Archive Post #13: Growing Hydroponic Herbs
I don't know about everyone else but I love fresh herbs. Growing my own fresh herbs is always easy, delicious and rewarding! Fresh herbs have many culinary and medicinal uses that can enhance flavors and cure your illness! Would you like to grow your own herbs right in your own home? Would you like to be able to make your own fresh high quality potent herbal teas for pennies on the dollar? If so an indoor year-round herb garden is the key to making it happen. Traditionally people will grow there herbs just like there outdoor gardens with plenty of soil and containers. Today however, I wanted to talk about the benefits of growing your herbs hydroponically.
Hydroponic gardening is one of the easiest and smartest ways to grow and you can be growing your own fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender, sage, chives, mint and more in no time at all. As a matter of fact properly cared for hydroponic plants tend to grow two to three times faster than soil grown plants. The secret is in the oxygenated and nutrient rich water solution that provides your plants with instant base material for there rapid growth. For more information on how hydroponics works please reference back to my hydroponic garden introduction blog. But first enjoy some tips on getting your indoor hydroponic herb garden started.
One of the best benefits of hydroponic gardens over soil is plants grown hydroponically indoors require less water compared to soil-based gardens, as hydroponic systems are able to recycle the nutrient solution. Using purified/filtered, spring or reverse osmosis water will bring the best results, as poor water quality can have an adverse effect on your plants (this is true with soil or hydro gardens). Also, before adding fresh water to your reservoir it is important to allow it to reach room temperature, as plants do not like rapid temperature changes in the root zone.
The hydroponic nutrients you choose are an important aspect to growing hydroponic herbs or any hydroponic plants. Make sure to use a high-quality brand, such as House & Garden or General Hydroponics for your plants provided nutrients. Several different types of herbs may be grown in a single nutrient solution if you choose. It is recommended to completely replace the nutrient solution approximately every 7 to 14 days, depending upon plant size and nutrient usage.
There is a variety of hydroponic systems to choice from and each persons space and needs will dictate which type of system is best for them. Please refer to my previous blog hydroponic garden system types to get a better description and understanding of the various types of systems. Beyond what type of system you choose, it is strongly recommended that every hydroponic grower have a digital pH pen tester and EC/PPM meter to accurately check the pH and nutrient strength of the system. Generally the nutrient strength should run between 800 to 1500 parts per million (ppm), though the exact ppm requirements will vary depending on circumstances and style of growing. The pH of the nutrient solution should be between 5.5 and 6.0 for hydroponic growers.
The best thing about your indoor herb garden is you can grow it continuously and reap the rewards year round. Most herbs will grow their very best at temperatures between 70-80°F with a relative humidity level around 40-50%. Most plants however have the ability to adapt to whatever growing condition you put them in and will grow moderately well even if your climate is not perfect.
The amount of light your plants are receiving is one of the most important part of having a successful garden. If your light levels are low and even if your plants are receiving only moderate light, giving them a boost of fluorescent lighting will greatly increase there growth rate and overall yield and help keep them healthy year round. There are a number of different shapes and sizes when it comes to fluorescent fixtures so it's best to visit your local garden supply store and browse what they have available to meet your specific needs. When thinking of additional fluorescent lighting it is important to stay away from the regular T12 or T8 tubing that you will find at most of your hardware stores or big box retail outlets, try to find the high output plant spectrum T5 tube fluorescent bulbs or large CFL bulbs for optimal performance and efficiency. A good thing about fluorescent lights is the low amounts of heat they produce letting you keep the lights anywhere between 3" to 12" from the top of your plants maximizing growth.
A great benefit of growing your indoor garden hydroponically is a decrease in the chance of having insect problems. Still those bugs can be persistent and there are a few pest that might find there way into your garden and with herbs, pesticide use should be kept to a minimum or not used at all. A good preventative, such as insecticidal soap, will usually keep most pests under control and not effect the quality of your precious herbs. It is also a good idea to place a few sticky traps as an early indicator of what might be present.
If your thinking about starting an herb garden then I hope these tips can help bring you success! Please feel free to send me an email or stop by Victory Hydro Gardening retail store located in Louisville Colorado for any additional questions you have. We specialize in hydroponic indoor gardens and organic outdoor gardens making it easy for our wonderful customers to have success the first time around with their gardening adventures.