How To Get Started With Hydroponics
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing that uses water-nutrient solution rather than soil to provide your plants with the required substances needed for its growth.
Hydroponic growing systems effectively feed the plant with nutrients and water as the nutrient solution is mixed in the tank. Our hydroponic planters pump the same solution to the plants roots continuously. Evaporation is prevented in these hydroponic systems as they come fitted with lids that help trap the water.
Due to the plants getting it's nutrients directly you can expect faster growth with this method compared with growing in soil. It’s guaranteed that the plant receives everything it requires, making it simpler for the roots to get all the important nutrients from a liquid medium rather than with soil.
At Greenhouse Sensation we can appreciate that the idea of dipping your toe into hydroponics might sound a bit daunting, but it’s a lot simpler than you think. In this guide we will explain how you can easily grow your own food with our range of hydroponic planters and the benefits of experimenting with hydroponics.
Growing plants without soil using our hydroponic systems
You may already have experience growing plants in soil with one of our award-winning self-watering planters, but you may be curious to turn your growing resume up a notch and try one of our hydroponic planters. You might be surprised to learn that by using hydroponics your plants will grow quicker, larger and use around 5% - 10% of the water normally required!
The more competitive and adventurous gardeners seem to love growing in water over soil. At Greenhouse Sensation we manufacture all of our hydroponic planters in Britain including our Vivigrow, Oxypot, and Tropical Planters.
Our hydroponic grow systems offer an eco-friendly method of growing as they reuse the water needed to feed the plants roots. With sustainability becoming more and more important in today’s world, gardeners and food growers are scouting out new innovative systems that have a positive impact on the planet such as our planters.
Why you should consider a hydroponic planter
Have you been thinking about becoming more self-sufficient and growing your own fresh produce from the comfort of your home, greenhouse or polytunnel? Growing hydroponically allows those people that don’t have gardens to grow food inside with no complications during the whole year.
Our hydroponics kits are great for growing anything from tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers right through to exotic and tropical plants like bananas and papaya. Get the family and the kids involved, it makes a wonderful and exciting activity.
The best plants for beginners to start with would be greens like lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and kale; herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and mint; and fruiting plants like tomatoes, strawberries, and hot peppers.
All our hydroponic systems come with free hydroponic nutrients called Nutrigrow. You simply mix this feed with water and add to the reservoir of your system. You refill this monthly to keep the nutrients balanced. You would then check the tanks pH (acidity of the water) weekly with a pH Test Kit. This feed keeps your hydroponic plants healthy and increases their resistance to pests, disease and drought.
Advantages of hydroponics
Once you set up our easy to assemble hydroponic systems and start growing properly, you will notice a vast increase in the growth rate of your plants. Believe it or not, your plants can grow up to 25% quicker and generate up to 30% more fruits than the exact same plants that are grown in ordinary soil.
Why does this happen then? It’s simple, it’s because they don’t have to tire themselves out from obtaining the nutrients they require. Just having a little root system is sufficient enough to deliver the nutrients that is needed. This, in turn means that your plant will concentrate its development upwards rather than increasing its current root system in the pot.
It’s important to give special attention to your nutrient solution and pH levels in order to generate these huge potential harvests. As you start using hydroponics you will also notice you will use less water than growing in soil and because all of our systems are enclosed, it means less water escapes through evaporation. Furthermore, the reduced waste and pollution from soil runoff helps the environment and is a wonderful option for eco-conscious growers.
What are some different types of hydroponic systems we recommend?
Vivigrow Planter – using the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
The Vivigrow planter is a NFT hydroponic growing technique and this planter was developed so that this method of growing in water in a soil-less planter could be modified for use in homes, greenhouses or polytunnels on a smaller scale.
NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) is a process of growing without soil where the roots of your plants are suspended above a constant stream of nutrient solution which delivers all the water, nutrients and oxygen they require to endure speedy and strong growth.
The brilliance of the Vivigrow planter is that the planter pumps a steady and continuous stream of water & nutrients over your plants’ roots, which encourages your plants to take up more water, nutrients and oxygen compared to if you were growing in soil. Whatever water your plants don't require will drain back into the reservoir.
This advanced planter produces bigger harvests of your favourite fruits and vegetables because the roots grow in super-aerated water instead of being constrained in wet soil. It's a fantastic way to achieve 3-4x bigger harvests of your favourite tomatoes, chillies and other tall cropping vegetables normally grown in water.
Read our FAQ and learn how you can achieve 3-4x bigger harvests than soil grown plants in our Award Winning Vivigrow Planter. Check out the video below of our Gardening Angels harvesting our first lot of Lemon Drop chillies grown in the Vivigrow planter.
Which growing medium should I use in my Vivigrow Hydroponic Planter?
We like to raise plants in rockwool cubes from seeds or cuttings before transplanting into our Vivigrow, but if you prefer to buy plants, you can dust the compost off and pop them into the Vivigrow.
Top tip: Before transplanting, make sure your plants have abundant white roots on the outside of your soil or rockwool cube.
Tropical Rain & Drain Planter – using the Ebb & Flow Technique
Our Tropical Rain & Drain Planter has been designed by our horticulturists to replicate the specific watering & feeding conditions needed by tropical plants. The Tropical Planters inclusive water timer ensures your tropical and exotic plants such as bananas, ginger and papaya are fed & watered several times a day without ever over-watering.
The Tropical Planter works using the ebb and flow method. This technique operates by flooding the grow space with nutrient solution at certain times, which then drain back into the tanks reservoir which normally contains a timed pump. This method is perfect for plants that go through periodic environments of dryness to wetness.
Pebbles are used in the planter instead of soil and a small pump waters the plants several times per day ensuring the plants have access to everything they need for stronger healthier plants and bumper harvests.
Oxypot – using the Deep Water Culture Technique
The Oxypot planter is a 'Deep Water Culture' method of growing, which means the roots are constantly submerged in highly oxygenated water. There's no timer to manage and you're never at risk of water logging or the plants drying out.
Deep Water Culture is a hydroponic technique whereby the roots of your plants are suspended in a highly aerated solution of water and nutrients, rather than growing in soil. This method eliminates many of the downsides of growing your plants in soil and results in more rapid growth and bigger yields.
The air pump constantly oxygenates the solution, meaning the roots have 24/7 access to super-oxygenated water and nutrients. The result is seriously speedy growth!
You can add plants that have been started in soil as long as there are plenty of white roots on the outside of the plant. Or you can start plants in the Hydropod Cuttings propagator.
If you need a bit more inspiration on what you can grow in our exotic planters, then take a look at our exotics growing guide and see some of our favourites that our Gardening Angels like to grow every year in our Lancashire based greenhouse. If you want to learn a bit more behind the history and techniques behind growing in water then check out our uses and origins guide to hydroponics.
Taking the plunge into growing in water instead of growing in soil can be a bit daunting, but it’s actually really easy. If you have any questions or would like to know more, then one of our lovely Greenhouse Sensation Gardening Angels will be more than happy to help. Just pop us over an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org.