The Roundup -

By Tie Shank 

Hydroponics Gardening Increasing In Popularity


Roth used food grade plastic barrels and a passive syphon system to grow these peppers.

Hydroponics is a combination of two Greek words, “hydro” meaning water and “ponics” meaning labor. It is a method of growing plants using a mineral solution in water, without using soil. Research has proven soil is not required for plants to thrive. When a plant root is placed in a mineral nutrient solution or in an inert medium, such as gravel, mineral wool, expanded clay, coconut husk or pebbles, it will grow at a rate of 30-50 percent faster than plant roots planted in soil and will produce a higher yield.

Last winter, 23 year old Nathan Roth of Sidney, Montana heard about hydroponic gardens and began researching it on the internet. He collected a 300 gallon water reservoir, ten – 55 gallon drums (which he cut lengthwise), a pump, some gravel and PVC pipe. He then designed his own pumping system to move water through the rocks to irrigate his plants. The water, along with a nutrient base of Urea and Liquid Sea Kelp Extract is giving Roth better results than any garden his family has ever grown in soil.

Nathan Roth tends to his hydroponic garden.

When asked what the pros of having a hydroponic garden were Roth replied, “Low maintenance, easy to plant, no weeds and it uses less water.” Roth estimates he uses approximately 50 gallons of water per week, which is far less than he’d use if he were watering the same size soil garden a couple of times per week.

Benefits of Hydroponic gardens:

Hydroponic plants have fewer diseases and fewer problems with bug infestations.

The hydroponic growing mediums help to stimulate root growth by mixing the nutrients with the water and delivering them directly to the root system, this saves the plant from having to search in the soil for the nutrients it requires and allows it to use its saved energy to grow faster and produce higher yields.

Topsoil is not used; therefore topsoil erosion is not an issue.

Less water is used.

Roth states “It’s a social experiment and the first year is trial and error, but so far it’s going really good.”


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