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Hydroponics: Soilless Gardening Explained

Hydroponics: Soilless Gardening Explained
Les Bridgewood
Crowood Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 144 p., $29.95

Since long before both the first documented experiments by German scientists in the 19th century and the first recorded experiments by John Woodward in 1699, people have been practicing forms of hydroponics. Research in the United States in the early 20th century led to publications on scientific methods of growing plants hydroponically, and by the 1930s the possibility of growing hydroponic plants for commercial purposes was being explored. The successful use of hydroponics for growing fresh vegetables for troops in World War II led to further research in the field in the post-war years.

As a result of these studies, there is now a better understanding of the basic conditions required by plant life. Different plants have individual needs. Gardening by hydroponics, that is, growing plants in a soilless medium, has some advantages over growing by traditional methods. It is far easier to achieve the correct nutrient requirements when only dealing with water, and to control for pests and disease in a cleaner operation. Also, a gardener’s tasks are far lighter without the toil connected with working the soil. However, the prime reason for growing by hydroponics is the ability to harvest fresh produce and flowers year-round in greenhouses and, quite feasibly in the future, in outer space.

In his book, author Les Bridgewood explains the basics of growing and maintaining hydroponic plants, provides some alternatives in new equipment and operations, and displays the units are now available for the grower. The illustrations and color photographs are exceptionally clear. Unfortunately, the only sources listed for equipment are in the United Kingdom, but e–mail addresses make it easier for inquiries from abroad.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden