Hydroponics refers to growing plants in water without soil. Typically, hydroponics is used alongside LED grow lights which mimic the wavelength of light that plants need to grow. Our range of smart gardens use this technology to make it easy for you to get started on your hydroponic journey!
- Growing food in your own home is convenient
- Farm to table in minutes means fresher food
- Hydroponics uses 90% less water than soil agriculture – meaning our kits are low maintenance and easy to keep alive
- With Hydroponics you can grow food without sunlight or soil
- Growing indoors reduces the risk of pest attack
Grow lights are electric lights which mimic the wavelength of light that plants need to grow so that plants can grow without the need for sunlight. Plants primarily require blue and red light between the 400-500 and 600-700nm wavelengths. Other portions of the light spectra are not always utilised by the plants! Which is why if you got a regular light globe used in your kitchen, it COULD grow a plant, but most likely wouldn't, as most of the light spectrum emitted is wasted by emitting light at the wrong wavelength. Keep in mind that every plant has a slightly different requirement for light intensity, light spectrum, and the amount of exposure required.
Without a mix of essential nutrients plants are unable to grow, just like a person needs food so do plants. In total there are 17 essential elements required for plant growth. The nutrients plants use are broken up into three categories; macronutrients, micronutrients and non-mineral elements.
Macronutrients are the nutrients needed in large quantities; these include Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K), these are commonly referred to as NPK on traditional soil fertilisers. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are integral to the growth of a plant, they are used in the creation and replication of DNA, the production of sugars and energy. Without this the plant is unable to create new cells, AKA new growth or fruit. Potassium is used by the part of the plant that controls the rate of photosynthesis through regulation of water and carbon dioxide intake. It is also part of the process by which the plant creates starches and sugars, making them hardy. Without this the plant would be highly susceptible to fluctuations in external conditions such as the weather.
Micronutrients are tiny quantities of a broad range of elements that are just as important for plant growth as macronutrients. There are 11 micronutrient elements; Calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, chlorine, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and nickel. These are used in hydroponic nutrients for the plant to use in a range of processes, essential if you want your plants to be productive!
There are three non-mineral elements, these are oxygen and hydrogen (which the plant mostly gets through water) and carbon (which the plant gets through air). For more details see our blog on how hydroponic nutrients work.
To use the nutrients in our products:
Thoroughly mix in nutrients with water in a separate jug. We recommend the ratio of 1 spoon (provided with nutrient jar) to 1 Litre of water.
Pour into the smart garden through the refill holes next to the light stand.
Refill to the same ratio when the water runs out.
The biggest limitation to what you can grow is the size of the plant you’re growing. In theory, you could grow a full-sized tree in a hydroponic set-up, but it would require a large amount of light and hydroponic nutrients to keep it alive.
For example, if you used grow lights for a mango tree which takes 3-5 years before it is ready to grow fruit - then the cost of running electricity would just be way to high to justify the mangoes that you grow - no matter how sweet they are. Similarly, you would need to provide nutrients to the plants for years, and potentially run pumps or aerators depending on what type of hydroponic system you are using.
Most customers use our smart gardens to grow herbs and leafy greens, and grow lights to grow indoor plants, or propagate seedlings. For suggestions on what you can grow, see our blog post on what you can grow in a hydroponc garden.