FOREWORD by Professor R. H. Stoughton, D.Se. -
1. THE BEGINNINGS -
2. WATER -
3. THEORY OF SOLUTIONS -
4. THE SOLUTION IN PRACTICE -
5. MAKING AND MIXING -
6. MANAGEMENT OF SOLUTIONS -
7. WATER CULTURE -
8. SAND CULTURE -
9. GRAVEL CULTURE -
10. COMMERCIAL SOILLESS CULTURE -
11. SOILLESS CULTURE FOR EDUCATION -
12. WHERE HAVE I GONE WRONG? -
13. THE FUTURE -
The idea of the application of the sand- and water-culture methods of plant physiologists to the practical growing of plants by the amateur and the commercial grower has passed through the stages of incredulity, enthusiasm, derision, skepticism, and finally to sober acceptance, since the first proposals of Dr. F. Gericke in 1936. What was for long a stunt has become almost a commonplace in a surprisingly short time, so that now there is nothing remarkable in hearing that a grower with some acres of glass has turned over wholly or mainly to nutrient solution cultivation in sand or gravel.
This is not to say, however, that there is not still much to be learnt in this new application of scientific method. Unexpected, or at least unforeseen, difficulties and even disasters occur, all the worse in that if anything does go wrong all the plants under the same treatment are likely to be affected, instead of, as in soil, perhaps only a few in one bed. But with increasing experience and research these troubles can be guarded against or sometimes overcome after they have started, though in this as with all gardening matters, prevention is far better than cure.
Let no one fall into the trap of thinking that these methods are foolproof or even easier than the age-old ways of growing in soil. It must always be remembered that the plant itself is still the same; knowledge of its habits, its needs for particular light and temperature conditions, the pests and the diseases which may attack it, in short, its management, is no less necessary than before. After all, soilless cultivation is but an attempt to achieve one more step towards the goal of all good gardeners and plant research workers, control over the conditions under which the plant grows, its environment, to the betterment of man's profit or aesthetic enjoyment.
Although, therefore, to attain success with solution culture one must have at least as much knowledge and experience of the growing of the particular plant as ever, yet much of the factual aspect of the systems, the "know-how," can be acquired from books. The author of this book, himself an enthusiastic practitioner of soilless cultivation, has put down from his own experience and that of others a clear account of the principles and practice of the methods, which will start the feet of the beginner on the right path and save him from many pitfalls.