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Next Step...What and How to Plant for Successful Results

If you’re new to hydroponic gardening, some plants definitely lend themselves to greater success rates. Here are a few less demanding but delicious varieties to begin with:

1. Tomatoes

Here’s why: They do better when ignored Tomatoes thrive in warm conditions (between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit), such as those your grow lights will provide. They also like their leaves kept dry, which is much less of a problem when you’re not top-watering plants grown in soil. The most important thing to remember is that tomatoes require some form of support. A tomato cage is ideal, but any metal or wooden stake will suffice. If you don’t stake them, the tomatoes may get too heavy for their stems, and you won’t get a hardy crop – in fact, your plant may even croak.

2. Beans

Here’s why: They love the indoors! Almost all bean varieties love hydroponic mediums and do remarkably well inside the house. Like tomatoes, they do require supports to keep from drooping. You may even find that plants brought in from the garden before the frost provide a better yield indoors!

3. Lettuce

Here’s why: Not picky, economical. Unlike many other plants, lettuces don’t need grow lights to thrive. They’ll be just as happy under a fluorescent bulb, as long as you keep it close enough for them to get the full benefit. Don’t grow together with your tomatoes, however. Lettuce prefers cooler temps.

In addition to the above, you can quite easily grow hot and sweet peppers hydroponically. If you’ve already cut your teeth on growing tomatoes, you’ll find peppers a snap. Like tomatoes, peppers love warmth and sturdy supports. You’ll also need to pollinate them manually. Then it’s time to move on to more challenging plants - watercress, cucumbers, herbs, and anything else that takes your fancy and doesn’t intimidate. Don’t be afraid to experiment! You can now see why blue and red spectrum lighting and temperature controls will be useful to have – especially if you want to grow a variety of crops. If you can’t afford them right away, however, it’s good to know that you can successfully begin with lettuce.

If you feel a bit squeamish about starting a hydroponic garden from scratch with oddsand- ends, you can bypass that process. Just ask for a “plug-and-go hydroponic gardening kit” from the local hydroponics dealer or purchase one online. You’ll find these kits provide everything you’ll need to get started. Typically they come with the following:

  • module for holding plant cubes
  • seeds suitable for hydroponic success
  • nutrient solution
  • heating pad

Add the perfect amounts of sun and water, and voila! Just remember, the more plants you grow, the hotter your grow room or greenhouse will likely get. One of hydroponics greatest benefits is the amount of control you have over the growing environment. You can set temperature control units remotely to turn fans and blowers on and off at intervals you choose. You can also use them to regulate the opening and closing of air ducts to facilitate ideal drafts for warming and cooling.

As you find success with beginner methods, (provided you haven’t been seduced by another, posher hobby by then), you can trade in your ‘training wheels’ equipment to take advantage of better and more sophisticated gear. At first, growing hydroponically won’t be a cake-walk, no Sir, but don’t give up. Growing food has never been for the faint hearted. We think you’ll find hydroponics a worthy and, more importantly, never, ever boring pursuit. Time to get wicking! Now where did we put those tighty-whiteys again?

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