When we think of gardening we generally imagine hoeing, raking, weeding, and getting dirty in the soil. Those of us in the southern United States also think of the heat we have to endure when out on our hands and knees in the dirt sweating profusely to have a nice crop of veggies in the fall. If you are like me, this is not the most appealing scenario. But have no fear! We have another option: hydroponics.

Hydroponics is a way of growing plants in water with nutrients without needing any soil. Scientists have discovered that while plants grow in soil, the soil acts solely as a conduit to store nutrients and transfer those nutrients to the plants – all the plants actually need are the nutrients. If the nutrients are fed directly to the plant, the need for soil becomes obsolete for growth or life. The nutrients can either be administered via mist, flooding, or with the vegetation’s roots resting in the water.

It might come as a surprise that hydroponics actually offer some benefits over traditional farming. There are some areas on the globe where farming coco coir is made impossible due to lack of rain or depleted soil, which makes hydroponics extremely valuable in these areas. While this technique for growing can be used on a small scale in a residence, it can also be implemented in large scale greenhouse style farming. Instead of having to rely on imports of vegetables and fruits, they can be grown locally which helps to create a self-reliant community.

From an environmental standpoint, using hydroponics to grow food and herbs locally also diminishes the far-reaching effects of traffic and pollution that is created from transporting produce across a country or even across multiple countries. This system also uses less water than traditional farming since it reuses nutrient mediums and water. This cuts back on the amount of waste considerably, which is both environmentally friendly but also cost effective over time. It is also easier to get rid of pests in this system, meaning the end product does not have the harsh chemicals from pesticide on the plants, keeping the chemicals from harming the environment.

Another perk of hydroponic farming is that you get your produce sooner. This system has a shorter harvest time since the plants have direct access to all the nutrients they need and don’t have to expel energy on growing a large root system to find what they need to grow. Instead, the plants can focus on producing fruit and we can harvest them sooner.

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