quick and easy ways to try your first hydroponic garden
Hydroponic vegetable gardening, what is it? What is Hydroponics? How easy is it? Benefits?
Hydroponic is the art and science of growing plants in water with nutrients. Hydroponic vegetable gardening is taking that great technology and using it to grow vegetables.
And it is very easy to do! This series is for vegetable gardens. I will keep it very basic, cheap and easy. The great thing about hydroponic gardening is its ease and flexibility.
Please read all the hydroponic and aquaponic post when you finish reading this to understand all aspects.
If you are an old soil gardener like myself you may find the concept of not needing soil weird. what a plant needs to be healthy you will realize that Hydroponic vegetable gardening makes a lot of sense.
Plants don’t need soil!
Soil is just a medium to deliver the nutrients that a plant needs. However , if you can deliver nutrients in a different method then soil becomes just a way to hold the plant in place. With hydroponics you have other options to hold the main stem of the plant.
What plants need to grow in a Hydroponic garden
All plants need:
Soil is just a medium to deliver these things. It holds no special powers to make plants grow.
Soil not a very effective way to deliver nutrients
The thing I always found the hardest in my soil gardens was figuring out how much to water and how much ( and what kind) of fertilizer to use.
There are so many different ways and opinions on how best to fertilize plants. I found the whole thing overwhelming and time consuming. Those are not problems with hydroponic vegetable gardening.
Another problem with soil is that it in not an effective way to deliver nutrients to roots.
A plant needs to work to reach and find nutrients. Ideally you want the nutrients evenly distributed throughout the soil but that is not always possible.
Roots need to work through soil to find what they need. If your soil is to dense or the nutrients are not easy to access the plant will suffer.
It can be so much easier with hydroponic gardening.
Benefits of hydroponic vegetable gardens
With hydroponic growing the roots have consist and easy access to all the nutrients they need.
Unlike soil, you are able to easily test the exact nutrient level of what your plant is receiving. Because of this, it is easy to instantly change to levels of nutrients. Keep an eye on your plants. Then simply change the nutrient solution if you find that your plants need something different. There is no guessing.
Some other benefits of hydroponic growing include
- NO weeding!
- less prone to disease,
- much fewer pest issues.
On average, hydroponic vegetable gardening will grow vegetables 30% bigger with soil gardening.
Why? Because the roots are easily getting what the plant needs.
So less work, more flexibility and more productive. That’s why I knew hydroponic gardening was for me!
Getting started with hydroponic vegetable gardening. Which kind of hydroponic system works best?
There are 3 main hydroponic systems used in commercial growing that will work nicely in a scaled down home planter. I often mix and match making my our hybrid systems to fit a specific purpose. So don’t worry, flexibility is my favorite part of growing this way.
The three methods that I find work best on a small scale are:
- The Kratky method (non circulating),
- the NFS systems ( Nutrient film systems)
- Dutch buckets.
What they do they all have in common?
What they all have in common is that each allows for a method of delivering nutrients, warmth, and air to your plants roots. Each type of system have its benefits and are best for certain types of plants.
Non circular methods, Kratky method
The best known of the non circular methods is the Kratky method. These are best for small plants like any kind of greens. This method is also best for vegetables that have a quick growing time to harvest.
Dutch buckets are wonderful for large plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.
NFT or NFS
These are a good choice for lots of things. Greens, herbs, peppers, broccoli all work well. This system is really only limited by the size of the root system that will fit inside of tube or water way that you choose to use.
There is also a great subcategory of hydroponic called Aquaponics.
Check out how to make an aquaponic garden using a 10 gallon fish tank
Aquaponics is a way to naturally produce a nutrient solution to feed your plants. The basic idea is that you can use fish tank water to feed your plants and in return the plants will clean the water for the fish. The fish water can be used in any of the types of hydroponic systems.
I have devoted a page to each system. Please take a moment to read through each so you can learn the basics and decide what is best for you situation.
Please let me know if you have any questions.