Indoor gardens are becoming regular features in most homes. This artificial cultivation method comes in handy when there is a lack of natural space to garden on. Some homeowners engage in indoor growing as a hobby and/or to make their favorite plants and vegetables easily accessible. Others practice indoor gardening to relieve stress, enhance recovery, and promote focus and productivity.
There are several crucial requirements for a successful indoor gardening experience. The planting/growing medium (or soil) ranks top of the list--this is where your plants grow and derive the nutrients required to thrive and produce fruits or seeds. Indoor growers often have to choose between two standard options - hydroponics and soil-grown plants. Your choice of growing medium can either make or mar your indoor gardening efforts.
Read on to learn about hydroponics and soil plants, the pros and cons, and how to choose the right option for your indoor plants.
Hydroponics as a Grow Medium
A hydroponics growing system is designed to grow plants without soil. You may want to ask how plants get the necessary nutrients without soil. The "hydro" in hydroponics means ‘working water’ in Latin. These nutrients are artificially added to the nutrient-rich water solvent in which the roots of the plants are grown in the form of mineral salts. This solvent is called a hydroponic nutrient solution.
The hydroponic nutrient solution serves as the source of nutrients for plants. The roots absorb the required vitamins and minerals from this medium, including nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. The nutrients the gardener introduces into the solution depend on the nutrient requirements of the growing plants.
Also called "wet farming," hydroponics has many benefits that gardeners and growers can explore to enhance crop production and yield. More on that later.
Soil as a Grow Medium
Almost everyone is familiar with the soil as a growing medium. But let’s not assume. Soil is the natural way of growing plants because it contains nearly all the nutrients plants need to grow and thrive. For instance, traditional gardening soil has 45% minerals, 25% air, 25% water, and 5% organic matter. Like hydroponics, a grower can artificially add more nutrients to their gardening soil through fertilizer to enhance growth and production.
But unlike hydroponics, plants can still thrive without adding these nutrients. All you have to do is collect the soil, plant the seeds, water the plants, remove the weeds, and watch your plants grow.
Soil Grown Plants vs. Hydroponics: Pros and Cons
Let's look at the upsides and downsides of both growing methods to understand further how they can apply to your indoor gardening process.
Why should you choose hydroponics?
The first benefit of hydroponics is that it provides you with year-round production. It is largely unaffected by unfavorable climates or weather. The method also allows plants to grow faster because they absorb all the nutrients from the solvent efficiently. The shorter harvest time translates to more yield in the long run. For example, the University of Nevada, Reno, USA, reported that strawberries recorded a 17% higher yield in hydroponics than in soil.
Growing in hydroponics also protects your plants from pests. The environment is unfavorable for the growth of common pests like beetles, caterpillars, and gnats. Saving money on herbicides and pesticides reduces your costs in the long run. The system also requires minimal maintenance because it often lasts through several planting seasons. You only need to change the nutrient solution to prepare for a new planting season.
Why should you not choose hydroponics?
Hydroponics is not a perfect indoor gardening system. For starters, you need a huge capital to start up - most of which goes into energy and other components like a pump, reservoir, netting, and others. Getting the best out of the system also requires precise work and high technical skills. A newbie indoor gardener may struggle at first. Lastly, contrary to popular views, hydroponics is not a healthier alternative to soil as a planting medium.
Why should you choose soil?
The first reason to go for soil-grown plants is the simplicity. As a natural planting system, soil gardening is easy to set up and maintain. Once you plant your seeds, you only need to remove the weed and water as required. Growing on soil is also relatively safe, considering you are not handling any complex fixtures or chemicals.
Soil gardening comes with many health benefits. For example, it reduces stress and helps you relax. It also decreases blood pressure and can be a safe way to exercise and burn calories. However, the part where soil gardening outshines hydroponics the most is the cost. Soil-grown plants are cheaper--almost free in some cases. You only spend on potting soil, pots, and seeds.
Why should you not choose soil?
There are some drawbacks to soil gardening, such as maybe pests in soil can cause damage to your plants, but there are many ways to prevent pest infestation, Mars Hydro has also mentioned these ways in a previous blog, you can refer to it.
Soil Grown Plants vs. Hydroponics: Which is right for you?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Choosing between hydroponics and soil plants boils down to personal preferences. Some indoor gardeners want a more flexible system where they are in greater control of how their plants perform, while others prefer a system where they do only the bare minimum to get results. Other factors like availability of space, budget, and technical know-how may also influence your decision.
If you have difficulty choosing between hydroponics and soil for your indoor gardening, we are confident this guide has educated and equipped you with all the facts you need to make the right choice. Regardless of which option you pitch your tent with, you can rest assured of getting healthy home-grown vegetables and crops for your family's consumption.
For indoor hydroponic gardeners, Mars Hydro offers some of the best hydroponic growing systems to make your indoor growing experience smooth and successful. The Mars Hydro Hydroline12 LED Hydroponic Growing System for seedlings and clones is designed to create optimal hydroponics growing environment for your plants. Depending on your requirements, you can also configure the environment for root cutting or germination.