Have you ever attempted to root a cutting of a plant in a glass of water? If you have then you’ve been experimenting with hydroponics and you may not even know it! Hydroponics is a form of agriculture that grows plants in nutrient-rich water rather than in soil. The concept of hydroponics sounds like it would be a modern creation but there is evidence that the ancient Babylonians may have used hydroponics in their hanging gardens and the Aztecs used it when they were unable to grow crops in marshy areas.
My first introduction to hydroponics was during my family’s first trip to Epcot Center in Disney World. It was amazing to see the tomatoes and other vegetables that they were able to grow all without soil. As I recall they served these vegetables in their restaurants. NASA has experimented with hydroponics in space and it is becoming a popular way for people to grow fresh vegetables in their homes all year round.
One of the major advantages of hydroponics is you can set it up pretty much anywhere. It doesn’t require a lot of space; a kitchen countertop will do. If this is your first attempt at hydroponics it makes sense to start out small so you can learn the basics and decide if this type of gardening is truly for you. Even a small unit can yield a great deal of fresh produce and once you get the hang of harvesting and replanting you’ll have a constant supply of yummy vegetables.
Here are 3 tips to help increase your chances for success:
- Choose Your Plants Carefully-Salad greens including Lettuce as well as other leafy vegetables such as Kale and Spinach are good choices for a small hydroponic garden. You can gather the exterior leaves and the interior leaves will quickly grow to replace them which means an extended harvest.
- Let There Be Light-Vegetables will require at least 6 hours of sunlight and if you can’t provide this on your countertop you’ll need to add grow lights to your garden to make sure they get the light they require.
- Create The Right Atmosphere-The right climate is an often overlooked requirement. Ideally, your temperatures will be maintained between 65 and 80 degrees. For example, while Southern exposures are ideal for meeting light requirements they also can create a lot of heat so you’ll want to be cognizant of this and not locate your garden too close to a window.
Finally, don’t forget the herbs! Herbs are also a great choice for hydroponic gardening. Our Basil and Mint Growing Kits may be just what you are looking for if you are interested in making herbs your first venture into hydroponic gardening.