Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponic Gardening

What is hydroponic gardening?

It all started on a dreary, Midwestern day, in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic that was making its rounds through the world like a wrecking ball. Masked up, I was on my weekly trip to a local grocer to replenish my supply of fruits and vegetables that I needed for the following week’s cooking, salad-making, and snacking. The layout of the produce aisle was as I remembered it, save for one exception – a small stand offering local, hydroponically-gardened, produce offerings. The curiosity in me needed to do my research and discover what this entailed. Here are my findings.

Hydroponic gardening describes a system whereby plants are fed using storage tanks that recirculate a water and nutrient-based solution at regular intervals (Steele, 1979). This solution is fed directly to their root systems, thus eliminating the need for soil, and all aspects, including lighting to stimulate photosynthesis in the plants, can be engineered to scale (Steele, 1979). Although traction for the method was slow to build in the United States, with the official patent for its system filed in 1979, its role locally and on a global scale has increased in recent years as a means for increasing the accessibility to fresh produce (“Future,” n.d.). It is particularly attractive to areas that cannot accommodate traditional gardening methods, such as urban environments, deserts, and other areas with little or no access to viable soil (“Future”, n.d.).

The Spruce has a beginner’s guide to hydroponic gardening. What have been your experiences with hydroponic gardening?

Future. (n.d.). Retrieved 18 April 2020, from https://cals.arizona.edu/hydroponictomatoes/future.htm
Steele, R. S. (1979). U.S. Patent No. 4,170,844. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Hydropinc Gardening is a really interesting subject. Especially as the global population is growing so rapidly (the UN has estimated a world population of 10 billion by 2050) and all these mouths will need to be fed! There are so many positive aspects to growing food hydroponically.

Clearing huge amounts of forest and land for farming is clearly an unsustainable and damaging practice so being able to garden and farm without soil is a huge benefit. Plants and crops can be grown in controlled environments with perfect levels of oxygen, water and nutrients to ensure high quality yields. Plus, growing our food without pesticides will have a positive impact on global health.

There is the question of whether growing food hydroponically uses a potentially unsustainable volume of energy (with the amount of artificial lighting needed etc) but with all the research and developments in renewable energy happening today I’m sure that aspect will be resolved.

I agree that there are many positive aspects to growing food hydroponically. As population density increases and, due to unfortunate environmental circumstances, more soil becomes inert, there will be a greater need to produce more food using fewer resources. I read through some recent articles on hydroponic gardening and it looks like the current Covid-19 crisis has renewed interest in the method by individual consumers who want to minimize trips to the grocery store by growing their own produce at home (article linked below).

It is important to note, however, that as with many newer methods that have not been fully scaled to be affordable, it is a method that is still out of reach to many mainstream consumers; the multi-tiered kit referenced in the article is $550. It will take more time, research, and engineering before hydroponic gardening fully exits the niche gardening market and becomes a significant part of the industrial food system.

Some turn to hydroponics during outbreak to grow produce, reduce trips to grocery

Hey emerald.moon,

Hydroponic gardening is such an exciting and interesting way of doing agriculture. I love the thought of a cycle, in which there is a minimal amount of waste produced overall. No longer are there challenges with ensuring your plants are watered, and these tanks are very efficient!

I also love the aquaponic side of this. I love when fish benefit from the plants as well, as the plants feed the fish with the nutrients in the water they need to survive. Then, the plants benefit from the fish and its excrements. It is an incredibly interesting cycle, and I think it is the way of the future.

The more efficient we can be as people, the better the planet will benefit from this. I love the idea of continuing these ideas further, maybe one day I’ll even try it at home!

Thanks for your thoughtful discussion!