By Jeanne Grunert
Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. In hydroponic gardening, plants grow in a water medium infused with the macro and micronutrients they need to thrive. Once thought the purview of science fiction, hydroponic gardening has gained renewed interest as gardeners seek to grow vegetables indoors to ensure a steady supply of organic produce year-round.
Indoor Hydroponic Vegetable Gardening
Anyone can start a hydroponic garden. You don’t even need to purchase fancy equipment. You can use recycled materials to start a hydroponic garden.
Hydroponic gardens grow plants in water mixed with nutrient solution rather than soil. You’ll need a waterproof container such as an old plastic bucket with a lid. Master Gardener Marcy Stanton suggests using an old Styrofoam container such as the kind fish stores use to transport and sell their stock. Many will give away the cartons free, but you’ll need to let them air out for a while to get rid of the fishy smell! A better choice may be the frosting canisters used by commercial bakeries. These are large plastic buckets or tubs holding a gallon or more of commercial cake frosting or batter. Many restaurants, bakeries and other food service companies throw them out when they are empty. Ask if you can have any they are discarding. Wash them with soap and water and rinse thoroughly, then let them air dry before using.
You will need a good lighting system and a timer for your hydroponic garden. A fluorescent light fixture purchased at the hardware store that can hold two tube light bulbs supplies plenty of light for your hydroponic garden. Add a timer to the system so the lights go on and off automatically.