Hydroponic Systems, Common Systems Part 1

Common Hydroponic Systems.

We all know, or at least we should, that hydroponic gardening is a suitable way to get a large return on a small investment. Hydroponic systems use water and nutrients ” efficiently” to encourage fast growth rates which in turn, lead to higher yields. Every hydroponic system out there operates on the same principal of gardening without soil. The Lettuce Ladder is considered to be a Top Feed recirculating system and unique; it is designed as a space saving vertical system rather than the large horizontal types most people are familiar with. The Lettuce Ladder is also geared towards the hobbyist or gardening aficionado rather than a commercial grower. Here are a few examples of some bigger horizontal systems in use by commercial growers:

Top Feed Hydroponic Systems (Drip Irrigation)

A top feed hydroponic system is one which runs a nutrient ‘feed’ line directly to the base of each plant. It is used mainly in large scale growing like tomato production.  A top feed system can be set up in two ways. One is called a Run-to-Waste system where by the nutrient solution goes to waste after feeding the plant roots. The other is one that recirculates the nutrients; after feeding the top-feed-systemplants the solution is collected in a reservoir to be reused again at a later time. Here is an example of a Top Feed system.                                                 This is more conducive to reusing and recycling than a run-to-waste system.

Flood and Drain Hydroponic Systems

Another popular system among commercial growers is the flood and drain set up. This type is also known as Ebb & Flow which uses a large table or trough that is ‘flooded’ with a nutrient solution for a given period of time and then is drained to empty. Most flood and drain systems use gravity to return the nutrient solution back down to the reservoir where it will stay until the next scheduled cycle takes place.flood-and-drain-600

Aeroponic Systems

Also known as Fog systems, aeroponics uses a sporadic spray or mist to feed a plants root mass, not on top, but from underneath. Aeroponics uses nozzles of varying types to create very small water droplets of nutrient solution which are sprayed onto the roots of a plant. High end grocery stores may offer this type of spray in action, in the produce department. Every 20 to 30 minutes a mist is sprayed on to the produce to maintain freshness. (Some stores have the unmistakable sound of thunder as an accompaniment, how thoughtful and entertaining!) This is the same idea in aeroponic growing only, as mentioned, the mist treats plant roots.     Here is an example:                                                                                                                                                                 001a-aeroponicsWhat you may notice in all of these systems is that they all re-circulate and reuse the nutrients for a given amount of time. Can’t do that in garden soil.

To be continued, stayed tuned for Part 2 of Common Hydroponic Systems.                                                                                                                                                                                                             Questions? Send us an email.  Thanks for reading!


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