Conventional or Hydroponic
Conventional or Hydroponic
So, because I am an old style gardener, then this dilemma has come to me at a late age. Excitingly, though then I have decided to “raise the gauntlet” and take on the challenge of growing hydroponically. Because of the terribly bad cold start to the gardening year then many of us have had to wait patently for the weather to warm up. Here at the end of may the temperature has broken the 20c temperature for the first time in 2021.
So our growing season is on the way! However I must confess to be a composting freque. Indeed keeping worm boxes to produce to feed the worms with our scrap vegetable waste to produce excellent compost. This I have started to use on my citrus and fig plants. Vermiculture, is the name given to this worm farming compost maker. However I digress!
Since starting this blog then I cant fail to be impressed by the number of young people taking up growing.
I say growing and not gardening. Mainly, because of the modern and diverse methods of growing all sorts of things indoors and outdoors. Also I am also impressed by the number of females that are taking up this wonderful hobby and pastime.
YouTube videos offer help and advice for anything and everything to do with growing things. Whatever system you use then the advice is there for all to see. This was the inspiration for starting up my worm farm. The energy given out by the presenters of these videos is sometimes overwhelming and inspirational. Therefore these new growing methods are giving growers and gardeners big decisions about which methods to try. Conventional or Hydroponic !
Although a newbie to hydroponics then I will try and give a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of using the hydroponics system.
Hydroponics is a water based system
Basically, a simple description is that hydroponics is plant growing by using water and water based nutrients. So the plants are not grown in soils but other mediums. Of course these other mediums can come in many different things ! Including coco products, rockwool, clay ball pellets, vermiculate and of course perlite. Plants are grown in these types of materials with the use of nutrient solutions to feed and improve growth rate and crop size.
For example I used to grow my tomatoes in grow bags. These grow bags were peat based with added nutrients for the first part of the plants life. After that then I had to manually feed the tomatoes to ensure a good crop. So, this would be both time consuming and also unpredictable due mainly to the weather conditions. Hot weather would mean more watering and more irregular feeding. However always came up with a decent crop by the end of the growing season.
So what now!-Conventional or Hydroponic
Well now that I am experimenting with hydroponics then I do this differently. Hence, my tomato plants are grown in a “Autopot System” as seen in the attached image. Although the initial cost can stretch your pocket the initial outlay can last you years. These systems are made from good quality materials and can be used for many seasons. The growbags are now replaced by a mixture of clay pellets and coco fibre. This medium “Hydrococo” can now be made ready mixed and ready for use.
Combining new and old then I still plant a French marigold with my tomato plants to ward of whitefly and other aphid types. This “companion planting” has worked for me for years now. Of course the Autopot system is fed by a large plastic reservoir. The tank is of course filled when required. Including the addition of nutrients. This growing season then I have been recommended to try out “CX Hydro-Base A and B” by my local Hydrostore shop in Leeds.
My belief is that the whole project is easier without the use of soils or garden composts.
Of course the big winner is that the plants only take up the water and food they require. Also a big bonus is that we can now go on holiday. Without having to ask a friend or neighbour to reluctantly look after your precious plants.
Other growers also use perlite as their preferred growing medium. especially for smaller project. At the moment I am experimenting with lettuce growing in water in plastic boxes<see attached images. of course their progress will be monitored for another blog when the lettuce is ready for eating.
, So to summarise, then researchers have found that your plants will grow 25% faster and produce 30% more growth than soil based growing methods. Importantly, this is because the plants root system has easy access to food and vitamins that ill boost the plants growth. Gardeners can easily control the correct amount of nutrients that your precious plants require. far better than the old individual pots and grow bag systems.
Novice gardeners -Conventional or Hydroponic
In my opinion then novice gardeners should start their new past time/hobby by trying the traditional soil growing methods. However this only applies to people who have a garden or are willing to take over an abandoned or disused allotment (this was by first option at the age of 14). Otherwise, a simple hydroponic system can be set up in the home? Hydroponics do use chemicals so soil gardening can satisfy the people would be the way forward for the more ECO friendly person growing organically.
Finally the choice is your! However as an elderly person then I am already looking forward to my newly found way of growing by using hydroponics supplied online by my local Hydrostore shop here in Yorkshire UK. Finally, like most things in this life , then you pay for what you get.