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When should you use hydroponics?

There are many different types of soil that you can choose from as you begin to design your garden. The amount of space you have set aside to grow your plants is an important factor in deciding which soil to go with. If you have a limited amount of land on which to plant, then hydroponics may just be for you.

The unique thing about hydroponics is that it only requires water to grow plants - no soil is needed. Soil-less gardening delivers the nutrients needed by plants to grow in a more direct manner than the traditional way, which involves watering and fertilizing the soil first. Besides greater efficiency, hydroponics also cuts down on problems associated with garden pests; as a result, plants grow in more easily and are healthier, as well [source: Maccini].

Several hydroponic systems are available today. What many of them have in common is that a medium of some sort is needed to keep the roots stable as the plants grow in. The medium can be gravel, sand or rigid foam. Which medium is used depends on which plants are being grown and their specific requirements. Although it may sound futuristic and complicated, hydroponics is actually a relatively simple technology; hydroponic setups run the gamut from large industrial systems to small homemade contraptions. The larger, more sophisticated systems are generally used to grow food that will wind up in commercial markets. Soil-less gardening also offers variety in regards to the setting that plants can be grown in -- hydroponic systems can be used either outdoors or indoors. Yet another benefit of hydroponics is that you can grow pretty much any type of fruit, vegetable or plant that you want. All you need is the correct mix of nutrients and the right medium.