Growing fast, fresh food at home has never been easier thanks to the hydroponic garden. In this article we will answer all the commonly asked questions so that you can confidently decide if a hydroponic garden is right for you and your home!
Hydroponic gardens offer a simple, low-maintenance means of growing produce at home without soil! By replacing soil with a nutrient-dense water cycle, hydroponics are able to minimize the use of resources while maximizing yield of crops. This means that you’ll be rewarded with nutritious herbs, greens, and produce without all the hard work that comes with a traditional garden. The best part? With the right conditions, hydroponic gardens can be set-up inside your home. This means that the fruits of your labor will be growing all-year-round rather than seasonally!
What Is A Hydroponic Garden?
A hydroponic garden is a method of growing plants without soil. In traditional gardening, the plants have to seek out the nutrients they need within the soil.
In hydroponics, nutrients are accessible to the plants through a nutrient-dense water solution that surrounds the roots. This means that nutrients are much more available in hydroponic set-ups than in traditional in-ground gardening. The result of this is plants that grow much faster and produce larger yields.
If you are looking for a foolproof, soil-free microgreens growing kit, try out The Good Box (you can learn more here!)
Hydroponic gardens can be set-up both indoors or outdoors. By growing plants inside, we are able to harvest throughout the seasons that otherwise would put gardening to a halt for months at a time.
Having an indoor garden sounds like it would take up a lot of space. But, hydroponic gardens are not one-size-fits-all; it’s really all about what works best for you and your home!
You can construct or choose a set-up that is as space efficient as you would like. Some are small enough to fit on your desk while others can take up a whole closet. It just depends on the level of yield you’re hoping to achieve!
There are a few different types of hydroponic gardens, but they are all very similar in their basic principles. In the majority of systems, the roots of the plants dangle freely in water.
Smaller plants like microgreens and sprouts thrive against a growing medium like coconut coir or hemp fiber. In hydroponic towers, the plants are grown vertically and nourished through a gravity driven water cycle.
Each method is equally efficient, it really just depends on your type of space and the plants that you want to grow!
How Does A Hydroponic Garden Work?
In the simplest terms, hydroponics skip soil and replace it with nutrient dense water that allows for plants to grow faster and more plentifully. The water is continuously reused through a water cycle that saves up to 90% more water than traditional outdoor gardening. It’s extremely efficient, sustainable, and rewarding!
Hydroponic gardens are all about giving plants exactly what they need. The elements of a hydroponic system are easily controllable in order to provide plants with the precise conditions they need to thrive to their fullest, most nutritious potential.
Light and water are two crucial elements that can be manipulated to produce the healthiest plants possible. In an excellent hydroponic garden, the plants are given nutrient-dense, filtered water at a pH of 6 to 6.5. Plants are also provided with appropriate light and darkness, according to the needs of the specific plants being grown.
By having control over the environment in which a plant is grown in, we are able to maximize yield while protecting the plants from any soil-borne diseases. We’re also able to eliminate pests from the picture.
Without the worry of pests, we’re also able to eliminate the need for harmful pesticides. Organic, nutritious crops have never been more accessible than they are now with hydroponic gardens!
Can You Use Tap Water For Hydroponics?
Tap water isn’t ideal for hydroponic gardens. It’s important to remember that plants grown hydroponically thrive within filtered water at a pH of 6 to 6.5.
If you’re unsure about the pH of your water, it’s super easy to buy some pH test strips to test it out and add either an alkaline or acidic solution as necessary.
Setting up a hydroponic garden is almost like setting up a fish tank. Your fish need the appropriate water in order to survive just as plants need the appropriate water to thrive!
I once had a small hydroponic set-up that grew four plants at a time and I simply used water from the tap and the plants were growing just fine. But, if your goal is to produce the fastest growing, most nutrient dense plants as possible, then meeting those ideal water requirements is definitely a must.
How Do You Keep Hydroponic Water Clean?
Adding a filter into your hydroponic garden or purchasing a set-up that already includes one is a great idea to ensure the longevity of your plants. It’s important to ensure that the environment we grow plants in is as healthy as possible, since we will be eating the plants derived directly from that environment!
As we know, plants can be very temperamental. Plants vary in their sensitivity to water issues, so we want to keep the water clean to avoid throwing anything off.
Proper filtration of hydroponic systems prevents clogging, removes unwanted sentiments/materials, and controls potentially harmful pathogens.
In very basic hydroponic set-ups, a filter may not be feasible or necessary. Full sanitation procedures vary between each hydroponic system.
If you’re purchasing a ready-made hydroponic garden, clean it according to its instructions. If you are unsure, there are many step-by-step guides online for cleaning a hydroponic system, most of which recommend using food grade hydrogen peroxide, diluted bleach, or diluted vinegar.
You can find a tutorial we specifically love by clicking here.
How Often Do You Need To Change Hydroponic Water?
It is ideal to do a full water change about every two to three weeks. It’s important to avoid doing full water changes too often because it can shock or irritate the plants.
When it comes time to do a full water change, wash out the tank with some gentle scrubbing and plant-friendly cleaning solution. This helps to avoid any unwanted bacteria growth before adding the new, clean water into the system.
Before it’s time to do a full water change, you’ll have to top off the water in the hydroponic garden every few days. When you are topping off the already existing water within your tank, it is important to make sure that the water being added is as similar as possible to the water already in the system.
This can be achieved by always using water from the same source and testing the pH of the water before adding it.
Do Hydroponic Plants Need Sunlight?
Hydroponic plants require light. But, it does not have to be sunlight. Whether you choose to place your hydroponic garden near a sunny window or beneath some artificial lights in your closet, your plants will thrive as long as they have access to the appropriate amounts of light.
Cool white lights or full spectrum fluorescent lights work just as well as sunlight for hydroponic plants. When growing indoors, it can be difficult to find the right sunny place for your hydroponic garden.
Therefore, many people opt for the artificial light route to brighten those dark spaces. If you choose to utilize artificial lights, it’s important to remember to have your lights imitate the cycle of natural sunlight.
Your plants will need about 14 to 16 hours of artificial light paired with 10 to 12 hours of darkness. Just like us humans need darkness to rest, plants do as well!
What Can You Grow In A Hydroponic Garden?
Greens and herbs are most commonly grown in a hydroponic garden because they are low maintenance and grow incredibly fast! Kales, lettuces, and chards are some commonly grown hydroponic greens that can be ready to harvest in just a few weeks.
Some of the most commonly grown crops are tomatoes, basil, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, and celery. But, almost any crop can grow hydroponically and it’s fun to experiment with your favorites at home! You never know what could become a new kitchen staple!
Are Hydroponic Plants Healthy To Eat?
Hydroponic plants are incredibly healthy to eat and more nutritious than plants grown in soil. In hydroponics, plants are given their nutrients through a nutrient-dense water cycle.
Because of this, the nutrients are readily available for the plants to consume. When plants are grown in soil, they have to seek out the nutrients within the soil which requires more effort on the plants end.
Hydroponics allow for plants to absorb the maximum amount of nutrition, which makes them even more nutritious for humans to eat!
Introducing a hydroponic garden into your home is one of the easiest ways to save money on produce while having fun doing so. If you’re looking to add a little greenness into your life, it’s time to get a hydroponic garden!
You can learn more about aeroponics and aquaponics (other methods to grow plants without soil) here.
You can learn about the NFT method (a specific type of hydroponic growing setup) here.
You can learn about the Kratky technique (another hydroponic system) here.
DWC hydroponics is another alternative method you might want to read up on.
You can learn about all different types of plants you can grow hydroponically here.
You can learn about aquaponics (and how it compares to hydroponics) here.
To find books, courses, seeds, gardening supplies, and more, check out The Shop at Greenupside!
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About the author:
Sofi is a passionate writer who studied communications and environmental studies at Eckerd College. You can get in touch with Sofi at https://slenzi4.wixsite.com/website.