Going right back to the basics in this job in hydroponics, we will take a look at what a plant really needs to grow. It’s extremely easy to overlook one of the core principles behind plant growth and as a result, not get the right results. Keep this article handy to make sure you’ve checked off all the basics.
Having introduced you to the nutrient solutions used when growing plants hydroponically, we can now return to our simple example of seedlings growing on blotting paper in a saucer of water.
This will introduce some new concepts. Normally the new plants would die once the small quantities of nutrients in the water and those dissolved from the blotting paper had been used up. By adding a suitably small quantity of one of the nutrient mixtures available we could prolong the life of these plants and that’s where your job starts.
You can get a variety of plants growing once you dissolve some nutrients into the water you want to grow them in. For example the top of a carrot can be made to produce new green shoots and flower cuttings will often develop new root growth. However eventually all of these plants will die.
This time the cause will not be the deficiency of one or more of the nutrient elements, but the lack of an equally important ingredient, oxygen! The root structure of a plant needs oxygen if it is to remain in a healthy growing condition and you must know this is your responsibility as a hydroponics expert.
The water in the saucer would have had some oxygen in it, enough to allow the plant to grow for a while, however, the water would have become depleted of oxygen quickly turning stagnant. Plants in the soil would also die if the oxygen which permeates through the soil to their root structures, were not available.
An important consideration before setting up a hydroponic system is the effect that light will have on the nutrient solution. It would be easy to expand the system already described so that instead of growing plants in a saucer, they were grown in a larger container filled with water and nutrients while an aquarium pump could be used to provide the oxygen.
However if light is able to reach the nutrient mix, either because it is in a transparent container or if the top of the container is uncovered, then algae will soon start growing. It grows rapidly on the inside walls of the container and on the roots of the plant and if you’re a hydroponics expert you’ll know this.
This is undesirable as the algae is an unwanted organic substance which will upset your carefully balanced nutrient mixture. This is why the nutrient mixture used in hydroponic systems should not be exposed to the light. Light proof covers and materials are used in most systems. Basically if you think you are up to the job of handling the hydroponics in our garden then please get in touch.