The Bottleponics Project
Plants require oxygen for respiration to carry out their functions of water and nutrient uptake. In soil adequate oxygen is usually available, but plant roots growing in water will quickly exhaust the supply of dissolved oxygen and can be damaged or killed unless additional air is provided. A common method of supplying oxygen is to bubble air through the solution. It is not usually necessary to provide supplementary oxygen in aeroponic or continuous flow systems.
All vegetable plants and many flowers require large amounts of sunlight. Hydroponically grown vegetables like those grown in a garden, need at least 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight each day to produce wells Artificial lighting is a poor substitute for sunshine, as most indoor lights do not provide enough intensity to produce a crop. Incandescent lamps supplemented with sunshine or special plant-growth lamps can be used to grow transplants but are not adequate to grow the crop to maturity. High intensity lamps such as high-pressure sodium lamps can provide more than 1,000 foot-candles of light. The serious hobbyist can use these lamps successfully in areas where sunlight is inadequate.
In a garden the plant roots are surrounded by soil that supports the growing plant. A hydroponically grown plant must be artificially supported and therein lies the simplicity and beauty of the Bottleponics hydroponic grow system.
Plants grow well only within a limited temperature range. Temperatures that are too high or too low will result in abnormal development and reduced production. Warm-season vegetables and most flowers grow best between 60° and 75° or 80° F. Cool-season vegetables such as lettuce and spinach should be grown between 50° and 70° F.
Green plants must absorb certain minerals through their roots to survive. In the garden these minerals are supplied by the soil and by the addition of fertilizers such as manure, compost, and fertilizer salts. The essential elements needed in large quantities are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Micronutrients – iron, manganese, boron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and chlorine are also needed but in very small amounts.
Providing the plants with an adequate amount of water is not difficult in the water culture system, but it can be a problem with the aggregate culture method. During the hot summer months a large tomato plant may use one-half gallon of water per day. If the aggregate is not kept sufficiently moist, the plant roots will dry out and some will die. Even after the proper moisture level has been restored, the plants will recover slowly and production will be reduced.
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