An All-Inclusive breakdown of Hydroponics Basics


What is An All-Inclusive breakdown of Hydroponics Basics?

We do a simple breakdown of the different types of hydroponics down to the basics.


If you haven’t already learned, Hydroponics is a method of growing plants and vegetables without soil, either indoors or outside. Growing plants hydroponically removes many of the risks of diseases that are caused by soil organisms. Growing hydroponically indoors allows for better control over the environment which results in year-round production. Growing indoors also reduces and in some cases illuminates the infiltration of dangerous insects.


Hydroponics was invented thousands of years ago but has evolved exponentially over the last one hundred years.  Now there are at least 3 different methods of hydroponics and 10 different techniques for growing plants and vegetables without soil.



How does Hydroponics work?

Instead of getting nutrients from the soil, hydroponic plants get their nutrients from a recirculating purified water reservoir that is fortified with nutrients that are supplied to their roots. The Nutrient solution is supplied to the roots either through passive or active irrigation.


Passive Irrigation

Nutrient water is delivered to plants’ roots via a wick or a static solution. Plant roots usually grow in some type of medium.

Passive Hydroponics
Passive Hydroponics



Active irrigation

Nutrient water is delivered to your plant’s roots by way of a mechanical pump.  Plant roots may use some type of medium in some system methods There are 2 types of active irrigation.


Active top-irrigation

Nutrients water is delivered to the top of the plant which then drips down to the roots and reservoir. This is commonly known as a drip system




Active sub-irrigation

Nutrient water is delivered to the plant container from under or behind the plants. The nutrient water will spray, flood, or wash the roots.

Active hydroponics
Active- Sub-irrigation




Different Methods of Hydroponics

A Method is how an overall system is set up to send the nutrient water to the plants. Depending on whom you ask or where you are located in the world there are 3 basic hydroponic methods. Hydroponics, Hydroculture, and Aeroponics. Technically all of the methods, systems, and techniques are hydroponics. Method definition depends on a few factors; how the nutrient water is delivered, if plants sit in any type of medium; and where the nutrients come from.



Plants are placed directly into the system. 

  • Passive and active irrigation
  • A custom mix of chemical or organic fertilizer is provided by the gardener.
  • Nutrient solution delivery via multiple different system methods.
  • Popular techniques include Kratky, Wick, Rotary, NFT, Vertical


Plants are planted in some type of aggregate medium.

  • Passive and active irrigation
  • A custom mix of chemical or organic fertilizer is provided by the gardener.
  • Nutrient solution delivery via multiple different system methods
  • Popular techniques include Deep Water Culture, Ebb & Flow, Dutch Bucket, Run to Waste


Plants are placed directly into the system. May or may not have a medium. Nutrient solution delivery via high or low-pressure spray emitters directly onto the plant roots

  • Active irrigation
  • A custom mix of chemical or organic fertilizer is provided by the gardener.
  • Popular techniques include Aeroponics, Fogponics


It’s important to mention Aquaponics and Bioponics. Most of the methods above can be Aquaponics or Bioponics systems. The main distinguishing factor is that the nutrients in an aquaponics system come from a separately maintained aquaculture system filled with fish. The fish waste is the nutrient for the aquaponics system instead of a chemical or organic mixture. 


Bioponics is fairly new and has yet to be time tested, but due to its popularity, we have decided to include it here. Bioponics is simply the introduction of beneficial microorganisms and fungi into the nutrient mix. It can be used in most of the methods and techniques.


There is great controversy as to the efficacy of hydroponic produce being organic due to the use of chemical fertilizers. Aquaponics and Bioponics could help make organic produce from hydroponic systems a formal reality. Each method is segmented either by where the nutrient solution comes from or by whether or not an aggregate medium is used.


Different System Design Methods

There are many different system design methods for growing crops hydroponically available. Advances in technology and experience have many gardeners mixing branches and systems design methods regularly to produce the most, efficient, fast-growing, highest yields in the smallest possible growing space with the least amount of water, nutrients, and energy possible!



Hydroponics or Bioponics



Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics


Deep Water Culture (DWC)

Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics


Ebb and Flow (aka Flood and Drain)

  • Bato Buckets (aka Dutch Buckets) – Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics
  • Tray System ( aka Slide bench)  – Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics
  • Rotary – Hydroponic


Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics


Deep Flow Technique (DFT)

Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics



  • Bato Buckets (aka Dutch Buckets) – Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics
  • Vertical – Hydroponic, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics
  • Run to Waste – Hydroponic, Hydroculture



Hydroponic, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics



Hydroponic, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics




Why use Hydroponics?


Safety and Sustainability

Market produce
Market produce, Source

Do you know exactly where your veggies come from or how they are grown? Most people don’t. Consumers are beginning to question the safety and sustainability of the current agriculture industry. Many now purchase organic produce or shop at the local farmers’ market. Others have decided to take matters into their own hands…literally, by growing their own produce at home.


Population growth

Over population
Overpopulation, Mumbai India, Source

Population growth is increasing the demand for food all over the world.  The world population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050. Food production is expected to increase from between 25% to 70%. Many high population areas of Europe and Asia where land for growing is becoming scarcer are adopting high-yield farming technologies such as indoor hydroponics.



Advantages over traditional Agriculture

  • No soil, less opportunity for bugs and organic issues
  • Maximum plant growth
  • Maximum plant yields
  • Saves Water up to 90% or better in some systems
  • Easier to harvest most plants


If your system is set up indoors, you receive these additional advantages

  • Complete environmental control
  • Less harmful pesticides- some indoor systems are able to use no pesticides
  • Less, or no pests
  • Grow year-round



Where can you grow Hydroponics?

Kratky method in plastic bottles
The Kratky method in plastic bottles, Source

Hydroponics can be set up to grow indoors or outside. Growing outside makes plants susceptible to the same conditions as traditional agriculture. Growing indoors gives gardeners full control over the environment and growing conditions. Indoor hydroponic farms have become increasingly popular in niche locations in recent years.

  • Difficult to transport locations in Inner Cities
  • Hard to reach outer suburb areas.
  • Extremely cold or hot climates
  • Nasa grows hydroponically grown veggies in outer space



Final Thoughts

How is that for An All-Inclusive breakdown of Hydroponics Basics? No matter what branch or method of hydroponics you choose, anyone can grow their vegetables hydroponically. Hydroponic herbs, mushrooms, and lettuce farms are finding their way into Niche markets in vacant retail stores, basements, or container farms in inner cities. Hobbyist gardeners are setting up small kitchen countertop appliance-type systems for fresh cooking herbs.


Home-based hydroponic systems are more trendy than ever after the advent of the Covid -10 pandemic,  as more families want to grow their own fresh produce safely and more sustainably with no GMO seeds or harmful pesticides.  Large-scale agricultural farms are popping up locally outside major cities all over the world in order to meet the growing population demand.


How does your hydroponic garden grow?





Picture of Bobby


HI! I'm Bobby, an entrepreneur, inventor, green builder and urban farmer. I've been a custom home builder since a kid and an avid gardener. The critters, bugs and climate outside our new home forced me to check out some new ideas in gardening. I found out about Hydroponics and have spent years learning the best techniques to build the best, most efficient, home hydroponics systems. I built one of the first ever, small scale, mobile hydroponic systems. Would you like to know how I did it?