An increasing number of gardeners have discovered the advantages of hydroponics, that is, growing plants using only exact doses of water, oxygen and minerals. Much soil only keeps the plants in place, and they will grow in just about any material, so long as they receive the correct mix of water and nutrient, oxygen and light. What is essential is the light that the plant receives because it triggers a chemical process known as photosynthesis. This is the same process by which the plant makes leaves, flowers and fruit (or vegetables) from the light of the sun.
You can buy grow light kits that include every essential for the hydroponic process. These light kits usually include ballast, a growing lamp, a reflector and cables. Grow lights are made in various wattage configurations and the higher the wattage, the more growing area that it covers. Generally, a 400-watt lamp covers a growing area of one square metre, while a 1000-watt lamp covers an area of 1.5 x 1.5 metres. One very powerful type of lamp for the hydroponic grower is the CMH or ceramic metal halide lamp, which provides the plant the same wavelengths as sunlight.
Because the success of the hydroponic process depends on exact growing conditions, that is, the correct temperature and amount of moisture, it is essential for growers to create the right environment for the developing plants. Using a tent is one way to achieve this and many grow tent kits are available, with one or more chambers. A quality grow tent is made of durable material and rests upon strong bars, which also function as a support for the lights. Look for a tent with at least one transparent wall, so that you can inspect the progress of your plants.
In order to minimise the loss of heat and moisture, the insides of the non-transparent walls should be covered in reflective material. Pay close attention to the duct ports, which are essential for the channels that conduct water and nutrient into the tent. These ports should have drawstrings around the perimeters, so that the grower can tighten and loosen them as required. Finally, the tent flap should fasten with a strong zip. You can buy grow light kits and tents separately, but more companies are selling lights and tents in one kit. Whatever you choose to buy, make sure you purchase enough lamp wattage to grow your plants successfully.