Growing your own vegetables with hydroponics
If you live in a rural location it can often be hard to get fresh fruit and vegetables for a reasonable price. If you are eager to start eating healthier meals and would like to start growing your own vegetables, hydroponics can be a great option.
How does it work?
With hydroponics, you grow your plants in a liquid mineral solution, with the plants held in place by an inert substance (commonly perlite gravel). This ensures that your plants are constant being supplied with the nutrients and water that they need and there is no risk that the plants will take up contaminants from the soil. This is a great option for people living in a location with poor soil, very dry conditions or where the soil may have some contaminants. By growing plants inside you also have a much lower chance of the plants and fruit getting nibbled by insects, birds or native animals such as kangaroos.
The plants are grown inside under controlled lighting, which can help growers who are trying to grow vegetables in very hot climates where the plants can burn and wilt under the high UV rays in the middle of the day.
What can I grow in a hydroponic set-up?
While hydroponics can grow any fruit or vegetables, they suit the higher fluid varieties and plants that grow quickly. Common choices include tomatoes, strawberries, herbs and salad leaves such as lettuce leaves. Hydroponics tend to have great yields as you can adjust the nutrient level for each plant to optimise the health of each plant and manage any issues with the plant quickly. Hydroponics offers more flexibility in growing plants that are not native to your area, as you have full control over the growing conditions.
What do I need to get started?
There are some great DIY instructions online and getting started can be as simple as cutting the top off a PVC pipe and filling the pipe with perlite and recirculating a hydroponic nutrient solution through the plants. You can also build more complex DIY setups or buy a ready-made kit. (Some sets also offer humidity control, which can be useful for tropical plants). Kits come in a range of sizes and set-ups, including vertical walls for space-poor gardeners.
If you need some more advice why not find a hydroponic store online and call or send an email? They can give you advice specific to your situation and recommend which set up might suit your household.