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The idea of having a thriving indoor garden to supplement a healthy, thriving diet can seem like an impossibility. However, innovative technologies have made this idea more accessible than ever. And there are no overalls, pitchforks, or large machinery required!
You can grow an indoor hydroponic garden inmason jars. That’s what we do, but we also use a hydroponic system like a Click & Grow to ensure consistency and enable greater scale.
Choosing an indoor hydroponic herb garden delivers fresh, homemade plants directly to you. While some of these hydroponic gardens can take up a large footprint in your home, other gardening systems only need a small portion of countertop space to thrive.
Hydroponic growing systems rely on water, not soil, to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and more. Aprecise solution of nutrients is dissolved in water to provide necessary vitamins and minerals to your plant in the absence of soil. A water pump assists with water oxygenation.
Because of the chemistry knowledge needed for hydroponics, it can seem too daunting for the beginning gardener. But indoor garden kits like the AeroGarden and other similar brands offer a simple, mess-free approach to hydroponics that anyone can master.
Is An Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden Worth It?
Growing an hydroponic herb garden is a great way to ensure that you always have fresh herbs around. Whether you use mason jars or a hydroponic system like Click & Grow, hydroponic herb gardens are generally easy to manage.
Like strawberries, lettuce, or petunias, herbs are great for growing in a hydroponic system. The naturally small stature of most popular herbs makes them a reasonable fit for indoor growing. Many herbs are very hardy and easy to grow, giving you a quick rush of accomplishment.
Cilantro often has a hard outer husk that may not germinate easily in an indoor gardening system, but fortunately, brands like AeroGarden have pre-packaged pods that are ready to go.
On the other hand, dill and tarragon have a large footprint and grow very rapidly, so these herbs would be too tall for a countertop hydroponic gardening tool, so it might require that you get one of the bigger systems.
Many common culinary herbs flourish in an indoor hydroponic garden. For hydroponic growing success, reach for parsley, thyme, sage, or basil. All of these seeds germinate quickly and easily and grow to a relatively short height when fully mature.
These herbs also thrive in the standard pH level and salt content level required for a hydroponic growing situation. A pH of between 5.5 and 6 is slightly acidic and will contribute to strong, healthy plants. The salt content should also hover between 1 and 2 for best results.
Master Your Hydroponic System
More complex herbs like chamomile or lavender can also be successfully grown in a hydroponic growing environment. However, larger plants should be chosen wisely in an indoor hydroponic garden. Look for dwarf varieties for best results, or use a pre-packaged pod.
It is recommended to plant similar herbs next to each other in the compact space of an indoor hydroponic garden. When you prune or harvest your herbs, the remaining plants will survive if they are all of similar heights and shapes.
If you choose to plant a wide variety of herbs, reaching the light source can be too competitive. An example of this: tall, skinny chives and a low, creeping thyme bush planted together. Taller, bushier plants easily crowd out shorter, weaker plants and cause them to die.
Fresh Herbs For Beginners
A hydroponic herb garden is a great option for aspiring gardeners in many different situations. One of the best aspects of a hydroponic herb garden is the fact it makes the freshest, healthiest produce available at your fingertips for months with only a bit of time and financial investment.
A key benefit to a hydroponic herb garden is the complete absence of soil. Hydroponic indoor gardens use only nutrient-rich, precisely balanced water to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs.
A no-dirt solution is a huge benefit for many types of gardeners. If you live on a higher floor in an apartment building, the idea of lugging heavy bags of potting soil up your stairs may be impossible. Gardeners with pets or kids will also appreciate dirt not being played in or dug up.
Traditional gardening typically involves a plot of land that must be tilled and cultivated for healthy plants. You also need access to a reliable water source to keep the plants thriving, like an outdoor hose. Additional compost or other nutrients add to the labor and financial cost.
No Green Thumb Necessary
Hydroponic gardening instead offers a low-risk, approachable entry point for beginning gardeners. Especially if you choose an Aerogarden or other similar customized gardening solution, the path to a flourishing herb garden has never been easier.
A hydroponic garden requires only a light source and distilled water to nurture new plants. Heck, most even include a grow light to maximize the optimal growing situation. Customized seed pods or other specialized seed kits provide the seeds and nutrients needed in a convenient package. These kits can sustain hydroponic herbs for over six months!
Easy Maintenance & Easy To Use
Maintenance and clean-up of a hydroponic garden are much faster and easier than a traditional garden. The monthly refill and replacement of distilled water in the garden’s main reservoir can take as little as five minutes using a common siphon.
Dismantling and sanitizing the Aerogarden is done when the crop finishes, about once or twice a year. While the cleaning part can be a little gross, the majority of the work is done by the system’s water pump, similar to the sanitization process of a coffee maker.
Monthly refill and replacement of distilled water and a complete sanitization are some of the only major tasks to complete for hydroponic gardening. These two simple tasks are the key to a thriving, healthy, and well-balanced hydroponic ecosystem for your plants.
Hydroponics feels worth it compared to the extensive weeding, tilling, pest management, composting, and other laborious tasks involved in traditional gardening. Herbs are particularly hardy and fast-growing, making hydroponics an even more rewarding experience.
When it comes time to harvest, herbs make it very easy. Drying is the preferred method for preserving herbs for culinary, cosmetic, or medicinal purposes. All you need to store herbs is a cool, dry place where bundles of herbs can hang upside down.
Harvesting Herbs From Hydroponic Systems
Use scissors to cut your herbs at a consistent height. Then, tie the cut herbs in small bundles using twine or undyed string. Be careful to tie the bundles loosely so the string does not cut into the stems of the herbs. This much pressure will damage the herbs.
Leave enough extra string to dangle so you can tie the herbs from a hanging location in a cool, dry place. An interior closet with a rod from which you hang clothes is a terrific solution for easy herb drying at home. Leave them dry for several weeks until they are brittle to the touch.
Carefully transfer the brittle herbs to a container with a tight-fitting lid. These herbs will maintain their flavor for up to a year, although their potency will fade. Pay attention to if your recipe requires fresh or dried herbs because the amount you need will vary widely.
Do Hydroponic Herbs Taste Different?
When you start to grow your fruits, vegetables, and especially herbs, the taste they impart is of the utmost importance. After all, you are taking the time to learn this skill to have flavorful, healthy produce, right?
It is common for gardeners to experience surprise at the taste of their homegrown produce. Vegetables, fruits, and herbs you find at your local grocery store are chilled and trucked to your location. Sometimes it can take days for the product to reach your plate after a harvest.
This results in standard supermarket produce often imparting a flavor that is not necessarily the same as a ripe ingredient picked seasonally at its peak of flavor. If you have consistently chosen your fresh ingredients in a grocery store, it’s possible you have not tasted a plant’s authentic flavor.
Choosing to grow your ingredients will transform your interactions with your food. Gardening will expose you to the authentic taste of fresh produce. Therefore, your hydroponic herbs may taste different, but that’s not necessarily bad.
Grow Fresh Herbs For Enhanced Flavors
Because of the lack of soil, some say hydroponics do not grow flavorful produce. Soil-based gardening enthusiasts claim there are magic elements of dirt that make vegetables, fruits, and herbs taste their best.
However, an indoor herb garden will allow greater flexibility in your growing conditions. A motivated gardener can experiment with the water chemistry to influence the fruits of the harvest. Adding citric acid, sugars, or other nutrients influences the plant’s final flavors.
Besides, nothing store-bought will ever match the fresh taste you get when growing herbs at home, so your options are an outdoor garden or an indoor hydroponic growing system with LED grow lights and step-by-step instructions.
Other factors you control in hydroponic gardening also influence the final flavor of the herbs. Look into the genetics of the plant to determine the flavor profiles you wish to prioritize. Genetics is also important for choosing plants that thrive in a hydroponic environment.
Your Hydroponic Setup
In almost every situation, natural sunlight is preferred to an artificial source. Plants can thrive under a grow light, but nothing can replicate the natural UV rays plants drink up from sunlight. Grow lights are also subject to loss of electricity through power outages, risking plant health.
The best bet for growing plants indoors is to put them in a room with natural light and allow the LED grow lights to simulate natural sunlight. Plants grow taller faster than they might outside because they are given near-perfect controlled conditions as part of indoor garden kits.
Indicator lights provide exact guidance regarding when you need to add nutrient solution or water, and the LED grow light is set to a timer that optimizes growth. The plant’s roots absorb nutrients directly from the water. It’s an efficient system that even a master gardener should appreciate.
Water & Proper Plant Food
The quality of water you use for your hydroponics also has an enormous influence on how your herbs will ultimately taste. Take the time to test your water to see what nutrients your plants are getting, and which ones they are not.
Nitrogen, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium are essential macronutrients for healthy growth. Micronutrients like copper, iron, and zinc are also needed, but in much smaller amounts. Maintaining a proper balance is essential for flavorful herbs that grow properly.
It may seem counterintuitive for hydroponic gardening, but healthy bacteria and fungi are also a necessity. While algae growth and dark-colored molds should always be cleaned out, white molds represent beneficial bacteria and fungi.
Molds, bacterias, fungi, and other potential nemeses build the ecosystem necessary for effective gardening. By nurturing these beneficial organisms, you will attempt to replicate what would occur in the natural environment of traditional soil gardening.
How Do You Start A Hydroponic Herb Garden?
The easiest way to start a hydroponic herb garden is to buy a hydroponic system, such as those sold by AeroGarden or Click & Grow. Both brands sell countertop hydroponic systems that are perfect for an indoor herb garden. Otherwise, growing herbs in mason jars is also fairly easy.
AeroGarden and Click & Grow both sell larger units that will work for tall plants like tomatoes and peppers, but if you are focused on growing cilantro and other herbs, one of the smaller units that sit on a counter or tabletop will work just fine.
Once you are comfortable with fresh herbs and a hydroponic system, you may consider advancing a Lettuce Grow or Gardyn system with taller designs. Since the Lettuce Grow and Gardyn systems are tall and have places to plant vegetables up their frames vertically, the owner is able to grow more plants in a smaller footprint.
The pods are spaced a little better with one of the taller systems, so you might consider growing something like cherry tomatoes alongside lettuce and herbs. The Tower Garden is another popular system that, like Lettuce Grow, has a vertical design. Fortunately, vegetables, herbs, and leafy greens all benefit from the same plant food.
Herb Garden vs. Microgreens
An herb garden grows full-size plants such as cilantro and parsley, while microgreens represent immature plants. You may find something like cilantro in a microgreens garden and in an herb garden.
The primary difference is the age of the plant. Microgreens are not merely small plants but infant-stage plants. While you may find herbs being grown as microgreens, you are just as likely to find sunflower and radish grown as microgreens.
Of course, the differences are more than just a matter of plant growth. Herb gardens and microgreens are often grown differently. You can use your own seeds for either, but starting with a kit is the easiest way to get started growing indoors.
We are a big fan of starting with kits to grow herbs or microgreens indoors because you don’t have to worry about things like picking the right growing medium or the best liquid nutrients. Everything about the system is designed to make it easy to use.
Getting Started With A Hydroponic Herb Garden
A hydroponic herb garden is a great way to grow your own herbs, and spend less time and money in grocery stores. Indoor gardening is a fantastic way to keep fresh herbs in stock, and hydroponic systems make it very easy to grow herbs at home. You don’t even have to worry about any crazy nutrient film technique.
Indoor hydroponic systems are built with a water reservoir that facilitates continual self-watering, and the full spectrum led lights on the adjustable grow light simulates natural light. The nutrient-rich water works wonders so that plants that are grown indoors often grow much faster than plants grown in the fresh air outdoors.
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