As a micro homesteader, one of my primary goals is to grow as much of my own food as I can. Why? Because it means fewer trips to the grocery store, more money in my piggy bank and better quality food in my belly! So as a micro homesteader why am I even talking about reasons to grow hydroponically?
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I mean it’s a valid question as as most micro homesteaders probably don’t use this growing method I understand your confusion. But my friend, I am not most people! I am a born analyst and problem solver. I am always poking holes in things to find better solutions. So I took a look at some of the challenges I was facing as a micro homesteader. Primary among them was space and a short growing season.
Living in Ontario, Canada in Zone 5b I don’t have a very long growing season. So, the problem to solve is how to grow more food for as long as possible! So let me list out my reasons for why YOU as a micro homesteader should consider growing hydroponically. I have an Aerogarden Farm Plus and a personal Rise Garden (which I LOVE and you can save $50 with my coupon code below)!!!
1 – Grow food year-round
If I was only allowed to choose one out of these 8 reasons to grow hydroponically. It would be this one that I would share with other micro homesteaders. The fact that hydroponic gardening means you can grow year-round is a game-changer. I just wish more micro homesteaders would take up the practice! If you are growing your own veggies (and a few fruits) all year then that means you can cut down on even more grocery trips and have more money to focus on paying off any debt.
Now don’t get me wrong, your outdoor garden will just about always give you more food than you will get growing hydroponically. Unless you converted your basement to a whole food grow-op, but I’m assuming most people aren’t going to do that. But ANYTHING you can grow at home in the winter is a bonus! It’s a known fact that fruits and veggies out of season will always be more expensive. Plus, there is all the travel involved in getting it to the grocery store even. I mean, that sh*t ain’t going to be that fresh, right? Better to grab that lettuce or herbs from your hydroponic system for sure.
2 – Fewer pests
Given that your hydroponic system will be in your home means that you are guaranteed to have less pests. BUT, if they do show up it’s way worse ’cause they’re in your house (yuk). But aside from and unlikely catastrophe you will have far fewer pests in your crops than you would growing the same things outside. Some pests that can show up are aphids, thrips, spider mites and fungus gnats.
That said if you want to avoid any intruders the main suggestion I would give you is to keep your indoor plants inside and your outdoor plants outside. Some people tend to move their houseplants outside when the weather gets nicer. And while I’m sure the plants appreciate this (assuming they are hardened off first) the bugs sure do too. So when it becomes time to move the plants back in, all those wee beasties are along for the ride.
3 – Fewer diseases
One of the reasons to grow hydroponically is definielty that it reduces the number of diseases your plants are exposed to. This is due to the lack of soil as a growing medium. That said, nothing is a perfect solution, so don’t expect that you will never encounter a disease in your hydroponic plants. But it sure does decrease the occurrences of them. The main one to watch out for is root rot, if you want to know more about hydroponics problems and how to solve them the check this post out.
4 – Double dip (in a good and hygienic way)
What do I mean? Well, you can double up on your harvest by growing inside AND outside at the same time. This also feeds into point number 5 below about saving space, but more on that in a minute. Let me explain the whole double up thing first. So let’s take lettuce for example. I COULD grow lettuce outside in my raised bed and by using square foot planting I can grow 4 heads of lettuce in a square foot. Trust me the slugs would love for me to do this (if you need info on garden pests check this out).
But instead, if I grow that lettuce inside in a hydroponic environment where it thrives. I end up with pest-free lettuce and I have a square foot free for something like carrots that aren’t going to grow well indoors. So by pairing the two, you can garden smart rather than hard. By doing so you can increase your yield and double-dip in a sense.
5 – Save space
A space, the lack of it being the bane of every micro homesteader. This is another reason that growing hydroponically can increase you micro homesteading game. You can grow a lot in a small space using a hydroponic setup. Take a look at the Family Rise Garden, you can grow 36 plants in a few square feet of space. No way you’re doing that outside!
I am also planning on making my own DIY hydroponic system using PVC piping and housing it in a 2 foot x 2 foot grow tent. Even with a height of just under 5 feet I should still be able to grow a decent amount of plants in this small space! You can grow 3-10 times more produce in the same space vs growing in soil.
6 – More efficient water usage
This may seem strange at first given that with hydroponics you are growing in water but hear me out. According to research (not my own…yet) growing hydroponically can be 90% more water efficient. Like wow! But it makes sense when I think about it. You fill up the grow bowl once and then top it up every week or two for the life of the plants. Each side of my AeroGarden Farm Plus uses about 2 gallons. But if I was watering those same plants outside I would be running the hose at least 10-15 minutes in a raised bed. If a typical hose puts out 9-17 gallons per minute….I mean that’s a HUGE difference. So that’s another one of the kickass reasons to grow hydroponically, have I won you over yet?
7 – Quicker harvests
It’s a fact, things grow faster hydroponically. According to the Aerogarden website they claim things grow 5 times faster. Other sites claim that plants grown hydroponically grow twice as fast as those grown in soil. My scientific side is crying out for an experiment so I’ll probably do one in the future and post it to my YouTube channel. But wether it is 2 or 5 times faster, you are still getting food from seed to your plate at an increased rate. Plus you are avoiding a grocery store trip and you’ll know the history of the food you are eating. I personally only grow heirloom seeds which come with their own historical stories which I love!
8 – No weeding
I mean need I say more? Pretty sure nobody likes weeding, I know I don’t. So anything that cuts down or eliminates weeding is something that I am going to be interested in. So the lack of weeding is a great reason to grow hydroponically. Growing hydroponically means that. you have a (pretty much) controlled environment. So this means there are virtually no ways weeds can get into your hydroponic setup. There is one disclaimer and that is if you buy preseeded pods. It is still extremely unlikely but I have seen posts in some groups I am in where people reported weeds from their pods.
I just use the seedless pods and plant my own seeds. Why? Well, I am a VERY strong believer in only growing heirloom seeds. I even did a post on the benefits of heirlooms seeds, you can check it out here. So the best way for me to ensure I am growing heirloom seeds is to use my own or those from a trusted source like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
So hopefully these 8 reasons to grow hydroponically will convince you to try incorporating this awesome growing method into your own micro homestead. I am so glad I got my first hydroponic system a fe years ago. I continue to grow and expand both my outdoor and indoor gardens, because the end goal is always too grow more food, save money and become more self-sufficient.