As mentioned in my last post if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, you know that for the past year or more I have been heavy into my indoor hydroponic garden. Indoor gardening is relaxing and rewarding! I learn something new all the time… and I get tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and more! Although I'm still deep in the trenches of my outdoor garden right now I realize that Fall is here and Winter will be here before I know it. And, I'm revamping my indoor garden space in anticipation. I want to be sure we have a constant stream of fresh veggies throughout the year.
Outdoor gardening can be intimidating for some. It was for me for a long, long time. I got over my fears last year. But, for some… indoor gardening can be the best alternative. With an indoor hydroponic garden you can have your plants where you use them… near your kitchen. There's always less worry of pests (although some can happen). But, you don't have to worry about rabbits, squirrels, deer, or birds. And, there is no inclement weather to worry about since you control the climate in your house.
Indoor hydroponic gardening is also a great way for those who might not have the physical ability to garden outside to still garden. You can have things at waist height, you can garden from a chair, and you don't have to worry about hauling soil. Hydroponics is all water so there are no huge bags of soil to worry about!
And since we are now in October, if you are thinking about getting started, now is the time! This post is not a detailed tutorial to get started, but instead a short list of 3 options that you can use to get started.
The below may contain affiliate links.
What is Hydroponics?
Put simply, hydroponics is the act of growing plants in water with added nutrients. Yep, this can be done! And, it's fun and rewarding. And… in many cases plants grow bigger, faster and produce more fruit than they do in soil. Why? Likely because the roots have a more direct connection with nutrients aka fertilizer that you add to the water. When growing in soil, it absorbs some of the nutrients and slowly distributes to the plant. In hydroponics, there is no medium in the way of the roots directly accessing the nutrients.
But, how do you get started? There are a few different methods of hydroponic growing. Here I will cover the 3 most popular.
All-in-One Hydroponic Systems
One of the easiest ways to get started is to purchase an all-in-one hydroponic system. I am an AeroGarden addict! As previously mentioned, I purchased my first AeroGarden over 2 years ago. I actually bought it for my daughter who was in an after school program learning all about gardening. They had some hydroponic systems, so I thought that she would enjoy it. Well, months later after watching it sit there I decided to set it up myself. Since then I have added quite a few more systems. I LOVED having fresh tomatoes, greens, herbs, and peppers growing in the house when it was cold and snowy outside.
AeroGardens are an all-in-one built in growing unit. You can buy ready to go pods, or you can purchase your own seeds (for plants suited to the unit size) and plant them using empty pods. The light is built-in, so there is no additional equipment to buy. I have several units going at once and I absolutely love it!
There are many systems available for everyone from the beginner gardener up to more advanced growers who are just adding to their growing arsenal. I will have more on how to choose the right hydroponic unit later, but below are some of my picks.
AeroGarden Harvest – This is an excellent entry level system. It comes with an herb pod kit, nutrients, and everything else that you need so you can get growing right away. These can often be found on great sales, too.
AeroGarden Bounty – The Bounty is one of my favorite. It comes in a few models, and is just awesome. They can be pricey, so hold out for a good sale. Follow me on Facebook, because when I see a good sale I usually announce it.
iDoo Hydroponics Growing System – many models available, usually available with great coupon deals.
There are also other larger more expensive systems on the market for families that really want to grow a lot of food. We will cover some of those at another time. 🙂 But, if you missed it, check out my post on the all new GE Profile Sage Indoor Garden.
Kratky Jars or Containers
I first learned about Kratky last year while watching YouTube. Kratky is actually named after it's creator, B. A. Kratky. So, what is it? You will not believe how simple it is.
Per Wikipedia… The Kratky method is a passive hydroponic technique for growing plants suspended above a reservoir of nutrient-rich water. Because it is a non-circulating technique, no additional inputs of water or nutrients are needed after the original application, and no electricity, pumps, or water and oxygen circulation systems are required. The Kratky method has applications both for commercial food production and as a small-scale and low-maintenance technique for home growers.
The Kratky method was originally created with the idea that if you use a large container you will not have to refill the nutrients for the life of the plant. However, many of us that have adapted this method inside our homes use smaller containers with the knowledge that we will have to refill them just like we refill our AeroGardens and water our soil plants. In my opinion, that is no big deal. Some will argue that having to refill is not true Kratky. However, even B. A. Kratky himself said that this is ok.
Since Kratky is passive, success fully depends on your plant developing healthy air roots. Air roots are left above the water/nutrient solution. You will notice that they become fuzzy. This is totally normal and this is how the plant gets oxygen.
The great thing about Kratky is that you do not have to spend a ton of money to set it up if you don't want to. You can likely get it done with things that you have around the house.
For detailed instructions on setting up Kratky in jars or tubs, check out my older YouTube video below. Since I am in the midst of creating a whole new area, there are more videos coming, so please be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
DIY DWC Systems
Similar to Kratky, DWC (Deep Water Culture) systems are basically a bucket, a way to secure your plant, and nutrient solution. However, DWC has the added benefit of a pump with an air stone to circulate air throughout the tank and feed oxygen to the plants. It's extremely easy to build, and pumps come in all price ranges.
If you decide to do Kratky or DWC you will need a nice, strong grow light. Not all grow lights are created equal! One of my current favorites is the Root Farm Grow Light. It's actually identical to the AeroGarden Grow Light, but the price is usually cheaper. I also have and love the OpticLED grow lights. These are for serious growers. They are perfect for a larger growing area or a grow tent.
There are also reasonable kits available on Amazon that will get the job done for you. I have this one by Homend and it has served me well.
For more info, tutorial videos, and tours of my indoor hydroponic garden, follow me on Instagram and Youtube. You can also join my Facebook group, Aerogarden, Kratky, and Gardening Fanatics for discussion, tips, and tricks. I will be sharing more about how to build or purchase many of these systems in the coming weeks while I set up my new grow area.