi-factorial. Your mental and emotional environment plays a pivotal role in your healing potential. Your doctors and their staff should create an office atmosphere filled with positivity so you can get the most out of your care.

4 Your Story Matters.  Before you begin any treatment, be sure to have a comprehensive consultation to discuss your health concerns. Find practitioners who welcome questions and will take the time to listen and treat you with respect.

5 Report of Findings. When it comes to our health, we often make decisions without understanding the risk versus benefits. Knowledge is an important part of the healing process and is essential to make conscious, informed health decisions. Find practitioners who take the time to explain their exam findings and the recommendations for treatment in ways that make sense to you.

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