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Hydroponics: Gardening with Water, Hold the Soil

by Kelly Richardson, All About Lawns Columnist

The Babylonians did it. The Aztecs followed suit. From a Greek term that literally means "working water," hydroponics gardening is everything from a wildly popular hobby to a cutting-edge research tool. Here's the skinny on the gardening technique that has green thumbs screaming "Look Ma! No soil!"

What do fruit, shade and ornamental trees, shrubs, forest seedlings, vegetable seedlings, bedding plants, herbaceous perennials, and vines have in common? They are all able to grow without the presence of soil in a process called hydroponics gardening. Hydroponics uses the nutrient exchange properties of water to provide flora and fauna with a feeding system that promotes full growth and root system health. For apartment dwellers, this is the perfect way to enjoy a garden without owning a lawn.
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Hydroponics Gardening: The Good

  • Soil Not Required. Why is a garden without soil better? Over and under watering are eliminated. No more worrying about the availability of fertile earth. No weeds and fewer pesticides. Roots are clearly visible to gauge growth.
  • Space Race. Ever discouraged about the lack of space in your garden? Hydroponics gardening allows you to grow more delicious vegetables using less space than traditional gardening.
  • Less Means More. Not only does hydroponics gardening require less money than traditional gardening, but you can actually package and store your vegetables while they're still living to increase their freshness and storage life.

As with any gardening technique, hydroponics is not a perfect system. There are some disadvantages to this growing style that you'll want to know about before you drop a few hundred dollars at your local home and garden center for the needed supplies. Hopefully, the drawbacks won't dissuade you from giving it a try.

Hydroponics Gardening: The Bad

  • More Know-how. Hydroponics gardening requires a bit more technical knowledge than traditional soil gardening in order to yield a successful crop. However, there are plenty of books and Internet information to show you how.
  • Support System. Because there's no soil to support plant and root development, an artificial support system must be created for the process to complete.

Although it's been around for thousands of years, hydroponics gardening is the growing technique of the future. It will feed millions who live in areas where good soil is scarce. And it will provide you with an unusual and fun way to grow your table vegetables.

About the Author
Kelly Richardson has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder and is afflicted with the need to share his knowledge with the world. Kelly writes lawn columns for a variety of home and garden magazines and e-zines.

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