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Home > Types of Gardening > Soiless Gardening > Facts About Soilless Gardening
The Facts About Soilless Gardening
The Facts About Soilless GardeningThe facts as generally recognized now are about like this:

(1) Soilless culture does offer certain possibilities and advantages if practiced intelligently;

(2) as far as its practical, large scale operation is concerned, it is still in the experimental stage; that is, there is no short, simple formula or set of rules that can be followed under all conditions and with all kinds of plants and counted on to insure success;

(3) it does not lessen the importance of, nor remove the necessity for, favorable growing conditions and the right sort of care. Indeed, there are some details of successful soilless gardening, such as the maintaining of the right solution and the correct degree of acidity, that gardeners might easily consider more difficult and "tricky" than anything called for in everyday outdoor gardening.

You might say that is compares with ordinary cultural methods as the feeding of a family according to modern scientific methods and with the latest improved gadgets, compares with standard, old fashioned, homespun cookery. Both supply the needs of the individuals, but by different methods-one "streamlined" as it were, the other according to time-tried experience. A modular soilless garden system can be started as a small garden and built gradually into a larger, automatic garden system irrigated by a pump. Two formed plastic tanks, a larger sump tank and a smaller grow tank, are provided with barbed nipples at their base for connecting the tanks with flexible plastic hose and barbed insert T-fittings to assemble them in any number of different sized systems. In one embodiment, the sump tank is designed to contain multiple grow tanks and a water supply for irrigating them. This is fed to the grow tanks by a pump located outside the sump tank. Using the hoses and T-fittings, multiple sump tanks and grow tanks can be connected and added on to the pump so a larger system can be gradually built. In a second embodiment, the smaller grow tank can be used individually with one hose and any one gallon container as a manual garden by watering from the top of the tank and draining through the bottom of the tank through the hose into that container.

The grow tank has an insert nipple formed at its lowest point so it can be filled and drained from the bottom when being irrigated by the pump. It also has an overflow drain a certain distance from the top to drain off water at a desired level during the pumping cycle when the grow tank is being used in the sump tank irrigated by the pump. When the pump is used to irrigate the grow tanks, as it is in the first embodiment, water is pulled from the reservoir out of the sump tank by the pump and then pushed back through the sump tank in a second closed line connected to the grow tanks, to fill them from the bottom up to their overflow drain, at which point water spills from the grow tanks down to the sump tank below, thus re-circulating the water through the grow tanks and the sump tanks until the pump is turned off. When the pump is no longer running, the water flow is reversed and drains by gravity back from the grow tanks to the pump and into the sump tanks to be stored until the next pumping cycle.

The last described method is used in many types of so called "self-watering" flower pots now obtainable in seed stores, department stores, etc., usually with a supply of gravel, a small amount of concentrated solution, and complete directions. Yet this is but the revival in modern dress of an old time house plant accessory. Perhaps many of our readers can remember the self-watering window box of a score of years ago. This was a galvanized iron tank with a false bottom which left an inch or so of space below the customary drainage material and soil. This false bottom was pierced by several holes into which were thrust pieces of sponge extending into the space below and also into the soil above. Water was poured into the bottom space through a tube in one corner and carried, by the bits of sponge, up to the soil and the waiting roots. Except that the sponge has been replaced by better conveyors of the liquid, the plain water replaced by a nutrient solution, and the soil replaced by a neutral medium such as sand, there is no real difference between modern soilless culture equipment and that of a previous generation of home gardeners.
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