Are you looking to get into hydroponics? Do you want to find ways to grow plants faster? If you are thinking about getting into growing hydroponically, you may be wondering if this method really does grow plants faster, compared to when growing in soil.
The good news is yes, you really can grow plants faster using hydroponics! Not only that, you will likely see a bigger yield within the same space.
Hydroponics may look a little bit daunting at first, but it is actually a lot easier than you think. If you are looking to grow lots of fresh fruit and vegetables for your family, then our Mr Stacky systems are a great tool.
So, what is hydroponics and how can you grow plants faster this way? All will be revealed below…
First up- What is hydroponics?
Before we begin, let us just give a quick run down of what growing hydroponically actually means. Hydroponic growing is where you grow your plants using just water, a nutrient solution and a growing medium (instead of soil). In some types of hydroponic set ups, such as Deep Water Culture (DWC), the roots simply sit in the water and nutrient solution, without use of a growing medium.
There are different types of hydroponic systems too. They each have their advantages, depending on what your growing needs are.
Deep Water Culture (DWC): As mentioned above, DWC is where the roots are continually submerged in a nutrient solution. Water is recirculated and oxygen is provided via an air stone in the water/ nutrient solution.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): In an NFT system your plants roots will sit in a tray, with a thin layer of water running underneath them. The tray is slightly slanted, so the water will run through the tube, and down into a water tank. The same water is then recirculated back into the tray. This is one of the more popular hydroponic systems.
Ebb and Flow or Flood and Drain: In this type of hydroponic system, your plants will grow in a growing medium (such as coco coir or rockwool). The tray containing your plants is soaked through, in a timer, several times a day, so the roots are not continually soaked in nutrient solution. Any left-over water is collected in the water tank and pumped back up at the next feeding time.
Aeroponics: A similar system to NFT, where the roots are suspended in the air, rather than fully stocked in nutrient solution. Rather than a thin layer of water running over the roots, they are sprayed with a nutrient mist instead. This spray can be continual timer or on a timer in short bursts.
Drip system: Your plants will sit in a tray or growing container with a water tank and pump below. The plants will need a growing medium such as coco coir, or if you like, this system can work with soil also. Drip emitters are placed over the top of each plant and will slowly drip water onto the plants at set intervals. Any leftover water drains back down into the water tank, before being pumped back up again.
Most Mr Stacky systems do not even require a pump, but only water just enough that the plant needs, so there is very little run off!
What are the benefits of hydroponic systems?
There are many benefits of growing hydroponically – here are just a few!
• Grow from anywhere. Grow your plants indoors, outdoors, and with a Mr Stacky planter, even from your balcony!
• You can save 90% of water compared with traditional soil growing.
• Growing off the ground and in more controlled conditions reduces pests and diseases.
• Fewer pests mean you can grow without the use of pesticides.
• It is easier for you to maintain correct water pH levels and required nutrients for your plants.
• Mr Stacky’s automated gardens have exceptionally low electricity costs- even on our commercial farms.
• You can grow year round (when growing in controlled climates, such an indoor set ups).
• It saves space and you can increase your yield (more plants within the same space!).
• You can grow plants faster with hydroponics.
• Automated watering is great for people who always forget to water their plants!
As with all growing methods, there will always be some disadvantages. With a hydroponic set up, it can be expensive to set up initially (BUT you soon see your money back in return). If your set up is run by a pump or on a timer, a power cut could cause damage to your plants, depending on how long it is out for. You will also need to supervise your plants to make sure they are growing correctly.
It is worth noting the the really expensive set ups are more for big commercial farms which require big set ups and pumps, etc. Luckily at Mr Stacky we have some very reasonably priced systems that are popular with the home grower and commercial grower. As our systems do not need pumps, they come at a much cheaper price (even commercial farms)- but still with all the benefits mentioned above!
Why do hydroponic systems grow plants faster?
There are many reasons you can grow plants faster using a hydroponic system, and a lot of it will have to to with the type of system you are using. You will also need to monitor your plants and find any problems quickly to get the best yields. The more you put in, the more you get out of it!
• Automated systems. When growing hydroponically your plants can grow in optimal conditions. With regular and consistent watering on a timer, to providing the exact temperature, water pH and nutrients. You can grow plants faster when they have a stable environment to grow in.
• The best nutrients. You plant will grow faster when it receives the correct type and amount of nutrients it requires, and this is much easier to control when growing hydroponically. Instead of the roots using up energy or to grow longer in search of nutrients in soil, the nutrients are delivered directly to the roots. This way the plant can focus more energy on growing strong and healthy.
• Reduced pests and disease. When growing off the ground or in a controlled environment, you limit the chance for ground pests and other diseases that commonly affect plants. This is particularly true for growing indoors, where plants will have less exposure to strong winds, or extreme temperatures.
• Bigger yields. With hydroponic growing you can grow plants faster, as well as fitting in more plants within the same space! The plants will also less likely to be fighting for space to grow as in soil growing, as each one has their own container and is given the right mount of nutrients.
• Plenty of oxygen. Most hydroponic systems provide oxygen through an air stone or allowing the roots to breathe, such as in the nutrient file technique. When roots have access to optimal amounts of oxygen, they will thrive and grow quickly, and therefore helps to grow plants faster.
Growing hydroponically can definitely result in being able to grow plants faster (around 20% to 50%). Remember that each plant will grow at different rates and will require a different amount of nutrients, growing medium, water etc. Get to know your plant and what it needs in order to provide it with the best growing conditions.
Best plants to grow hydroponically
Here is a quick lowdown of some plants that do well in hydroponic systems.
• Lettuce. Leafy greens, such as lettuce, grow well at the best of times but when grown hydroponically you can see some great results and fast (some types even as little as 3 to 4 weeks).
• Herbs. With Mr Stacky pots, herbs do extremely well and can grow quickly. You are also able to grow them throughout the year.
• Tomatoes. Provide your tomato plant with everything it needs, and the stable conditions of hydroponics will mean it will thrive.
• Strawberries. They love the full sun, which is great for our Australian growers!
• Spinach. Fast growing in a hydroponic set up and can be picked 2 weeks after transplanting.
• Blueberries. These plants love a more acidic environment and depending on where you live this may be hard to replicate. Growing hydroponically means you can provide them with the right type of growing medium to thrive.
• Cucumber. One of the easier fruits to grow hydroponically, with harvest times ready in around 50 days.
• Coriander. Can grow faster in a hydroponic system, grows rapidly within the vegetative stage and you can pick it before the flowering stage.
• Basil. This herb loves a neutral pH level which is hard to replicate in soil. It is much easier with hydroponics and can be a great herb to add to meals.
If you would like to find out more about hydroponics, check out our growers’ resources page.
Click here for our most popular home grower’s planter.