Hydroponic gardening has become increasingly popular. Basic hydroponic systems are inexpensive and easily maintained. Practiced properly hydroponics will yield healthy vibrant and bountiful fruits, vegetables and herbs – year round.
The basic requirements of most plants can be met without natural sunlight or soil using tried and true Hydroponics methods.
Plants are supported in an inert medium and nutrition is provided by mineral elements that are water soluble.
Theoretically, the plants grown with hydroponic nutrient solution will devote more time and energy to producing fruits and vegetables rather than searching for food in the soil.
Green Leafy vegetables and some herbs are among the easiest and at times most productive plants to grow hydroponically. Lettuce, kale, cabbage, spinach, chard, spinach, Asian vegetables such as Bok choy can all be grown in a hydroponic scenario very successfully.
Lettuce – One “drawback” to growing lettuce hydroponically is that it matures very rapidly. At times you may have more than you can possibly use. It will grow vigorously with simple fluorescent lighting, although certain other forms of lighting better. See: Hydroponic Lettuce
Kale will thrive and produce rapidly and abundantly in almost any setup and does not require overly meticulous care. Kale can be started from seeds or cuttings known as plant starts. Oasis Cubes and similar products are also suitable for starting Kale seeds. Oasis Cubes are manufactured from water absorbent foam, Phenolic foam, also known as Floral Foam. See: Hydroponic Kale
Spinach is a cool weather crop that lends itself well to the hydroponic realm only when properly cared for. It does not perform as well in higher temperatures. 12 hours of light daily is optimal for spinach. Fluorescent lighting works great, HID, high pressure sodium and other lighting will work also but be aware that Spinach will grow, but not thrive in excessive light. See: Hydroponic Spinach
Chinese Cabbage aka Bok Choy
Bok choy, Bok Choi, Pak Choy, Pak choi – same plant different accolades. Bok Choy, like many Brassicas can be grown hydroponically very successfully. It is a rapidly maturing crop that can be harvested roughly 30 days from germination. If executed correctly you can actually get 3 harvests from one set of bok choy roots. See: Hydroponic Bok Choy
Hydroponic Root crops
Root crops can thrive in hydroponic greenhouses. They are a tad trickier than lettuce and other green leafy vegetables but can be rewarding for those up to the challenge.
They perform best in systems with deep channels and conduits that allow for ample root zone expansion.
Carrots are among the easiest of root crops to produce hydroponically. They need an adequate depth in which to expand. They are frequently grown in 5 gallon buckets but other systems work well also. See: Hydroponic Carrots
Beets – A methodology that uses ample media to support the plants while the roots develop is necessary. Ebb and flow systems lend themselves well, but others, such as aeroponics work also. A container has to be the correct size to accommodate your beets at their peak. Beet sizes vary somewhat dependent on variety. See: Hydroponic Beets
Garlic is easily grown hydroponically, as with anything- there are a few tricks and a few drawbacks. One big drawback to growing garlic in your home is the stench. Garlic has a very strong odor – not just the bulbs , but the plant itself. Grown outdoors, the aroma dissipates into the atmosphere – indoors it permeates a room. See: Hydroponic Garlic
Potatoes – Hydroponically grown potatoes frequently produce relatively small tubers. The potatoes harvested rarely match the size of those grown in soil. Recent improvements in growing methodology, in particular in relation to the media used, show promise of bringing hydroponic potatoes up to par with conventionally cultivated ones. See: Hydroponic Potatoes
Onions – Onions are fairly easy to grow in outdoor hydroponic systems. They can also be successfully grown in an indoor set up. Most onion seeds germinate in about a 6 – 10 days in temperatures of 65-70 degrees F. An ultra simplified startup system for Onions can be made with some polystyrene, some flower pots with an adequate depth and soilless growing medium. They can even be grown on a window sill. See: Hydroponic Onions
Fruits and Berries
Small Fruits and berries will at times produce prolifically when hydroponically grown. Larger Fruits, such as fruit trees can be nurtured into saplings then transplanted into soil, it is not recommended that fruit trees be kept in a hydroponic system for any length of time.
Strawberries are one of the most commonly grown hydroponic berries. Growing Strawberries from seed they will take 2 – 3 years to reach maturity- not good for hydroponic growers. However, cold-stored certified virus tested runners are best. Runners are the off-shoots of a mature strawberry plant that have been cut off and re-rooted. You could also start with full grown plants transferred from soil. Avoid June bearers as they suited for one heavy crop only. Day neutral or Ever Bearing varieties are best for Hydroponic growers who want an extended season. See: Hydroponic Strawberries
Raspberries can be a tad tricky to grow hydroponically, but can produce very well. Some varieties of Raspberries are way too large to even consider for a hydroponic setup, but there are many smaller varieties which work just fine. Smaller varieties of raspberry bushes can be misleading, even though they are small, if properly maintained they can generate a comfortably high yield of raspberries. See: Hydroponic Raspberries
Blueberries can be grown with a hydroponic system, the trick lies in doing it cost effectively. Blueberries, which require very acidic conditions when grown in soil have little different requirements when grown in a hydroponic solution. Blueberries can produce well in hydroponic systems, they are not however without their drawbacks. See: Hydroponic Blueberries
Herbs Grown Hydroponically
Most Herbs will grow in hydroponic systems. They will thrive with a very basic hydroponic nutrient solution. Gardeners have reported that herbs mature 20 to 25% faster than those grown in soil. Their roots get food from the nutrient solution immediately. Using the correct nutrient solution the root systems remain small, so the plants devote their energy into their tops.
A Few Good Herbs to place in Hydroponic Systems
Chervil, Chives, Coriander / Cilantro, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Sage, Sorrel, mint, Tarragon and Thyme can all use a Basic Nutrient Solution with no special requirements.
Herbs that thrive in dry conditions do not fare as well in hydroponic setups for obvious reasons.
Marjoram and Oregano – Watch phosphorus levels. A phosphorous deficiency will cause the plants to stunt somewhat.
Basil is a bushy annual, most varieties grow 1 to 2 feet tall. Growing Basil Plants in a hydroponic setup is a snap – although not without it’s snafus.Basil can be started from seed or from cuttings. See: Hydroponic Basil
Chives – Both Onion and Garlic Chives thrive in a hydroponic scenario. They are not without their own special needs but they have multiple advantages over many other plants. See: Hydroponic Chives