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Hydroponic delivery systems

Hydroponic solution delivery systems enable a nutrient solution to nourish plants. These systems differ in a variety of ways, but their common purpose is to feed plants. Some systems are more suitable to a home-based hydroponic garden than others.

Waiting for spring
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The simplest system is a wick system that uses capillary action to draw the nutrients to the roots of the plant. The plants are placed in a wicking material, like perlite, vermiculite, Pro Mix® or coconut fiber. The wicking material holds the nutrient solution, and the roots draw it to all parts of the plant. This passive system works well in home and educational hydroponic gardens.

Another system is the water culture system. This method requires plants to float above a nutrient basin while an air pump supplies needed oxygen. This system is ideal for home gardens and small plants, like lettuce, herbs and flowers. Larger plants require a different system.

The ebb and flow or flood and drain system allows the nutrient solution to be pumped into a grow tray, which contains the plants growing in a medium, like Grow Rocks™, gravel, perlite, etc. The plants are flooded and then drained as directed by an electric timer. The drained solution is returned to a reservoir to be used again. Since the growing mediums don’t hold the nutrient solution, the plants’ roots must be closely observed so they remain moist.

A drip system is popular in worldwide hydroponic gardens. An electronic timer controls a pump that allows the nutrient solution, stored in a reservoir, to be dripped onto a plant’s base. Care must be taken to see that each plant receives the same amount of solution. The pH balance needs to be monitored regularly.

To be continued…

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