Hydroponics is simply growing soilless, no dirt. It is using nutrient-rich water as your base for growing your herbs. Most of your everyday use herbs will grow at great rates and with rich flavorful outcomes through this method.
Herb Hydroponics are some of the easiest first-time methods for hydro-growers. They often only require a vegetative nutrient base, the simplest nutrient solution. Most herbs do not need to go through alternative growing phases such as blooming, fruiting, or vegetable production.
If you have ever thought of trying hydroponics, I suggest you give herbs a try at least once. You love the ease and production you will get!
Contents of the Article
Making “Water Work” For Hydroponics Herb Gardens
First, it is essential to understand what hydroponics is and how it works. Once you know the concept behind this soilless growing method, you can gain this cultivation’s benefits to produce amazing herbs!
What is Hydroponic Gardening – Working Water
Hydroponic is of Latin origin, and it simply means “working water.” That working water is the definition that makes hydroponics unique in its
meaning as it is not merely everyday tap water. It is water that is rich in nutrients, air, and a pH balance.
Your herbs and plants’ roots grow loosely through this hard-working water and can quickly absorb the nutrients they require for growth-boosting their growth potential. In comparison to traditional soil planting methods to hydroponics methods of two identical plants, I have found most often that the hydroponic version grows at least twice the rate. On average, though, hydroponically grown plants grow 25 to 30% faster than soil farming.
Best Herbs to Grow in Hydroponics
Most of your common herbs will do very well in the hydroponics growing environment, and a few will excel in this environment. Problems in hydroponics with some spices grown for their roots, such as turmeric and ginger, do not fare well in hydroponics as the containers that hold the main rhizomes (rootstock) do not allow enough room for growth.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydroponically Grown Herbs
There are two sides to every coin; there are also positives and negatives regarding growing herbs or any plants’ hydroponics.
- The growth rate is significantly increased at 25 to 30% over soil grown.
- Overflow, less water is used to grow your plants and herbs.
- It gives you more control over your plants’ growth which is a high advantage when growing herbs by keeping them growing more extended and more robust in a vegetative state instead of allowing them to go to seed (bolt).
- Initial set-up costs can be higher with the need for additional equipment and a hydroponics system’s unique growing requirements. This includes special pots, plant support materials, nutrient solutions, and more.
- Monitoring water for pH and nutrient levels. Keeping the right balance in the water is essential for the plants’ health and growth. I put this at a disadvantage, although the inner science nerd part of myself loves it.
- Risk of equipment failures. Soil-grown plants’ have very little equipment but a pot and dirt, the more complicated set-up of hydroponics lead to a greater possibility of something breaking down during the growth cycle.
What are the Different Types of Hydroponic Systems
Hydroponics can get very extravagant, or they can stay compact and straightforward. You decide to grow, the space available, and your comfort level to determine what method and systems will work best.
The Wicking System or Method
This method works quite well for herbs and is the easiest way to start a journey into hydroponics. These systems have no moving parts, and the start-up cost is less; in most cases, you likely have everything you need already. Wicking systems have the main water and nutrient solution is holding reservoir and a wick that makes a chain to each growing container for your plants’ or individually for a single plant wicking system. The wick pulls from the reservoir and feeds into the growing plants as they need it.
Deep Water Culture(DWC) System
This system requires a bit more equipment to get going but is another easy beginner method to try and works great for herbs. In the DWC system, the primary container holds the nutrient-rich water solution. The plants’ are suspended above, either stationary or on floating foam, with their roots suspended and growing inside the solution. These systems require the addition of aquarium air pumps to provide good oxygenation in the nutrient solution.
Ebb & Flow Systems
These systems can get a bit more complicated but offer greater versatility. The nutrient-rich water reservoir is held in a separate container from your plants’. A pump takes this solution and floods the growing containers of the herbs and plants, and then drains back into the reservoir on a set schedule. For this system, adding a submersible pump and a timer is required to make them work correctly.
Nutrient Film Technique(NFT)
In this type of system, the nutrient solution is again held in a separate container and is pumped slowly to flow over the suspended roots of plants constantly’. These systems are set up at a slight angle to allow gravity to help feed the solution throughout the course. I have not used an NFT yet, but a local tomato farm uses it and has great success.
Ready to Start A Hydroponic Herb Garden
If your interest is peaked and you’re ready to jump right in and start your hydroponics herb garden, you have several options. We have already discussed the various systems, but which one is best for you?
I would suggest starting small first to get your feet wet with hydroponics. A simple home-made wicking system may be a significant first step. Several great tutorials are available on how to get started with this method, and I will also be posting a couple in an upcoming blog.
If you want a more significant start, the DWC would be a wise second option. The investment is not as substantial, and if you have space will give you a wider variety of herbs to start with. You can buy starter kits for a jump start or assemble one for yourself to fit your space. I will also be adding tutorials for these in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned!
Be sure to let me know how your hydroponics growing is going and if you have any questions. Here to help and Happy Growing!
Also, read Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics.