Hydroponics has flourished in the last twenty years. It refers to the method of growing plants without soil. While it has become popular only recently, experiments in soilless cultivation were conducted back in the late 1600s.
Today, there’s still hydroponic research being conducted, and as the demand for growing plants indoors increases, there’ll be new and more efficient methods developed. We are obviously much further ahead today in our hydroponic research, with much more efficient nutrient-rich solutions than those used back in the 17th century.
Hydroponics has been growing. It’s being used by commercial growers. Without soil, it eliminates the need to deal with weed infestation or with pests like insects.
People who live in arid climates and deal regularly with consistent water shortages have relied on hydroponic cultivation because it requires much less water than traditional soil cultivation.
People who have difficulty getting the seeds and fertilizers needed to successfully grow soil crops also rely on hydroponic cultivation. In addition, NASA has developed self-sustaining space stations that are no larger than 30 square meters. This research will be used for future endeavors such as planet colonization.
Living in urban areas where there isn’t much room to grow sustainable crops has pushed people into hydroponic gardening.
Hydroponic gardening is a great step toward sustainability. Having your own hydroponic garden makes you self-reliant. You don’t have to depend on the produce sold at local markets. Hydroponic gardening is also environmentally friendly. You can grow your plants on a windowsill or balcony.
Today there are thousands of products on the market that offer products and services to help you successfully set up a hydroponic garden.
These reviews of the top 5 hydroponic growing systems are based on research into the many websites that speak about and sell, hydroponic products. The reviewer also considers feedback from customers about these products. Whether for small or larger growing systems, you can check them out on your own to determine your specific needs.Sites that were reviewed include Supercloset.com, Amazon.com, htgsupply.com and the hydroponicum.com, though others were also viewed for this article.
Sites that were reviewed include Amazon.com, Supercloset.com, htgsupply.com and the hydroponicum.com, though others were also reviewed for this article.
The Superponics growing system utilizes aeroponic technology, where the roots are suspended in the air, and they receive the nutrients needed to grow through a fine mist. Aeroponics is a technique in hydroponic growing that has yielded great results in plant growth, specifically in the time that it takes to grow plants. This system has two separate hydroponic growth systems operating simultaneously. So, if one feeding source fails, the other keeps working, to ensure a higher success rate.
Plants are submerged in water (bottom feed oxygenation), and are fed nutrients at the top (top feed watering). This double feeding technique encourages rapid rates of growth and higher yield success rates. It has been tested to be 5 times faster than growing with soil, and twice as fast as other systems. Included in the kit are the Superponics 8 reservoir, and Eco Air air pump (which does not require oiling or any other maintenance), a water pump that filters water through the plants at the rate of 132 gallons per hour, and an analog feeding timer.
The water pump boasts a quiet operation, and is the core of this growing system. Pumping constantly at 132 gallons per hour, it is automated when it is plugged directly into the analog timer. The timer is set by you, the gardener, based on what you are growing- either fruits, vegetables or plants. A handy booklet comes with it to help you set the timer for each growth product. There are also use videos on YouTube describing how to use the Superponics 8 Hydroponic Grow Systems.
Eight cups are provided with this system to enable the grower to harvest up to eight plants at a time.
A nice thing about this system is that it comes fully assembled – especially for those of us who do not take pleasure in the assembly stage of a product. The five separate parts are already put together, and in reviewing this product, it appears to be very easy to clean and maintain.
Another advantage is its built-in fail-safe system where if one aspect of the system malfunctions, such as bottom-feeding, the plants are still being nourished enough to grow at the top.
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Watch this video about the Superponics 8 Hydroponic Grow System.
2. General Hydroponics Aero Flo, 30
The General Hydroponics Aero Flo Growth system uses aeroponic technology. A fine mist of nutrient solution feeds the plants. The nutrient solution is specific to which plants are being grown.
It has been shown that using a nutrient rich mist solution produces higher yields than other hydroponic growing techniques, such as bubble growing. What is key in aeroponic growing is the ingredients that are used in the mist – a proper balance of oxygen, water and nutrients is necessary for successful growing percentages.
The Aero Flo 30 is large, at about 7 feet long and about 2 feet wide. It comes with a stand upon which the 30 plants are grown. This system comes with a 17-gallon reservoir and three “growth chambers” that are each six feet long, and are spread side by side. Each of the chambers fits 10 cups in which the plants receive the nutrient solution. The growth chambers are specially designed to provide the exact nutrients needed by each plant.
Housed within the reservoir is a 120-gallon water power pump which constantly filters and helps to spread the nutrient mist to each plant.
One of the hallmarks of the Aero Flo system is that little maintenance is needed for the nutrient solution. The water pump and reservoir take care of this, ensuring the exact combination of water, oxygen and nutrient is fed to the plants.
What is great about this system is that it has few parts, and very little maintenance is required.
The Aero Flo system claims to yield stronger, more resistant plants as well as a higher yield. It comes with feeder cups for either 30 or 60 plants.
Net cups, as well as the nutrient solutions, are included.
3. Black Magic Performance Hydroponics
Black Magic is aimed at the more industrious consumer who wishes to build their hydroponic system one part at a time.
The Black Magic company provides information about DIY hydroponic growing. It also provides high-end nutrient rich products and accessories needed for a high-yield hydroponic garden experience.
One of the products they offer is the Black Magic All-Purpose Supplement. It’s a nutrient formula with ingredients from the sea, plants and soil. It’s a supplement intended to enhance nutrient formulas and stimulate higher growth rates. It can also be used by itself as the nutrient ingredient for active hydroponic gardens.
Another product from Black Magic is the Seed Starter Tray which includes peat plugs that stimulate starter seed growth. This product is used when transplanting is being done and can help ensure plant sustainability after the transplantation process is over.
For larger greenhouse operations or for personal hydroponic gardens, Black Magic provides a Pro Peat Blend that comes in a large size. Its ingredients include Coco Coir, composted bark and sphagnum peat moss. The new trend in hydroponic gardening is cloning. It involves taking samples of currently growing plants and reproducing them in a different growing cup. Pro Peat Blend has been shown to be extremely advantageous to people who wish to clone their plants, fruits or vegetables.
Black Magic does not provide hydroponic systems. Instead, they have products designed to stimulate more aggressive growth and supplement nutrients that come with gardening systems. If you are growing plants, fruits or vegetables that require attention and encouragement to grow, it may be worth your while to check out Black Magic Products.
Price: Depends on the product.
4. Current Culture Undercurrent 4XL
The Current Culture Undercurrent system is a water-intensive system that circulates hundreds of gallons of solution underneath plant roots every hour. For aerobic growth, the system uses dissolved oxygen.
The circulation of water is constant, and the pH is maintained constantly throughout the system. The water and nutrient pump constantly pushes out and pulls in the nutrient water solution throughout the plant root system by means of negative water flow pressure, so that equal amounts of nutrients are dispersed to each plant.
The plant lids are made of plastic and reflect light away from the plants. The lids are white, replacing black lids that were used in earlier hydroponic growing systems. The white lids are better, since the plants are kept cooler, and a cooler environment helps to stimulate growth.
The system also has side entry air ports which enable the grower to inspect the plant roots without disconnecting air lines. This makes inspection easy since it can be done without interrupting the feeding process.
A great thing about the Current Culture Undercurrent system is that it is modular, so the hydroponic grower can add more plants to the system whenever they wish.
The standard system comes with an air pump, a return pump, an in-line filter, an air hose, a float valve with a reservoir adapter kit, a garden hose drain adapter, as well as a 9-inch air diffuser disc.
This model has two rows, to feed four plants, but it is expandable, as mentioned earlier.
The water flow through the pumps is stored in an 8-gallon container.
5. Super Bubble Flow Buckets Hydroponic Grow System
This system is suggested as an alternative to traditional systems. It combines bubble buckets and ebb-and-flow bucket technology. It is fully automated, and designed to be easy to use. The nutrients are circulated at the roots while a constant flow of air is maintained above the plants. Each bucket is six and a half gallons in size, so as to fit plants that have a larger root mass.
A water reservoir is at the top of a system of six buckets. The water from the reservoir fills each bucket simultaneously, and when it reaches a set level where the return lines are located, the water flows back from the bucket to the reservoir, completing the system of constant water flow. There is bubbling in each bucket, made possible by Super Bubble’s air pump, which provides bubbling, oxygenated water into each of the six buckets.
The system under review facilitates six buckets, but there are also twelve and 24-bucket systems available. Each system comes with a three-year warranty, and a customer support center.
The science behind this fully-automated system is oxygenated water. Many other systems in the market also use bubble flow technology.
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There are many advances in hydroponic technology, and as it becomes more popular (and in some climates, a necessity), advancements will keep coming.
Bubble-flow and aeroponic technologies are the most successful today. Both of them have proved to be successful in growing plant life without soil. Based upon your budget, it appears either system would work well.
These technologies can also sustain as many as 40 to 60 plants while ensuring equal distribution of nutrient-rich water-based solutions to each plant. Another consideration is convenience: many systems today are automated and do not require constant management during the growing process. This appears to be one of the best aspects of current hydroponic growing system technology. With time, we are likely to see even more advancements in this growing sector of the market. And it is likely that prices will go down, as competition increases.