Hydroponic Gardening for Beginners

View of Vegetables

It seems as though different types of gardening methods took the world by storm in 2020. Everyone is starting to invest in houseplants and trying to grow their own veggie patch. Perhaps it was the outbreak of the corona virus that motivated everyone to be more health conscious and environmentally friendly or maybe everyone had more time on their hands to pursue the hobby of gardening. 

Whatever the case may be, gardening is something that many people enjoy doing. With many city inhabitants having limited space to their disposal, it isn’t always possible to grow a giant vegetable garden from apartments. Luckily, this has become a possibility with Hydroponics. 

What is Hydroponics? 

Using only nutrients, water, and different growing mediums gardeners can now grow a garden without the presence of soil. The main aim of this new system is to remove all traditional extras in gardening to promote contact between the plant’s roots and the nutrients and oxygen it needs to thrive. 

Want to learn more about all the ins and outs of Hydroponics? You can learn more about how it works here: https://blog.growgeneration.com/hydroponics/what-is-hydroponics/. As for the actual practical part, here are a few tips that will come in handy when you are starting out: 

Types of Hydroponic System

Before you can even start your new gardening journey, you need to understand the different types of systems available on the market. Depending on the space you have available and the function you want your system to perform, you’ll choose any of the following: 

  • Wick: It’s the most common and easiest system on the market that doesn’t require any pumps to function. Perfect for beginners and great for planting smaller plants
  • NFT: NFT stands for a Nutrient Film Technique system. This system uses a nutrient film solution that is constantly pumped through different channels. The thin channels are the spaces in which the roots lie. Once the solution is pumped through these channels it returns back to a main reservoir before repeating the cycle again
  • DWC: Known as Deep Water Culture this system uses a reservoir-style process that holds nutrients. Roots of plants are constantly exposed to this reservoir that promotes growth
  • Aeroponics: This is a very complex and high-tech system used by people who are serious about their gardening. It contains a large structure that holds a reservoir of nutrient and water solution. Plant’s roots are suspended in the air as the solution is pumped as a mist to the roots

Make sure you view livegrowgarden.com for examples and tips on what kind of systems are best for you as a beginner. 

Where do I Start? 

You might think that you are going to need loads of equipment and different types of pumps to get started. But the fact of the matter is, you can start by only using a big 5-10 gallon bucket at first. As long as the bucket has a lid and space for a small air pump, you can get going. 

To test the waters, add a water nutrient solution to water in the big bucket. Then place a plant with visible roots (or a seedling) in a net cup in a hole made on the lid. Insert the air stone into the water underneath the plant, switch it on and watch as the roots soak up all the nutrients. 

person holding green leaf plantChoose the Right Plants for Your Hydroponic System

Just like with normal at-home gardens, you need to make sure you pick the right kind of plants for your new hydroponic system. Planting the wrong kinds of greeneries will only achieve an unfulfilling result.  

Especially if you are planting for your own use, you should pick veggies that will grow fast. The best plants to start growing are: 

  • Herbs: All kinds of herbs work great in a hydroponic system. The growing times depend on the type of herb, but almost all types can grow quickly under the right circumstances. Great choices are dill, basil, chives, rosemary, thyme, and oregano
  • Spinach: Once spinach starts growing it’s difficult to stop it. The veggie takes about 40 days to grow and needs a 6-7.5 pH. Alternative varieties are Red cardinal, Bloomsdale, Savoy, and Catalina
  • Lettuce: Takes about 1 month to grow and needs 6-7 pH making it the perfect ongoing project to keep a fresh salad on your table. Alternatives are Iceberg, Romaine, and Boston lettuce varieties
  • Bell Peppers: If you are looking for a challenge, then Bell Peppers are for you. They take about 90 days to grow under 6-6.5 pH. You need to prune them when they get a bit taller and keep an eye out on the amount of light they get each day. Alternative varieties are Vidi, California Wonder, and Ace
  • Strawberries: Even though strawberries are a very seasonal fruit, they grow like wildfire in the right system. They need about 2 months to grow under a 5.5-6.2 pH. Alternative varieties are Red Gauntlet, Tioga, Brighton, and Chandler

Even though the above-mentioned plants are great options, there are many more hydroponic plants that you can choose from. We recommend starting out with a few greens that you will want to use in your own home. 

Start out small before you invest in an entire hydroponics system. As long as you are motivated and patient, you’ll be able to grow your own veggie patch out of the comfort of your own home in no time.