A lot of people choose to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home for many reasons. Firstly, it will save you money not having to buy fresh produce from the supermarket. Secondly, it’s the best way to ensure you’re getting organic food, without any harmful chemicals. And thirdly, it’s rewarding ground something from a little seedling and watching it bloom into something juicy and succulent you can really sink your teeth into.
The problem for many people is, up until quite recently, growing produce at home never seemed viable unless you had a huge lawn where you can have your own greenhouse or vegetable patch. However, with the rise of hydroponics kits, that’s now become a different story as people are bringing their gardening indoors.
Hydroponic gardening involves using nutrient-rich water opposed to soil in which to feed the plants. While this form of gardening has been around for quite some time, it’s only really taken off in the past couple of decades as kits have been introduced to make it much easier for people to set up and maintain from home.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the main benefits of hydroponic gardening as well as what you should consider when buying a kit. We’ll then share with you some of the most frequently asked questions and answers surrounding hydroponic gardening as well point you in the right direction as to some of the best kits around at the moment.
Benefits of Hydroponic Gardening
If you’re new to the world of hydroponic gardening, you may be wondering why people turn to this method over regular gardening. Well, there are several reasons for that. Here’s a few of them:
Any Downsides to Using Hydroponics?
As with anything, there are a couple of downsides to using hydroponics, but nowhere near enough to outweigh the benefits. The main hurdle to get over with these systems is the upfront cost. If you’re converting from soil gardening, you will notice the cost of a decent setup is considerably more. That being said, as long as you don’t encounter too many problems your crops will be much larger than before.
Another downside to using hydroponics is that pests and diseases tend to spread quicker due to the fact that nutrients are being shared. You need to keep a very careful eye on your plants to ensure they don’t get overcome with disease.
The last drawback I can see with using hydroponics is that not all plants are suited to this kind of set up. While crops like lettuce, peppers, and spinach grow very well under these systems, most root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, and carrots typically grow better using soil-based methods.
What to Consider When Buying a Hydroponic Grow Kit?
So, now you a lot more about the benefits and drawbacks of using a hydroponics system, we’re going to run through a few of the things you should consider when buying your own kit:
What crops you intend to grow
As mentioned above, not all crops are suitable for growing hydroponically. If you’re happy with the items you can grow this way and it will still be economically viable for you, then happy days! But, if there’s only a couple of items on the list that you want to grow and you don’t want much of it, you may want to consider if this is the best method for you.
Once you’ve worked out what you want to grow, the next thing you should consider is where you’re going to put your hydroponics system. Whether you decide to have it indoors or outdoors, you need to ensure you have enough space for the type of system you’re considering as some need a lot more room than others.
Some things to bear in mind when choosing a location are water changes and maintenance. You’ll want to be able to access your system easily to do this so make sure you leave enough room for you to work.
Some hydroponics systems are much easier to use than others. Those systems that are heavily automated are no doubt the easiest to use, but are also the most expensive. You’ll need to find a system that is suitable for both your budget and the amount of time you have available.
Not all hydroponics kits come with everything you need to get you going. And what may seem like a bargain at first could soon start mounting up when you start to add all the other components needed.
Hydroponic systems vary considerably when it comes to price. While you can get away with spending less than a $100 on one, it may be quite small and you may not be entirely happy with it.
By investing a little more (say between $100 – $400) you can pretty much guarantee yourself a decent system that will give you a good yield. There are some systems out there that cost $400+, but typically these are for the more advanced gardener who grows a lot.
AeroGrow AeroGarden Farm Plus Hydroponic Garden
If you’re looking to do some serious gardening and want the help of some of the most advanced hydroponics technology to do that, then look no further. The AeroGrow AeroGarden Farm Plus Hydroponics Garden is by far one of the best kits on the market today, but bear in mind that it does come with a hefty price tag.
Available in a sleek black or cool white, and with a 12” or 24” height option, this kit has everything you need and more to grow your very own fresh crops from the comfort of your own home. In this kit, you get 60W of dual LED light power that are individually adjustable so you can grow different crops at the same time. It’s also fitted with v2.0 Wi-Fi technology that enables you to control the lights right from your smartphone using the AeroGarden app. You can even get reminders sent to you never miss watering or feeding your crops.
Other than the price the only other slight problem I found with this hydroponics system is that it takes a while to assemble. You should probably allow up to an hour for this. On the plus side, all you need is the Allen tool provided with the kit.
iRSE Garden Indoor Hydroponics LED Growing System
For anyone that’s new to the world of hydroponics and wants to try it out small-scale first, I would highly recommend the iRSE Garden Indoor Hydroponics LED Growing System.
Equipped with everything you need to get started, it’s the ideal kit for beginners. The 8W LED grow light is fitted with a timer that has 3 modes: a cycle of 16 hours on/8 off; constantly on; and constantly off. There are 2 detachable planting pods and covers, fertilizer, and a user manual to help you if you get stuck.
The thing I like most about this system is that it’s so easy to use. There’s no soil to concern yourself with and at 15 x 6 x 4.8 inches, it’s small enough to place just about anywhere. Assembly is simple, with the system consisting of just 3 parts, and it’s an excellent price.
Where this kit falls short for me is the size. While it’s ok if you just want to try out a couple of plants, it’s not so great if you’re looking to completely rid your need to shop for fresh veggies.
PowerGrow Hydroponics Systems Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Bubbler Kit
If you know you’re going to be growing some big crops then this may be the ideal system for you. Just be aware that this is not a full kit and you will still need to add a light to your setup if growing indoors.
The PowerGrow Hydroponics System uses deep water culture (DWC) in which to grow crops. DWC systems work by suspending the plant roots in nutrient-rich solution. Included in the kit are 4 x 5-gallon FDA buckets, an air pump, air stones, airlines, and basket-style lids. Each individual bucket has its own water level indicator so you can be sure your plants are getting what they need. And, there’s even a 1-year warranty should anything be wrong with the kit.
Overall, it’s a pretty good (partial) kit. It’s easy to use, the results are good, and the price isn’t too bad either. The downsides are that it doesn’t come with any lights and it’s a little more difficult to maintain than other hydroponic systems. You will have to change the water completely every 1-2 weeks.
H2OtoGro DWC Self Watering Hydroponic System
Designed to make your life that little bit easier, the H2OtoGro DWC Self Watering Hydroponic System is one of the most popular systems on the market for many reasons. Firstly it’s so easy to set up that pretty much anyone can do it. Secondly, it’s self-watering, so once you have it up and running there’s literally nothing left for you to do.
If growing outdoors, you have everything you need to get going including an air pump, airline, and air stones. But, if growing indoors, you will need to add your own lights to the mix. I found the end result to be very good, with my crops actually growing around 30% faster using this hydroponics kit, as opposed to a soil-based system.
The main problem I found with this kit is that it’s so small, and is really only good if you’re just starting out or growing as a kind of novelty.
AeroGrow AeroGarden Bounty
Here we have another fantastic hydroponics system on offer from AeroGrow. While the AeroGarden Bounty may not be quite as exciting as its big brother, the AeroGarden Farm, it’s still a system to be reckoned with.
Packed with fabulous smart features and functions, including a fully interactive touchscreen control panel that lets you know when to feed your plants and when to water them. It can also turn the lights on and off as need be. The LED light system is a powerful 45W, invoking a much bigger yield than many systems.
It’s a 9-pod garden that has an extendable 24-inch lamp arm allowing you to grow all kinds of different crops. To help get you growing faster, included in the package are a mixture of 9 different seeds including Thai Basil, Italian Parsley, Mint, and Thyme. The only real problems I found with this system is that it’s been designed in such a way that the plug gets in the way a little, and it is one of the more higher-end models on the system. That being said, it’s also one of the best performing.
Top Tips on Obtaining a Good Yield
While you will no doubt see a difference in yield size when switching from a soil-based system to that of a hydroponics one, there are a few things you can do to help enhance your yield even further:
We hope you found the above article useful and are now feeling more confident as to making your hydroponic purchase. While they all differ in their own way, all of the above systems are worth taking a look at. It just depends what you want from your kit.
If you’re looking for advanced features then I would definitely consider either of the AeroGrow Systems. Both are very well made and produce great yields. However, if you’re new to the world of hydroponics and just want a low-key system, the iRSE Garden Indoor Hydroponics System may be more suitable.