Hydroponic herb gardening is becoming extremely popular, not just with the hippies growing marijuana in their lofts, but for the food grower who wants to extend the growing season in their locality or grow healthier herbs and vegetables by maximizing nutrients to the roots of their plants.
I’ve grown plants hydroponically for a couple of years now. It has not replaced my raised vegetable boxes but has encouraged me to take more of a dual approach to food production. The volume of food I can now grow for myself and my family has increased dramatically. I’m super excited about this vegetable growing system that I wanted to share it with you.
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An Introduction To Hydroponic Herb Gardening
If you’ve never heard of hydroponic herb gardening, you’re in for a treat. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, just in water with a nutrient mix added. There are complex hydroponic systems that involve electric pumps and even heating elements to keep the water at a fixed temperature, but growing herbs hydroponically can be done with just a few basic items, most of which you can find at the house or hardware store.
Even though a submersible pump is useful, to keep the water oxygenated and circulating around the roots, at the most basic level, you can grow herbs hydroponically without one. Something as simple as a plastic flower pot or bespoke hydroponic pots, with some rock wool or the dessert foam blocks used for dry flower arranging will do the job perfectly. The foam or rock wool is used to hold the seedlings, as the roots hang in the water/nutrient solution.
This video will help explain the process:
Benefits Of Growing Hydroponic Herbs
It’s obvious that growing herbs in a hydroponic environment can work really well. The roots are always in a nutrient-rich solution, taking just what they need to grow well. The environment is much more controlled that growing in conventional conditions. With hydroponic herb gardening, you can control temperature, nutrients, hydration of the plant, and even the light if you utilize low cost growing lights.
There are many other benefits of starting a DIY indoor hydroponic herb garden:
#1 Hydroponic Herbs Grow Faster!
There are many stories, and even videos (like the one above) showing the accelerated growth of herbs grown using this system. Luckily, hydroponics has been tested in many scientific studies, and it as a general rule of thumb, expect to see 30-50% faster growth of hydroponically grown plants.
Consistent conditions are difficult to come by when planting directly into a garden, with moisture levels being hard to maintain within the optimal range, and weather conditions also very variable.
This isn’t a problem with hydroponic herbs. It may seem a strange view, to do away with soil and just use technology to grow food, but I firmly believe that hydroponics can play a huge role in helping to overcome many of the climatic issues that are faced around the world.
As a homesteader, I’ll never replace growing food in the garden with a hydroponic only system, but combining the two makes perfect sense.
#2 Hydroponic Herbs All Year Round
This is a massive advantage. With growing lights, it’s really possible to grow herbs all year round, not just for a few short months each year during the summer. Imagine being able to pick fresh basil on Christmas Day! If you live in the Southern hemisphere, you’ll be able to do that anyway, but for us in Northern climates, some basil on the Christmas turkey could be a game changer 🙂
#3 Hydroponic Gardens Are Almost Maintenance Free
Once you have built your hydroponic system or purchased a hydroponic herb garden kit (the AeroGarden Harvest, pictured right, is actually very good), other than ensuring that the water/nutrient solution is kept topped up, there really is little to do. I like to change the water completely every couple of weeks to ensure nutrients are not depleted.
I also use a digital timer that attaches to my electrical socket to turn the grow light on and off automatically.
As an extra bonus, herb (and vegetables) grown in a hydroponic system are far less likely to be victims of pest or disease. Healthy plants are naturally far less susceptible to pest attack than sickly plants. Because the system is indoors, or at least in a shed or outbuilding, it’s far less likely for swarms of insects to feast on your plants. Many store-bought potting mixes are havens for insects and pests who hitch a ride into your herb garden.
The environment we are aiming for is far more clean and sterile than conventional growing systems. The plants are healthy and vigorous, which is always a good sign.
What Does A Typical Hydroponic System Look Like?
A system like the one below is a little more complicated than the other in the video above, but if you’re keen to get started and grow lots of hydroponic herbs, you can build something like this for under $50
Setting Up Your Hydroponic Herb Garden (Video)
Becky Stern’s video shows how to set up a hydroponic herb garden. Although this is a custom built system, the principals are the same for a homemade system.
To Sum Up
Hydroponic herb gardening, for only herbs or any vegetables, in fact, is a quick, easy, mess-free way of having delicious food year round. The option for purpose built hydroponic herb garden kits from Amazon and other retailers have made growing food this way far more accessible to the general public. Building your own is still a good option though.
That sums it up, get started and work out your system, get the gear you need and get growing hydroponic herbs indoors. And keep an eye on the blog for other herb garden ideas.