Category Archives: Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponics is growing plants without soil. In the 19th century, it was discovered that soil is not essential for plant growth, as long as nutrients are present in the water supply.

Which Hydroponic System Is Right for You?

Choosing a Hydroponics System Gothic Arch Greenhouses Hydroponic GardeningThere’s no denying that hydroponic gardening is growing—and is expected to continue to grow—in popularity because of its convenience, efficiency and eco-friendliness. But if you wanted to get in on this hot gardening trend, where do you begin?

Determining which hydroponic growing system you will use is one of the most important decisions you will make. That decision will be guided by how much you want to spend, what plants you want to grow and your level of gardening experience.

Keep that information in mind when reviewing the six main types of hydroponic gardening systems to see which one could be the best fit for you.

Basic Wick: For beginners who want to get their feet wet with hydroponics, this simple, low-cost system is a great way to try. Ideal for small plants, such as herbs, the basic wick system can even be assembled very easily. Basically, it’s a container holding your plants over a container holding water and nutrients that is connected by a wick, such as a nylon, cotton or fibrous rope to draw the nutrients to the plants. Not recommended for larger plants, the wick system is less efficient than other systems, but it serves its purpose as a way to get started.

Deep Water Culture (DWC): Lik the basic wick system, a deep water culture system is very simple and beginner-friendly. Unlike the basic wick system, it does require moving parts, namely an air pump, which provides oxygen to the nutrient solution. Essentially, plants are held in place on styrofoam or plastic and suspended into water. Ideal for lettuce and other types of greens, the deep water culture system is a favorite among teachers to introduce their students to hydroponics in the classroom. While it is an easy system to maintain, deep water culture systems do rely on electricity, and without it, plants can rapidly decline.

Drip System: Very popular among commercial and home growers, the drip system is scalable, meaning it can accommodate larger plants that the basic wick and deep water culture systems can’t, such as melons, zucchini, onions and cucumbers. They drip system setup is similar to that of a basic wick system with containers on top of each other, but it does use a pump and a timer to circulate (or recirculate) the water and nutrients. In this case, monitor the pH to ensure it is consistent and healthy. Inspect drip lines to ensure there is no clogging. Though the drip system is more complex and requires more maintenance, it is still suitable for all, from beginner to advanced!

Ebb and Flow: A classic hydroponic system that uses a pump and timer like the drip system does, but an ebb and flow system floods the plants with nutrient solution, then slowly drains back into a reservoir to be reused. Such a system is ideal for plants with low water exposure tolerance and need periods of dryness to help with root expansion. Strawberries, tomatoes, beans, spinach and carrots are among the plants that can thrive in this system. Setup can range from simple to more sophisticated, but common concerns, such as pH balance, power outages and drain clogging remain regardless.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): Though this system can require more time setting up, it’s popular for the fast growth rate it helps plants achieve in limited space. Easy to maintain, a nutrient film technique system conserves both water and nutrients. It utilizes no growing medium—which can help save money. Instead, plants are suspended in a tray with roots dangling in a nutrient solution, allowing plants to receive high levels of oxygen. When given enough room and support, cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, peppers and herbs can thrive! Monitor pump function to ensure the roots don’t dry out due to lack of nutrients in the event of a power failure or other breakdown.

Aeroponic: Similar to the nutrient film technique, an aeroponic system uses no growing medium. But instead of being suspended in a nutrient solution, plants are merely suspended in air and receive a misting of solution instead. Aeroponic systems can be very simple or elaborate, and solution can be administered manually or automatically. In each, the constant high levels of oxygen plants receive makes varieties such as tomatoes, eggplant, melons, herbs, lettuce, squash and edible flowers flourish. There is less room for error in this method. In the event of a power failure, plants will be completely dependent on you to mist them. Also, plants can grow quickly and may outgrow the system, so be prepared to transplant them.

Still have questions on which direction to go with hydroponics? Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to get the answers you need to get growing!

How Hydroponic Gardening Works

Hydroponic Gardening Gothic Arch Greenhouse Hydroponics, a soil-less form of gardening, has grown in popularity in recent years. But it dates back to the famous Hanging Gardens of Ancient Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which are believed to have been maintained through a hydroponic system.

In more modern times, hydroponic gardening has gained favor for their many benefits—one of the most important being that it’s a viable conservation alternative to shrinking supply of agricultural land. This system of gardening is also well-known for producing higher yields (up to 25 percent more) and higher quality vegetables that grow faster and are considered tastier than those grown in soil.

But how does it work? If you’ve ever placed a plant clipping inside a glass of water, that will give you a basic visual of how hydroponics works. Take that image and imagine a system of anywhere from a small number of plants to a large-scale hydroponic farm. The plants within the system don’t rely on soil as their growing medium, and instead the nutrients they need are in the water that recirculates among them.

The absence of soil in a hydroponic system means there is no danger of disease or pests, so pesticides can be cut back or eliminated altogether. It also means that plants have smaller root systems, yet greater flowering potential, which leads to that increased yield.

Hydroponic systems can function passively or actively, which refers to how the water and nutrients are supplied to the plants. Each have their advantages based on the scale of plants grown, types of plants grown, etc.

The underlying theory behind hydroponics is to remove as many barriers as possible between a plant’s roots and oxygen, water and nutrients—everything it needs to thrive. Various herbs, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and peppers are best suited for hydroponic systems.

Hydroponic growing has wide applications, including urban areas where there is little land for agricultural use, remote areas where residents or business can grow their own vegetables without having to import them or any areas where water supply may be scarce. Some even call it the gardening of the future!

Interested in hydroponic gardening? We have a number of systems available. If you have questions about what you need or which one may be right for you, just give us a call at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

5 Hydroponic Crops You Should Be Growing

Of the many benefits of hydroponic gardening, one of the most exciting for entrepreneurial growers is higher crop yield.

Hydroponic plants grow at a rate 30 percent to 50 percent faster than a soil plant under the same conditions.

Hydroponics is well-known for conserving water. But the set-up allows more oxygen in the root system, helping plants absorb nutrients faster.

And because plants don’t have to use energy to search for nutrients, that allows them to channel that into growing faster and producing more. In short, it makes them happier and healthier plants!

For the budding business-minded gardener, that can translate into higher profits, especially if plants that respond well to hydroponic mediums are selected.

If you are considering hydroponic gardening as a means to make some money, consider these five types of plants to get started.

Lettuce. First-timers in hydroponics should start with lettuce. The shallow root system is ideal for this system, so it requires little more than changing the nutrient solution regularly. Romaine, iceberg, Boston, Buttercrunch and Bibb lettuce are recommended varieties.

Spinach. This leafy vegetable thrives in a hydroponic system, particularly when techniques are used to keep the nutrient solution highly oxygenated. For sweeter spinach, grow at temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees. Savoy, Bloomsdale, smooth leafed and Tyee are suggested.

Strawberries. Love this fruit? Now you can enjoy it all year long with hydroponic gardening. These do best in an ebb and flow system, but nutrient film technique can work for smaller crops. To get started, purchase cold-stored runners that are berry-ready. Look for Brighton, Chandler and Douglass varieties.

Bell Peppers. These colorful veggies flourish in a hydroponic system, but they require a little more attention and care. For starters, they need a lot of light—18 hours a day. As plants grow, raise the lights to give plenty of room, but don’t let them grow to full height. Prune them as a means to encourage growth. Try Ace, California Wonder and Vidi types.

Herbs. Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and watercress are just some of the herbs that prosper in hydroponics, and they make another great option if you’re just getting started. Studies have shown that herbs grown in a hydroponics system are more aromatic and more flavorful. Just more reasons to get growing!

Not sure where to begin with hydroponics? Let us know! Call us at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we can help you get start with systems or crop selections.

Advantages of Cold Weather Hydroponic Gardening

Just because the weather gets colder, that doesn’t mean you have to go without fresh vegetables. With the help of hydroponic gardening, you can enjoy salads, cucumbers and tomatoes even though winter might traditionally dictate those crops are out of season.

Many growers prefer to turn to hydroponic gardening in the cooler months, with sales starting to climb in August and extending through April as they help fill the void of what’s usually available.

Generally, this method of gardening is regarded for its environmental friendliness—it uses less water and doesn’t erode topsoil. The growth rate is faster, so the yield is higher. Plants absorb more oxygen, which helps stimulate root growth and take in more nutrients. Some even say hydroponically-grown produce is packed with more nutrition and it tastes better.

But why winter hydroponic gardening? Of course, it helps provide fresh vegetables year-round, so you can enjoy the straight-from-the-vine taste of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and other greens—all ideal for throwing together a salad that takes you right back to the fondness for summer.

To get to that point, you have to actually do some work in your garden, and that can be helpful in fighting the seasonal blahs. In other words, you don’t have to wait for spring, and you don’t have to wait a while for crops to grow since everything grows faster using the hydroponic method.

Additional options for winter growing in your hydroponic garden are carrots, broccoli, spinach and herbs, such as oregano, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, thyme and chives, to add even more flavor to your foods.

To successfully pull off hydroponic gardening in the winter months, you will have to take into account several things. You may need to supplement less natural light during the shorter days with artificial options, and that means higher energy costs.

Drier air in cooler weather means having to add humidity with a humidifier or even misting the plants. Along with managing light and humidity, it’s important to keep the temperature in check. Swings in temperature can send plants into shock. It’s recommended to maintain a 60 degrees Fahrenheit environment.

How can you get started on your hydroponic garden this winter? Call one of our friendly representatives at 800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, so we can help you get growing!

 

The Future of Greenhouse Irrigation

Greenhouse Irrigation New Technology Gothic Arch GreenhouseIrrigation is a common problem for greenhouse growers, from large-scale nursery operations to hobby gardening enthusiasts. Ensuring that your plants get the right amount of water—without overdoing it or underdoing it—requires attention to detail.

With precision of water application in mind, technology that improves efficiency of delivery and conservation of this resource has driven advancements in the field of greenhouse irrigation systems. These options are just a few options for growers with conservation in mind.

Drip Irrigation. These automated systems, once primarily used by large-scale growers, are now also favored by small- to medium-sized operations as well. Drip systems can cut water use in half, while also yielding superior crops (in terms of size and root length, among other characteristics) than traditional methods, like overhead sprinklers. Drip irrigation systems are widely considered to be affordable and easy to install.

Fertigation. Combining precise fertilizer application with efficient irrigation is a process known as fertigation. Not only does this help conserve fertilizer and water, but also can improve crop yield and quality. In a greenhouse setting, fertigation can increase production by almost 60 percent. Often set up in conjunction with a drip tape irrigation system, fertigation helps deliver nutrients more directly to plants’ roots.

Hydroponics. Prized for its efficiency and environmental friendliness, hydroponics is often considered the future of growing. Waste is at a minimum, as water is recycled and reused. A hydroponic system requires less than 10 percent of water to grow a similar crop in soil. And it takes 60 percent less fertilizer to nourish crops. In addition to these sustainability benefits, hydroponic systems yield larger, more nutritious produce.

Sensor-Based Irrigation. Sensor technology has led to even greater accuracy in water application. Using sensor-based systems allows growers to precisely measure irrigation timing and application rates. This has proven to reduce use of irrigation water, labor, energy and fertilizer. Some studies have shown that the use of sensor-based irrigation systems can accelerate production of container and greenhouse plants, which results in increased profitability.

Are your plants getting the water they need efficiently and effectively? We can help you make improvements to your irrigation system! Call us at 1-800-531-4769 to speak with one of our friendly representatives or visit our website www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

How to Get Started with Hydroponic Gardening

Getting Started With Hydroponics Gothic ArchHydroponic gardening offers a unique growing experience, utilizing a soil-less technique that has been proven to increase yield and conserve water.

Not only is this a practical approach to gardening, but also it’s an ancient one. Just think of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the Floating Gardens of Ancient China.

Despite these extravagant examples, this approach to gardening is as accessible to the novice grower as it is to large-scale commercial operations, and its setup is even ideal for those in urban settings who may lack outdoor space.

Many hydroponic systems or kits are available in various sizes to accommodate your space needs and your yield expectations. But if you’re wondering about how you should get started, consider these fundamentals.

Select your system. Four common hydroponics systems include: the classic ebb and flow, which is easy to build yourself; the top drip system, which is the most common; the deep water culture system, the most economical; and the wick system, which is the simples. Important things to consider when selecting a system are space, cost and the time required to maintain it.

Learn about lighting. If your hydroponic garden is indoors, lighting is a must. Lighting kits can be purchased to complement your system, and it’s recommended that you purchase all the components together rather than individually. In this way, the ballast, lamp and bulb wattage will match.

Research nutrients. Choose the water in your nutrient solution carefully. Reverse osmosis, spring, distilled or well water is recommended, then mix the fertilizer at the manufacturer’s recommended rate. Monitor the pH of your nutrient solution with a pH adjuster, aiming for a reading between 5.5 and 6 for all growing mediums.

Choose your medium. Though hydroponics doesn’t use soil, a growing medium is still needed. Coconut coir and Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) are recommended as good starter mediums. The former excels at absorbing water, and is recommended for all systems but ebb and flow. LECA excels at drainage, so it is ideal for the ebb and flow system.

Pick your plants. Select plants that set you up for success, particularly if you are a first-timer at hydroponics. Good starter plants include: greens, like lettuce, spinach and kale; herbs, including basil, parsley, mint, oregano and cilantro; tomatoes; strawberries; and hot peppers.

If you still have questions about where to begin with hydroponics or need more specific guidance about your existing system, call us at 1-800-531-4769 and let our friendly representatives help you today or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for hydroponic gardening supplies.

7 Benefits of Hydroponic Gardening

Gothic Arch Greenhouses Hydroponic Gardening SystemHydroponic gardening is just one more way you can maximize the use of your greenhouse space and try your hand at a different growing strategy.

Simply put, hydroponic systems utilize mineral nutrient solutions in water—rather than the more traditional option of soil—to grow plants. Instead of drawing nutrients needed from the soil, the plants’ roots are suspended in, flooded or misted with a nutrient solution so they can grow.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just thinking about working on your green thumb, hydroponic gardening offers plenty of benefits for you and your growing efforts. These are just a few!

Hydroponic gardening maximizes space. Get growing indoors or outdoors—or even increase the yield of your greenhouse. Hydroponic gardens need considerably less space than soil-based gardens because plants with small roots can be grown closer together, so starting small is no problem!

Hydroponic gardening is affordable. From smaller DIYs and easy-to-use beginner setups to more advanced options, there is a hydroponic system that can suit any gardening level and any budget. Especially since it can be done in any space, your investment can be minimal.

Hydroponic gardening conserves water. Though hydroponics relies heavily on water, it actually uses less because water and nutrients can be recycled and reused. Hydroponic systems can use less than 10 percent of the amount of water used in traditional soil-based gardens.

Hydroponic gardening puts you in control. Because plants aren’t grown in soil, the gardener is in charge of the nutrient balance. This allows the grower to quickly and easily detect and correct any deficiencies. The absence of soil also makes that process of flushing and starting over fresh significantly simpler.

Hydroponic gardening produces higher yields. A shorter growing cycle in a hydroponics system means the garden is more productive though it may be smaller in size. Crops can grow two times faster, and yields can be doubled and even tripled as a result of flourishing in the controlled environment.

Hydroponic gardening offers better results. Plants grown through a hydroponic system are healthier and have better nutritional value. Hydroponically grown vegetables have up to 50 percent more vitamin content (particularly vitamin A, B complexes, C and E) than those grown in conventional methods.

Hydroponic gardening saves labor. Not having to tend to the soil—because it isn’t needed in hydroponics—means a lot less work for the gardener. Just think, no pulling weeds, no tilling, no pushing wheelbarrows, etc. That can make hydroponics even more stress-relieving and enjoyable!

Curious about how to get your hydroponic garden started? Or do you want to take your existing one to the next level? Give us a call at 1-800-531-4769 to speak with one of our friendly representatives or visit our website www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to learn more.

5 Reasons You Should Be Growing Hydroponically

Greenhouse Hydroponics SystemsIf you have been suppressing your interest in hydroponics out of fear or
misunderstanding, it’s time to reach out and get help. At Gothic Arch
Greenhouses, we are here to provide you with the tools and knowledge you will
need to be a successful hydroponic gardener. Whether you are a hobby grower, a
commercial grower or a teaching facility, there are good reasons you should be
growing hydroponically.

So much is written about Hydroponic Farming and its benefits. It’s easy to get
lost in all the technical jargon and mythology. A few lines into an article and
you’re hit with words like “Photoperiod”, “Macronutrients” & “pH balance”
which can throw the average person way off balance and put an end to any
blossoming interests in hydroponic growing. Sure, it’s one thing to get your
soil right and determine exactly how much or how little to water your
traditional garden, but do you need a degree in Chemistry to harvest hydroponic
plants and isn’t it unnatural to grow without soil?

Once you get past the fear of being blinded with Science and going against the
grain, you will see that hydroponics is no more complicated than your backyard
garden and not only is the concept of hydroponics natural, there is absolutely
no difference between the process of mineral uptake in a plant in a soilless
environment or a plant growing in a field.

There are many good reasons for you to consider your own hydroponic project, we
have 5 really good ones for your consideration….

1. Quick Results -Hydroponically grown plants grow 30-50% faster than soil
plants under the same conditions.  The results are instant gratification,
additional profit for the commercial grower and for teachers, the ability to
keep your students attention in the classroom.

2. Pest & Pesticide Free- The absence of soil means the absence of pests
and weeds that live and grow in soil.  Your plants are also protected from
soil borne disease.  No need to use harmful pesticides or spend your
valuable time pulling weeds and best of all, NO CREEPY CRAWLERS!
3. Worry Free Watering – Hydroponically grown plants receive exactly the amount
of water needed- no less & no more allowing you to conserve water and money
and taking the guesswork out of the watering process.

4. You Need a Break!- Hydroponic farming is less labor intensive than
traditional soil farming and doesn’t have to be complicated.   With
readymade hydroponic supplies, nutrients and kit systems at your disposal,
getting started has never been easier.  Call us today at   1-800-531-4769 to enquire
about our starter kits, turn-key commercial systems and what we recommend for
the classroom.

5. Save Space – Stack your plants, get creative, and grow up! Literally.
Think beautiful vertical gardens (did I mention the emotional benefits?
The tranquility?).  If space is an issue, hydroponics is a smart solution.

Speaking of Space, as no life sustaining soil has yet to be found in space,
NASA has done extensive research into hydroponic growing in order to provide
both food and plants in outer-space to benefit current exploration and as a
logical solution to the future colonization of the moon and Mars

Did you know: The name is derived from two Greek words; Hydro and Ponics.
Literally translated, it means: “Water Labor

Author :  Sonja Payne

Gothic Arch Greenhouses Inc

 

Aquaculture and Hydroponic Systems

You’re on the right track if you’ve been thinking about starting a garden to grow your own vegetables for family and friends, but lack the yard space and are overwhelmed by bugs and vermin, and by extremes of unpredictable weather conditions. If faced with these challenges, you may want to consider an investment in a quality environmentally controlled Gothic Arch Greenhouse and a hydroponic or aquaponic food production system to ensure a sustainable year around supply of fresh nutritious vegetables and fish.

You have practiced hydroponics if you’ve ever placed a plant clipping into a glass of water in the hopes that it will develop roots. Hydroponics is a method of growth where plants are grown without the use of soil. The nutrients that the plants normally derive from the soil are simply dissolved into water instead. When hydroponics is combined with aquaculture…an innovative system termed Aquaponics is realized. In Aquaponics, the nutrient rich waste water from the fish is re-circulated into the hydroponic system to provide food for the plants. Depending on the type of hydroponic system used, the plant’s roots are suspended in, flooded with or misted with the nutrient rich solution so that the plant can derive the elements it needs for growth. The water is then returned to the fish tank in a continuous loop that is much less wasteful of the water resource than other conventional food production systems.
¬As we witness the population of our planet explode and arable land available for crop production declines, hydroponics and aquaponics offers us a dependable means to produce crops in greenhouses or other conventional buildings that can be converted to specialized food production. Already, where the cost of land is at a premium, crops are being produced underground, on rooftops and in greenhouses using these innovative methods.

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Learn to Grow Strawberries with Hydroponic Systems at Gothic Arch Greenhouses

Recommended System:

NFT stands for Nutrient Film Technique. Because of the way Nutrient Film Technique works, it’s perfect for growing hydroponic strawberries.

Growing Medium: expanded clay pellets, leca, heydite, or crushed shale rock

pH Level: for Strawberries maintained between 5.8 and 6.2

Nutrients: Maintaining a nutrient rich solution at a slightly higher EC (around 2.5) with good levels of potassium will help with sugar accumulation in the fruit.

Lighting Needed: seven hours of full sun per day or if growing hydroponic strawberries inside use fluorescent grow lights.

Temperature: Not to exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity Level: Strawberries like to get wet, so they like higher humidity levels

Care Required: very demanding

Successful strawberry production can be easily done using hydroponics (the science of growing plants in soil-less material) in the controlled environment of a Gothic Arch Greenhouse…providing you with berries year-round…protected from birds and other animals. Growing berries with hydroponics can be challenging, yet rewarding as it can be adapted to almost any growing environment. The ideal environment to protect from weather would be inside a quality build Gothic Arch Greenhouse with the use of artificial lighting during the winter months.

(A)Choose the variety of berries you want to grow. The most populare are blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc., with the best type of plants for hydroponic growing being the “day neutral” varieties.

(B)With a sterile grouing medium such as crushed shale or clay pellets, secure the bottom of a hydroponic mesh bin. Inquire about what type of liner you should get depending on the environment you are going to grow the berries in. The liner should be soaked for at least 30 minutes in pH-balanced water prior to planting.

(C)Now you’re ready to set the berry plant into the growing bin, with the roots spread out over the liner. After pouring the growing medium into the bin, make sure the berries are above the surface so it has enough light and fresh air to thrive. The plant might rot, if is submerged in water.

(D)Based on the particular berry plant chosen, select the proper nutrient formulas, making sure the ph ration is properly balanced for optimum growth and production.

(E)To expect a bumper crop, keep your hydroponic berry plants in a warm sunny location like a windowsill, greenhouse or glassed in porch, as they require about seven hours of full sun each day. You can also use full spectrum fluorescent lighting to substitute for natural sun.

(F)Be sure to keep the berry plants in a temperature range between a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

(G)To insure maximum fruit set, use a soft artist paintbrush when blooms begin to open, gently sweep across each blossom in order to transfer pollen.

To maintain a strong viable plant that is full of blossoms and fruit, occasionally trim off
the runners from the plants as they appear…especially with strawberries.

Notes:

First step you need to take before using hydroponics with strawberries is exactly what type of strawberry you would like to grow and understand its needs.

Strawberry plants have a three year productive span, with the best production starting in the second. Plant new strawberries ever year to ensure continuous production.

Plant day-neutral varieties: There are several types of strawberry plants available, but day neutral varieties are best for hydroponic production. These plants will produce berries throughout a three to four month growing season. Day neutral strawberry varieties include Everest, Seascape, Tribute, and Tristar.

When using hydroponics with strawberries, you’ll also notice that insects and spiders are attracted to their foliage, so you’ll need to take care of those as well if you want your fruit to grow healthy.

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