The term hydroponics derives from the Greek words for water (hydro) and work (ponos) - "working with water". In a hydroponic system plant roots do not grow in soil, but in nutrient-enriched water. Hydroponics is a good method for growing plants, vegetables and herbs - indoor and outdoor. It has many advantages over the classical cultivation in soil and is particularly suitable for urban gardening.
Compared to the cultivation in soil, the plants get everything they need to grow through the nutrient solution, delivered directly to the roots. Nutrients do not have to be dissolved out of the earth by pouring. This also saves the plant energy because it simply gets to the nutrients. The nutrient solution must have a certain temperature and be enriched with oxygen. Such a controllable hydroponic system provides optimal plant growth, is resource-saving, less labor-intensive and significantly more productive than cultivation in soil.
In a good hydroponic system, the water nutrient solution is automatically fed to the plants in a closed circulation system. As a result, hydroponics consumes about 80-90% less water compared to the cultivation in soil. Unnecessary over-pouring or unnecessary evaporation over the soil is prevented. That's why less nutrients get lost. Well suited for dry and extreme areas.
As the plants grow in a controlled nutrient solution, they are less exposed to pests and free from weed growth. Therefore, the use of herbicides is not necessary. The use of pesticides is significantly reduced compared to the cultivation in soil, also because the plants are significantly stronger and less exposed to environmental influences.
Hydroponic systems are ideal for indoor gardening and urban gardening because they need less space. Depending on the used hydroponic system, an up to fourfold harvest yield can be achieved, compared to conventional soil cultivation. This has a space-saving effect on the cultivated area. Plants can be grown vertically or horizontally.
Hydroponics systems are mostly automated, which means less work - no soil handling, less watering and fewer pests to combat.
Hydroponics can be operated indoor or outdoor. Indoor can be grown all year round, regardless of wind and weather - no crop failures due to bad weather!
When growing crops, it can also be useful to have a simple and clean (without soil around) access to the roots. This helps to recognize plant diseases earlier, or to use the roots themselves, as they are important in many medicinal plants.
Most hydroponic systems require energy for pumps and light. Especially in the area of self-supply, the consumption of energy should also be offset with the effort needed to drive to the supermarket. Locally produced food is also not sent halfway around the world! Outdoor hydroponic systems can also be powered by solar energy.
Soil based cultivation needs less technology - seeds into soil, ready. In hydroponics, the start is associated with higher initial costs. Electrically operated components that can break down can lead to crop failures. On the other side most hydroponic systems are automated, you do not always have to look for it.
In the urban environment (urban gardens) growing plants such as herbs, salads or vegetables, is greatly simplified by hydroponics. Through vertical gardening many plants can be grown in a small space. This allows many people to cultivate vegetables rich in vitamins on balconies, terraces or roofs and to harvest freshly as needed.