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The hydroponic method of growing plants is a revolution in horticulture, being able to grow plants without soil, often with much larger yields than you would get in a typical allotment.
By replacing the soil with a nutritious liquid, far less water is needed to grow a sufficient amount of crops, and as a result, researchers are looking into large scale aeroponics and hydroponics to create sustainable farming for the future.
If you are just starting out, looking around hydroponic shops looking for ideas, the first question that you are likely to ask is what plants can grow well in a hydroponic setup.
The answer is that it depends on how large your greenhouse is, as well as the climate, temperature, the nutritional solution you use and whether your plant needs pollination, as without bees they would need to be pollinated manually.
Theoretically, nearly any plant or flower can be grown hydroponically but some plants are easier to grow and benefit from the method more than others. Here are some of the best plants to start with, as they benefit from hydroponic conditions and grow fairly quickly.
Forever a staple part of many diets, tomatoes grow very quickly and thrive incredibly in hydroponic settings. However, as they are a vine plant, they do need supporting, to ensure they don’t fall over each other.
Other vine plants do also work in a hydroponic environment, such as cucumbers and peas, but also need support in the same way.
Strawberries are an almost perfect fruit to start with when it comes to hydroponic farming. They are a fairly small plant, so even if you only have a small greenhouse you can grow them in a way that enables them to thrive.
Have you ever done an experiment in school where you grew potatoes in water and the little sprouts grew? Growing potatoes via hydroponics work in a similar way, however, there are some factors to keep in mind.
Potatoes, as well as other root vegetables, do most of their growing underground (or underwater in this case), so if your hydroponic space isn’t large enough, they will have stunted growth and affect the yield. Unless you have a rather large greenhouse, it is best to stick to smaller potatoes.
Generally, the plants that grow best in a hydroponic setting are warm-weather plants, however, cabbage grows particularly well providing you have set your greenhouse’s temperature settings for cooler weather.
The only catch to this is that you can only grow other cool-weather plants in the same greenhouse so make sure you keep that in mind.
Whilst they are not cold weather plants, other leafy greens such as lettuces also work very well with hydroponic farming.
Herbs that like moist conditions naturally work amazingly with hydroponics, providing you have managed the growing conditions well. Basil is ideal for this, and actually will lead to more flavourful herbs, but mint and other herbs will grow very well and produce a pretty bountiful yield.
If you are considering hydroponics and do not want to make a huge commitment, buying basil seeds and trying out hydroponics in a very small space is a great way to start.