While it may sound intimidating, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grow a hydroponic garden. This no-fail indoor gardening method works so well that it may turn even the most brown thumbs green.
Hydroponic systems make growing year-round fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit into a simple project. It’s a sustainable gardening method that brings optimal growing conditions and oxygen to your plants so they grow steadily when provided with proper nutrients and light.
Fresh, crisp lettuce, kale and other leafy greens, radishes and carrots are among the easiest to grow in a hydroponic garden. You can also try strawberries, basil and other herbs.
You don’t need a lot of space to get started. Hydroponic gardening is perfect for apartment dwellers or those who prefer not to devote a lot of space to indoor gardening. Several hydroponic grow systems come in compact or vertical styles and include everything you need to get growing.
Because you grow without soil, there’s less mess. Hydroponic systems take the guesswork out of watering your plants. They provide your plant roots constant access to oxygen and as much water as they need so there’s no over or under watering.
Get growing hydroponically in 7 Steps
- Choose a system. Whether in a make-shift hydroponic garden made from old liter soda bottles or a kit, find a grow system that works with your space and budget. Kits will have most, if not all the ingredients you’ll need.
- Pick a plant medium. Among the available grow media, you could choose vermiculite, perlite, clay pellets, gravel, sand, or a combination of several of these. You can also grow in coconut fiber, though you’ll need to watch to make sure it doesn’t become overly soggy, which could kill roots. For certain veggies, you could also choose just to plant atop water, such as the onions above, with a wicking system. Cotton rope suspended in the water works well to draw up water.
- Plant seeds. Once you selected a system and plant media, you’ll plant your seeds using a seed starter or mat.
- Add light. You’ll need grow lights for your indoor garden to promote steady, long-term growth. Use LED lighting for energy savings because your plant lights will use less energy than fluorescent bulbs.
- Give proper nutrients. You’ll need to check the pH of your plant system and adjust the nutrients. It sounds complicated but it’s actually easy. Use a kit that supplies the pH meter and nutrients for a foolproof method. For experienced hydroponic gardeners, you can chose liquid organic fertilizers that work for your indoor gardens.
- Promote pollination. If you’re growing tomatoes, peppers or strawberries, you’ll need to help with pollination. This just involves tapping or lightly shaking the plants with a finger.
- Pick when ready. Pick fresh veggies or fruits when ripe or pinch off herbs when ready. Eat and enjoy!
When you’re growing hydroponically, you can also move your plants outdoors in warmer weather. Choose a system on wheels or add casters to make moving your plants around easier. Also, be prepared that pests could nibble on your plants. If you move the plants back indoors, keep them segregated from other hydroponic indoor plants.