The Hydroponic herb garden could be your solutions to a successful indoor herb garden. Small growing units can be conveniently placed on kitchen worktops and shelves without cluttering up your available space.
You may or may not have heard of this method of growing, but it is on the increase as people search for new innovated growing methods that are not only healthier but clean and space saving.
Hydroponics is one way to go!
In a nutshell it`s growing herbs using just water, light and fertilizer.
Apparently a great deal of our vegetation produce sold at markets worldwide is produced in overground and underground hydroponic farms that use vast systems.
The benefits of growing this way protects against disease and failure of crops due to climate change. A hydroponic herb garden is a scaled down version of this way of farming and producing crops.
But what is going to be the growing medium if we can`t use soil? There are several materials that you can use. Rockwool starter plugs also known as stonewool, are a popular choice medium which I have used and re-used over and over. Peat plugs and expanded clay pebbles, and pumice stone are other alternatives.
Rockwool plugs are soaked in water and after a few minutes ready to accommodate seeds. These are left in transparent covered nursery trays until they sprout and get their first 2 leaves. They then can be transferred to the hydroponic unit which houses the light, water and perlite or pumice stone.
To start a garden off you will need to grow from seed. Choose the best herbs that can be grown easily in a small place.
Larger plants need larger systems and more room. First off, seed germination does not require fertilizer in the water, and we need what is called a nursery to get them sprouting.
The choice of units for a small home hydroponic herb garden is quite limited. They are usually compact but some do come as tiered units like the one I use. But it is relatively simple to make your own.
You will need a special grow light or lights, a container such as a large plastic bucket with a lid. (not transparent), and some plastic mesh pots that look like little baskets, and a funnel to top up the water.
Grow lights come in all shapes and sizes. There are clip-on types that have multiply heads. These are great for clipping onto a shelving unit or stand that will house your buckets.
A drill and circular drill bit are required to cut 5 – 7 circular holes in the lid to accommodate the mesh pots depending on what size they are. If you don`t possess these tools, try and borrow from a friend rather than buying if you do not intend to use them again. You will also need to feed your herbs with a liquid fertilizer.
I bought a 2 tiered complete unit for my hydroponic herb garden with everything I needed, but I am preparing to create a bucket system to grow taller and larger herbs.
My amateur video shows the growth progress from 26th December, the 1st day I planted the seeds in the nursery, to January the following year.
Just as large systems develop problems so do small hydroponic herb gardens for the worktop, although these will be fewer.
Some first time users may be alarmed at the sight of green algae on the surface of the growing medium. I certainly was but don't be surprised.
This is a normal occurrence because where water, nutrients and light are present algae will grow. As long as it does not become overwhelming for the plant it will not harm it or you.
If mold develops too that's a different matter. Molds are not good.
After a few months keep a look out for your herb garden's health. Check all the plant roots regularly to see if they are healthy. If they are turning darker to a coffee colour it's probably a sign of root rot.
If the leaves and stems are still looking healthy then you can save them. The instructions for my hydroponic unit recommends cleaning out every 3 months but after 2 months my plants developed root rot.
I started harvesting my crop from 3 weeks old as they continued to grow at an accelerated pace. Especially the rocket.
I would pick 1 or 2 leaves from each plant 2 to 3 times a week. After 2 months the plants became too tall for the unit, the stems became really thick, and the root system enormous.
I also noticed the rocket leaves were curling inwards, the parsley and coriander leaves were shrivelling and turning dark brown at the tips. And if that weren't enough, the roots were darker in colour with rusty coloured tips which looked odd.
These symptoms all pointed to Root Rot.The next best thing I could do was to harvest all the good leaves and the plants that were not affected and store them in the freezer then clean up the system.
So 2 months of growing are sufficient for my particular hydroponic unit. A clean up of the tank and growing media gets the unit prepared for the next batch from the nursery which need to be planted about 4 to 5 days previous.
Also a good tip is to plant smaller type herbs that do not exceed the height of the unit or take a longer time to reach it. If you eat a lot of rocket harvest frequently so the plants do not become like jack`s beanstalk. Or grow them in buckets.
Hint of Herbs is where you will get to know me a whole lot better as I busy about in my daily life. Read short snippets of herb garden related topics. Little interesting things that don`t normally find their way onto my pages.
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