Learn to make your own homemade hydroponics system to grow virtually any plant, vegetable and fruit without soil.
This article covers the history of the hydroponics vegetable gardening technology, all the way from ancient times to today's high tech systems.
It's quite amazing how technology evolved in the past century, building upon itself exponentially. We were barely discovering flight in the early 20th century and 60 years later we were landing on the Moon. Nowadays, we're using hydroponics vegetable gardening systems to grow our fruit in nutrient solutions, but back then (gasp!) people were still using plain old dirt to do so. Which takes me to the point I wanted to discuss today, namely the rise to fame of this relatively new technology that has "future standard of living" written all over it: hydroponics vegetable gardening.
The fact that the word "hydroponics" comes from the Greek language in which it can be translated as "working water" is not a coincidence, since the technology was first tried out in ancient Greece. Of course, the meaning of the word changed dramatically since then, but the concept of hydroponics vegetable gardening was similar: growing a plant in a medium that's different from soil. Similar hydroponics can be traced back into the Babylonian and Aztec civilizations as well, so we can't really say it's a Greek invention per se.
But the Greeks, Babylonians and Aztecs didn't do much with the hydroponics vegetable gardening technology. It was the Romans (who else?) that put it to good use at a larger scale, growing cucumbers off season around the first century AD.
Unfortunately, the new technology didn't prove a viable solution back then and it's not hard to understand why, given the structure of their society, based on traditionalism and plain old agriculture. Hydroponics vegetable gardening went into a downfall for 1,500 years, until the 1600s, when several European countries started seeing the benefits of growing vegetables off season and protecting them from cold, using rather primitive gardening systems. Although the scale at which these early hydroponics vegetable gardening systems were used was very small, it was the birth (or rebirth) of a technology that would become increasingly valuable over the next centuries.
The most common problem with 18th century gardening was not growing the plants to be more nutritious or large, but protecting them from cold and other environmental issues. Wooden frames covered with translucent paper were used to protect the plants or even straw mats and oiled paper, the latter being more common in Japan than Europe. These were the first steps towards modern hydroponics vegetable gardening systems, but the biggest breakthrough was yet to come…
Although soilless gardening was common by the 19th century, the main medium used was distilled water or different mixes that did little for the quality of the vegetables grown there. In the 1860s though, two German botanists, Wilhelm Knop and Julius von Sachs created the first mineral nutrient solutions, aimed at taking hydroponics gardening to the next level. And that they did, as the two soon proved that the vegetables grown in such a nutrient solutions would not only grow bigger and faster, but they would also be a lot healthier and nutritious.
Of course, the results weren't that spectacular back then as they are today. The first awe-causing vegetables are known to be grown by professor William Frederick Gericke of the University of California, in 1929. He experimented with various hydroponics vegetable gardening systems using a large array of nutrient solutions and in 1929 he created a sensation amongst the media and his fellow colleagues, by presenting them with an extremely large tomato (as well as several other vegetables) that he claimed was grown in his backyard.
Nowadays, hydroponics gardening tends to become a commodity, rather than some eccentric experiment. Arid countries such as Israel or parts of the United States thrive on this type of gardening and recently we can notice a trend in home based hydroponics. It's not far fetched saying that it shouldn't be long before hydroculture replaces a great deal of today's agriculture.