Hydroponics, simply defined, is the growing of plants without soil in a water and fertilizer solution containing the necessary nutrients for plant growth. It is not a new science. Work in this area was being done by researchers as early as the 1600's. In the early 1930's, W. F. Gericke, of the University of California, did laboratory experiments in plant nutrition for the commercial scale. "HYDROPONICS" -The word was derived from two Greek words, "hydro", meaning water and "ponos" meaning labor or literally, water working.
With the development of plastics, hydroponics took a large step forward and is now a widely accepted method of producing certain specialty crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and peppers. Other crops that can be grown by this method include herbs, foliage plants and flowers.
The advantages of hydroponics are significant. They include:
Superior taste, quality, appearance, uniformity and extended shelf life of hydroponic vegetables.
No sterilization of growing media is required and plant nutrition is easily and completely controlled within the nutrient tanks.
No weeds, no cultivation, no soil borne diseases or insects. It allows for uniform water availability in plants.
Closer plant spacing is possible because no large machinery is used inside the greenhouse.
Less water is required and less fertilizer is needed. Root zone heating, known to benefit tomatoes and cucumbers, is feasible and practical.
Use of biological controls including beneficial insects and safe methods of insect control are possible in a controlled environment system.
It is believed, by many, that Controlled Environmental Agriculture is the answer to many of the difficulties that are often associated with outdoor production.
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