The Urban Farmer: Try aeroponics, keep it cool, wilted leaves?

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The Urban Farmer, Issue #028 * Aeroponics * Keep it Cool * Wilted leaves?

September,
2010:
 
 

       

                   

“A garden is a friend you can
visit any time.”

       
~Anon


ADVANCED HYRO SYSTEMS: AEROPONICS
 

        

Aeroponics is a hydroponics system where roots are saturated with
fine drops (a mist or aerosol) of nutrient solution. The method requires no
substrate and entails growing plants with their roots suspended in a deep air or
growth chamber with the roots periodically or continuously wetted with a fine
mist of atomized nutrients.

Since inventor Richard Stoner commercialized aeroponic technology in 1983,
aeroponics has been implemented as an alternative to water intensive hydroponic
systems worldwide. Aeroponics is also widely used in laboratory studies of plant
physiology and plant pathology. Aeroponic techniques have been given special
attention from NASA since a mist is easier to handle than a liquid in the zero
gravity environment of outer space.

Advantages of aeroponics over regular hydroponics:

  • Excellent aeration is the main advantage of aeroponics.
  • Any species of plants can be grown in a true aeroponic system because the micro
    environment of an aeroponic can be finely controlled.
  • Suspended aeroponic plants receive 100% of the available oxygen and carbon
    dioxide to the roots zone, stems and leaves, thus accelerating biomass growth
    and reducing rooting times. NASA research has shown that aeroponically grown
    plants have an 80% increase in dry weight biomass (essential minerals) compared
    to hydroponically grown plants, while using 65% less water.
  • Aeroponically grown
    plants requires only ¼ the nutrient input compared to hydroponics.

Disadvantages of aeroponics:
The main disadvantage of aeroponics is the unforgiving nature of the process.
What happens in a power failure? With aeroponics, when the mist stops, the
plants quickly die. With regular hydroponics, you have up to a day or two to get
moisture to those roots. The bottom line? Unless you have a backup generator or
can assure no power failures during your growing season, stick to simpler hydro
systems.

Here is one popular beginners unit you might
like to purchase to “get your feet wet” in the aeroponics method: