hydroponic farming

Hydroponics or Soil for Leafy Greens?

Pounds of LETTUCE from just one shelf!

There are several advantages of growing leafy greens in hydroponics instead of in an outdoor garden. Here are the top 5:

  1. Water efficiency: Hydroponics systems use significantly less water than traditional soil-based gardens, as the water is recirculated through the system and can be reused multiple times. This can be particularly beneficial in areas where water is scarce or expensive.
  2. Faster growth and higher yields: Plants grown in hydroponics systems often grow faster and produce higher yields than those grown in soil. This is because the plants have constant access to water, nutrients, and oxygen, allowing them to grow more efficiently.
  3. Control over growing conditions: With hydroponics, growers have complete control over the growing environment, including the temperature, humidity, and nutrient levels. This can help to optimize plant growth and yield, and can be particularly beneficial in areas where outdoor growing conditions are less favorable.
  4. Reduced use of pesticides and herbicides: Hydroponic systems are often less susceptible to pests and diseases than outdoor gardens, due to the absence of soil-borne pathogens. This can help to reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides, making hydroponic produce a more environmentally friendly option.
  5. Year-round production: Hydroponic systems can be operated year-round, regardless of the weather conditions outside. This can be particularly beneficial in areas with long, cold winters or hot, dry summers, where outdoor gardening may be challenging or impossible.

6. Hydroponically-grown lettuce tastes SO MUCH BETTER THAN STORE-BOUGHT LETTUCE!!!

Tools for Hydroponic Gardening, Heat Mats

What tools does a hydroponic gardener need? Hydroponics is growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution instead of soil. So, all I need is nutrient solution and some seeds, right? Hmmm…not quite…

First, you’ll need seedlings to transfer into your hydroponics system. To grow seeds into seedlings you’ll need a few tools. This blog is about one of my favorite tools called a plant heat mat.

What’s a plant heat mat?

A plant heat mat is a gardening tool used to provide a warm and consistent temperature for seedlings and young plants. It consists of a flat, electrically-heated pad that is placed underneath a grow tray or pots. The heat mat is designed to provide warmth to the roots of the plants, which helps to stimulate germination and growth.

The temperature of a plant heat mat can vary depending on the model and brand, but most heat mats are designed to maintain a temperature range of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit (6-11 degrees Celsius) above the ambient temperature of the room. This means that if the room temperature is 70°F (21°C), the heat mat will maintain a temperature of around 80-90°F (27-32°C) in the area where the seedlings are growing.

At this point are you realizing that you will need to monitor the temperature of the heat mat? A temperature sensor, if you have one, will work for this purpose. However, if you’re anticipating growing a lot of plants, you may want to purchase a heat mat with an adjustable thermostat.

Why bother with a plant heat mat?

It’s all about germination! Germination rate is the percentage of seeds that sprout and begin to grow. The higher the germination rate, the more successful your planting efforts will be. Using a plant heat mat under a grow tray can significantly increase the germination rate of your seeds. This is because a heat mat provides a consistent, warm temperature that helps to stimulate seed germination.

Read about these loofah seeds that grew like CRAZY in just a few days.

When do you remove the heat mat?

As a general rule of thumb, you should remove the grow tray from on top of the heat mat once the majority of the seeds have germinated and the seedlings have begun to grow. This typically takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the specific plant species.
To determine if it’s time to remove the grow tray from the heat mat, you can use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the soil or growing medium in the tray. If the temperature is consistently above the recommended range, it’s time to remove the tray from the heat mat.

Last piece of advice about heat mats

On MIGardener’s YouTube Channel, he suggest that you cut a piece of corrugated card the size of the heat mat and place it between the grow tray and the mat. One of MI’s viewers has had much success putting a piece of Styrofoam between the plant heat mat and the surface on which it sits. I tried both of these suggestions and they WORK!

Overall, using a heat mat can be a great way to increase the germination rate and growth of seedlings. If you’re seeds don’t germinate, don’t give up! Gardening is a trial-and-error process, and it may take several attempts to get the results you want.

Happy Germinating!

The Joy of Hydroponic Gardening

Every day you can find joy in hydroponic gardening. It’s the joy of watching new seedlings sprout, flourish, and mature into ready-to-harvest plants. And, it’s the satisfaction of being self-sufficient and sustainable, knowing that the food you grow is fresh, healthy, and pesticide-free.

Three hydroponic shelves in our shop

One of the best things about hydroponic gardening is the ability to start new seedlings at any time of the year. Whether it’s the dead of winter or the middle of summer, you can always propagate new plants and enjoy the thrill of watching them grow. An added bonus? This hydroponic gardener is never too cold or too hot, because my garden is indoors! [Watch the FREE YouTube Series, Get Growing! Hydroponics Training Online on the GlennaTabor YouTube Channel.]

In hydroponics, you can germinate seeds to grow into seedlings to be transplanted into raised beds or other growing containers, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that you’ve nurtured them every step of the way. Plus, you’ve saved a LOT of money!

Loofah & comfrey seedlings will be transplanted to raised beds in a few weeks.

But hydroponic gardening isn’t just about growing vegetables and herbs. It’s also a great way to propagate fruit trees, like fig trees, for example. By taking cuttings from mature trees and rooting them in a hydroponic system, you can grow new trees that will provide you with fresh, delicious fruit for years to come.

One week from harvesting!

One of the best things about growing things hydroponically, though, is the peace and quiet that comes with it. There are no noisy tractors, no smelly fertilizers, and no invasive weeds. Instead, it’s just you and your plants!

If you’re looking for a way to connect with nature and enjoy the daily joy of growing things, consider hydroponic gardening. It’s self-sufficient, sustainable, satisfying, AND,

the results are YUMMY!!!

GET GROWING RIGHT NOW with the 1st session on pH & seed trays!
Steps for Starting Seeds at Home in Grow Trays

Steps for Starting Seeds at Home

Disclaimer: After hours & hours studying all the plant experts and much personal experience, I have realized there are NO OFFICIAL STEPS for starting your seeds at home! I’m simply going to share the way to start seeds that has repeatedly worked best for me. I use grow trays with domes & a plant heat mat.

One of the best ways to ensure that your plants have a healthy beginning is by germinating seeds in grow trays with domes. This method is especially useful for my favorite kind of gardening– hydroponic gardening!  Hydroponics is a soil-less growing technique that relies on nutrient-rich water instead.

First, let’s talk about grow trays. These trays are often made of plastic and come in various sizes. They’re designed to hold soil or hydroponic growing media and are perfect for starting seedlings. One of the benefits of using grow trays is that they allow you to start multiple plants at once, making the most of the available space. I like the reusable, 12-space grow trays because they are easier to manipulate.

Now, let’s talk about domes. Domes are plastic covers that fit over the top of your grow trays. They’re designed to create a humid environment, which is perfect for seed germination. The humid environment helps to retain moisture and warmth, which encourages the seeds to sprout. Placing the grow tray with moist seeding media and seeds on a plant heat mat speeds up the germination process.

Subscribe to my Hydro4Food Newsletter & I’ll send you a link for a downloadable FREE guide, “Steps for Starting Seeds at Home.” Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, give grow trays and domes a try. Your plants will thank you for it!

Get Growing with Grow Trays! This video shows you how!

Starting Plants in Hydro Tanks

SAVE $$$ BY STARTING SEEDS & SEEDLINGS IN YOUR HYDRO TANK! If you have a hydroponic system, then you have a perfect money maker! Hydroponic tanks are a great tool for germinating seeds and encouraging seedling formation.

While I have started many seeds in my grow trays & DWC tanks, my favorite seeds to watch grow are loofah seeds. They are just incredibly gratifying to watch grow.

The picture to the left shows loofah seeds that were started just four days ago! Once they are placed in a hydro tank under a grow light they almost explode in growth!

I planted two loofah seeds & this is the crop of seeds!

Loofahs are edible. This immature loofah gourd is the right size for eating in stir fry. You can also eat the flowers and the leaves.

The mature loofah gourd is really a cool tool! It can be used as a dish scrubber. I haven’t used a dishcloth for years!

But wait, there are MORE uses for dried loofah!

  • Scrubbing grills, ovens, & car wheels
  • Organic cleaner in gardens
  • Skin exfoliator
  • Media for planting seeds
  • Supports starting plants in raised beds & gardens
  • And, so on…

Basically, whenever you would use a rag or sponge or scrubber, you can use a loofah instead. When you’re finished, it is repurposed

Why Use Pelleted Seeds in Hydroponics?

It’s a “Seed to Salad” Blog, so let’s begin with my favorite type of seed. No, it’s not a type of vegetable or flower, but it’s the type of seed that saves me a lot of time when germinating seeds for my hydroponics system.

A pelleted seed is a seed that is coated with an inert, organic material such as clay.

Seeds are pelleted by tumbling them with the coating materials and gradually adding moisture. Once the pellet coating reaches the desired size, the pelleted seeds are cured (dried).

Pelleted seeds…

  • Are easier to plant & manage
  • Have a higher germination rate
  • Are less likely to mold or rot in a hydroponic system
  • Are big enough for you to find them

And, pelleted seeds are just more fun–especially with criss-cross tweezers!