hy•dro•pon•ics Noun: The process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid (or other mediums), with added nutrients but without soil. Hydro is Latin for water and Ponos means works or labor. Water works! The main principles of hydroponics are increased oxygen to the root zone and liquid feed delivered directly to roots. These factors result in increased growth rates and increased yields when compared to tradition soil gardens where much lower oxygen and often nutrient levels are present.
Hydroponic gardening is better than soil gardening for several reasons. More plants can generally be grown in the same amount of space when compared to traditional soil gardens. Roots are delivered nutrients instead of having to stretch out in search of them. Also hydroponic gardens can be stacked to further increase space efficiency. The main benefit to hydroponic gardening is much higher oxygen levels in the root zone when compared to a soil garden. This increased oxygen means increased nutrient uptake and much higher rates of growth. It is also much easier to control the nutrient levels in hydroponic gardens compared to soil gardens.
Most plants grow well in hydroponic applications, although some are more difficult than others. Some plants such as varieties that product bulbs are better suited for soilless mediums than they are for say deep water culture. However, almost every plant that grows from seed will excel in a hydroponic garden.
Yes, however it may be difficult to satisfy the nutritional requirements of different plants in the same system. Gardeners are best off to grow similar plants in one system or even a mono crop (all of the same). It is possible to grow green leafy vegetables in one system for example and tomatoes or flowering vegetables in another. The more variation between plants in a system, the more difficult it is to accommodate.