We are not talking about industrial sized farms with hydroponics systems that cover acres of ground. We are looking at home kits.
Home hydroponics kits are growing in popularity. Our reasons for using one in our kitchen include; avoiding soil based pests, organic and chemical free, faster growth, greater yield, year round crop, waste less water, no digging required, space saving, no water spills, passive watering and light system.
There is more to a hydroponic kit than you may at first think and it will certainly help you to look after more exotic house plants over winter too!
12 Reasons Why We Use Hydroponics At Home
In this article we are looking at those home hydroponics kits that are for indoor use. We will show you our experiments with outdoor hydroponic systems as well as passive watering systems later in the growing season.
- Avoid soil dwelling pests and bugs, without the need for invasive action. As there is no soil to harbor these little bugs and pests we get far fewer. We use a simple hydroponics kit for use indoors and this even removes all of those nasty little black fly that you sometimes get on new seedlings. There can be a lot of misinformation when it comes to home hydroponics kits and sometimes a passive watering system is passed off as hydroponic. When in fact it relies on coir matting which can hold germs and bugs. Our model uses vermiculite to hold the seeds and roots whilst they receive water.
- The water has natural nutrients added and is enriched in a more sustainable way. You will use a growing medium like vermiculite and this will allow water and oxygen to circulate around your roots. The water has only the nutrients essential to growth and they are in a readily available form. The roots will happily take the nutrients they require, with no extra effort wasted on growing to find the goodness they require in the soil.
- Sow to harvest time is reduced between 30-50%. This means that our windowsill herbs can be so much more productive now than ever before. A lot of herbs like mint and basil really respond well to regular harvesting of leaves and you will get some very healthy and bushy plants very quickly. You can also sow all year round, meaning more crops in the time that you do sow as well as a season that is almost doubled. We use a section of worktop for a home hydroponic kit and it sits there all year round, being eaten and growing more leaves each day.
- We can grow more of our chosen herb. A study in 2016 looked at cucumbers grown in a hydroponic system versus traditional soil. It showed that the cucumber specimens grew 94 mm in soil and 190 mm in hydroponic during the 30 day trial period. Which is great when we look at this for global agriculture and food shortages. However for our own home growing of herbs and salad leaves this means we can grow all year round. See below!
- Winter is not a problem for growing. This increases my harvest period by at least 6 months for some more tender herbs at home. In the UK we have a limited window of growing time. We can rush to plant new seeds and be met with what is colloquially called ‘fool’s Spring’. All our seedlings get frost bite and die. This is such a big problem for those herbs that are more Mediterranean based. They love long hours of sunlight and we just can’t off it to them. With a home hydroponic kit you can. Basil, parsley, cilantro / coriander, thyme and oregano can be grown fresh all year round.
- We waste no water. During the Summer months we rely on a complex water butt irrigation system. This works fine for those herbs that need less water. However, many herbs work very well in a hydroponic system and will not waste water lost to the soil. This also limits the chance to ‘burn’ foliage with water. Having herbs growing indoors means that there is less fluctuation with variables like wind and sunlight hours, but your can grow from a hydroponics kit outdoors as well. This will need artificial light in winter months, or just grow seasonally.
- No digging is required. This can be helpful for those of us with knee problems. A lifetime of working as an electrician and keen gardener have played havoc with my back as well. It also makes your kit more portable if you don’t have to clean it up all of the time.
- Save space. The narrow design of the kitchen herb garden means you can pop them pretty much wherever you like. Our is to the back of a worktop that receives very little daylight so the LED actually lights up the under counter too. It’s what works for you, as I want to move one to the home office for my exotic herbs like cardamom.
- No water spills or over watering issues. We get a lot of enquiries about basil dying on windowsills. It is sort of 50:50 not enough sunlight and too much water. We call it the killing with kindness problem. If your plant looks peaky you give it some water. ta da it has died. Also windowsills in your home need protecting against over enthusiastic watering. You can use drip trays and then your plants roots sit in the water for days, just rotting.
- Passive watering system means we can go on holiday. It is a very straightforward principle. There is a stopcock to the side and it floats up with the water level. The LED has also got an inbuilt sensor so that when the float is low, it will beep. This lasts on average about three weeks from filling up. Meaning we can go on holiday and set the watering system up, but it is more than just a passive watering pot. There is also a timer option available on the LED to have a cycle of 16 hours on and 8 hours off. Replicating the height of Summer inside our home.
- No dirt in the kitchen. With a hydroponic system you are growing the roots in vermiculite or some other suitable growing medium. It acts to allow the water and oxygen to circulate without rotting the roots. This means zero soil in the home. Now we have a very muddy boots kind of a house, but plenty of people do not. I feel that hydroponics is therefore a great solution to those who may be reluctant to mix soil and food in the kitchen.
- Kids can grow their own food. We have found that a worktop LED light is just the right side of technology to get the older kids involved. Don’t expect much but a sprig of parsley on their fish fingers and chips is a start! We do a fair bit to try and get the kids involved and an indoor kit for the home is a good way to keep their enthusiasm ticking over until Spring again.
Home Hydroponics Kit
Truth be told I was going to recommend our exact model at the end of this article. However just this morning the LED has stopped working and we are sending it back. I am very glad this has happened to me and not to someone I have recommended it to! So we are now researching and looking for an upgrade in quality without an upgrade in cost!
I will let you know which turns out to be the best for us, one failed model is not a failed process! Hydroponics do work and we loved ours until the light broke! Luckily lighter days are here and no harm done, however we want to find the best model for us all to use moving forward!
You will also need specialist hydroponic feed, City Hydroponics make an organic bio grow available via this link. With herbs it is all about the phosphorous to nitrogen mix.
We will get back to you with a full review of the best hydroponics kits on the market today and let you know which is best value for money, as well as which ones work best in your home.