Imagine if you had access to most of your favorite fruits and vegetables, whenever you needed them, and without running down to the nearest grocery store. It would help you change your lifestyle and promote healthy eating on a more regular basis.
Although this idea sounds appealing, you might be held back because you lack a garden or outside space to build one. The good news is that many fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be grown hydroponically right in the middle of your living room. Let us look at some of the best plants for hydroponics.
Best Plants for Hydroponics: Vegetables
Several vegetables can be grown hydroponically. Most of these vegetables are similar to those you would grow in a traditional garden. But some of them can be developed to thrive in a confined space. All these vegetables will continue to grow as long as you provide them with the right nutrients and the correct amount of light.
Nearly every beginner will usually start their hydroponic garden by planting lettuce. It has become so common that the first thing that comes to our mind whenever we see lettuce we think that it must have been grown hydroponically.
The reason for its popularity among hydroponics is that it takes almost no effort, and you also do not have to invest any significant amount for it either. Those who get the hang of it can expand their hydroponic garden and monetize the lettuce more quickly than any other vegetable.
Lettuce takes about thirty days to grow and requires the pH of the solution to be maintained between 6.0 and 7.0. To get a continuous supply of lettuce, consider staggering the plants. According to Why Farm It, you can grow varieties ranging from Lollo, Romaine, Little Gem, and Butterhead.
Cucumbers are another vegetable that grows quite well in hydroponics. However, they require slightly controlled conditions. Since they grow on vines, you will need to make arrangements for enough space and support for the vines.
But with the right conditions, you can start to yield a few cucumbers every week. You can either sow seeds or cuttings into your hydroponic production medium. According to Cornell University, seeds usually germinate within five to ten days in ideal temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. But can take longer to germinate in cooler conditions.
In favorable conditions, tomato plants grown hydroponically grow almost 30 – 50 percent faster than those grown in the soil. The hydroponic crops also have a yield rate of up to five times more than traditional plants grown in the soil.
Growing tomatoes does not take too long to master. If you do not want to wait for long periods, consider starting from a cutting or a starter plant. This way, you will be able to have ready-to-eat tomatoes within eight to ten weeks.
Remember, tomatoes require lots of light and grow best in warmer environments. You will need to add support for the vines as they begin to spread out.
Peppers require similar growing conditions that favor tomatoes, lots of light, and warmer temperatures. They also grow at a similar rate and can take between two and three months to mature. Again, it is better to start using plant cuttings rather than seeds to get faster results.
Many varieties grow easily; Capsicums, Mazurka, and Fellini for mild to sweet peppers, and Habanero and Jalapeno for hot peppers.
Best Plants for Hydroponics: Fruits
Fruits are slightly more difficult to grow than vegetables and herbs. But they are still worth a shot. Berries are by far the easiest of fruits to grow.
Strawberries grow quite well in hydroponic settings and are among the most common fruits grown hydroponically commercially. Commercial farms use large-scale Nutrient Film Technique systems for growing strawberries. According to trees.com, the NFT technique involves placing a film of nutrients on the plant roots. These nutrients get absorbed when the roots come in contact with water.
However, you do not need sophisticated systems to grow strawberries in the comfort of your home. You can grow them in your traditional hydroponic system and enjoy the strawberries throughout the year.
Much like strawberries, blueberries can also be grown quite well in hydroponics. But blueberries require patience. According to High Tech Gardening, it can take three to five years to bear fruit. Just like strawberries, farmers plant blueberries using the NFT technology. These are usually more challenging, so getting them started from plant cuttings is best.
Best Herbs for Hydroponics
Herbs can greatly alter the nutritional value and taste of your dishes. They are the most convenient option if you want to grow indoors and get rapid results.
Mint was among the first herbs that were grown hydroponically. With the right conditions, mint plants look slightly different from those grown in soil. Hydroponically grown mint plants have fuller leaves and deliver higher yields.
Mint is among the easiest plants to grow hydroponically, and you can expect your plant to grow by up to 24 inches in just a few months. They require slightly controlled conditions such as a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees and tend to do better when grown using fluorescent lights.
Like many other herbs, fresh basil has a unique flavor and aroma, which go away as the leaves start to dry up. If you are a fan of basil, hydroponics will be a blessing for you, as it will easily allow you to access basil leaves throughout the year.
Basil is easy to plant and maintain. It requires temperatures of around 70 to 80 degrees. Again, it is best to start with a plant cutting, which can start to root in just one week.
Last Few Words
Some people still find it hard to digest that many fruits and vegetables can be grown perfectly without soil. They are tasteless, have no vitamins, have this and that, and their ranting never seems to end. However, many farmers are switching to hydroponics due to the numerous advantages this technology offers.
In addition to those mentioned above, many other plants can be grown hydroponically and offer numerous challenges and benefits. You can see more plants that grow well hydroponically in this video.