Curious to try hydroponics for yourself? There are a few ways to get started.
First of all, what is it? Hydroponics is growing plants in nutrient-enriched water instead of soil.
why is it becoming popular?
Hydroponics is actually a centuries-old agricultural technology, but it’s become popular because it’s fairly accessible to do at home. Hydroponics is more convenient and space-saving than traditional gardening. Since you don’t need soil, you have more flexibility. You don’t need a big plot of land or even a backyard because it can be done indoors. You can have your own indoor vegetable garden within a small footprint.
Without soil, there’s no need to worry about fending off soil-borne pests. No toxic chemical pesticides needed.
Another big benefit is that you can grow fresh produce year-round, even in winter! Plus, it can be a fun indoor activity.
how to start
The key elements of hydroponics are nutrients, water, light, a growing medium, and a method to oxygenate the water.
The most basic hydroponic set-up of all is really more like a science experiment! Take a clipping of green onion (including the root) and put it in a jar of water. It will start growing, no equipment or electricity needed.
For hydroponics beginners, an all-in-one kit may be a good option. These are small units that can sit on a kitchen countertop. The kit supplies everything you need; just the follow instructions. Examples include Aerogarden and Rise Garden.
For a more sizable garden, there are larger hydroponic growing systems from Tower Garden and Lettuce Grow that might be a few feet tall and could be located outside. Kits and systems usually come with apps that monitor your garden and they’re fairly low maintenance; but they can be a sizable initial expense to set them up. Keep in mind you also need reliable access to power and water to keep them running.
For those who are quite experienced and want to do a full-fledged DIY project, there is a lot of information out there on how to build your own hydroponic system!
Hydroponics and vertical farming have carved a niche in the commercial space, but individuals can try their hand at it too, and harvest fresh vegetables all year long!
Sources: The New York Times, The Beet. Image courtesy of Aerogarden.