Growing produce at home through hydroponics is on the rise. Many people thinking about starting a garden often ask what the best plants to grow will be, easy to grow, and produce the best yields.
Some vegetables thrive with hydroponic farming, but not all (root crops in particular). The following are the nine best edible plants to grow in your hydroponic system if you’re a new grower. Some are extremely easy, while others require more effort and area, but none need to be left out of a hydroponic garden.
Top Hydroponically Grown Vegetables
The health benefits and deliciousness of kale make it one of the most popular vegetables. Upon germinating from seeds, this plant can withstand temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Plants can be plucked up to 30% of their leaves from seed to harvest, and the process takes around ten weeks. Your plants will grow new leaves again, and you can extend their time in your system. Transplanting can reduce the time to harvest to around six weeks. Kale can be grown indoors without being attacked by pests, which is a positive. Although they often succumb to powdery mildew, aphids are the main culprits.
The most common varieties are Curly Kale (purchased in most supermarkets), Lacinato Kale (sweeter and longer), and Red Russian Kale.
Growing lettuce hydroponically is a great option. Simple systems allow it to grow, and it requires little maintenance. You can harvest the external leaves as they grow with lettuce, giving you an extended harvest of crisp, fresh lettuce. Cut leaves are replaced by newly-emerged internal leaves as soon as they grow.
Many varieties are suitable for growing this way, and most are available. The most common ones are:
- Buttercrunch Bibb
- New York
- Tom Thumb
- Waldman’s Dark Green
Lettuce can be grown in NFT, DWC, or Ebb and Flow systems. At high temperatures, they may bolt, resulting in a bitter taste. The vegetables prefer cool weather and a temperature range of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Lettuce also enjoys high nitrogen levels.
Cucumbers can be so rewarding to grow in hydroponics. As long as they are given the right conditions, these vegetables thrive. The perfect growing conditions are warmth, nutrients, and a lot of moisture. The yields are so astonishing that they quickly become one of the highest-yielding vegetables.
The temperatures needed for optimal growth of the above leafy greens are just outside their preferred range. The temperature range they can grow in is between 60-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
To grow cucumber successfully, the pH and EC rates should be as close to each other as possible. When you look at how much fruit one seed can produce once it is grown, growers may not consider it an expense, but this is justified when you see what seeds can produce.
To grow cucumbers, trellises are required because cucumbers are vining plants. Because of this, they’re better suited to bucket systems such as flood-and-drain. Considering this, coco coir is one of the better mediums for plants if they are well supported.
Aphids, thrips, and mites are all common pests. Cucumber crops are a favorite food source for these insects.
As another cool-weather vegetable, this is a good choice to grow alongside lettuce and kale. The plant will suffer at any temperature higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants can be grown from seeds, and most hydroponic growers prepare their seeds for planting in the refrigerator for three weeks before planting. The result is a plant that is tougher and therefore healthier. T5 fluorescent lamps might be a good choice for lighting since they need around twelve hours of light daily.
It is beneficial to lower the temperatures when it is almost time to harvest, making the crops sweeter. Growth, however, will be slowed as a result. You can prevent a bitter leaf by choosing quality over quantity.
It is safe to plant spinach in most systems, but remember to space the plants a few weeks apart to ensure continual harvests. As with lettuce and kale, raft systems can also be perfect for these.
Tomatoes are a sign that the growers have mastered their system and are ready for the next step. It is hydroponics that makes it possible for fresh tomatoes to be continually produced. Unlike cucumbers, these plants prefer heat. To grow well, tomatoes prefer an EC range of 2 to 5. pH should be between 5.5 and 6.5, and temperature should be between 58 and 79 degrees F. A higher end of the range is preferred.
You can plant seeds. However, cuttings or seedlings are preferred since plants that bear fruit from seeds need to grow for a long time. While the vining varieties are popular due to their ease of control and harvesting, many vary.
Like cucumbers, various types of tomatoes grow upward on trellises so they can provide a steady stream of fruits you can harvest in part. Some various pests and diseases can affect tomatoes, including spider mites, aphids, mosaic virus, and more. Another thing that can happen depending on the tomato variety is that they can split. A tomato’s insides grow faster than its skin when it ripens. In the short term, this may be caused by taking in too much water consumption.
Although most root vegetables are not suitable for hydroponic growing, radishes are an exception. These are cool weather crops so that you can plant them alongside the other plants listed above. The plants also mature quickly and are some of the easiest to grow.
pH should be between 6 and 7, and the temperature should be 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless you grow a short bulb radish variety, you can tolerate quite a bit more heat with a longer radish variety. EC level of the hydroponic solution should range from 1.6 to 2.2.
A minimum of six hours of lighting is required. Ideally, the desired amount of light should be between eight and ten hours. It is best to grow them from seeds rather than from seedlings. In some cases, the time between germination and harvest can be as short as 3 or 4 weeks. Further, by staggering your plantings, you can harvest crops throughout the year. In hydroponic systems at 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit, this cool-weather vegetable thrives.
In general, the main problems with radish are that they bolt easily if deficient moisture is not present. If they become too wet, they will succumb to root rot.
Hydroponic gardens can grow nearly a wide variety of beans. Many varieties of beans can be grown, but green beans, string, pole beans, and bush beans are among the most common. Despite the effort that goes into growing them, they are very productive and easy to maintain. Plants that climb/vine will require support trellises, so some types do require more effort.
Seedlings of these plants can germinate in less than two weeks when grown from seed as soon as seven days may be enough for some varieties to start growing.
Whenever they are large enough to have a true leaf, you can plant them in your garden. In addition to the best ebb and flow system, a drip system may also be suitable, depending on your situation. If you’re growing bush varieties, you should space them around 4 inches from each other. A little wider distance between pole beans should be around six inches.
Self-pollination is one of the best things about beans. A mix of perlite and vermiculite or Hydroton pebbles is a good option for a loose growing medium and has numerous advantages. Since perlite has a neutral pH, expanded clay pebbles offer root systems enough moisture and oxygen.
A few hours of light and a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit each day are sufficient. Temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above 60 degrees Fahrenheit will impair the growth of pods.
With beans, you can constantly harvest since they do not need many nutrients. For each plant, this may occur within 50 days.
You can grow peppers in any season, which makes them a great addition to your garden. Further, the yields growers can expect are much higher than the yields of conventionally grown plants. Therefore, the plants develop to their genetic potential, resulting in bigger fruits and of better quality.
For this type of vegetable, ebb and flow systems are best, but they can also be successfully grown in others that contain a good base of growing media. Considering the size of these plants, you need to space them at least 7 to 9 inches apart. Only two plants can be grown in one pot.
Lighting should be placed around six to eight inches above the plants and adjusted as the plants mature. Closer bulbs may cause scorching, while further bulbs may influence potential growth or yield.
During the day, lights should be on for up to 12 hours. It is not necessary to have no lights on at all. In addition, they need adequate nighttime hours. They need temperatures between 73 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, so cucumbers and tomatoes are perfect companions.
When the hydroponic plants are about eight inches tall, they require additional attention when their stems need pruning. As a result, the plant can concentrate its energy on producing large fruits instead of lots of small ones.
The EC of the nutrient-rich water should be from 3 to 3.5, and pH should be in the range of 5 to 7.
Celery can be one of the hardest vegetables to grow in a hydroponic environment, but it’s not impossible. It can take up to two weeks for celery seeds to germinate, which is pretty long compared to other vegetables. The stalk of celery you bought at the store can be used as a quick alternative.
If the stalk is cut 2 inches below the bottom, then placed in a plate of warm water, it will grow after about a week. Celery requires a lot of water so that a deep water culture system would be the best choice. After seeds are planted, it can take up to 4 months to harvest celery after they’ve germinated.
Celery prefers a pH level of 6.5, and nutrient solutions should have an EC level of 1.8 to 2.4. Having lettuce and cool-weather crops in the same grow room would be an excellent idea. Within 58 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the daylight hours. They only require 6 hours of lighting a day, which isn’t extreme.
Despite its long maturation and harvesting time, it will test a grower’s patience. However, given how costly this crop can be at the supermarket, growing it can prove incredibly rewarding.
Benefits of Hydroponics for Vegetable Growing
Using hydroponics to grow vegetable plants can be extremely advantageous, especially in regions with difficult growing conditions or at times of the year when nothing will grow. Most of the crops above can be grown throughout the year. You can grow them while planting many others, which aren’t included on the list in a different growing season.
No matter what you grow, hydroponics will offer you a variety of benefits. Here are a few to take note of:
Larger Crop Yield
In hydroponic production, it is impossible to grow vegetables larger than their genetics allow. Still, they can grow to their full potential in a smaller area than they can in soil. Having control over the nutrients and pH levels in the water also allows for only optimal growth of common vegetables, leaving little room for failure.
All Year Round Harvest
The gardener may take advantage of artificial lighting and controlled conditions to grow during the year because they are in total control. Having out-of-season crops close to your kitchen makes all the difference. They become expensive when they are shipped in.
It is possible to build hydroponic systems almost anywhere. Depending on the size of your space, it can be an indoor garden away from any natural light, undercover outdoors, even in a greenhouse. Even though there is less space to work with, the vegetable garden can yield more than traditional soil farming.
Hydroponic gardens can produce more than enough food for a large family once they are up and running. Even though some crops are not suitable, there will be little need to buy vegetables in the future. Many growers begin by just growing for consumption, but then they expand and find that they produce too many vegetables and must begin getting rid of them.
With hydroponic gardening, the possibilities are endless. Whatever you grow is completely up to you, but just the ones above offer a wide range of choices. When you gain more knowledge or have more space, you can expand and grow herbs, strawberries, or anything else that’s hard to come by where you live.