Our Favorite Hydroponic Vegetables

Assuming you've decided to invest in the gro-lights, containers, and nutrient mixes, we'd like to recommend some hydroponic vegetables you could try growing.

| October/November 1998

hydroponic vegetables - lettuce

When used with flowing water systems, lettuce does well as a hydroponic vegetable.


The following are plant types you might want to try under hydroponic cultivation, with some tips for best results. Many can be had in special greenhouse and forcing varieties. Some of these are available as specially adapted "hydroponic vegetables" bred to grow independent of fluctuations in day length (or photoperiod, which is constant in hydroponics under lights) that schedules the ripening cycles of most plants to fit the seasons of the year.

Artichoke. A kind of giant thistle that requires a large planter and only produces one large and two or three smaller side-shoot buds. A frost-tender perennial that takes several years to mature. Needs extra potassium in its diet.

Asparagus. Super-hardy perennial that is best grown outdoors unless you don't have an outdoors. Can be raised in two-foot-wide-and deep planting boxes filled with a cheap local medium such as gravel. Set well-rimmed asparagus roots a foot deep and two feet apart in cells of Cocopeat amid the rocks. Rig a trickle-tube or drip ring to the center of each root. You can companion-plant a whole variety of plants growing in pots or "grocubes" around the top of the bed. Try strawberries and horseradish.

Beans. All kinds and maturities of fresh beans (snap, lima, soy, fava) will do well. Like all big seeds, they are best started in Cocopeat or perlite mix; if pushed down into a rockwool cube, the seeds may rot. Bush beans are easiest and fastest, but pole beans can be grown on string supports. Shift from a general-purpose nutrient to a low nitrogen solution once the plants have finished leafy growth.

Beets for greens and roots. Best in a box filled with a loose medium such as a sand, perlite, or vermiculite mix.

Broccoli. Raab-type leafy variety grows fast and can be harvested over several weeks. Heading types need a lot of space. Varieties such as old-time De Cicco with small main heads and lots of side sprouts produce the most in the least space. Feed heavily once heading begins.

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