Wondering if hydroponics gardening is for you? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics.
Advantages Of Hydroponics
1. Personal pleasure
- Do you live in a condo or high-rise apartment? No piece of earth to call your own? Not even a patio? Then hydroponics is the answer for you! Fresh, tasty veggies or culinary herbs from your spare bedroom… or even a closet.
- If you’re confined to a wheelchair, hydroponics is the perfect way for you to enjoy a garden. The planting beds are traditionally placed at just the right height for easy access. What a superb and satisfying hobby (or even vocation) this would be for you!
2. Emotional Benefits
- Hydroponics is a soothing, satisfying, stress-dissolving hobby. It’s an escape. Put a chair right next to your unit. Tend to your babies, train them up vines and talk to them. Play classical, jazz, or new age music for them. Or even hard rock if you want to. Who cares what people think?
- Hydroponic gardening puts you back in touch with nature in a delightful way. And don’t forget the “WOW” factor… your friends and family will hold you in awe for your impressive agricultural achievements.
3. Labor-saving device
- Here’s the best part of all: NO WEEDS!!! If you’ve ever had a soil garden, you will understand how liberating this is. No weeds, no weed killers, no back-breaking labor, no despair when you come back from vacation to find an overgrown weed patch where your melons used to be.
- There’s also no-tilling, plowing, hoes, wheelbarrows, or bags of manure to deal with. Ugh!
4. Superior taste and nutrition
- When home hydroponics first emerged on the scene a few decades ago, honestly, the produce was not that tasty. But that’s all changed due to modern methods and superior nutrients. Grocery-bought vegetables have been bred to ship tough, last for weeks, and look great on the shelf…
but they are bland! Blah! Tasteless! Hydroponic veggies are more delicate and tender… and they taste great!
- It’s been proven that hydroponically grown vegetables can have up to 50% more vitamin content (particularly vitamin A, all B complexes, C and E) than conventional crops*.
- With soil-based gardening, you are at the mercy of soil quality, the wind and weather, bugs, and soil-born diseases. With hydroponics, you have
much more control over your garden… with more consistent results.
- Hydroponics also lends itself beautifully to automation (autopilot). Set it and forget it! Well, not quite…
6. Conservation – hydroponics is as green as it gets
- You’ll get a much higher yield from a hydroponics garden, and the growing cycle is shorter. Once you get the hang of it and learn how to optimize, you can expect 3 times as much produce from your indoor growing plot.
- We hear so often about the scarcity of water and the need to conserve it. Well, hydroponics only uses 1/20 to 1/30 the amount of water as traditional, soil-based gardening. It is recycled, and every molecule of water is squeezed to the max. You use less fertilizer, too. More money in your pocket!
7. Earth-friendly gardening
- Soil-born insects, funguses, viruses, and diseases are eliminated entirely in a hydroponic system. You usually garden inside, or in a climate-controlled greenhouse, so you won’t have a plague of locusts descend on you or sweet little bunnies munching on your prized buttercrunch lettuce. If you do have an invasion of whitefly or red spider mites, you can quickly take control of your compact garden and eradicate these pests easily, and almost always without pesticides. Now that’s truly organic!
In the next section, Simon tells you the 2 biggest mistakes people make in their garden. It’s time now to consider all the disadvantages of hydroponics.
Disadvantages Of Hydroponics
Okay, time for a reality dose. It’s good to know the possible downsides of hydroponics, so here, we give you a roundup of all the “cons” we could think of. We want you to know the disadvantages before you get involved. Is hydroponics right for you? You decide…
1. Time and commitment
Hydroponic gardening requires some responsibility, diligence, and “stick-to-itiveness” for success. Although this great new method reduces needed labor to about 5-10 minutes per day, those are essential minutes. Aside from the occasional absence due to vacations, your hydroponic garden will require some regular attention.
An outside soil-based garden can be left to its own devices for weeks without total demise. It may be a weed and bug-infested mess of rotted fruit, but the plants, in general, can be revived.
A hydroponics garden is not that forgiving… it needs a little more TLC than that. Your plants are dependent on you for their very survival. Yes, you can automate a hydroponic garden nicely, but you still must oversee the whole operation and head off major trouble at the pass.
So, there you have it. You’ve been warned. One of the disadvantages of hydroponics. Don’t get into this unless you are willing to put forth a reasonable amount of effort to learn the system, commune with your plants, and make it all work. But if you are willing to commit to this noblest effort, the rewards are great…
2. Frustration factor
Okay, so I’ve “been there and done that”. I’m going to save you lots of frustration and money by sharing my experiences with you.
BUT, I must let you know upfront… hydroponics is NOT an exact science. I could tell you step-by-step how to set this thing up, list every piece of equipment and all the supplies you will need, and post warning signs to watch for. But still… you will have to learn through trial and error on your own.
I’ll be honest with you… with each hydroponic garden I ever planted, there were surprises. These are living creatures we are working with, and things don’t always go as planned.
One of the greatest benefits of hydroponics is that you can experiment with a huge species pool of seeds… even heirloom tomatoes! Some plants will flourish, while others fizzle… and so it goes. That’s just the way gardening is, whether hydroponic or traditional.
I once planted a Bato bucket summer garden. I had so many lovely cucumbers and peppers, I was giving them away (and man were they tasty). But my tomato plants… they bloomed like crazy, I was so excited… but never did a single fruit appear! No real reason that I could figure out.
I guarantee you will have many more successes with hydroponics than with soil gardening. But you WILL have some failures and disappointments along the way. Okay?
3. Initial expense
We share about three different levels of hydroponics setups for you to ponder:
- Homemade systems – “mini-farms” from our diagrams, great beginner units (cheap and do-able)
- Homemade larger setup, from plans and some store-bought components, large and prolific (mid-range cost)
- Turn-key kit systems ordered and delivered (most expensive but easiest to set up and learn, most consistent)
Any of these options is going to incur some initial expense. Why? No matter which way you go, you must buy a light, containers, a pump and/or
timer, solutions. And this will add up.
So don’t get into hydroponics unless you can afford to spend a hundred dollars minimum for the mini-farms ($200-300 minimum for the larger gardens).
The light is the most expensive item, and you just cannot scrimp on that unless you plan to do all your gardens on a sunny patio.
So that’s the bad news… one of the disadvantages of hydroponics… But once you have your system set up, the cost is minimal, really. You will not use very much electricity.
We will teach you how to recycle and reuse the media (planting substances), and how to save that opened packet of seeds for a few years.
So really, once you are up and running, your only expenses will be minimal electricity and nutrients.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Simon)
I’m going to tell you now the two major mistakes people make in hydroponics. These are the two main requirements for success, which are often overlooked:
- A cool spot
- The gumption to stay on top of the hydroponic solution
Hydroponics does better in a cool climate than a hot one. An air-conditioned bedroom is preferable to a hot corner of your patio in July.
Winter crops do very well if kept cool; summer crops need plenty of air circulation. The nutrient solution must be kept cool, or it will “cook” the tender roots. Read more about climate requirements here.
You also cannot neglect the vat of nutrient solution. You must do a couple of basic tests on your juice once a week, and alter or replenish it as needed. This is an important thing to do… your babies will not thrive on weak or unbalanced food. Read more about nutrient requirements here.
Weighing the hydroponics advantages and disadvantages
Now that you are a bit more aware of the main hydroponics advantages and disadvantages, what do you think? Are you ready to try growing a hydroponic garden? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!