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Hydroponics, Aeroponics, NFT? So Many Indoor Grow Systems!

Each hydroponics systems offers you plusses and minuses… Each hydroponics systems offers you plusses and minuses… © RosebudMag.com

Lots of growers write us at Rosebud after looking at other hydroponics magazines and getting more confused about hydroponics systems and growing techniques.

They look at other “hydroponics” magazines, and see how the articles talk only about lettuce, cucumbers, and similar data that doesn’t help you or me as a serious high-value grower.

It’s easy to see how confusion is the only harvest you get when reading that vague and obscure stuff.

That’s why we at Rosebud try to get right to the point with how we provide hydroponics gardening information.  We’re growers like you, so we know what you care most about in your hydroponics gardening.

One of the most persistent questions that growers ask us has to do with the whys and whats of all the different grow systems being used indoors.

For example, people use the word “hydroponics” to generically describe all types of indoor gardening systems, but technically the word doesn’t even mean what most people believe it means.

Fact is, the word hydroponics was used by alternative gardening pioneers in the early-1900’s to mean growing plants in nutrients-laden water- not in rockwool, hydroton, coco coir, soil, etc. It was truly soilless gardening- in water.

Today, growing plants so their roots are in a zone filled with atmosphere and water - and nothing else- is called by various names depending on the system you’re talking about.

It could all be grouped under the heading of “hydroponics”, but then it’s also given a different name, such as…

Growing plants in nutrient-mist filled chambers is called aeroponics or fogponics. Growing plants in nutrients water is aquaponics, although some people use the words aquaponics or aquaculture to describe a grow system that has a fish tank somewhere in your irrigation network.

Growing plants so their roots extend through a layer of hydroton or other materials into a bath of nutrients water is often called DWC- deep water culture.

Growing plants so their roots source nutrients from a thin river of water flowing through the bottom of a channelized enclosure is called NFT- nutrient film technique.

Growing plants in rockwool or some other solid root zone media is called hydroponics, or ebb and flow, or flood and drain, depending on the details of how nutrients water is pumped into the root zone.

And then there’s the issue of what happens to the nutrients water after it has been provided to your plants’ roots for the first time. Again, there are different names for different techniques.

If the water is sent back into a reservoir, the system is called a recirculating system. If the water circulates in the root zone once and then is disposed of, the system is called “drain to waste.”

If you meet somebody who can walk in on any situation and grow a fat-yielding crop in any of these systems, you’ve met a grandmaster grower. Learning to run those systems requires several seasons of experience with each individual system; learning them all takes several years.

The easiest systems to run are hydroponics, ebb and flow, and flood and drain. The hardest systems to run are aeroponics, aquaponics, DWC and NFT.

This is of course an oversimplification. After you are skilled at aeroponics, for example, you may find it takes you less time to run an aeroponics system than it takes a skilled hydroponics grower to run a system with rockwool and drip irrigation.

And then there are the endless and sometimes amusing debates centering on which systems produce the biggest yields and net profits with the least amount of worry and time.

In that regard, there’s credible data that aeroponics systems may be superior to other systems because aeroponics inherently provides more oxygen to roots, while also providing nutrients directly to roots in a form that’s more easily absorbed. These two factors lead to faster growth and bigger yields.

In the October issue of Rosebud print magazine, grow expert Erik Biksa and other hydroponics grandmasters provide you detailed and practical explanations of various indoor gardening systems and nutrients circulation methods.

I also suggest that you go to a well-outfitted hydroponics retailer and scrutinize hands-on as many types of indoor growing systems as you can.

With so many choices on the market, and so much depending on the intricacies of pumps, internal hardware, materials, configurations, warranties, operating procedures and other factors, you’ve got to look at these various technologies in person at a hydroponics store so you get all the information you need to find the best system for you.

Some readers want us to tell them what to buy, but every grow situation is unique so it’s best for you to see what’s out there in the hydroponics retail stores to make sure that the way you grow is the best way for your space, your needs and your level of commitment to indoor gardening. You can look forward to getting faster growth and bigger yields using hydroponics indoor gardening methods you never dreamed of.

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Fish and water = aquaponics? Maybe. RosebudMag.com
Last modified on Friday, 28 October 2011 18:54

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