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The Hydroponics Manual: Hydroponics - Technology Meets Nature

The term hydroponics was re-invented in the mid 20th Century. The concept of growing plants without soil goes back, way back into our prehistoric past. The mythical hanging gardens of Babylon, the much worshipped flooding of the Nile and the floating gardens of Mexico City are all examples of hydroponic systems. History, as always, has turned full circle and the age of hydroponics is back and back in effect. Approximately 90% of all fresh cut flowers purchased in the UK are hydroponically grown, and an estimated 65% of fruit and veg purchased from your supermarket again, are grown hydroponically. So like it or not we have all bought and eaten hydroponic produce. In many countries like Holland, USA, Australia, and South America, hydroponics is big business but as always in the UK we were slow to catch on. Ironically, we re-invented it in the Sixties, then gave hydroponics to the rest of the world to develop and exploit it. However, the UK hydroponic industry has established itself and is now leading the way once again.

So you think it’s not natural? Well, hydroponic systems can be used incorporating 100% organic nutrients ironically making hydroponics more organic than growing outdoors! In short, hydroponics allows you to grow twice to ten times the yield in half the time. So, if you have a greenhouse, conservatory, spare room, loft, cellar, or closet, you too can become hydroponically enlightened. As a wise man once said - Man’s survival depends on three things: the merging of Technology & Nature, Science & Religion and Dance & Idea. Part one is now with us; let us embrace it.

Why Hydroponics?

  • Nutrition - no deficiencies or toxicities
  • Yield - 2 to 10 times more than soil!
  • Water - 1/10th that of irrigation
  • Diseases - no soil bacteria or viruses
  • Weeds - virtually none
  • Quality - higher, better, healthier
  • Costs - initially higher, then lower
  • Maturity - non-seasonal, faster!
  • Sanitisation - easy, safe, sterlisable
  • Transplanting - minimum problems
  • Environmental - compatible, safe
  • Convenient - grow your own!

Plants are grown in an inert sterile growing medium, such as rockwool, clay pebbles, perlite, vermiculite and fed a mixture of water and nutrient. The principle is basic, plants that are grown in soil have to continuously develop their rootballs in search for water, nutrients and air so the majority of the plant's energy is spent on the lower root development restricting its upper growth. With hydroponics, the water, nutrient and air is mainlined directly to the rootball, freeing the plant to use its available energy on its upper leaf development. That coupled with the fact that it has all the specific nutrient, air and water that it could ever want, plants grow at a previously unheard of rate of growth. If you like it's battery farming for plants but the plants are in heaven, not hell.

Because plants grown in a hydroponic unit can be given very exact doses of nutrients and will absorb all of what they are given, the crops you raise hydroponically will develop optimum levels of appearance and taste. Because the roots of plants grown in a soilless medium do not need to constantly grow in search for nutrients, more plants can be grown in a smaller area. You will thus be making the best use of whatever space is available to you.


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