To develop a strong understanding of hydroponics, we must first review the organic composition of plants. The molecule is the smallest recognizable assembly of atoms that can be identified as being a specific element. Common elements are: Hydrogen - Oxygen - Gold - Silver etc... All organic matter on Earth is comprised of at least four basic elements. In fact, the scientific qualification for labelling matter organic is that it must be comprised of the following elements; Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. Over 90% of a plant's dry weight is comprised of these four organic elements. The interesting thing is that while many claim that plants grown hydroponically are not "organic", ANYTHING THAT CAN GROW IS ORGANIC!
The atmosphere of our planet is comprised of approximately 78% Nitrogen, 20% Oxygen and 2% Carbon dioxide, in addition to a small percentage of inert gases. Carbon dioxide is known as a compound since it is a combination of one Carbon molecule and two Oxygen molecules. Most elements exist as compounds in nature because they are chemically unstable when pure in form, reacting with other other elements until stabilized into compounds. This is an important issue when choosing nutrients to use with your hydroponic system -keep this in mind when you read about a single part nutrient that contains "everything" - if this were the case, the nutrient would become useless in a short amount of time as the elemental salts within would rapidly combine into compounds your plants simply cannot absorb. The compound H2O (water) is made of two parts Hydrogen and one part Oxygen. H20 is formed when Hydrogen, an unstable gas, is burned or oxidized (combined with Oxygen). Since C, H, and O are readily available in both the air and water, plants possess the ability to extract these elements from either and use them to create food. Light provides the energy to make this possible.
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