One challenge of living in a northern climate is the relatively short growing season which unfortunately means you have to purchase your vegetables in the winter or simply live without them for several months.
Fortunately with a little planning and work you could also create a basic indoor hydroponic system to extend your growing season.
Hydroponics has been around for centuries but is still relatively unknown. Hydroponics translated from Latin means ‘working water’ but a simple alternative way to describe it to your friends and family is gardening without soil.
This is achieved by supplying the nutrients directly to a plant’s roots with nutrient rich water. Instead of soil, you surround your plant with an inert media such as coco coir or clay pellets to provide support.
Three advantages to growing your salad and herbs using hydroponics
Advantage #1: Controlling the Variables
There are several important factors that contribute to a successful plant and harvest, no matter where you’re growing them:
- Proper soil/medium
- Carbon dioxide
- Absence of pests and disease
Advantage #2: Predictable results
Growing indoors, with a well-designed hydroponic setup really allows you to control each of the above-mentioned variables. Hydroponically grown salad and herbs grow much like a bodybuilder.
They can receive just the right about of each variable without nature’s inconsistencies which allows them to grow faster and bigger.
Tip: Track each planting with a journal. You can apply your learnings to the next crop and this will allow you to quickly optimize your system.
Advantage #3: No more “seasons”
As already mentioned, the length of the UK growing season is rather short and the weather can be rather unpredictable but the weather inside your home will always be warm and sunny!
Things to Keep in Mind When Starting a Hydroponic Garden
1. Decide in advance what you’re going to grow and how much space you can dedicate. Salad crops such as spinach, lettuce, and rocket require much smaller and simpler set-ups than larger root and vine vegetables like squash, cucumbers, and beetroot.
2. You will need to have either a very sunny window for your indoor hydroponic system or create an artificial lighting system. While you can certainly purchase a complete lighting system, you can also build your own DIY lighting system.
3. Building your own system is a great way to understand hydroponics but it requires some additional skill, knowledge, and time. If you do not have the time or skill I would suggest purchasing a small pre-made system for you to test out and learn from first.