I’ve always wanted to grow my own vegetables. I love the idea of going into the backyard & snipping whatever herb or vegetable I need for dinner. I also love the idea of being that person who has a surplus of veggies to give friends.
Growing up, my grandparents’ Miami backyard was part of a mango orchard including an avocado tree & a mini banana tree. I fondly remember collecting the ripe mangos & eating fresh guacamole straight from the avocado skin. When it was time to travel back to Georgia, we would bring fresh mangos & avocados to share the harvest with friends back home.
I live on a mountain in Tennessee not near the water in South Florida, so the idea of planting mango trees in our backyard isn’t practical. That’s where hydroponic gardening comes in. I discovered hydroponic gardening from some friends in Georgia & thought it sounded very appealing & easy. It doesn’t require a lot of useable yard space & no dirt! (if you know me, you know I don’t like getting dirty)
If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve probably seen my tower garden. I get questions about it every time I show it, so I figured it was time to compile all the information about this growing system in one place.
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Let’s dig in:
What is a hydroponic garden & how does it work?
A hydroponic garden is a soil-less gardening system. Seeds are planted in rock-wool, recycled coconut husk, or some other medium to support the base of their root matrixes. Unlike traditional gardens, hydroponic plants receive all of their nutrients from a water/ nutrient solution rather than soil. The plant roots can either sit in the solution or have the solution dripped on them. I’m more of a visual person, so heres an infographic:
I am not an expert gardener & it’s too early to know what my harvest from our tower garden will be this year. But I’m hopeful! This is my second time trying to grow with the tower garden. The first time, I kept the tower on our screened in porch which didn’t yield much results. On top of the lack of sun, my husband thought he was being helpful & put Miracle Grow on my seedlings. The Miracle Grow was not a miracle, but more of an angel of death & chemically burned my plants… officially putting my tower garden out of commission. The tower found a new home in the garage until this spring, when I decided it was time to try again.
Where do you buy a hydroponic growing system?
There are many different types of hydroponic growing systems available online or you can even make your own. I bought my Tower Garden secondhand from a friend, but there are many different growing systems on the market available in a variety of price-points. Tower Gardens are not a small investment. I am lucky that I found one secondhand.
Here are some less expensive options that I found on Amazon that look similar & have good reviews:
You may also need to purchase a pump, a timer, extension cord, & net pots for your hydroponic system. Here are some links for those items on Amazon as well.
How do you order seeds / seedlings?
I know myself better than to try to start from seeds, so both attempts, I ordered seedlings online. The first seedlings were in rock-wool & this year’s are planted in recycled coconut husks. I ordered the seedlings from a website that sells specifically to hydroponic gardeners.
They weren’t labeled the best, but after I decoded which each plant was which (some seedlings look very similar to others), I mapped out how I wanted my seedlings to be arranged. For example: you want to plant tomato plants low on your tower because they have vines & may cover plants below them.
Other hydroponic systems do not require a planting order, but I would check with your system’s manufacturer before planting your seedlings.
Here are some other hydroponic seedling sources:
- Living Towers (Eustis, Florida)
- Montecito Urban Farms (Santa Barbara, California)
- ATL Urban Farms (Cumming, Georgia)
- WNC Urban Farms, LLC (Waynesville, North Carolina)
- Oak Creek Farm and Homestead (Temecula, California)
- True Garden (Mesa, Arizona) (this where I ordered my seedlings from this year)
- SBTG Seedlings (Los Olivos, California)
- G2 Urban Farms, LLC (Johnsonville, South Carolina)
How do you add hydroponic nutrients & where do you buy hydroponic nutrients?
Here are some other hydroponic nutrient solutions & PH testing kits that I found on Amazon:
Here is a list of what I am attempting to grow this year:
- Cherry Tomato
- Basil -Italian
- Basil – Thai
- Broccoli Raab
- Brussel Sprouts
- Cucumber “diva”
- Romaine Lettuce
- Mint “granny blanks”
- Green onion
- Tomatoes “green zebra heirloom”
- Toscano Kale
So far all but one of my seedlings are doing great! I think the zucchini is a goner… If you want to stay up-to-date on my hydroponic garden, follow me on instagram @jaclynhumble! Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.