Part of the joy of gardening is the room to experiment with shapes, colours and textures. Watching something grow from seed to full bloom over the year, or year after year. Something that not many people experiment with is hydroponics. Now, while there are a few hydroponic systems that you can work with, the basic idea is that you don’t use soil and instead use nutrient-rich water. Interesting, isn’t it?
So what kind of fruits and vegetables can make the most of the way that hydroponics works?
Cabbage is a great grower in cooler temperatures, making it an ideal candidate for this style of growing. You’re going to need to cater for the changes in temperature and plant them according to the season (as you would anyway), but you should have a great harvest with these.
An aromatic and versatile herb, Basil. The damp conditions enhance the flavour by a reasonable amount, and it is highly likely you will see an increase in the yield.
If you have a good support system and have grown tomatoes before, then swapping to a hydroponic system might be the challenge you’re looking for. If you have the support ready to go, tomatoes take very well to being grown hydroponically.
Strawberries are known for being particularly juicy and do very well in this type of growing environment. There are a few different plant configurations that work best, so a little bit of research might be required. While it might be tempting to try and grow a different type of strawberry to that of which you usually grow, it would be advisable to grow the same. Only as a test to see the comparison.
A very obvious choice perhaps, but lettuce does well here too. Don’t stick to iceberg but rather experiment with romaine, butterhead – Boston, red leaf lettuce or butterhead -Bibb.
A few notes:
Any fruits or vegetables that need to be pollinated by bees can be a bit tricky to grow. You don’t have bees naturally inside the hydroponic greenhouse or structure you’ve chosen to use. You can, however, pollinate them yourself – it all depends on the type of tasks you enjoy.
Try to grow things that you eat a lot of. Why? Well, hydroponics tend to give a much bigger yield. Or, if you have friends and family willing to help you eat them when it comes to harvest time – that would be ideal.
If you intend to grow flowers using this method, then you should do some research before you start. Not all flowers will take to this method as you might like them too. On that note pumpkins, watermelons and squash might take up a bit too much room for this method also.
Mainly you could grow whatever you like, as long as you can accept that what you imagine and what you produce might be very different while you get used to a different method of gardening. Hydroponics can be a lot of fun, and ones you get started it is pretty difficult to get bored or run out of ideas.