What comes to your mind when you hear the term grow plants? This can be a large plantation or grow room with soil rich in nutrients.
There are also those who would think of flower vases or growing flowers and vegetables in the backyard. What do all these have in common?
They all have the soil. But, is soil a necessity for plants to grow? We will walk you through the various ways on how to grow plants without soil.
What are the necessities for plants to grow?
The three basic needs for humans are food shelter and clothing.
What about plants? This was taught in 3rd-grade basic science but just to refresh your memories the three basic needs for plants to grow are water, air, nutrients, and sunlight.
Well, there are some plants that don’t necessarily need sunlight such as mushrooms but the vast the majority require sunlight to carry out photosynthesis and glucose which is the engine that runs the plants.
If you were king you noticed that soil is not included in this list. This is because the soil is not a basic necessity for plants to grow.
I know, it might surprise you given the fact that over 80% of plants are planted in the soil.
The essence of soil in plants
Well, now that you know plants don’t necessarily need soil for growth, what is its essence?
Providing support to the roots
Plants have three main organs the roots stem and the leaves.
The roots help in providing support to the plants. Soil helps give a firm grip to the roots and this explains why most people prefer planting in the soil.
However, with the advancement of technology, people have improvised other mechanisms to provide support to the roots of the plants.
As long as the plants have shallow roots they can be grown without soil with the exemption of trees.
The soil is rich in nutrients. The roots draw nutrients from the soil to be transported through the stem to the leaves to make food.
These nutrients could be dissolved in other substances and made available to the roots.
In the soil, the nutrients may be reached making them unavailable to the plants.
Plants absorb water through the roots. In most cases, this is water in the soil. Different soils have different water retaining capacity.
Some soils drain away water rather fast whereas others retain water for a long time.
For high yields, water must always be available to plants and this can only be possible if the plants are not grown in soil.
With the soil, it’s hard to judge the moisture levels.
Various ways on how to grow plants without soil
One of those things we learned back in school and thought about how we could apply it in real life.
Well, with technology everything is possible. So, what is aquaponics?
This is a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants where the fish provide nutrients to the plants whereas the plants purify the water.
How it works
Here is how it works. Fish excrete ammonia as a waste product through the gills.
Ammonia is highly soluble in water and if it accumulates in high levels it will be toxic not only to the fish but plants as well.
Here is where the scratch my back I scratch your symbiotic relationship kicks in.
Plants have micro-organisms that help convert ammonia to nitrites then to nitrates which are usable by the plants.
Nitrates are absorbed by the plant roots and used to make proteins.
In aquaponic soil is not necessary, all you have to do is ensure that you feed the fish and have the recommended set up.
Aquaponic is cheap to maintain and you are able to rare fish whereas at the same time grow plants.
More of like killing two birds with one stone!
The term hydroponics is derived from two Greek works Hydro and Ponos. Hydro meaning water and ponos meaning labor!
The main reason why hydroponics is famous is due to the simple fact that it is suitable for terrestrial plants.
Hydroponics farming is can be set up in different ways to fit a taste profile, a given budget, and plants types.
Meaning of the term hydroponics
What is hydroponics? This refers to the growing of terrestrial crops or plants without the using soil but instead dissolving minerals in water.
Hydroponics can be used in just any environment; you can set up the system on your backyard, in the garage, basement, greenhouse or a spare room.
However, you must be particularly careful with lighting. If you want maximum yields plants must be exposed to adequate light.
If the system is in the open then light is not an issue for you since the sun will be enough.
Not unless it’s on winter, and in such a case you are expected to shift the project indoors.
In done indoors you need artificial grow lights, there are thousands of brands available in the market today.
If you want maximum yields to ensure that you purchase only the best model.
How it works
In hydroponics, minerals are dissolved in water the water is run through nonsoil materials such as gravel, shredded papers, and coconut husks.
The main source of the nutrients is fertilizers which is highly soluble water.
In most cases depending on the plant type, the fertilizers are unable to provide some essential nutrients like copper and zinc.
For such a case, special product nutrients made specifically for hydroponics.
To provide air to the roots it is recommended that you add am Epson stone.
This will ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to the roots.
When learning how to grow plants without soil, hydroponics is recommended given the fact that it’s very easy to implement.
Examples of plants that can be grown are spinach, kales, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers.
This is the art of growing aquatic plants for the sole purpose of decoration.
Mostly used to decorate the aquarium, requires lots of technique and only aquatic plants can be grown. What are aquatic plants?
These are plants that grow completely submerged in water.
This is quite a drawback if your aim was to grow edible plants or run a business from it.
This is advanced hydroponics and is used to grow plants with the well elaborate and deep root system.
In Aeroponics plants are grown in a moist environment rather than submerging the roots in water.
It is particularly useful to plants that rot when exposed to excess moisture.
Why you should learn how to grow plants without soil?
No need for pest control
Pests thrive well in the soil and this requires frequent maintenance by spraying the pesticides and insecticides.
This cost is eliminated when you practice hydro-culture which is the art of growing plants without soil.
Easy to monitor the roots
The roots are the feeding mechanism of the plants. When in the soil it is hard to monitor them unlike when you use hydroponics and aquaponics.
Adequate water supply
Due to different soil retaining capacities, it is hard to accurately determine how much water is enough.
In hydro-culture, there is less room for guesswork. Water is always in plenty.
It is my hope that you found this post informative and useful. And, yes we can grow plants without soil.
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