How Hydroponics Works

If you’re searching the phrase “How Hydroponics Works” this post is to help you understand what hydroponics is and how it works.  Hydroponics offers gardeners a way to grow more, more quickly.  Read more below to get the full description of how hydroponics can help you grow more vegetables and other healthy plants.

What is Hydroponics?

By definition, hydroponics is a technique for growing plants in a solution that is rich in nutrients and water based. Hydroponics is a method that doesn’t use soil, root systems are supported by inert mediums, such as rockwool, perlite, peat moss, clay pellets, or vermiculite. The basis of hydroponics is to enable the roots of plants to be directly in contact with nutrient rich solution, and oxygen that is important for healthiest growth.

It is highly recommended that this guide is read through, allowing you to learn the most about hydroponics as possible prior to beginning your garden. If you do not plan on using a hydroponics garden, the guide can still be worth reading, as you will learn what plants require in different stages of their growth, all by reading about hydroponic basics.

Advantages of hydroponics

Using hydroponics to grow provides several advantages, with the largest being an increase growth rate for plants. Having the proper setup can allow plant to mature at a faster rate, up to 25%. Faster maturity means quicker and more produce, up to 30% compared to the same plant in a soil based garden.

Plants are able to grow quicker, and larger due to reduced stress to obtain the required nutrients. With hydroponics, even a small root system can provide plants with what it requires. This allows plants to focus towards growth above the surface, rather than root system expanding below the surface.

This is possible because of careful control over pH levels and the nutrient solution. Using a hydroponic garden system reduces the amount of water used compared to soil based gardens. Being an enclosed setup, it has a lower amount of evaporation. Finally, hydroponics is actually more environmentally friendly, as it reduces the amount of pollution and waste associated with soil runoff.


Although there are several advantages to a hydroponics system, as with anything, there are some disadvantages too. The largest disadvantage most people run into with having a quality hydroponics system, no matter the size, is the cost. A hydroponics setup is more expensive than a soil setup, but you get what you pay for and dirt is not very expensive.

Hydroponics setups on a larger scale can be time consuming to get started, especially if you are not very experienced as a grower. Also, managing a hydroponics system is time consuming to maintain. The nutrient and pH levels must be monitored and balanced, daily.

The largest risk factors with having a hydroponics system are mechanical failures, such as a pump. Depending on the scale of your system, a pump failure could kill your plants in a few hours. The reason plants can quickly die, is due to the medium being unable to absorb and store water, unlike soil. Therefore, plants in a hydroponics system depend realty on fresh water supply.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponics offer several different types of systems. Some of the highest quality, and popular hydroponic systems available are hybrid hydroponic systems which combine various types of hydroponic setups. What makes hydroponics unique, is the various methods available to get nutrient solution to plants.

Deepwater Culture

The Deepwater Culture (DWC) method is also referred to as the reservoir method. It is the easiest technique to grow plants using a hydroponic system. The Deepwater Culture hydroponics system allows roots to suspend directly in the nutrient solution, which then gets oxygenated with an aquarium air pump to avoid roots of plants from drowning. It is important to prevent any light from entering this system, as it can result in algae growth. Algae wreaks havoc on hydroponic systems.

With Deepwater Culture systems, the main advantage is not having a pray or drip emitter that can clog. Therefore, DWC is a great option for those wanting an organic hydroponic system, because organic nutrients have a higher clog rate.

Nutrient Film Technique

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a form of hydroponics that uses a continuous flow, where the nutrient solution constantly flows over roots of plants. Generally, the setup has a slight tilt so that gravity forces the flow of nutrient solution.

This setup works well as plant roots will absorb more oxygen from air, rather than nutrient solution. This provides plants with the nutrients they require, as only root tips are in contact with the nutrient solution. However, growth rate is increased as plants are able to obtain more oxygen.


An aeroponics hydroponics setup uses a misting technique to get the nutrient solution to the roots, which are suspended in the air. There are two main methods for getting solution on the exposed roots. First, misting the roots using a fine spray nozzle. Second, using a pond fogger. When using a pond fogger, you want to use one with a Teflon coated disc to lower the amount of required maintenance.

One commercialized aeroponics system you may have heard of is the AeroGarden. When starting out with aeroponics, the AeroGarden is a good entry point. This turn-key system has limited setup requirements, and has greater supplies and support to get going.


The wicking method is the least expensive, and easiest method of hydroponics. The concept of wicking includes having a material, such as cotton. The roots of your plants grow around one end of the material, while the other end is placed within the nutrient solution and gets transported to the roots via the material.

Although, this method can be simplified even more if you remove the wicking material and apply a medium which provides the ability of wicking the nutrients directly to the roots. To do this, suspend the bottom of the medium material in the nutrient solution. We highly recommend using a medium such as vermiculite or perlite. You should avoid mediums such as coconut coir, Rockwool, and peat moss due to their absorption rates being too high, which can result in plants being suffocated.

Ebb & Flow

Ebb & Flow hydroponic systems are also called flood and drain systems. They are a good system to grow plants with hydroponics. It works by flooding the growth area at certain intervals with nutrient solution. The solution then drains slowly, back in the reservoir. Using a pump hooked to a timer, it repeats the process at certain intervals to provide the amount of desired nutrients.

The Ebb & Flow hydroponic system is an ideal method for plants used to times of dryness. Specific plants will flourish when going through slight dry spells, as it results in the root systems growing to find moisture. With the roots growing bigger, plants are able to grow quicker due to more nutrients being absorbed.

Drip System

They drip system hydroponic setup is basic, as drips systems work by providing the hydroponic medium with a slow flow of nutrient solution. It highly recommends a slow draining medium, such as coconut coir, Rockwool, or peat moss. If you use a medium with a faster drain rate, you will want to use a faster drip emitter.

One of the major disadvantages to a drip system is the emitter/dripper is popular for clogs. Although we prefer to avoid using a drip system, they can be very effective for growing with hydroponics, if you can prevent clogs that are common with this method. The drip system clogs due to particle build up from the nutrients. There is an increased risk of clogging for those using organic nutrients.

Useful Tips

We recommend that you change the nutrient solution out of your system’s reservoir every two or three weeks.

Reservoir water temperature should remain between 65 and 75 degrees. The water temperature can be maintained using a water chiller or heater.

By using an air pump equipped with a flexible tube and air stone can increase the circulation while keeping nutrient solution properly oxygenated.

In situations where plants do not appear healthy, either distorted or discolored, the first step you should take is checking and adjusting pH levels. If you find the pH levels are not the issue, flush the system using a solution, such as Clearex.

It is recommended that you follow feeding cycles that the nutrients’ manufacturer provided.

Once your growing cycle is finished, flush, clean and sterilize the whole hydroponic system. Your reservoir should be drained and any debris removed, followed by running the whole system for a day using a combination of non-chlorine bleach and water. You should use 1/8th cup non-chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Finally, drain the system again, and remove any bleach by flushing it using clean water.

Why Choose Hydroponics?

A hydroponic system is a great option for all forms of growers. The reason it is such a good option is due to it providing the ability to control variables which impact your plant growth. Finely tuned hydroponic systems are able to surpass the plant quality of soil based systems, and yields more produce.

Hydroponics is the best option if you want to grow the largest, healthiest, and tastiest plants possible. Initially it can appear intimidating with the work and equipment involved, but once you familiar with the setup it will seem much simpler. Begin small, keeping things simple, and you will be amazed with your hydroponic system.

Phoenix Valley Gardening Supply

If you are looking for the best quality vegetable seeds, plants, or nutrients for your hydroponic system A&P Nursery carries the healthiest locally grown plants, has helpful and friendly staff, and can help you with all of your gardening and landscaping needs.  Visit one of our 4 locations or call with your questions.

Lawn Mower Won’t Start | Troubleshooting Guide

If you’re searching the phrase “Lawn Mower Won’t Start” this trouble shooting guide is for you.  It will help you solve some of the most common problems that DIY’ers can typically handle.  It’s important to follow the owner’s manual for your brand of lawn mower and your model.

Phoenix Valley residents rely on lawn mowers to start up and keep going all summer long.  But when they won’t start, stall, run rough, or surge it’s clear that something is wrong. Follow this comprehensive guide to troubleshoot your lawn mower.

Lawn Mower Engine Won’t Start

Most of us who have done lawn care in our lives have experienced a lawn mower that just wouldn’t start, no matter how hard you pulled the cord.  This is common when starting your lawn mower after its been stored for a period of time, such as the winter or off season.

First Step: Check The Fuel

Engines don’t start or run without fuel, and it can be an obvious but easy detail to overlook.  It’s also best to start the season with fresh fuel as stale fuel has debris and dirt that can make starting more difficult. In fact storing your lawn mower with fuel can lead to damaging the engine.  It’s a good practice to siphon out the fuel at the end of a season to ensure you start the year with fresh fuel and preserve your engine.

Second Step: Check Ignition & Spark Plugs

If your spark plugs are dirty or disconnected it can cause an engine to run rough or not start at all.  Generally spark plugs are good for a season or about 25 hours of run time.  Spark plugs also have a “gap” where the arc of electricity is created to ignite the fuel. Check the gap to ensure that it is set for the right distance.  If it isn’t the spark plug and the spark plug lead is securely attached you might have a flywheel key problem or shorted kill switch.

Third Step: Clean Your Carburetor

Lawn mowers still use carburetors like older vehicles instead of fuel injection.  The carburetor creates the air to fuel mixture in your engine and if it is dirty it will cause your engine to run rough, stall, or simply not start.

Fourth Step: Check the Compression & Valves System

The compression of the air fuel mixture is critical for powering your lawn mower.  It consists of a system of a piston, cylinders, valves, and rings which control how the air fuel vapors move through your lawn mower engine. The valves are responsible for letting the air into and out of the engine while the pistons cycle back and forth during the intake, ignition, and exhaust process.  The piston rings are responsible for sealing up the system and keeping the engine air tight.

Leaks in your seals or improper valve clearance will mean that compression isn’t right and your engine will not start.  A test can be performed by your local lawn mower repair shop with a leak down tester.

Phoenix Valley Lawn Mower Repair

If you have a lawn mower that won’t start, runs rough, keeps stalling, or has other problems A&P Nursery offers lawn mower repair & maintenance to Arizona residents.

We sell, service, and repair all types of lawn mowers and other outdoor power landscaping equipment.  Our lawn care equipment repair and maintenance team will find and fix whatever is wrong with your lawn mower quickly and affordably.  Call if you have questions or would like to schedule a time to bring your lawn mower in for repair or regular maintenance.

A & P Nursery &
Lawnmower Shop
2601 E. Baseline Rd.
Gilbert, Arizona 85234

Beginners Guide To Hydroponic Gardening

If you’re searching for a beginners guide to hydroponic gardening you’re likely one of the many Arizona residents looking for a way to maximize your vegetable gardening efforts.  Being able to produce more vegetables faster helps offset the extra costs of rising food prices and ensure that you and your family are eating the freshest and most healthy vegetables available.

Hydroponics History

Hydroponics is a based on 2 Greek words – “hydro” and “ponics” meaning water- labor. The whole concept of soilless gardening has been around for thousands of years. The Floating Gardens of China and Gardens of Babylon are early examples of hydroponics. Scientists began to experiment with soilless gardens in the 1950s. Since then, other countries like Australia, Holland and Germany have been using hydroponics for producing crops with really great results.

Benefits of Hydroponics

Hydroponics have proved various advantages over soil gardening. The growth rate for Hydroponic plants are 30%-50% faster than a soil plant that is gardened under the same conditions. The plant yield is also more. Scientists believe that there are a lot of reasons for the big differences between soil plants and hydroponic plants. The extra oxygen in the hydroponic growing mediums really help to stimulate root growth, so if there is ample oxygen in the root system it will absorb nutrients quicker.

The plant won’t have to search within the soil for the required nutrients. The nutrients are delivered directly to the plant several times daily. A hydroponic plant will require little energy to find and then break down the food. The plant will use this stored energy to grow faster and produce more fruit. Another positive effect of hydroponics is that they have less issues with funguses, diseases, and bug infestations. Basically, a hydroponic plant is much happier and healthy.

Hydroponics Is Environmentally Friendly

Hydroponic gardening also has benefits for the environment. Since it doesn’t use much water unlike soil because of a reuse of nutrient solutions. Because of the lack of need, there are less pesticides used on these crops. Since there isn’t a use for topsoil, there isn’t an issue with topsoil erosion. Although, if the agricultural trends continue to waste water and erode the topsoil, then hydroponics may be the only way to go.

Growing Mediums

The overall purpose for a growing medium is to support and aerate the root system of the plant and to help channel the nutrients and water. Different growing mediums will work well in various hydroponic systems. Fast draining systems such as expanded shale or Hydrocorn works well for a flow and ebb type of system.

The hydrocorn is expanded clay aggregate that is very light. It is airy and light growing medium that lets plenty of oxygen to penetrate the root system. Both types of grow rocks are able to be reused, however the shale has a tendency to not last as long and break down unlike hydrocorn. These rocks are quite stable and will hardly affect the pH of the nutrient solution.

Rockwool Growing Medium

Rockwool is a very popular growing medium. It was originally used as insulation in construction. There is now a Rockwool that is a horticultural grade. Unlike Rockwool insulation, this type is pressed into growing blocks and cubes. It is made from limestone and volcanic rock and they are melted together at 2500 degrees or higher.

The melted solution is poured into a spinning cylinder, like cotton candy and then pressed into cubes, sheets or blocks. Because Rockwool will hold 10 to 14 times more water than soil and it retains 20% air, it can be used in just about any hydroponic system. However, you must watch the pH, since Rockwool has a pH of 7.8, it could raise your pH in your nutrient solution. It also can’t be used indefinitely and many gardeners only get 1 use per cube and it is used for propagation.

Alternative Growing Mediums

Other growing mediums are vermiculite, perlite, and different sand grades. These are the 3 mediums are stable and will rarely affect the pH of the nutrient solution. However, they will hold too much moisture and need to be used with plants that can tolerate these conditions. Sand, perlite and vermiculite are inexpensive and work in wick systems, but they are not the most effective growing mediums.


Many of the principles that apply to a soil fertilizer will apply to hydroponic fertilizers aka nutrient solutions. The nutrient solution for hydroponics will contain all the elements that a plant gets from the soil. These nutrients are available at a hydroponic store. Many are highly concentrated and use 2-4 teaspoons per gallon of water.

They come in powdered or liquid mixes and usually for 2 different containers, one for bloom and one for grow. The liquids are more expensive, but easier to use. They dissolve completely and quickly in the reservoir and will have a pH buffer. The powdered mixes are cheaper and require a bit more attention. They have to be mixed thoroughly and won’t dissolve completely in the reservoir.They also don’t have a pH buffer.


Many plants are able to grow hydroponically in a pH range of 5.8-6.8 but 6.3 is considered best. The pH within a hydroponic system is easier to check than the pH of soil. Most pet, hardware and even hydroponic stores will have a pH testing kit. They range from $4-$15, depending on the type and range of test. Testing the pH is easy and important for a hydroponic system.

If the pH is too low or too high, it may not be able to absorb its nutrients and will begin to show deficiencies. The pH needs to be checked weekly and it is easy to adjust it by adding soluble phosphoric acid to lower the pH or Potash to raise the pH.There are even pH meters out there. These will give you a digital reading of your pH, but these meters cost around $100 and are not needed in many cases.

Gardening Supply & Nursery East Phoenix Valley

If you’re interested in growing your own vegetables and need help getting started A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the Phoenix Valley to serve you.  We sell the seeds, plants, and tools you need to get started with your gardening needs.  Call us today or come by and see what we can do to help get you started growing your own vegetables or fruits.

Growing A Cherry Tree In Arizona

If you are interested in growing a cherry tree in Arizona, this post is for you! Some people love the flavor or cherries; others enjoy the wonderful display each spring when they blossom. This guide is for everyone who wants to grow a cherry tree in the heat and dry of Arizona. We’ll also talk about ways to use your cherries and get the most out of your fruit so none goes to waste.

In This Post:

Where Cherry Trees Come From

Less is known about precisely where cherry trees came from. Some records indicate that they originated in Asia Minor. Other historical records point to Roman and Greek cultures. But could have just as easily started in either area and traveled the Silk Road and spread between the geographical regions.

Two Main Types of Cherries

There are two main types of cherries that are eaten or used for cooking. These are Sweet Cherries and Sour Cherries.

Sour Cherries
Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherries are typically the ones you see in your local grocer. With a rich, thick, and near plumb like texture they are something that people can eat raw. Most of the sweet cherry trees are self-sterile. This means that they cannot pollinate themselves. Because of this to have a successful cherry tree you need to have 2 or 3 of them. Unless some of your neighbors already have one, then you know that insects will cross pollinate your tree.

Planting A Cherry Tree In Your Backyard

You can choose to have your local nursery come and plant your Cherry Tree, or you can dig right in and plant it yourself.

Choosing A Site For Your Cherry Tree

You’re going to want to look at the topography of your property. Make sure you don’t choose to plant a cherry tree in the lower section of the yard or anywhere where cold air would settle. Cherry trees grow best when they have a well draining soil, good air circulation and lots of sun.  So stay away from buildings or excessive shade.

Growing More Than One Cherry Tree

With the sweet cherry tree you might seriously consider planting more than one so you get the fruit pollinated. Whether you choose to plant sour or sweet cherry trees consider spacing between your trees. Make sure that you have a minimum of 20 feet between sour cherry trees. You’ll never at least 35 feet between sweet cherry trees.

Planting Your Cherry Tree

It’s best to plant cherry trees in the early spring. You’ll want to start with making a mound of soil in the hole you’ve dug. Then set the cherry tree into the hole with the bare-roots resting on the mound. Then gently spread the roots down into the mound of soil without breaking or harshly bending them. You can figure out how deep the tree was planted before being sold by finding the area where the bark changes color. The bark will transition from light to dark.

Watering Your Cherry Tree

Your newly planted cherry tree should only need water once a week. Unless it is exceptionally hot. The extra leaves a tree grows during summer require extra moisture in your tree, and you should deliver it at ground level, directly to the soil. As your tree matures the waterings will be less about keeping the tree alive and more about producing the best quality and size of cherries. If you end up in a drought, keeping up with weekly waterings will help you get the most out of your cherry tree.

Fertilizing Your Cherry Tree

If your tree has had consistent average growth of over 8 inches or more you don’t need to fertilize. If your growth is under that you can get some nitrogen rich fertilizer. Measure your cherry tree a foot off the ground and apply 1/8th of a pound of nitrogen per each inch of trunk diameter.

Pruning Your Cherry Tree

Pruning is a necessary step in growing any kind of fruit on a tree. Getting a beautiful looking tree that produces the best quality and highest quantity is done with careful pruning. For sweet cherry trees you need to make sure to have them trimmed just after you pick the fruit, in late summer. This is because they are susceptible to bacterial and fungal diseases. Sour cherry trees should be pruned during winter when they are dormant.

Cherry Tree Pruning Specifics

The goal for mature trees, 3 years of being planted or more, is to create an open, well balanced, manageable tree. You’ll want to encourage growth around this juncture to make the tree spread out some. Divert nutrients to the growth of it’s width by trimming vertical shoots and starts.

For newly planted cherry trees spring can be a good time to train their shape. The shape that helps maximize sun light and therefore fruit production is an open vase like shape.  This means thinning out the center area and encouraging the limbs to grow upwards and allow sun to hit both sides of the limbs.

Unique Ways To Use Your Cherries

Cherry Ice Cream – About the time the cherries are ready in Mesa it’s nine kinds of hot. A great way to use your cherries and beat the heat is to make some homemade ice cream with them. Using a mixture of milk, cream, sugar and your cherries, you can make a bunch of different great combination flavor recipes. The internet is rich with different options.

Cherry Cream Coffee Cake – Use your own homegrown cherries that are going to be fresher than anything in any store you find. There are loads of recipes available online to incorporate the wonderful flavor of cherry into your coffee cake. Impress your guests or just make you and your family a unique treat with your own cherries.

Cherry Margaritas – For a wonderful after work adult treat you can make a cherry margarita. With a simple blend of lime juice, water, and sugar you have your margarita mix base. For the cherry part of it you want to mix that with 2 dozen cherries, tequila, and orange liqueur. With the sugar melted into your mix and cherries pitted you blend it all together and then strain it over some ice.

Nursery Palm Tree Mesa Arizona

Buying & Planting Your Cherry Tree

If you’re ready to choose and have a pomegranate planted at your home in Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, or anywhere else in the Phoenix Valley; contact the knowledgeable and helpful folks at your local A&P Nursery.  You can buy your Cherry tree, have it delivered to your home, and even sign up for professional landscapers to plant the tree for you.  We make gardening simple, easy and fun!


Types Of Plant Nurseries

There are three main categories for plant nurseries, which are: ‘Wholesale‘, ‘retail‘, and ‘mail-order‘.

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Those who grow plants and flowers in bulk in order to resell to retailers, and certain businesses, such as landscapers and/or building contractors, are known as ‘wholesale nurseries’.

Wholesale Nurseries

Setting up wholesale nurseries consists of several decision making strategies, which have to be made before hand, things like what are you going to grow, who the customers are going to be, and your plans on delivering the plants or flowers to the customers. For instance, let’s suppose that your largest customers are going to be landscapers, in this case, it more than likely means that you will need to grow plenty field grown plants a little on the larger scale, and the plants and flowers for the summer will need to be plenty of container grown plants for transplanting.

Land & Labor Considerations

However, should you have Garden Center customers, you will need your plants and flowers to be accessible all year around, which means they will need to grow in containers that are singular, double, and quads. When you decide what it is you are going to be growing just remember that the key of a wholesale nursery making profit is to have a limited variety, and then grow large amounts of them. In order for the wholesale nurseries to be able to make their business work, they need a lot of land for growing, and a huge workforce.

Plant Selection

 Wholesale nurseries sometimes specialize in the smaller starter plants; in the nursery industry they are known as ‘liners’. This type of nursery will sell their liners to both, wholesalers and retailers alike, and they will continue to grow them, selling to their own customers. Wholesale liner nurseries will typically include plants like tissue cultured plants, seedlings, and rooted cuttings. Because of they are cheaper to obtain and easy to grow, liners today are being produced from seeds. Plants which have been genetically improved of their uniformity, size, color, and many other traits, are the vegetative propagated liners, which have been becoming very popular as liner products. Included in the liner business is the need of maintaining plants at longer periods of time should there be difficulties that arise, which also includes a requirement of establishing a better cutting stock. Those who grow seeds have to be knowledgeable in the regards to the seeds provenance, for some trees might not do too well in different areas, as they would in another.

Retail Nurseries

It is not hard to guess who retail nurseries sell too, of course, they sell their plants to their retail customers. There are a few retail garden centers who will grow many of their plants themselves, however, most of them will purchase the plants from a wholesale nursery too resell to their customers. It is important that retail nurseries stay focused on their customer’s needs, this will let them know just what it is they should be selling. The retail nurseries high end or higher profit items includes plants in the larger sizes, and also accessories, such as window boxes, garden tools, and birdbaths, among many other accessories. The retail nurseries can make some of their profit from creating custom planters and replanting using decorative containers.

Mail-Order Nurseries

Selling their products through the mail are the mail-order nurseries. Many are still growing their own plants, while others are purchasing from the wholesalers to resell. More than any of the other nursery businesses, when in the mail-order nursery business, it is significant to be able to define your customer base. The nurseries that specialize in growing plants that are unique, and plants that are considered to be a specialty, which they are able to ship anywhere they want will have the highest profit margin, this is because the mail-order nurseries selling their plants to be picked up locally at a retail nursery are going to be less popular.

Phoenix Valley Nurseries

If you are looking for a local plant nursery to buy your plants, trees, or shrubs from in Mesa, Queen Creek, or Gilbert, Arizona A&P Nursery offers plants grow for sale by our own hands here in the valley.  We grow our own stock to ensure the quality, health, and that the plants will thrive despite our incredible summer time heat.  We have the right plants, tools, and knowledge for the Valley of the Sun and can help educate you on how to get the job done, or schedule services from our trusted landscaping partners.