Hydroponic cultivation refers to growing plants without the use of soil. The question on what to grow and what not to grow hydroponically is very common, and so there is a need to have knowledge on how to go about choosing the correct crop to grow to avoid spending too much for poor yields due to the unfavorable conditions in the hydroponic cultivation.
Factors to Consider Before Growing Hydroponically
Plants are different and hence require different care. Several factors are required before deciding what to plant using the best hydroponic system:
- Height – Some plants creep or spread very fast within no time hence may require larger spaces to grow on.
- Time to Harvest – Plants take different times to mature and be ready for harvesting and hence there is need of knowledge of a life span of your crops.
- Light/ Temperature – According to https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/tending-greenhouse, crops grow best at temperatures of about 75 to 85 degrees in the daytime and 60 to 75 at night; hence some crops may not be ideal for hydroponic cultivation.
- Germination Period – It is important to know how long your seed will take to germinate.
- Soil condition – Different crops require different soil P.H. Some thrive well in acidity others in alkaline conditions.
- Hardiness Zone – It is important to know in which zone/climate your crop can thrive best. Zones range from 0-12, zero being the coldest and 12 the warmest.
Plants Ideal for Growing Hydroponically
Strawberries are very popular crops grown hydroponically merely because of these important aspects:
- Light /Temperature: According to harvesttotable, strawberries requires a temperature range of 60F to 80F which is naturally available in a hydroponic cultivation.
- Feeding: They are light feeders meaning that they use little of your mineral solution
- Maturity for Harvesting: 4-6 weeks after planting
- Height/ Spreading: They do not spread and so requires a small space hence you can plant so many plants in a small chamber.
- Germination period: A strawberry seed takes three weeks to germinate.
- Hardiness zones: Ideal zone is 3-10
- Soil condition: P.H should be 5.0-5.7. The water solution has that P.H
According to verticalhydroponic, potatoes are ideal for hydroponic growing due to the following reasons:
- Light /Temperature: They need only six hours of sunlight daily; this is parallel to the minimum requirement when setting up a hydroponic. They need temperatures range of 65-70 degrees.
- Maturity for Harvesting: They only take two months to mature and hence do not use so much mineral nutrients.
- Height/ Spreading: They use a small space since they do not spread so much.
- Soil condition: They thrive well in P.H of 4.5 -8.5, which can be adjusted in hydroponic farming.
- Hardiness zone: Zone 8 is ideal for potatoes hence good for hydroponic farming.
- Germination Period: 10-15 days
The things that make tomatoes ideal for hydroponic growing are:
- Maturity for Harvesting: Tomatoes take about eight weeks to start ripening making them ideal for hydroponic growing due to its fast growing.
- Light /Temperature: They require ranges from 70-79degrees, which is a basic need in setting up a hydroponic system.
- Soil condition: They thrive well in P.H of 6.0-7.0
- Germination period: Tomato seeds takes 5-10 days to germinate
- Hardiness zones: Zones 6-9
Lettuce is one of the simplest crops to start with as a beginner in hydroponic cultivation. This is mainly because:
- Height/ Spreading: It uses very little space. Lettuce does not spread so much and hence in a small chamber you can grow so many lettuce plants. It rises to 12 inches thus reducing space needed.
- Maturity for Harvesting: It matures very fast actually; within one month, it is ready to start harvesting.
- Feeding: It is a poor feeder and hence uses the mineral solution provided sparingly.
- Soil condition: They do well in P.H of 6.0-6.8
- Hardiness zone: They need a hardiness zone of 5-8
- Germination period: Lettuce seeds germinate well in 2-12 days
Cabbages are common in hydroponic farming.
- Maturity for Harvesting: They mature very fast within ten weeks hence ideal.
- Light /Temperature: 60-70 degrees and they are frost tolerant.
- Pest/Diseases: Cabbages are prone to pests attack, and so they are safe since, in hydroponic farming, pests are not available since there are no weeds.
- Soil condition: A P.H of 6.5-6.8 is suitable for them
- Germination period: Cabbage seeds germinate within 10 days
- Hardiness Zones: They require hardiness zones of 5-8
5 Plants Not To Grow Hydroponically
Some plants that naturally spread out so much are not ideal for growing hydroponically. They include:
- Light /Temperature: 70F – 90F.
- Germination period: watermelon germinates within 10 days.
- Maturity for Harvesting: Take up to three months to mature.
- Height/ Spreading: They spread out so much and require a large space to grow.
Pumpkins are not ideal for farming hydroponically due to several issues like:
- Light /Temperature: 75F – 95F.
- Germination period: pumpkin germinates within 7 days.
- Maturity for Harvesting: They take up to four months to mature and are expensive to farm since they use up so much of your hydroponic solution.
- Height/ Spreading: They spread out fast, a single vine growing up to 30 feet.
Flowers are not ideal for hydroponic farming since:
- Maturity for Harvesting: They take long to mature (around three months)
- Feeding: They are heavy feeders.
- Light /Temperature: They need special care regarding temperature, humidity, and sunlight, which may not be available in a simple hydroponic system.
- Germination Period: Most flowers stem cuts takes long to germinate
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes may not be ideal for hydroponic farming due to these factors:
- Light /Temperature: 60F – 85F.
- Germination period: not grown from seed.
- Height/ Spreading: Sweet potatoes tend to spread quickly and may take up much space.
- Pest/ Diseases: They are prone to getting water-based microorganisms from the mineral solution thus may not be good for consumption.
- Light/ Temperature: 70-80 degrees thus may not thrive well in hydroponic cultivation.
- Germination period: 3 weeks.
- Pest/ Diseases: They are susceptible to powdery mildew, a disease very common mostly in high humid areas such as in hydroponics.
- Height/ Spreading: They also spread out thus taking so much space.
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