General Hydroponics, an Overview

This section, General Hydroponics, is meant to give you a little background so you can better design and maintain your hydroponics systems. This page is nowhere near all-inclusive and I am by no means a biologist or botanist but I do have some practical experience in making hydroponics systems work successfully. flower

So... exactly what is it? It is growing most any kind of plant without soil. Soil is mixed with plant nutrients or mineral salts put there by constant erosion and climactic action.

Fortunately mineral salt nutrients mix well with water so when plants take in water they are also taking in these nutrients.

Take away the soil leaving the mineral salts and you have what is termed 'a hydroponics growing system'.

This is probably as good a time as any to provide a bit of clarification. Throughout this site and this page I will be referring to 'nutrient solution'. This is merely water mixed with a small amount of hydroponics fertilizer that is composed of the required mineral salts.


To survive, plants need the following:

  • Adequate sunlight or an equivalent amount of artificial light
  • Warmth, meaning temperature in a range of 50 to 110 Fahrenheit
  • Oxygen
  • Water, the basis of all life
  • Mineral Salts to aid in system regulation and growth
Without an adequate supply of each of these (or an over-supply for that matter) a plant will wilt and die.

When you decide to build a homemade hydroponics system keep these factors in mind. All types of growing systems that we will show you later will promote and regulate each of these factors and we will show you how.

So... Why would you want to play with hydroponics to begin with? The way modern farming is going there will soon be more and more attention given to general hydroponics gardening. In fact it is already extensively used in Israel where huge tracks of desert are now producing food and in India to help feed an ever-expanding population.

But what does this mean to the individual at home? Click on the following link to see why grow hydroponics?

Building a growing system may make more sense to you now, but you may ask what can be grown through hydroponics? The answer is just about anything. If you can grow it in your garden then most likely you can grow it in a hydroponics system. Check out this link, what can you grow in a general hydroponics garden?

In addition to these conventional garden items, if you think 'out of the box', you could even experiment with growing hydroponically such exotic items as cranberries, rice, saffron or ginger to name just a few... Use your imagination.

Now that you see how versatile a general hydroponics growing system can be here is a link with ideas of what do with your garden harvest.

So far this has been a very basic introduction to General Hydroponics. Such an introduction would be remiss in not including a small section on basic plant biology. Please read it. The basic concepts will provide a background helping you to provide a better growing environment for your plants and to diagnose and fix problems a little faster. Here it is; and do not worry, it is not very long - how does a plant work?

Types of hydroponic systems are many so let's get into some basic categories to give you an idea of what is possible.

Passive Hydroponic Systems A Passive system merely lets a plant float in a nutrient bath allowing it's roots to dangle in the water such as deep water culture (DWC) or a raft system. It is one of the simplest and easiest hydroponic methods. Aeroponics and aquaponics are also passive systems along with wick systems.

Container Hydroponic Systems A Container system can be easy or complex. It basically involves 1 or more plants placed in a container with or without growing medium and flooded with nutrient solution.

Aeroponic Hydroponics Aeroponic systems feed plants by periodically misting nutrient solution onto the roots. Update: After more research here is some additional information concerning Aeroponic Systems.

Drip Hydroponic Systems Drip systems are versatile and rewarding to build. Plants are fed by continuous dripping of nutrient solution onto the base of the plant.

Nutrient Film Technique Nutrient Film Technique is the stereotype of hydroponics systems. Constantly running nutrient solution washes and feeds dangling plant roots. Also included here is a sample system you can build.

Mittleider Method The Mittleider Method combines the best qualities of both hydroponics and soil gardening.

"Ebb and Flow" or "Flood and Drain" Systems Flood and Drain systems do just what the name implies: nutrient solution is pumped into the container holding plants in a growing medium and drained.

Or you could try something really different. If you have direct access to a large body of fresh water consider building an Aztec chinampa, a floating raft that is essentially a hybrid dirt/hydroponic system.

Yes, there are many systems to choose from... and you may be thinking which system is right for me? Click here for a more in-depth discussion on the different hydroponic systems.

If you are looking for flower garden ideas and pictures, backyard pond designs or perennial flower garden designs, go to My Gardening and Landscaping Makeover for all of these as well as some great gardening tips.

This wraps up the section on General Hydroponics. As you can see it is a wide open topic and I have only scratched the surface. Hopefully it has been helpful ....

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