What is a Hydroponic System? And Why Grow Hydroponically?

What is a Hydroponic System - Purple Light

A Personal Account of Discovering What A Hydroponic System is, and Why its Worth Growing Hydroponically 


I’d like to tell you my personal story of growing plants hydroponically.


In 2003 I had a little backyard garden and I loved it so much that I decided I should start a business selling produce. I was guiding a snowshoe trip in the mountains, and I mentioned my idea to another guide. He asked if I had heard of hydroponics. I answered, “Is that when you grow plants upside down?” He told me that actually it is when you grow plants in water. Yes, this is a true story. I have no idea why I thought hydroponics was the art of growing plants upside down. 


I decided to investigate this hydroponic thing. I found a hydroponic supply store in a nearby city and went to visit it. It had a strange glow from the grow lights, and it smelled like vitamins. That was the smell of nutrients back then. Hydroponics was so fringe 20 years ago. It was mainly the domain of weed growers and backyard weirdos. 


For display, there was a row of plants growing in what I now know was an NFT system. There was a coffee plant growing in a Dutch bucket system, and some other plants in various other hydroponic systems. The NFT plants were tiny seedlings. I was such a beginner gardener I had no idea what they were. I asked the employee and he told me they were basil. 


What is a Hydroponic System - NFT


I bought a book on growing plants and left the store. I read the whole book and understood exactly none of it. Nutrients? Water? Lights? Transpiration? Photosynthesis? I hadn’t studied plants since probably grade 3. The whole book could have been written in another language for how little I understood. 


A week or so later I went back to the hydroponic store. That’s when I saw those basil plants. They were huge! “Are these the same plants?” I asked. “Yes,” the clerk answered. “Plants grow so much faster hydroponically.” 


I was hooked. That was when I knew how I was going to grow my produce. I immediately could see the advantages of growing hydroponically - with the right nutrients and light plants grow so much faster and in less space. The whole hydroponic system can be set up indoors or outdoors. No messy soil, no weeds, no herbicides. The produce is clean. There are so many different hydroponic systems to choose from. But the speed at which hydroponic plants grow is what hooked me. 


Twenty years, a million mistakes, and one successful hydroponic farm later, I still love hydroponics.


For more great content check out the Proponics YouTube channel below!


Proponics on YouTube



Meredith Bio Pic
By Meredith Martin
Meredith Martin started a small hydroponic farm in 2004. Within a few years, it was supplying basil to more than 20 supermarkets. She has since sold the farm and now spends most of her time skiing, windsurfing and travelling. 

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