If you had two of the same plant (same genetics, same age) and planted one in soil and the other in a hydroponic system, the plant grown in soil will grow slower. This is why: When you are growing using the hydroponic method, you are using inert media. Because you are using inert media, you have full control over everything your plants consume. Basically you can create the perfect regiment to ensure your plant will flourish. Hydroponic Nutrients have been balanced to bring the right mixture of nutrients to your plant in a form that is easy for the plant to intake. Also, you have the ability to balance the pH to the perfect level to ensure the plant can easily metabolize the nutrients it consumes. One of the other reasons for the slower plant growth is that soil holds more water than typical inert hydroponic media. When growing with inert media, you will have to water more often. More watering equals more feedings. The more dry periods in the soil, the more root-oxygen stimulation. The plants consume more food and oxygen, you should see higher yields. Also, growing without soil can decrease the presence of natural pests/bugs because pest larva incubates in soil.
Hydroponic techniques have been used for centuries, typically in areas that have very little rainfall. Hydroponics can be traced all they way back to the Egyptians. The word, Hydroponics, comes from the Latin word meaning, “working water”. Hydroponics is essentially the act of growing in media other than soil (typically with a water recirculation method). When people think of hydroponics they usually picture DWC (deep water culture) systems or NFT (nutrient film technique). Though these are only two types of systems, they are the most common in hydroponics. What about the simple ones? Flood and drain (Ebb and Flow) & the Drip System. These are easy, cheap, and work great! On a small scale or commercial level flood, drain and drip systems tend to be most common.
Base fertilizers must contain the three major macro nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The difference in hydroponic/regular fertilizers is that they contain a perfect balance of all the essential macro and micro-nutrients which fertilizers intended for use with soil do not have. Hydroponic and Regular fertilizers tend to be extremely refined and balanced so the plant can easily consume them. Organic fertilizers are different. They rely on beneficial microbes and bacteria to break down nutrient molecules for easy plant consumption. Hydroponic and regular soil fertilizers provide nutrients in a simple to uptake form. Due to the incredible growth in the Hydroponic Fertilizer market many of the new organic fertilizers are refined enough to rival inorganic nutrients.
Hydroponic gardening is only as complicated as you want it to be. A new grower walking into a hydroponic store can easily become overwhelmed. Today, more products are being released than ever before. The simplest systems are the drip system or ebb & flow systems. Very simple to manage, the ebb and flow has fewer parts. Both systems have easy clean up and are not too expensive. If you are new, you do not need to completely automate your grow area. Get used to controlling every function of your grow room manually, in order to learn the growing process. Once you have grown to master the variables, you can automate them later. I love Hydroponics. The reason being that you can create whatever you can imagine. The sky is the limit. Once you have mastered a smaller system move onto a larger one.
PH control in VERY important when growing with any type of media (hydroponics or soil). The pH is specific to the type of plant you are growing. 7.0 is generally considered on the basic side and 5.0 is considered acidic. The pH directly effect how efficiently plants can uptake nutrients. Here’s a pH scale for growing: Acidic solutions have a pH between 1 and 6.9 (indoor tomatoes like 5.5-6.5) Alkaline solutions have a pH between 7.1 and 14. Neutral solutions are neither acidic nor alkaline so their pH is 7
The Macro-nutrients, also known as N.P.K, that are required for healthy plant growth are: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (Potash). These are the driving nutritional building blocks your plant requires for growth. Without these elements your plant will not grow and will eventually die.
Micronutrients, also known as trace elements, required for healthy plant growth are: calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Deficiencies of the micronutrients will result in the increase of pests, mold, and fungi, as well as disease and possible crop failure. Traditional farming can sometimes strip the soil of trace elements. This is why it is important to replenish the soil with organic material that helps to bring the nutritional balance back.