Hydroponic gardening is the process of growing plants in a nutrient-rich liquid solution rather than planting them in traditional garden soil. Hydroponic gardening offers the benefits of no digging or raking as you would in a traditional garden, the option of growing summer season plants year-round and the prevention of some soil-related plant diseases. Many types of plants may be grown hydroponically, including certain types of vegetables. Additionally hydroponic vegetables often produce more productive crops.
Leafy greens adapt well to hydroponic growing. Seeds are sowed in a growing medium that's placed in a solution-filled growing basket. Special UV light bulbs are situated over the garden to simulate sunlight, providing nutrition and heat to the leafy greens. Types of leafy greens to grow hydroponically include salad greens, lettuce, mesclun, collard or mustard greens, kale or arugula.
These vegetables include cabbage, head lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes. Grown hydroponically, these vegetables require special trays that sit in the nutrient solution. The trays may be made of plastic with small slits for the plants to grow through, or they may need to be filled with sand or pea gravel flooded from underneath with the nutrient solution. These plants also use UV light for heat and added nutrition, or a simple hydroponic system may be situated in a sunny window to achieve these results.
This category includes one of the most popular hydroponically grown vegetables: the tomato. Other vegetables included in this category are cucumbers, eggplants and squash. Vine vegetables require the use of supports, such as a trellises or stakes, to give the plants space to grow upwards, or plenty of room to spread out as in traditional soil gardens.
Bush vegetables include beans, peas and peppers. Grown hydroponically, the seeds are planted in baskets filled with growing medium situated in the nutrient solution. Like vine vegetables, hydroponic bush vegetables often require the support of a stake or trellis to help them grow upright. Both bush and vine vegetables produce larger harvests of crops that reach maturity earlier than they do when grown in soil.
Even root vegetables are grown hydroponically. Instead of allowing them plenty of growing room on the surface of the system, they require growing room underneath, in the actual solution. Small root vegetable plants are sowed as seeds into growing baskets, then grow in those baskets sitting in the solution. Large root vegetable plants are grown in a medium flooded from beneath with the nutrient solution. Root vegetables to grow hydroponically include radishes, carrots, yams, potatoes, beets and parsnips.