How does hydroponics not drown the plants?
If done improperly, that is exactly what will happen. So… let’s start with Kratky, because that is the one most people associate with looking like it should drown plants.
The overly simple explanation of Kratky: take an opaque container, drill a hole in the top, fill with water, drop a net cup inside with a plant and the roots in the water and *poof* instant garden. Of course, it is an overly simple explanation and it is missing a key detail: oxygen.
The Kratky Method - Grow Food The Passive Hydroponic Way (Step by Step Guide) - Trees.com
There is an air-gap near the top of the container and the roots meet both air/oxygen and water both. For large plants, you may have to refill the container, and you will have to be careful not to overfill or you will drown your plant.
With Deep Water Culture (DWC) a bubbler adds aeration to the water and more water can be added. Though the aeration bubbler must be sufficiently strong to attach enough oxygen bubbles to the roots to keep the plant from having “root rot” (the equivalent of drowning a plant).
In other hydroponic systems a dripper continuously drips water across the roots. The roots stand in air most of the time and only get wet from the drips. If something gets clogged or your dripper fails, everything dries out and dies. Another type uses flood flow, turning on a water flow at feeding time and otherwise again the roots sit in air. Once again, this is effective until the control system fails, then everything dies.
So the secret is a balance between water and air. The trick is keeping that balance. The two easiest ways of keeping that balance are Kratky and DWC, though they don’t scale as well as other systems. Dutch buckets are somewhat a balance between Kratky and other hydroponic systems. When a Dutch bucket interconnection fails, it fails by turning into a Kratky singular component giving you time to respond to a failure.
No matter how you slice it, water it, drench it, soak it, etc. it still comes back to that balance between air and water. Find that balance and you have hydroponics.
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