As we move into the future (albeit sometimes reluctantly), we recognize that gardening is changing right along with us. With the invention of new gardening tools and refinement of yesterday’s gardening methods, there are new things constantly coming available to learn and implement in our own gardens at home. So, when we first heard about growing the same plants we love to sow in our garden beds purely in water, we knew we had to know more. This gardening technique has become intriguing with a lot of our followers, so we decided it was time to tell you everything we know about the method rising in popularity and notoriety!
Here is our advice and insight on Hydroponic Gardens: What They Are and How to Start Your Own!
So, what is Hydroponic Gardening exactly?
When someone says they have a “Hydroponic Garden” at home, it’s common sense to assume their garden is based in water and not soil, but it can’t be that simple, can it? While yes, that is the basis behind this method of gardening, there is much more involved than meets the eye. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in a soil-less manner, whether that is through growing plants in rockwool in small net cups or allowing roots to grow straight into a nutrient and mineral-rich solution, it’s considered hydroponic.
This type of garden comes with the same in depth, hands-on work as a soil garden, including controlling the use and monitoring of nutrients in the water, maintaining proper humidity levels, and ensuring livable temperatures for the growing plants. Some scientists are credited with experimenting in hydroponics, but the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built around 600 B.C. is the earliest recorded example of Hydroponics. Because of the advancements in technology since then, the Hydroponic Garden method can be set up anywhere in the world, regardless of the environment and climate.
The Benefits to Growing in Water, Instead of Soil
Hydroponic Gardens have countless benefits, and as more studies are done in the gardening industry, more bonuses are found to solidify this as a legitimate method of growing produce. Many studies refer to increased yields from plants grown hydroponically, but how much of an increase can that really be? According to Hydroponics.Net, that can be as much as an increased growth rate of 30 – 50%, with quicker, larger yields as a result. Even some commercial farmers are making the transition to hydroponics because it uses less space and resources, but produces higher yields, still requires knowledgeable employees, and can grow crops even if they are out of season or are grown well outside of their natural habitat.
These types of gardens also require less resources than a traditional garden; there is no need for soil, no hard labor needed to pull weeds, fewer pesticides, less space since hydroponic gardens can also be grown vertically, and (surprisingly) less water. In addition to this, its almost important to note that not changing the existing ecosystem of a natural space can also be more beneficial to the permanent health of an ecosystem than man-made traditional gardens.
Plants That Can Be Grown in Hydroponic Gardens
The type of hydroponic set-up you use will determine what you can and cannot grow, but you’ll be surprised to know that almost every common garden plant can still flourish when grown in a hydroponic garden. While the average gardener’s first exposure to hydroponically grown crops is through microgreens or sprouts, it’s not uncommon to find lettuce, strawberries, and even peppers grown this way. Many other popular crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans do well, including the smaller, shallow-rooted varieties of radishes can grow just as well in water as they can in soil.
Although it may seem that the number of plants that grow well in a hydroponic garden are countless, there are still a few outliers that don’t typically grow well in this manner. Some plants that have large roots, like potatoes and turnips, are harder to grow hydroponically because their root systems require constant monitoring. Vining Plants such as pole beans and hops are also tricky to grow in a hydroponic garden because of the space that would need to be allocated to grow them properly; installing trellises and adjusting the light with their continuous growth could prove to be more work than its worth in the end.
What You Need to Create Your Own Hydroponic System
As with traditional gardening, there are countless methods that stem from the general idea that is Hydroponics; there are almost as many hydroponic gardening methods as there are traditional gardening methods. Initially, Hydroponic systems are classified by two categories: active or passive. Active systems are built with a pump that constantly moves nutrient-rich water through the bare roots of a plant, while passive systems rely on the soil-less medium to hold and absorb the nutrients that the plant is actually grow from, rather than the water directly.
To create your own Hydroponic Garden at home, you can either purchase a ready-made system and simply assemble it yourself at home, or you can get crafty and build something from scratch. Regardless of the route you choose to take, you will need enough indoor space for your garden, nutrients to add in throughout the life of the plants, and a good quality grow light or room with regular access to bright, direct sun light.
If you opt to DIY your own Hydroponic Garden, then we recommend with trying your hand at a passive system first; to start, you will need:
- A Storage Container
- A Hole Saw
- Net Pots
- An Air Pump
- A Soil-less Substrate
- Liquid-soluble Nutrients
- A pH Meter
There are countless guides online that can teach you, step-by-step, how to build your first system, but our personal favorite is here. The only way to see if Hydroponic Gardening could be the next gardening challenge to take on is to put in the time to building your garden and tracking your successes and failures. No one is going to be a whiz right away, so be patient with yourself.
Things to Keep in Mind Hydroponics at Home
Hydroponic Gardening may not be for everyone because of some care and maintenance aspects that surround it. A lack of space indoors, an incredibly busy schedule, and children or pets could all be reasons that you may not be able to make the move to hydroponics right away. This type of gardening also requires you to keep a close eye on the nutrient, water, and pH levels of your garden, so some may find it more intense than outdoor gardening. However, the lack of weeds and increase in yields may make the commitment worth it, to the right gardener.
With all that in mind, you are ready to get started in your brand-new gardening adventure! If you aren’t quite ready to dedicate a full room to a hydroponic garden, don’t worry – you can always scale down our guidance here to fit your space or lifestyle. There’s no harm in just creating one hydroponic container on an already empty shelf in your garage or laundry room; as long as you start something, no matter how small it may be, you are still learning a new skill and growing your own food!
Is there any gardening subject you have questions about or would like us to cover? Let us know in the comments or message us on our Contact Page. We post more articles every other week, so check back for more tips and tricks every month!