There is so much interest in indoor gardening using hydroponic systems that we have decided to devote a series of blogs to this subject.
Growing Vegetables in a Hydroponic Garden
More and more people want to be able to grow their own food – that way you know what has been done to it and exactly where it has come from. You can enjoy garden fresh produce, rich in vitamins and tasting so much better than at the grocery store. But many people don’t have a garden, or have no room for vegetables. You may already be sprouting seeds or growing microgreens, so hydroponic systems are a natural next step for you to take.
What is hydroponics? It is growing plants without soil. The plants in hydroponic systems may be growing in sand, gravel or specially-made pellets, or their roots may be floating in water. The minerals the plants will need to grow come from fertilizer solutions. The light comes from the sun or from artificial lighting. Although you could do it outdoors it is usually done as an indoor garden, either in a greenhouse, a warehouse or your home. Large commercial operations are used for tomatoes, cucumbers and salad crops all over the world.
Hydroponic gardening is becoming easier and easier to do on a small scale in your own home. A surprisingly large amount of food can be produced in a small area and vegetables can be grown all year round, meaning one area can produce 3 to 6 crops a year. This is an exciting way to bring your vegetable gardening right indoors!
So what is involved? You need an area to grow in – this could be your basement, your kitchen (a natural choice for an indoor garden) or even your living room. Smaller systems are about 4feet square, so you don’t need a lot of room, but of course the more room you have the more you can produce from your hydroponic system.
Lighting up Your Hydroponic System
Next you need light. Vegetables need high light levels, so the top choice is color-corrected metal halide (MH) bulbs which give the best light-quality and light-intensity for your hydroponic gardening . If you are planning to grow fruiting crops like tomatoes, you might want to consider High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights. Traditional color-corrected fluorescent bulbs work well too if you already have them.
The LED light, which is revolutionizing home lighting, is also found more and more in indoor gardens and hydroponic systems. The main advantage to using LED is their incredible energy-efficiency and their low heat output. Other lights produce quite a lot of heat which can become a problem if your indoor garden is not in a well-ventilated area. Of course during cooler weather that heat will not be wasted as it will warm your plants and also your house. LED lighting is definitely the way of the future for hydroponic gardening.
In our next blog we will look at the kinds of plants you can grow in an indoor garden. Then we will look at some simple growing systems you can use.