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How Hydroponics Systems Work For You, Part 6: Roots Need Your Help

Your flowers deserve the best hydroponics system Your flowers deserve the best hydroponics system

In our previous excursions into hydroponicsville, we’ve been looking at hydroponics systems such as aeroponics, drip irrigation, NFT, etc. Why so? Because there are so darned many types, and it’s hard to find a hydroponics store that has all the systems set up and running so you can eyeball them in person. That’s why we’ve been talking about them and will continue to until you have all the data you need to grow easy and grow big!

So we’ve got it understood from previous articles that hydroponics systems are either open or closed, in that they either save their hydroponics nutrients water after it has been delivered to the root zone (closed), or they dump it (open).

We’ve also noted that hydroponics systems are grouped by what’s in the root zone. In aeroponics, deep water culture (DWC), nutrient film technique (NFT) and similar systems, what you have in the root zone is a mixture of air, water and nutrients.

But you might also have something solid. Such as in an ebb and flow/flood and drain water culture system, you might have hydroton rock or a similarly coarse material. It’s basically there just to hold the roots in place, and to provide some porosity space for roots and oxygen to mingle. That’s why I group it in the air/water/nutrients category instead of in the next category.

In the other type of hydroponics systems, you have solid root zone material that encases your roots in Grodan rockwool, Pro-Mix, coco coir, Sunshine Mix and similar materials. These materials anchor roots, but they do a whole lot more than that. They are absorption agents that hold and release water, oxygen and nutrients, encasing the roots in a dense material that stays wet on its own for a while after each irrigation. That does happen with hydroton or similar materials.

The fact that coco coir, rockwool, Pro-Mix and other solid media hold water on their own is a crucial reason why most growers are still using solid root zone media instead of aeroponics or water culture systems.

We’ll find out why this is crucial, but first start with the knowledge that aeroponics, deep water culture and NFT are more efficient at delivering oxygen, water and nutrients to your plants’ roots. These systems can supercharge your plants, especially in grow phase, for rapid growth.

In these systems, instead of having to deal with the buffering characteristics of rockwool, coco coir, Pro-Mix, etc., you only have to deal with your hydroponics nutrients water and the airy space that surrounds your roots.

This is the ideal “neutral palette” for hydroponics growers who want to totally control every input that goes in through their plants’ roots. When your plants are feeding only off of water, air and nutrients, they’re getting the most direct pipeline you can use to provide oxygen, moisture and nutrients.

When you use a system with rockool, coco coir, Pro-Mix, supersoil, or some similar media, you have put an intermediary material between you and your plants’ roots.

Instead of flooding your roots with aerated nutrients water as in deep water culture ebb and flow, or spraying your roots with aerated nutrients water as in aeroponics, you drip nutrients water into your material. It absorbs the nutrients water, interacts with it chemically, and gives some of it back to your roots.

But some of the nutrient elements that you sent into those materials gets held or fails to release fully to your roots. For example with coco coir you get inherent chemical interactions that impact your ability to easily deliver manage phosphorus, calcium and potassium levels in your root zone.

The problems that come with rockwool, coco coir, supersoil, peat mixes and other solid media are challenges you can overcome and they are not likely to kill a crop, just slow them down and decrease yield.

You don’t have those same challenges using aeroponics or water culture, but aeroponics and water culture systems have serious challenges too.

Oh nooooo…I just did a word count and realized to my utter horror I have exceeded the maximum number of words allotted to me for this article.

The editor of rosebudmag.com is a very nice, intelligent person, but if I go over the allotted number of words, he sticks sharp pins into a voodoo doll bearing my likeness- one pin for each extra word.

I can feel it already…I am suddenly developing a sharp pain in my left shoulder, and my eyes feel as if a hot poker was being stuck into them, from behind.

My chest feels as if someone is stomping on it with nailed boots. If I keep on typing, I am likely to experience cardiac arrest. Such is the power of voodoo but…

I promise you I will give you lots more information about hydroponics systems in our next episode, so read RosebudMag.com in between every time you blink your eyes. Ok well, maybe not that often, but when you do read it, make sure your eyes are open while you are reading it.

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Last modified on Monday, 16 July 2012 17:27

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