The types of vegetables you would like to grow can often point you to the system you should start with. Some systems can handle larger plants better, and others need smaller plants. Think about the vegetables your family loves and what you buy the most at the grocery store.
This is probably where you should start. Hydroponic gardening can produce a very high yield, so make sure you are producing things you want to eat. Also, think about vegetables that taste the best fresh-picked. Homegrown tomatoes are infinitely tastier than those in the supermarket. Root vegetables do not taste much different at the store, and they are not very practical for a hydroponic system anyway.
Shy away from plants that are space hogs. Zucchini, melons, squash, and corn like to spread out. They will take over everything. This is especially true if you are gardening indoors, on a deck, or in another small space. If you are going for it in the backyard or a greenhouse, feel free to support those vining plants, and let them grow to the ceiling.
Five plants do well in a hydroponic system. If you are new to hydroponic gardening, start with these plants. Once you get the hang of them, branch out and try some other options.
Get ready for some salad! Leafy greens are terrific things to grow in a hydroponic system. They have a shallow root system and the plants themselves do not get very tall. This means there is no need to support the plants. These plants are also very fast-growing, so you could walk over and grab some lettuce to add to a salad for dinner every day.
Consider staggering your plantings and varieties so that there is always lettuce ready to go. The growing time is about 30 days and the best pH is 6.0 to 7.0. There are many varieties to choose from that do very well, including Bibb, Romaine, Buttercrunch, Iceberg, and Boston.
Continue the salad trend with some spinach. This plant also grows very fast in a hydroponic system, especially one that keeps the nutrient solution highly oxygenated. Much less water will be used growing spinach in a hydroponic system rather than in the ground. It is also easy to start spinach as a seed and then move them into the system after sprouting. The growing time for spinach is about 40 days and the best pH is 6.0 to 7.5.
There are also many varieties of spinach, so try as many as you can. Munch on Red Cardinal, Savoy, Smooth Leafed, Regiment, Bloomsdale, Tyee, and Catalina. It is also possible to make the spinach taste sweeter by keeping grow temperatures low, between 65 degrees and 72 degrees.
Who doesn’t love strawberries? Fresh red strawberries in the summer are so juicy, sweet and delicious. However, strawberries from the grocery store in the winter are bland, hard, and go bad fast. Therefore, it is an amazing idea to grow strawberries year-round in a hydroponic garden. Strawberries grow well in larger quantities in an ebb and flow system. Smaller crops also do great with deep water culture or nutrient film systems.
Harvesting strawberries in the soil is also super tedious with all that bending over, but harvesting in a hydroponic is pretty easy. Grow time for strawberries is about 60 days, and the pH should be between 5.5 and 6.2. Never start with strawberry seeds, as these take years to be ready. Instead, buy cold-stored runners that are ready to go into your hydroponic system. There are many varieties of strawberries such as Tioga, Chandler, Red Gauntlet, Brighton, and Douglass.
Even though these plants can get quite large, they work very well in hydroponic systems. Just be sure to prune the plants at about 8 inches so they do not get too big for the system. Peppers do best in deep water culture or ebb and flow. The growing time for peppers is about 90 days and the best pH is 6.0 to 6.5.
Bell peppers do best when they get a lot of light. Place in a spot that gets prolonged sun if growing outside, or is sure to have a light on them for up to 18 hours if growing them inside. Just adjust the light as the plant grows, and always keeping them about 6 inches above the plant. A few varieties that you might want to try are Yolo Wonder, Ace, Vidi, or California Wonder.
Herbs are a great place to start when learning about hydroponics. They do well in pretty much any system. There are many varieties of herbs to try, so you can easily fill up all of your pots with different types. Many also say that herbs grown in a hydroponic system are much more flavorful and aromatic than those grown in the soil.
The grow time and pH vary by plant, so you will want to look those up once you have decided what to grow. There are many choices, such as watercress, basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro, mint, rosemary, dill, and oregano. If there are others you love cooking with, look them up and find the details for growing them. One tip for growing herbs in a hydroponic system is to flush the growing medium once a week to get rid of nutrients that have not been absorbed by the plants.