Q. What does "hydroponic" mean anyway?
A. Hydroponic means "water working" in ancient Greek. (They probably called it that because "Wow! That's a huge amount of food you're growing there!" didn't translate well.) What "work" is the water doing, you ask? Well, a plant has to expend energy (work) in order to get water, get nutrients, hold itself securely in the soil, move heat around to avoid freezing or overheating, not get eaten by critters, and (most importantly) reproduce.
In hydroponics, the readily-available nutrient solution supplies the water and food while the fact that the plant is in a greenhouse helps offset the expenditure of energy used to fight the effects of weather, wind, and insects. Since the water (and the greenhouse environment) do most of the plant's work for it, all it has left to do is to put all its energy into reproduction. You and I call this "fruiting".
Q. Do plants like hydroponics better? Is that why they produce more?
A. Hey look, plants are plants. They don't have opinions about too many things. Plants use their roots to absorb nutrients that are dissolved in water. They don't really care whether they get the right nutrients via traditional agriculture, organic agriculture, or hydroponic agriculture. All they care about is whether or not they're getting the right nutrients at the right time. They then expend this energy in order to make seed-bearing fruit that will grow more plants.
In traditional agriculture, the plant expends energy to extend its roots through the soil so that these nutrients are leached from the soil (hopefully in the right mix), as water passes around its roots. This energy is then no longer available to the plant.
In organic agriculture, the same rules apply. The nutrients just come from a more limited set of sources. The same plant raised in an organic fashion still has to expend energy looking for nutrients. This energy is likewise no longer available to the plant.
In hydroponics, the nutrients are dissolved in the nutrient solution (in the correct ratios), and are delivered directly to the roots. SInce the plant doesn't have to expend energy in order to get its lunch, it can redirect that energy into growing fruit. That's the main reason that the same plant raised in a hydroponic environment produces more fruit per acre. It's really just that simple.
Q. I've hard all kinds of weird things about hydroponics. What's the real deal?
I've heard all kinds of weird things too. Here's a link to the nice folks at The Growing Edge Magazine
where they discuss some common misconceptions about hydroponics.
Q. Where can I learn more about starting my own hydroponic greenhouse?
The folks at CropKing are not only experts in hydroponic vegetable production, they're also experts at making people like you and me experts in hydroponic vegetable production.
Their Grower's Workshop
is a solid introduction to hydroponic production and really gives you a good feel for what it's like to have your own hydroponic greenhouse. If you think you may be interested in trying hydroponic vegetable production for yourself, this course is useful, informative, and worth every penny.