Concerned about expensive food costs? Or maybe you want to explore a new gardening option for your family to enjoy? If you’re new to indoor gardening, and you’d like a foolproof way to get started, I highly recommend investing in a hydroponic garden system, also known as a water garden. A hydroponic garden system is an indoor gardening machine which allows you to grow plants year-round, and it makes gardening as easy as pressing a button — literally!
The three ingredients for growing plants are soil, sunlight, and fertilizer (or manure). A hydroponic garden system uses water instead of soil, LED lights which mimic sunlight, and liquid fertilizer. The plants grow in water, and you can set a timer which automatically turns the LED lights on at a certain time every day. All you must do is refill the machine when it gets low on water, and add fertilizer to the plant water every couple weeks or so.
As a beginner gardener myself, I started my indoor gardening journey with a hydroponic garden. I’ve had a great experience with these machines, and I especially recommend them if any of the following applies to you:
- You are a beginner.
- You want to save time.
- You want a very low-maintenance system.
- You have limited space.
- You want a portable system.
My first hydroponic machine cost about $100, and it could grow six plants. Most hydroponic garden systems will be in that price range. When deciding if that investment is worth it for you, something to keep in mind is that plants grown in water grow twice as fast as those grown in soil, and your water garden will also allow you to grow your plants year-round, instead of seasonally. Because you are growing plants indoors, and in a controlled environment, getting a yield is nearly 100% guaranteed, unlike plants grown outdoors which grow slower and are sensitive to variable weather conditions and pests.
If I were to go back to the beginning of my indoor gardening journey, I would definitely purchase a hydroponic garden system again. However, there are a few things I know now that I didn’t know then, which would have saved me time and money, so I’d like to share them with you. If you are ready to buy a hydroponic garden system, ask yourself the following questions.
What plants would you like to grow, and what do they require to thrive?
A lot of companies provide complimentary, pre-seeded grow pods with your water garden purchase. However, you can also buy extra grow pods, and then put whatever seeds that you want in the grow pod.
If you would like to grow two different types of plants using the same machine, you may want to research the different plant requirements before putting those plants together. Whenever you grow plants in a water garden, their roots will naturally become tangled together. If, for whatever reason, you decide to move your plant(s) later, it will be difficult to not injure your plant in the process, and you may lose your plant.
Two important questions you should ask about plant requirements are as follows:
How much light does this plant need?
The company you buy your hydroponic garden system from might offer complimentary vegetable, herb, leafy green, or microgreen pre-seeded pods. However, not all plants require LED grow lights to thrive. You can buy a machine with or without LED grow lights. Check to see if the plants you want to grow actually require high LED lighting, or if they will thrive when simply placed near a window. Some herbs are so easy to grow, you do not even need to place them near a window, as the natural amount of sunlight in the room will be enough. Researching lighting requirements will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
How tall does your plant grow?
Some plants, like tomatoes and peppers, grow several feet tall. When I started with my hydroponic garden, I chose to use the complimentary pre-seeded tomato pods that were provided with my water garden purchase. However, the lamp arm of the LED lights only extended by one foot, so the tomato plants outgrew the garden. Like I mentioned before, the roots of your plants will naturally get tangled together in your water garden. I learned this the hard way because when I attempted to transfer the plants, the roots got very damaged, and my plants went into shock, and ultimately didn’t survive. The lesson is to check how tall your plants can grow, and then check how long the lamp arm of your hydroponic garden system will extend, to make sure your garden can hold your plant. Longer lamp arms and bigger machines will cost more.
All in all, hydroponic garden systems make for an enjoyable, low-maintenance gardening experience, which you can also teach your kids or other members of the family. All you need to do is refill your garden with water when it gets low on water, and put fertilizer in the water occasionally, and your plants are guaranteed to harvest. My garden even has a light which turns red automatically when the water is low, and also turns red every two weeks as a reminder to add fertilizer. You really can’t go wrong with these neat machines!
Hydroponic gardens also allow you to grow plants which are otherwise difficult to grow in your climate. For example, my neighbors and I have had limited success growing tomatoes outdoors here, but tomatoes simply thrive in the controlled environment of the water garden.
AeroGarden is perhaps the most well-known hydroponic garden company, but there are many different companies out there. My advice is to think about the plants you want to grow, do a little research on the different hydroponic gardens and plant requirements, then invest in the hydroponic garden system which best suits your plants!
To connect with other hydroponic growers and find answers for any other questions, try these communities:
If you might be interested in a sustainable gardening method that also has the added benefit of letting your kids raise pet fish, check out my article on aquaponics!
By Tureygua Inaru