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Hydroponic Gardening 101

Whether you’re a novice gardener or a seasoned expert when it comes to outdoor gardening, learning about hydroponic gardening is an inspiring challenge to keep your harvest coming year round. For us, hydroponic gardening is a complete game-changer. Once you get the equipment and learn the ropes, you’ll be obsessed.

What is Hydroponic Gardening? 

Hydroponic gardening is a way to grow plants without soil. Instead of using soil, plants are grown in water, oftentimes in a vertical tower. They are fed with nutrients that help build healthy and strong roots, fertile and flowering plants, and flavorful nutrient-dense produce. 

Hydroponic gardening is a dream come true for modern homesteaders and eco-conscious city folks. You can grow greens, herbs, tomatoes, strawberries, and even edible flowers to stock your fridge year round, all from a very compact space and with limited resources. While some people utilize natural light in their hydroponic garden, it’s common to use artificial light and timers to create an optimal growing environment for your plants. 

This way of doing farming is new, but it draws on generations of research and care for plants that are ancient. Generally speaking, plants require water, light, and soil. This method found a roundabout way to supply what soil supplies, and while it’s an imperfect solution, it’s making agricultural practices accessible to people from all backgrounds and experience levels. (Plus, the reality is that modern soil is depleted of nutrients due to conventional farming methods…) 

basil hydroponic plant on wooden background

What You Can Grow Hydroponically

In short, you can grow any crop hydroponically. It’s a way of planting, pruning, and harvesting and can be applies to any plant, vegetable, flower, herb, or even houseplant. We suggest finding a company that you like and experimenting with a variety of plants. In our experience, tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, greens, and edible flowers are the most likely to succeed and bring an abundant yield when grown indoors. We’ve also had success with pepper and squash varieties.

To get started, invest in some greens—lettuce, spinach, kale, and arugula. These crops thrive in a hydroponic tower and are hard to mess up. Next, invest in some herbs. These can be a bit more temperamental, but overall, herbs are pretty easy for beginners. Throw in a few fruit-bearing plants and stay on top of fertilizing. What blooms and blossoms might just surprise you!

ph soil in scoop above wooden background

How to Take Care of a Hydroponic Stand 

In my opinion, taking care of a hydroponic stand is much easier than taking care of a soil-grown garden. 

Balance Your pH Level

First things first, invest in a pH level test kit and balance your water out. The best way to ensure the optimal growth and vitality of your plants is to regularly check your water’s pH. For the majority of crops, your pH should be between 5 and 7. To maintain the pH, use pH down or pH up to get your water to its best level. 

Feed Your “Soil” Nutrients

Traditionally, soil is where a plant’s nutrients are drawn from. When growing hydroponically, however, adding nutrients to the water is the most beneficial thing you can do for your garden. 

Keep Your Roots Maintained

To avoid the interlocking root mess of a hydroponic garden, trim each plant’s roots once a week. Roots should be maintained beneath two inches of length to keep the plant healthy and to prevent the plants from interfering with one another. 

Don’t Wait to Harvest

One of the biggest mistakes that new hydroponic gardeners make is neglecting to harvest their plants at the right time. Much like outdoor gardening, if you miss the proper harvesting time, you’ll end up with lackluster produce and plants unlikely to yield again. So, make sure you learn how to harvest each plant that you grow so that you don’t miss you window. 

bok choy growing hydroponically on lettuce tower

Where to Buy a Hydroponic Stand

Our personal favorite hydroponic stand comes from Lettuce Grow. Dubbed the “farmstand,” this recycled plastic tower stands heads and shoulders above the rest. Their design is fool-proof and their customer service and support are phenomenal. 

Is hydroponic gardening environmentally conscious? 

Yes! Even though it might seem like hydroponic gardening requires more water than other solutions, the truth is, it’s requires less. The self-circulating system keeps the water cycled and no water is wasted in runoff. Lettuce Grow hydroponic towers use one gallon of water for a head of lettuce compared to soil grown lettuce, which requires twenty gallons.

We hope you give hydroponic gardening a try. Best of luck and happy growing!

More Hydroponic Resources:

Answers to Your Questions About Hydroponic Gardening

What are the three main disadvantages of hydroponic farming?

Although hydroponic gardening offers many benefits, it comes with its cons. The plants can be less nutritious than plants grown in vital soil. The equipment is costly, and the hydroponic farm is susceptible to power outages.

What plants can be grown hydroponically?

Many plants can be grown hydroponically. It’s common to see lettuce, kale, strawberries, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and banana peppers.

What do you need to start a hydroponic garden?

You need a hydroponic system for longterm success in your hydroponic garden, access to water, grow lights, and nutrients.

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