Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Hydroculture

By now we're all familiar with the famous slogan 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'. Most of us have and are (and shame on you if you're not) recycling our products. That is... we sort our garbage accordingly and place it outside for the recycling truck to come pick it up. But how many of us are actively reducing and reusing our non-biodegradable products? With hydroculture, we can 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' and be more environmentally friendly with our gardening.

What is hydroculture and how is it different than hydroponics?

Hydroponics (From the Greek words hydro, water and ponos, labor) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Hydroculture, however, is a form of hydroponics that solely uses capillary action to bring water to the roots of a plant. It is also called passive hydroponics, semi-hydroponics, or passive subirrigation.

What are the benefits of hydroculture?

1) It can reduce water demand, time & cost.

In both hydroculture and other hydroponic systems, less water is used and water is reused. Hydroculture uses 70% to 90% less water than conventional gardening. This is particularly important if you live in an area where water is limited. With hydroculture you can control exactly how much the plant needs and avoid wasting water that soil would usually soak up.

One of the biggest hydroculture indoor gardening benefit is cost reduction, an estimated 20% over conventional methods. Furthermore, unlike other forms of hydroponics, hydroculture requires no electricity to run.

Since hydroculture uses no soil, weeds become practically non-existent, and therefore less pesticide is required. And since no digging or weeding is required, less labor is involved in growing plants. Saving not only time, but also saving our knees and our backs!

2) It can reuse and recycle many household items.

Unlike other hydroponic systems, hydroculture does not require you to go out and buy 'extra' containers or equipment, with the exception of the soil less media. You can set up a hydroculture by reusing many of your old pots and/or household items, such as milk jugs, cans, old teapots, and many other objects. By reusing household items that would normally be processed as recycled garbage, less material will need to be sent to landfills or waste combustion facilities.

In addition, soil less media such as 'expanded clay' can be washed, sterilized and reused indefinitely. So for little money you can get a bag of 'expanded clay' and use it for the rest of your life.

3) Less fertilizer is introduced into the environment.

The pH level in a hydroculture unit can be checked easily, therefore a greater control is exercised over the fertilizer that is needed and supplied. This leads to a reduction of fertilizer used. Hydroculture units are self-contained, so the fertilizer you use will not be seeping into the ground, which can cause problems, especially with ground water sources. There are many ways to recycle water from your hydroculture unit.

As the amount of arable land continues to decrease (over 10 million hectares per year are lost) and as we re-evaluate the security of our future water supplies, the field of hydroponics is growing rapidly. For the average gardener, hydroculture is a feasible alternative over conventional gardening and expensive hydroponic systems, allowing us to produce the same yield as soil gardens in about one fifth of the space. And since, hydroculture is container based, they can be brought indoors and not be dependent on the growing season. It has even been speculated that decades to come, hydroponics will become a significant food source for urban regions, with people growing food on rooftops or in basements.

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