The attractive part of hydroponics gardening, and the reason why so many home and commercial gardeners and farmers are drawn to it is the speed that plants grow and the amount of produce crops grown with hydroponics technology produce. Although it looks like it is a big step from growing plants in soil, the step is actually only quite small. The nutrients that would normally be contained within soil are provided in the water. Once this has been done, other than physical support for the plant roots, the soil provides no further advantage. Because they receive all of the elements they receive in soil, a huge range of plants can be grown hydroponically.
The main types of hydroponics plants that we see are those that we eat. You may have noticed that many varieties of lettuce and herbs are now sold in supermarkets in plastic seeds with their roots still attached. These plants have been grown hydroponically. They are just as healthy and tasty as plants grown in soil.
Hydroponic strawberries are a seasonal fruit, bearing fruit only during the warmer months of the year. Hydroponics technology, with the provision of light, nutrients, and water, is able to grow strawberries all year round, producing rich, red, luscious, sweet fruit. The cost of hydroponic gardening is no more expensive than farming with soil, which means that hydroponics strawberries can be provided to local markets and supermarkets all year round from a local grower, rather than having them shipped in during the out-of-season months. This significantly reduces the cost of these hydroponic plants.
Although many varieties of lettuce can be grown all year round, this is limited by the rate at which lettuce grows during the winter months. If a particular area is prone to frost or snow, lettuce or other plants can not be grown during this time. Hydroponics plants can be grown indoors, meaning that they can be protected from the harsh winters and be grown all year round. Hydroponic lettuce also grows much faster than traditionally grown lettuce. This allows farmers to produce multiple crops during the year, enhancing their production rates, reducing the area they need to dedicate to an individual hydroponic plant, and thereby increasing their profitability.
The traditional hydroponic plant – the tomato – is perhaps the most well known plant to be grown using hydroponic systems. It can be found in almost all supermarkets, where it is now almost uncommon to find tomatoes that are not grown hydroponically. Tomatoes are particularly suited to hydroponic growing because they have small root systems, require quite a lot of water, and are particularly prone to soil-borne diseases, frost, and other radical changes in the weather. Hydroponics provides the stability that tomatoes need to grow and thrive.
In summary, a wide range of plants can be grown using hydroponic technology. The most common hydroponic plants that we as consumers come across are lettuce, herbs, strawberries, and of course, tomatoes. Hydroponics provides these plants with the stability in growth conditions that they require to grow rapidly and bear the most produce, making the entire system economically viable.