11 Ways Hydroponics Beats Soil Gardening
It’s tough to argue against Alan Ray when he says growing hydroponically is better than soil cultivation. In fact, the veteran gardener digs up 11 reasons for switching to a hydroponic setup.
The Zen of Gardening
A garden is both a thing of beauty and a labor of love. There is something almost reverent about planting and working the land. Being in a garden lifts the albatross of the daily grind as we decompress naturally within our private querencia. Large or small, vegetable or flower, for many the effect is the same: peace. Gardening connects us with our quiet self.
So true. Although questions do arise. Like, do we really need to wear ourselves out to make that cosmic connection? Must we get so dirty and sweaty with aching backs and sore hands from weeding and digging and planting in hopes of discovering our inner Grasshopper? Is this the garden path to a happy harvest? It is one way, for sure. But there are other paths much less laborious and perhaps just as rewarding. Like Hydroponics.
It’s All Greek to Me
Those Greeks, they had a word for everything. And if they didn’t... they’d start mixin’ and matchin’ until they came up with one. They could do that since they created the alphabet. Take the word hydroponics for a shameless example. Hydroponics derives its name from the Greek words hydro, meaning water, and ponos, meaning work. Together they essentially mean water at work. And that pretty well describes the operating mechanism behind a hydroponic garden system. If you aren’t familiar with hydroponics, look it up and then come back to this article.
Mainstream Gardening vs Hydroponic
If you enjoy digging, planting, and just playing in the garden you aren’t alone. According to the National Garden Association (NGA), 35 percent of Americans, or roughly 110 million people, have their own garden. Most are traditional gardens containing a common assortment of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The other commonality is they are outdoors. However, a shift is occurring in the garden matrix. People are discovering there are distinct advantages to bringing their garden indoors.
I’d like to highlight some advantages an indoor garden holds over an outdoor with a dirt floor. Realize this isn’t a knock on conventional gardening but on the door of hydroponics to let you know there’s an easier way to grow while still enjoying many of the personal rewards gardening delivers.
Changing With the Times
Being human, our health or living situation can change in a heartbeat. And while the love of gardening may remain with you, under fated circumstances, such as lack of space, a restricting physical condition, or just downsizing, tending a regular garden may no longer be an option for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to quit gardening entirely. There may still be a wonderful alternative available to you: a hydroponic garden.
- The Dutch Bucket Hydro System and How it Works
- Maintaining Healthy Hydro Roots to Avoid Root Rot
- 5 Ways to Grow Your Weed Hydroponically
Advantage No. 1 — The Great Indoors
Much can be said about working in the garden, pouring a good sweat and absorbing all that vitamin D. Those are all good things... in moderation. As good as it feels, we all know too much sun can be carcinogenic. And if we’re a little older, all that digging and bending isn’t as nobly rewarding or easy to do as it once was. With a hydroponic setup the garden hobbyist is still able to plant, grow, and harvest but with much less effort.
You can also reap many of the emotional rewards a common garden affords without many of the drawbacks. That’s one advantage by default right there.
In that light, let’s see what other advantages growing hydroponically has to offer. And don’t be afraid that the system is too sophisticated. There are simple systems that can be up and running in an afternoon or sooner. There are even companies that will come and set it up for you. And after that, pretty much anyone having at least three firing neurons can operate it.
The Additional Advantages
Beyond being a cool way to garden, it’s what hydroponics doesn’t have that increases its appeal. Like dirt. Having no dirt is a big advantage. How? No dirt means no tilling, planting, or weeding. Moreover, with a soilless system, there are no grubs or gnats or other insects that typically live in soil. Also, no bad bacteria or harmful microorganisms to deal with. Two more benefits right there. Being indoors is yet another.
Indoors, you control the weather. No scorching sun, battering rain, or early snow. Light and warmth is the order of the day. Everyday. Another bonus. Your job is to simply monitor the nutrients you administer and check the pH levels on occasion. Then just kick back and watch your plants flourish. Plants that absorb nutrients directly into their root system are proven to grow larger, healthier, and at a faster rate.
There is also an ecological upside. A hydroponic setup uses 90 percent less water than a conventional garden and recycles the water it does use. More importantly, being soilless, there is no fertilizer or pesticide run-off to pollute streams and rivers and poison the water for aquatic life and people. Those are some serious environmental benefits.
Can’t Touch This
Plant-eating insects can do real damage to a garden in record time. Between the hornworms and the aphids, the rabbits, squirrels, deer, and whatever else can find your vegetation, it is a constant battle to control them. Bringing the garden indoors significantly reduces the threat of an insect invasion and virtually eliminates any trespassing rodents. Indoors, you still have to check your plants for bugs but having the garden at your fingertips allows you to quickly discover any pests that may have snuck in. Early detection eliminates the need for any pesticides.
Hydroponics won’t be for everyone, nothing is. But let’s recap why this method of gardening is becoming increasingly popular with gardeners everywhere.
✔No dirt means no digging, weeding, bending.
✔No hot sun beating down on you (no sweating or sunburn).
✔Requires only a small area in which to operate.
✔Grows healthy, organic food in less time.
✔Eco friendly as in no fertilizer/pesticide run-off.
✔You are the Weather Whisperer.
✔Chemical-free pest control.
✔24-hour access to your garden.
✔90 percent less water usage.
✔Expandable hydroponics is an integrated system capable of expansion.
✔You learn some Greek.
And that about covers it. As mentioned, hydroponics may not be for everyone, but if you love to play in the garden but don’t love all the dirty work, check out hydroponics — a soilless system you might really dig.
Written by Alan Ray
Alan Ray has written five books and is a New York Times best-selling author. Additionally, he is an award-winning songwriter with awards from BMI and ASCAP respectively. He lives in rural Tennessee with his wife, teenage son, and two dogs: a South African Boerboel (Bore-Bull) and a Pomeranian/Frankenstein mix.