Why You Should Switch to Hydroponics This Year

From Cyberlaw: Difficult Issues Winter 2010
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It certainly feels like the UK climate becomes less and less predictable with every year that passes. For example, you may have noticed that winters have been so mild in parts of the UK that many pest species are surviving the milder winters whereas they would have largely died off during a more typical, harsher UK winter. In some areas this has led to increased numbers of certain plant-damaging insects to the point that growers are having to take more rigorous measures than they previously would have. 

In addition to mild winters, the UK is also experiencing unseasonably cold and wet weather that is not optimal for many crop species because it can cause them to rot when planted outdoors. All in all, it is becoming more challenging for growers to stick to their usual habits of growing plants outdoors in gardens and allotments, and many are looking for alternatives that will make things easier as climate change progresses and the effects are felt more strongly. 

Many people, especially those with a little spare indoor space, are looking to hydroponics as a viable alternative to traditional planting methods outdoors. This is because it is much easier to provide your plants with the right conditions consistently throughout their entire growing season without having to rely on the weather conditions outside. As a hydroponic grower, you have complete control over the temperatures, lighting conditions, nutrients, and humidity that your plants will be exposed to, meaning that you can ‘cheat’ nature and better guarantee success. 

Your hydroponics shopping list

If you are keen to give this technologically advanced growing method a try, you will find that it’s probably much cheaper than you thought to get started. Of course, this depends on the scale of your ambitions, but if you need to stick to a relatively small budget you can still come away with a decent entry level setup that will give you great results. The first thing you need to do is decide how much you want to spend, then you’ll need to do a lot of research into the proper care of the plant species you want to grow. Only then will you have a good idea of what kind of hydroponics equipment you will need. 

The easiest way to get your hands on hydroponic equipment, especially for beginners, is to buy a kit. These kits are available online and in stores, and are usually a very cost effective option for those just starting out with their new hobby. Look for complete kits that have everything you need, or if you prefer, choose the components individually to create a fully customised hydroponics setup.

First things first you need to make sure your plants have enough lighting and most people prefer to look for LED grow lights in the UK because they are cost effective and use much lower amounts of electricity compared to most other bulbs. Your lights need to be strong enough to give coverage to all the plants in your system, and you may find you need multiples. The packaging and specifications of each kind of lighting system will give you information on its suitability and output. 

You will need a reservoir - preferably made from plastic - that will house the water, nutrient solution, and the roots of your plants. It needs to be big enough for your plants at their mature size, and will need to give you a way to suspend and support the plants as they grow. It is best to choose one that is covered to prevent light getting to the water because this can encourage algae to grow in the tank. 

Next you will need to choose your nutrients. The nutrients you need will depend on what you are growing, so you need to do research into what your chosen plants will need at each stage of their growth. Nutrients usually come in powder or liquid concentrate form and there is no real difference between the two - it just depends on how you prefer to handle the nutrients in terms of measuring them out and diluting them with water. Nutrients are key th hydroponic success because water alone cannot sustain large, healthy plants and will not allow them to reach their potential in terms of yields.