Are you ready to take the plunge with your first hydroponic garden? Congratulations – with a little patience, research and labour, the rewards are endless.
The hydroponic method uses nutrient-rich water as opposed to soil, and is a wonderful option for growers working with limited space or who want to take more control over their yields.
Virtually any plant can be grown hydroponically, but certain species take to the soil-free life more easily than others. When starting your very first hydroponic garden, we suggest choosing plants that are high-reward, and what could be more rewarding than your own home-grown produce?
We have chosen 14 nutritious herbs, veggies and fruits that make perfect additions to your first hydroponic setup.
Mint, one of the most refreshing and uplifting herbs, works well with hydroponic systems and tends to grow quickly.
Orange mint is a semi-aquatic plant, and peppermint loves water, making these ideal plants if you have limited experience with hydroponics.
Basil is one of the most popular hydroponic herbs. An easy way to get started is by transplanting basil seedlings from your local garden store. Make sure you have a good lighting setup – basil needs over 11 hours of light to thrive.
We recommend you start with transferring a chive plant to your hydroponic system. From there it takes 6-8 weeks to fully mature, and you can harvest it regularly.
Chive does require a lot of light however, around 12 – 14 hours.
Lettuce, the versatile sandwich-filler, is a perfect vegetable for beginning your hydroponic journey. They grow quickly with hydroponic systems, are easy to maintain and you can harvest the outer leaves as it grows to ensure a continual supply of fresh greens. Try the nutrient-dense Romaine.
True to its name, watercress loves water and that makes it ideal for your first hydroponic setup. Watercress tends to wilt quickly, meaning yours will have a better crunch compared to the watercress you buy at the grocery store. You can’t beat that home-harvested produce!
Abundant in vitamins, minerals and fibre, we recommend adding Kale to your diet as well as your first hydroponic garden. While the health benefits are vast, store-bought kale can be laden with pesticides and is often harder to find than other leafy vegetables. The good news is, Kale can thrive in a hydroponic setup.
Given enough light and warmth, cucumbers can grow rapidly with high yields, making a very satisfying plant to grow in your first hydroponic garden.
This iron-rich vegetable requires little light to grow, and will be a useful addition to your kitchen. You can harvest as you go, and get up to 12 weeks of ongoing harvesting under the right conditions.
Radishes are one of the easiest veggies to grow in soil or hydroponically. They don’t require lights and thrive at cool temperatures – plus you can often see your seedlings within 3 – 7 days.
Beans are one of the most low maintenance veggies to grow in your first hydroponic garden. Germination takes around 3 – 8 days, and you can begin your harvest after 6 – 8 weeks.
Fresh, delicious strawberries at your fingertips all year long … who wouldn’t want that? Strawberries are a very popular choices for hydroponic growers and make a tasty and colourful addition to your garden. For beginners, we suggest starting off with runners and placing them in the fridge for a few months before you begin. The cold will give your plants a kick-start and allow for flowers to emerge quickly after planting.
Blueberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits you can find. They are notoriously expensive when buying them at a grocery store, so all the more reason to grow them hydroponically. They take a lot longer to fruit than strawberries, but as they favour highly acidic soil, they grow well under hydroponic conditions where you can control the ph content.
Yes, they are technically fruit! Peppers (or capsicums to our Australian friends) grow well in hydroponic conditions and prefer warm temperatures and loads of light, so prepare to invest in lamps if they won’t have access to a lot of natural sunlight. Try your hand at jalapenos or bell peppers.
You can get incredible tomato yields with hydroponics, and this is why they are so popular with commercial and hobby growers. Just like peppers, they require a lot of light.
There you have it – 14 herbs, veggies and fruits to start your very first hydroponic setup. If you’re new to this artful science, we suggest starting simple with plants that are known to thrive this way.
We hope that watching your plants flourish quickly will inspire you to explore a lifelong relationship with hydroponics, and encourage you to try your hand with more complex plants and foods. The returns are truly endless!