Ideas and Tips for Hydroponic Herb Gardening
Today, let us get into the detailed Hydroponic Herb Gardening tips, ideas, and steps. As we often read hydroponics is rewarding and easy on the pocket technique of plant cultivation, moreover, it gives you the liberty to use your creativity and get high volume plant production. And when you are thinking of growing herbs we would recommend that you must try making a hydroponic garden for outdoor space or an indoor hydroponic garden. This gardening technique offers superior benefits compared to growing herbs in conventional soil culture. Without soil and in the hydroponic system, developing roots take delivery of their nutrient solution immediately, so water stress is certainly not an issue, and herbs remain small and efficient so plants are able to switch energy into their top growth. It’s trouble-free and, best of all; you will have access to fresh, flavourful herbs throughout the year.
Word “herb” is simply defined as any green or leafy part of a plant or any plant part utilized for seasoning and flavoring a recipe, but of course not used as the main ingredient. Besides this, we can also call herbs those plants with savory or aromatic properties that are utilized for flavoring and garnishing food and also for medicinal purposes. The culinary uses of herbs are what make a distinction of them from spices. Winters or summers, dusk or dawn every day we use herbs in one or other forms. So when we know how important herbs are then why not grow herbs at our own home! What superior way to get healthy by growing your own herb garden?
Moreover, Herbs do not have to take up a lot of space and labor. Herb can easily be moved indoors or out depending on the season and of course space available and hydroponics makes it simpler. With this soil-less technique of gardening, you can have creative and attractive hydroponic herb garden with Mason jar like containers so there is a lot of scope to DIY indoor hydroponics herb garden using different basic hydroponic setup.
Advantages of Hydroponic Herb Gardening:
Outdoor plants are exposed to many variables, including temperature, precipitation, wind, and lighting. Since herbs prosper in a mild, consistent and controlled environment, indoor hydroponics is a preferred method of cultivating herbs. Regular indoor room temperatures are ideal, so this makes cultivating herbs indoors easier and less susceptible to temperature fluctuations often experienced in outdoor growing environments.
Overwatering and less watering is a common challenge with soil culture. Too much or too little moisture in soil may result in the death of your herbs. In contrast, hydroponic systems facilitate a consistent supply of water and required nutrients, eliminating the stress and hit and trial involved with growing herbs in the soil.
Not only will you avoid the mess caused by having a soil culture, but cultivating herbs using hydroponics can also result in a 20%-50% faster growth rate as per the experienced herb growers. That means more fresh herbs to relish that too throughout the year.
Pest’s love for the soil in no more hidden anyway. Flies and other insect infestations can be unvarying trouble for those who rely on soil to grow their plants. Since hydroponics uses no soil, this automatically becomes less of a worry. So No soil-borne diseases, no weeding, and the need to introduce those harmful insecticide sprays into your indoor environment are less expected.
If those advantages haven’t sold you on growing your herbs with a hydroponic system, consider this. Studies have concluded that hydroponically grown herbs have 20-40% greater amount of aromatic oils when compared to the herbs grown in conventional fields. This ensures that your herbs are of superior quality and have a more robust flavor than the herbs grown in soil. So let’s get started
The prime requirement for growing Herbs is growing them in the proper location. First, you should decide the location for growing herbs. Most of the herbs that you can grow easily at home need two things proper sunlight and well-suited hydroponic system. This means that when considering places in your yard or garden for placing a hydroponic herbal garden, you need to look for a location that gets at least six or more hours of sunlight per day. Now, we talk more about Hydroponic Herb Gardening Ideas.
Requirements of Hydroponic Herb Gardening:
One must be aware of the basic requirements of hydroponic herb gardening. Considerations for growing hydroponic herbs consist of light, nutrients, temperature, humidity, and pH level. Once these factors are controlled, hydroponics provides a less time-consuming and superior growing medium as compared to the conventional soil gardening which its major attraction.
While propagating herbs from cuttings is a feasible option, starting your herbs from seed is the mainly accepted method for raising hydroponic herbs. Moistened propagation grow pots work greats for seedlings, as does a conventional soil mixture. Germination of herb usually takes 1-3 weeks. Once the seedlings have attained the adequate size and are displaying their true leaves, the plants can be transplanted to your hydroponic growing system. It should be noted that seed germination is quite difficult when you are growing herbs like lavender, bay leaf, rosemary, white sage, and flavored mint ( for example chocolate mint or orange mint). In these herbs, you can opt for a plant from a cutting which will likely be more successful than growing it from the seed.
As mentioned most of the herbs need at the very least 6 hours of bright, unhindered sunlight per day. A south-facing window may provide sufficient lighting for growing herbs. Rotating the plant to ensure all sides receive sufficient coverage is often advised by experienced growers. Since many plants including herbs grow well when given up to 10-12 hours of sunlight per day, grow lights are recommended for further supplementation, especially if your plants are not receiving the lowest amount natural sunlight to remain healthy and vigorous. Standard fluorescent lamps may be sufficient, but their yield is less effective compared to modern LED grow lights which are available in the market in plenty of designs and ranges. High-intensity discharge lights [HID] are also found effective especially metal halide, which is superior for culturing leafy herbs. Since it is established that grow lights with blue spectrum lighting encourage lush, bushy growth in many varieties of herbs (such as basil), grow lights with blue spectrum facility may be the best preference to grow your hydroponic herbs.
Nutrients specifically designed for hydroponics are another key element of growing hydroponic herbs. Combining essential nutrients and water in an appropriate amount creates the “nutrient solution.” It is recommended to drain, clean and re-add a new fresh nutrient solution to maintain optimal growth conditions. This course of action should be done at least once a month, although more regularly is encouraged.
Methods for providing the nutrient solution with help of various hydroponic system may include the Passive method (which enables you to make a decision when and how much nutrient solution a plant needs, without the making use of pumps and timers), the Flood and Drain method (when grow trays and pots are flooded with the nutrient solution using a water pump), a Drip System (timer-controlled method using a pump to drip nutrient solution on to the plant’s root), the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and the aeroponic method for cultivating herbs for home as well as growing Hydroponic herbs commercial levels. For the new home gardeners, a small ebb-and-flow system is an outstanding choice for a hydroponic herb garden. In an ebb-and-flow system, the plants are usually held in plastic pots in a flood table, and the reservoir full of the nutrient-enriched solution is placed underneath.
Another component of hydroponic system is growth media which is boon for the soil-less method of gardening as in hydroponics there is no soil for nurturing and supporting roots hence growth medium comes in rescue to encourage developing root growth. There is a wide range of growth mediums to choose from for suitable for the different hydroponic system when growing your herbs hydroponically. Some of the most widely used include coconut coir, lightweight expanded clay aggregate (L.E.C.A), perlite and vermiculite. These mediums act as an anchor to the root but do not provide the essential nutrients for the plant’s health means they are inert and only used as a support system. Thus, the growing medium you choose is of lesser significance than that of maintaining a continuous supply of required nutrient solution.
List of different growth medium suited for the different hydroponic system
- Expanded clay pellets – deep water culture, NFT, Drip systems
- Coco coir – passive hydroponics
- Rockwool – Drip, Flood and drain systems
- Perlite/Vermiculite – NFT, Drip system, also used with other growing media like Coco Coir
Room temperatures ranging from 70 to 75 degree Fahrenheit range are found ideal, along with a relative humidity level around the 40-60% range. As with all hydroponic gardening, maintaining adequate ventilation for your herbs is also significant. Oscillating fans, as well as ceiling fans, also works well. pH levels should be consistently checked to maintain a healthy growth environment in a range between 5.5 and 6.8, depending upon the type of herb you are growing.
Another best and common practice is maintaining the herbs bushy which allow herbs to be more productive. Pinching off the tops when your plant reaches 6-12 inches tall will stop them from becoming too leggy. Herbs do not call for a lot of attention once your hydroponic routine is in the correct order, and are a perfect choice for those who want to grow fresh produce all year long in a controlled indoor hydroponic environment.
I hope all this stuff has helped you to gear yourself to jump into the world of hydroponic herb gardening. As we are constantly working to provide you with best gardening practices keeping you updated with modern gardening techniques we have sorted list of best and easiest herbs to be grown hydroponically.
Hydroponic Basil Gardening Techniques:
In a well-maintained environment, growing basil can be harvested throughout the year. Once it is matured, it can be harvested and trimmed weekly. It responds extremely well to the hydroponic system. Basil is by far the most popular herb grown in the hydroponic system. Basil also called as the “King of Herbs,” is known to be native to India, where it has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. It plays a major role in both Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine, adding a different flavor combination. Most of the varieties of basil have a bold yet sweet smell. Italian cuisine is very famous for its use of sweet basil (Genovese basil), and basil is one of the key ingredient found in Italy’s well-known pesto sauce. Most preferred types of culinary basil for hydroponic production involves sweet basil, Thai lemon basil, globe basil, lettuce leaf basil, cinnamon basil, purple basil, and Siam Queen Basil.
Basil is most frequently propagated from seeds, which are available in stores in raw and pelleted form. However, stem cuttings can also be used and will develop roots within seven to ten days. Germinating basil seeds hydroponics under warm conditions with 75˚Farhenheit is the ideal temperature for most of the basil types and takes between five to seven days to germinate. Rockwool propagation blocks are often used in commercial basil production in the Kratky basil hydroponic system. Basil seedlings are particularly prone to pythium and other damping-off pathogens, so proper care needs to taken when watering in the early stages post germination to make certain that the surface of the growing media is not overly wet.
Hydroponic Parsley Gardening Techniques:
Parsley is an herb, native to the Mediterranean region of southern Italy, Greece, and Algeria. These days, parsley is grown all over the world, making it one of the most desired and popular herbs to cultivate hydroponically. American, European, and Middle Eastern countries incorporate parsley into their cuisine and are often used for garnishing. It is not unusual to find fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top of dishes served at restaurants. Parsley has two main categories: curly leaf and Italian (flat-leaved). Because of its decorative look, the curly-leaf is often the variety chosen for garnishment. Italian parsley is the variety preferred by gardeners and is one of the most popular herbs in the culinary arts. Hydroponic Parsley makes an incredible choice for first-time hydroponic herb gardeners. Large leaf parsley varieties like Italian flat-leaf grow abundantly in hydroponics systems and often used in growing parsley commercially. Parsley is as a reasonably priced seed and germinates within three to four weeks with good moisture conditions. Seedlings get ready to be transplanted a few weeks later when their true leaves start appearing, and the first harvest is typically ready 5–6 weeks after that.
Hydroponic Rosemary Gardening Techniques:
A hardy evergreen sub-shrub cultivated mainly for its aromatic leaves that are used in culinary seasoning and yield oil once used for medicinal purpose. Its small light blue flowers are borne in April or May. Rosemary plants can attain a height of 6 feet and need protection from the cold temperature if grown outdoors. Rosemary is typically pest-free plant and can even discourage many pests, but growers will occasionally observe powdery mildew or mite infections. Botrytis and root rot can also be an issue if growers over water the herb. Propagating rosemary from seed can be a fussy process as the seeds need consistent moisture and germination rates have a tendency to be around 30–50%. Growers are often convinced with propagating the plants from cuttings. Seed propagated rosemary takes about 2 to 3.5 weeks to germinate and an additional 3–4 weeks until they are ready to be transplanted, from transplanting to the first harvest, rosemary takes around 6–8 weeks. Ideal pH range for hydroponic rosemary is 5.5 to 6.
Hydroponic Thyme Gardening Ideas:
Thyme is another evergreen herb worthy of growing in a hydroponics system. Ancient Greeks used to burn it as incense, Ancient Egyptians utilized it for embalming, and many cultures have utilized thyme for medicinal and ornamental purposes. And of course, thyme is commonly used to enhance flavors of any dish. Since it has a shelf-life of not as much of as one week, growing your own thyme ensures that you will have a fresh crop easily. It’s an aromatic and attractive plant which demands full sun and will grow poorly in minimum light. Thyme can be propagated easily using stem cuttings and requires minimal fertilization when raised in a hydroponic system.
Hydroponic Mint Gardening Ideas:
Mint is one of the most acknowledged and popular hydroponic herbs to grow. With its characteristic aroma, fresh and sweet taste, mint is difficult to resist. Mint exhibit leaves of a variety of colors – from grey-green to dark green, green and purple, to sometimes blue and pale yellow. Flowers on mint are typically shades of small-sized and white to purple. The most common and popular mints used for commercial cultivation are spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, and Scotch mint. In addition its applications in cosmetics, medicines, insecticides, and aromatherapy, mint is valued in culinary circles. From sweets to refreshing teas, mint is one of the most popular hydroponic herbs to grow. Mint is well-suited for hydroponic herbal gardening and was, in fact, one of the primary plants to be grown hydroponically. Mint cultivated in water tends to have bigger, fuller foliage than usual soil-grown mint, and is perfect in hydroponic gardens. Mint is commonly propagated using cuttings than using mint seeds. About 12-16 hours of light daily is optimal for its growth in the natural full sun nearly all mint varieties forces the plant to concentrate its oils and build up a more intense mentholated flavor and aroma.
Mint matures quickly once it gets growing. Harvesting is very easy simply clip leaves and twig as needed. To harvest larger quantities, incise stems when it reaches about an inch above its growing surface allowing the plant to revitalize and produce new foliage for further harvest.
Hydroponic Dill Gardening Tips:
Dill has aromatic, fern-like leaves, which go together with the dishes ranging from seafood to soups. Similar to thyme, harvested dill loses its flavor promptly. Hydroponic Dill is a flavourful addition for hydroponic herbal gardens and it produces new growth when harvested. Replacing mature plants with new seedlings every three to four weeks will assure a constant supply of dill. The compact fern leaf variety of dill produces an abundance of lush growth thereby allowing plentiful cuttings from a single plant. Fernleaf’ is a shorter, more compact type that grows to just about 18 inches while offering bushy foliage for clipping. Another Dill variety ‘Bouquet’ dill is still compact but reaches to about 30 inches. Dill is amongst the herb family and can be grown successfully in hydroponics gardening commercially too. You can start growing dill with seeds hydroponically or use soil to let the seeds germinate and then transfer them to your hydroponics garden. The seedlings and root systems should not be disturbed during transplantation it may cause stress. Dill demands full sun if the hydroponic system is set outdoors, meaning at least 5 or 6 hours of sun every day. When grown indoors you can set up the hydroponic system on a sunny corner of your place or near a south-facing window that receives plenty of suns. However, you can obtain much better results using artificial lighting. Fluorescent bulbs are good and high-intensity lights are better for its growth.
Hydroponic Coriander Gardening Techniques:
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), occasionally referred to as leaf coriander, Chinese or Mexican parsley or simply as coriander in several countries is a fast-growing, warm-season annual herb.
Don’t be confused cilantro and coriander is basically the same plant, cilantro refers to the flat, fan-shaped leaves, while coriander refers to the seeds that are grounded and utilized as a spice. Cilantro leaves contain a characteristically different aroma and flavor profile than the grounded seeds, but both are commonly used in the same dish, particularly in Indian cuisine. The cilantro flowers are also known to be edible, used raw in salads and as a garnish but less common. Cilantro is a fresh herb with a limited shelf-life, its flavor and aroma diminish with shipping and storage time and the delicate foliage is prone to get easily damaged. For this reason, it is an excellent and one of the most desired herbs to grow in an indoor garden to be harvested just before use when its flavor quality is highest. Since it gives brilliant results in the hydroponic system it is considered as the best crop to be grown hydroponically. Varieties like Calypso, Santo, and Marino are well-suited to hydroponic gardening, as they are slow to bolt and allow two to three harvests or trims before plants need to be replaced.
Cilantro seed is large sized, rounded and effortless to handle and is best sown into individual pots of the sterilized, free-draining substrate, as seedlings are not suitable for transplanting. Germination occurs within five days at a temperature about 68˚F to 78˚F, with seedlings requiring warmth (above 68˚F) and moderate light levels to prevent elongated and tall, weak growth. For small-scale indoor hydroponic gardens, cilantro can be harvested at any growth stage starting from young seedlings (microgreens) through to mature plants, depending on the flavor intensity required by the grower. Younger plants are tender and the flavor is milder, while older matured plants, mainly those about to flower, develop stronger, sometimes slightly bitter flavors.
Cilantro can be cultivated in a range of hydroponic systems, the most common being nutrient film technique, DFT (deep flow technique), aeroponics and shallow substrate systems using a growing medium such as coco coir or Rockwool. Growing coriander in hydroponics NFT is also suitable for commercial as well as home herbal gardening.
That’s all folks about hydroponic herb gardening ideas, tips, and techniques. Keep gardening!.
Read: How to Grow Ginseng Herb.