Another major top question asked in the horticultural field is “Do I use soil, or do I use hydroponics?”
Let me put out the first obvious answer – if you have the open land area, GO SOIL. Nothing rocks more than a good soil permaculture (excepting vertical farming hydro systems, of course,) and you can reap major yields if done properly. This depends on your soil composition and nutrient regimen.
From there, we should always analyze the cost, as well as difficulty. People think hydroponics is difficult, and this could not be further from the truth. If you have ever properly managed a fish tank, or a pool, then you can do hydroponics without any troubles for the most part. It is very simple and you only need to know a few basic things, and then have a little money to invest in building your setup. Hydroponics can vary so much and be DIY very easily again as long as you know a few basic things.
Now, there are disadvantages to soil and hydro. If you are new to hydro, and are using unbuffered nutrients, you will need to pay close attention to your system, as nutrient concentrations and pH ranges will change, you will want to check at least three times a week to ensure no problems are occurring. In soil, the soil acts as the buffer, and you won’t have to worry so much as long as you keep the pH around 6.3-6.5 (optimal.)
Soil is slow to show issues, however, whereas hydro can go south in a heartbeat and it will let you know. One’s attention span will be crucial with regards to either type of growing medium.
There is also soilless culture – not quite hydro, not quite soil, involves more micro-organisms to make sure things are balanced out properly. If you can maintain this type of system, this is one of the best you can possibly do, and I would highly recommend it.
If you choose hydro, you have many methods. For purposes of quality and yield, I suggest either DWC/SWC or NFT systems over all other systems, just speaking from personal experience amongst many crops.
Any questions, comments, concerns, as always, address them in the comments below!