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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Douglas > County Horticulture Educator > Articles > Hydroponics 101

Hydroponics 101

Hydroponics is "the cultivation of plants without soil." The plant’s roots can either be in water or in a growing medium like sand, gravel, perlite, peat moss, sawdust, coir, or rockwool. Hydroponic systems are often used when the supply of water and farmland are scarce or among home gardeners with limited space or an interest in year-round gardening.

Soilless gardening offers many advantages to the home gardener:

  • Since a sterile medium is used, there are no weeds to remove, and soil-borne pests and diseases are minimized, if not eliminated completely.
  • Hydroponic plants can be healthier and more vigorous because all of the necessary growth elements are readily available.
  • The plants can mature faster, yielding an earlier harvest of vegetable and flower crops.
  • Hydroponic gardens use less space since the roots do not have to spread out in search of food and water.
  • The big advantage to hydroponics is the ability to automate the entire system with a timer. Automation reduces the actual time it takes to maintain plant growth requirements. Automation also provides flexibility to the gardener as one can be gone for long periods of time without having to worry about watering the plants.

On February 3, 2018, The Lake Agassiz Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association, in partnership with University of Minnesota Extension, PartnerSHIP 4 Health and The Fresh Connect Food Hub, will host Hydroponics 101, from 1:00-4:00 PM at the Lakes Country Service Cooperative, 1001 E Mt Faith Drive in Fergus Falls, MN. Cost is $10.00/farm or household. (FREE for members of The Sustainable Farming Association). Come learn the basics of hydroponic vegetable production from Barry Thoele, a grower with 20+ years of experience in hydroponic growing, and 30+ years working in aquaculture. This workshop will feature the basic science, construction and operation of scalable hydroponic systems.  Barry will share his expertise as a designer, builder and operator of aquaculture, hydroponic and wetland restoration projects of all shapes and sizes through an interactive presentation and hands on activities.

For more information, or to register, contact the Sustainable Farming Association at 218-280-5253.
Hope to see you there!


Robin Trott
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 762-3890
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