If you are one of many people living in an urban environment that don’t have an outdoor space to start a garden, we’ve got you covered! This article is all about the options available for the indoor gardener.
You can grow plenty of plants indoors in a naturally sunny location. You can grow vegetables, herbs or even non-edible plants inside your house in a spot that gets natural light, such as on a windowsill. Look through these other blogs below for more info on gardening indoors:
Also check out our Indoor Gardening board on Pinterest for some awesome indoor gardening ideas!
Hydroponics is a soil-less method of growing plants. How do you grow plants without soil you ask? You have plants growing in a mineral nutrient solution (water that has the essential nutrients that a plant needs to survive in it). Some hydroponic growers put their plants directly in the solution, while others place the plants in a growing medium like gravel, sand, LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate), perlite, or coconut fibre (coco coir). Hydroponics is a great option for indoor gardeners because it removes the messy aspects of gardening with soil and is actually easier than using soil in many ways. Check out the diagram below for a visual representation of a theoretical hydroponics system and keep scrolling to read all about the benefits of hydroponics!
Want to learn more? Check this awesome video that explains hydroponics!
Also, read all about the different types of hydroponics systems (there are quite a few!).
Check out our beginner's blog's on
Benefits of hydroponics
- 50-75% higher yield
- 90% water preservation
- Nutrient preservation
- No weed, pest, or insect problems
Hydroponically grown plants grow noticeably faster and better than plants grown in soil, and have significantly higher yields. This is due to the fact that hydroponic systems deliver a balanced, pH adjusted nutrient solution in a highly soluble form directly to the roots of the plants; compared to plants in soil which have to expend energy to find the nutrients in the soil and extract them. Instead, the energy that would be used on finding and extracting the nutrients in soil is used by the plant on vegetative growth and fruit and flower production.
When plants in soil are watered, only about 10% of the water is absorbed by the plants. The other 90% drains away, taking nutrients and fertilizers away with it. This results in a loss of water and contamination of nearby waterways from the fertilizers. Hydroponic systems preserve water and nutrients better than soil based systems as the water is not lost to drainage, therefore they don’t have nutrient leakage, all the water and nutrients are contained within the system and are utilized by the plants.
Disadvantages of hydroponics
- Have to monitor the pH and levels of chemicals in the system closely
- Using synthetic chemicals (nutrient solution is made from mixing man-made chemicals)
- Plants are prone to root rot
- Water must be replaced every so often to avoid toxic levels of chemicals
- Uses energy for the grow light, pumps, and air systems
Check out this step by step guide to making your own hydroponic system at home!
This site also has lots of great info about how to build a variety of hydroponics systems.
Here are a couple pre-made hydroponics systems that you can buy:
Aquaponics, another indoor gardening option, combines hydroponics and aquaculture (raising fish) to create a system that grows plants in a soil-less environment using fish and microbes. The concept relies on creating a balanced ecosystem: the fish produce waste that is used as organic material (fertilizer) by the plants, the plants filter the water the fish live in, the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) that live in the growing media of the plants turn the ammonia and solids produced by the plants into nitrates and vermicompost that are a food source for the fish. The set-up for an aquaponics system is similar to that of a hydroponics system, with plants growing in a soilless medium, except that the reservoir of water below the growing media and the plants contains fish.
Benefits of aquaponics
- No need to replace/dispose of the water, it just needs to be topped up as it evaporates
- Minimal risk of fish disease compared to aquaculture
- Gardening chores are reduced (no weeding, no fertilizing, no watering)
Check out our blog on the best fish to choose for an aquaponics system of your own!
This link specifically has info on how to make your own aeroponics system using a 5 gallon bucket! Check out the instructional video half way down the page too.