One method of saving on your grocery bill is to learn to grow frugal kitchen window hydroponics. This might be a good idea for people who don't have the space or time to manage an outdoor garden.
What Is Hydroponic Gardening?
Although hydro means water, hydroponic gardening isn't as simple as placing a few leaves in a jar of water. You won't use soil, but you will use some other growing medium such as gravel, perlite, sand, or vermiculite. The nutrients the plant receives come from a water and fertilizer mixture delivered on a schedule. Proponents of hydroponic gardening believe that because a water solution makes it easy for a plant to receive the right amount of nutrients, rather than forcing the plant to seek them out in the soil, the plant will be healthier and produce better yields. You can usually find the growing medium and the nutrient solutions you need for hydroponic gardening in a garden supply store.
Hydroponic gardening can be a relatively easy process with a few pieces of equipment, or a complex method with multiple grow lights, hoses, timers, and such. For frugal kitchen window hydroponics, you can do without artificial lighting if you have plenty of natural light in the room. Plan to set up your hydroponic garden in the brightest spot in your kitchen. This might require a shelf or small tables on which to set the plants. You may also need:
- Growing trays or buckets
- Water reservoir
- A submersible pump
- An air pump and air stone
The site Simply Hydroponics offers free system plans that help you gain a better understanding of what type of process you might use. Look at the following samples for ideas:
Costs vary depending on the final set-up and what you plan to grow, but expect to pay between $50-$100 for basic equipment, growing medium, and plants. Once you have the equipment system as you like it, you'll probably invest $25-$50 per growing season for plants or seeds and growing medium.
Frugal Kitchen Window Hydroponics
Most experts recommend starting with established plants rather than seeds until you understand the plants' cycles. Once you know how to grow what you like, you'll save money buying seeds and sprouting them in soil in a dark location until they become seedlings. When that happens, you can transfer them to your sunny hydroponic system.
Keep in mind that some annual plants will do fine indoors for their entire life cycle, whereas certain perennial plants may need to be relocated outside during the summer for the best results.
Many herbs, including basil, mint, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, grow well hydroponically. You can produce fresh herbs all year long, so they are a great entry into this hobby. This eHow article explains how to establish your herb garden.
Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard respond very well in a hydroponic garden. You'll get many cuttings, and won't have to worry about cold snaps killing your crop. Other vegetables to try include cauliflower, peppers, broccoli, carrots, and radishes. Keep in mind that certain types of vegetables thrive in some hydroponic systems better than others, so consider what you want to grow and build your system accordingly.
Tomatoes and Other Fruits
You'll have great success with hydroponic tomatoes of many varieties. However, you might have to establish a trellis system for them to grow on, so factor in building or buying one. Other fruits to try indoors include strawberries and small melons.
Interior Gardens offers a comprehensive list of what you might grow indoors, but remember that certain varieties may need a more complex hydroponic system.
More About Hydroponics
LoveToKnow Garden is a great resource for more information about kitchen hydroponics. Check out these articles for additional tips and suggestions for supplies:
- Homemade Hydroponics
- Methods of Hydroponics
- Can Plants Grow Without Soil?