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lettuce in hydroponic rows  scaled
lettuce in hydroponic rows scaled

Growing Vegetables in Water

Do you know that you can get beautiful and healthy plants from your kitchen scraps? Many people save time spent traveling to stores by growing vegetables in water at home. How is it possible to grow vegetable plants in water? What vegetables can you grow in water? Read this article to learn about growing plants in water. 

hydroponics-system-planting-vegetables-herbs-without-using-soil-health

Why Grow Vegetables in Water? 

Why do people grow vegetables in water? People have different reasons for growing plants in water. Some reasons are: 

  • Lack of space or no access to healthy soil 
  • Having fresh vegetables directly from your home 
  • Having healthier and organic vegetables for your consumption 
  • Research and other educational purposes 
  • The fun of watching the roots grow and multiply in water 

Does growing vegetables in water have advantages over conventional gardening (i.e., growing in soil)? You will find out soon. 

Advantages of Growing Vegetables in Water 

Get your vegetables ready for planting because you will surely want to grow them in water after finding out the benefits of growing vegetables in water. 

Quicker Harvest 

Young plants produce small leaves while older plants produce broad, matured leaves ready for consumption. Rooting your kitchen scraps in water gives you greens that are ready for use in a short time. Vegetables grown with this method are quicker to harvest than plants started from seeds

Hydroponic Vegetables are Healthier 

With the right form of nutrients in the water, plants that are grown in water absorb nutrients faster than plants grown in soil. More nutrients for your plants means healthier vegetables for you to eat. 

Your plants are also healthy because soil pathogens and nematodes that attack the root of plants grown in soil will not have access to the plants that you grow in water. 

No Pests or Weeds 

Gardeners and hobby growers are more attentive to plants grown in water. With basic care of the vegetables like changing the water regularly, and removing pests found on the plant, vegetables grown in water are usually free from pests.  

Since there are no seeds or other plants in the water, no weeds and no need to spend time weeding! 

No Space? No Problem 

If you are living in the city and you do not have space to grow your vegetables, you can grow them inside your home. With access to adequate light (by placing the plants in a sunny windowsill or providing grow lights), your plants will grow like (or even better than) plants grown in soil. 

The list of the advantages of growing in water is long, but the points mentioned above must have convinced you. Do you want to grow vegetables in water? How can you grow and care for them? Keep reading. 

How to Grow Vegetables in Water 

If you want to grow your vegetables in water, there are two methods to get started. You can start the roots in water and plant in soil or use hydroponics. Read on to find out more about both.

Note that growing rice and other crops that love water are not in the scope of this article. The focus of this article is growing plants (that people usually cultivate in soil) in water. 

Starting the Roots in Water 

In this method, just a portion of the growing cycle is in water. Some reasons why you should start your vegetables in water are: 

  • To know whether the vegetable will grow or not: Not every vegetable will grow from planting the stem. Before you plant the vegetable in soil, you should confirm that the plant will grow. 
  • To make the plant healthy enough to fight microbes: If you plant your kitchen scraps directly in soil, bacteria and other microbes that decompose organic materials will start acting on your plants, therefore, decaying them. Before you plant your scraps in soil, the plant should be strong enough to defend itself from microbes. 
  • Faster growth of roots. Crops like avocados and some root vegetables like ginger, onions, garlic, and potatoes develop roots faster when they are started in water than when they are buried in the soil. 

Here are some of the plants you can grow in water from kitchen scraps: 

Lettuce 

Photo by Garden.eco

How many times have you gone to the store to buy lettuce this year? Unless you have a garden, it was probably too many to count. Each time you use all of the leaves, don’t throw your lettuce stem away. Plant it in water.  

The process of starting lettuce in water is easy: 

  1. At about 1 inch from the bottom, cut the leaves and eat them. 
  2. Insert the remaining part (bottom facing down) into 1 or 2 inches of water in a glass 
  3. Place the glass on a windowsill that receives sufficient light or under a grow light
  4. Change the water in the glass regularly (we recommend changing the water every two days) 
  5. In less than two weeks, your lettuce would have enough roots and be ready for transplanting into your garden or into a container. 
  6. Then enjoy your lettuce a second time! 

Avocado 

Who does not love avocados? Many people love the sweet and nutritious fruit, and this has caused the price to go up. What if you grow your avocados? Start growing avocados in water. If you do not root the seed in water, the tree might not grow. 

Growing avocados is easy. All you must do is: 

  1. Cut the avocado in half. Remove and clean the pit carefully (do not remove the brown skin) 
  2. Pierce three toothpicks into the pit, and then suspend half of the pit (the pointed side facing up) in water 
  3. Change the water regularly and never allow the pit to become dry. 
  4. In two to eight weeks, your avocado pit will have enough roots and a shoot to be transplanted. 
  5. Before you transplant the avocado, pinch the tip of the shoot so it will get bushy. 
  6. Plant the avocado pit in the ground (or a very large pot). Do not cover the entire pit. Continue feeding and watering the tree. 
  7. If your winters are cold, bring your avocado tree indoors.  
  8. Avocado trees take many years to bear fruit, so be patient. And if it doesn’t, consider it a nice house plant! 

Basil 

Everyone has a different use of basil. Some people use basil to make essential oils. Basil also add an aromatic flavor to your foods. It can treat wounds and some skin infections. The all-in-one purpose of basil makes them needed by people. If you are among the people who use this herb regularly, you probably have bought basil many times. You should consider starting basil in water so that you will have your herbs freshly available in your home. 

 To start basil in water, 

  1. Put the stem (or cutting) of basil in a glass of water. 
  2. Place the glass is a windowsill with 6-8 hours of sunlight. 
  3. Check and change the water regularly for the sake of your herb’s health. 
  4. In less than three weeks, your basil cuttings will have enough roots to be transplanted into soil. 
  5. Enjoy your aromatic herbs as they grow 

Root Vegetables 

Root vegetables are crops that are commercially grown for their roots. These plants have tubers, bulbs, or corms.  

Some examples of root vegetables are: 

  • Yam 
  • Garlic 
  • Ginger 
  • Onions 
  • Potatoes 

To start your root vegetables in water: 

  1. Suspend the root in water (for onions and other plants with bulb, place them bottom side facing down) 
  2. Place the bowl of water in a place with sufficient light. 
  3. Change the water regularly. 
  4. When roots develop (in one to three weeks, according to the vegetable), transplant into soil 
  5. Enjoy your sweet roots. 

Lemongrass 

Lemongrass is known and used worldwide. From Asia, Africa, Europe, and America, you just can’t have enough of lemongrass. You probably know how unique this herb is. What if I told you that you could start lemongrass in water

Lemongrass is one of the easiest herbs to grow in water. To grow lemongrass, 

  • Insert 2 inches of the bottom part of the stalk in a glass of water 
  • Place the glass on a warm spot with sufficient sunlight. 
  • Change the water regularly. 
  • In less than two weeks, you can transplant the lemongrass into the soil. 
  • Enjoy the aromatic flavor of lemongrass. 

Now, you know a few vegetables that can be started in water. There is another method of growing vegetables in water. 

Hydroponics vs Growing in Water?

hydroponics-system-planting-vegetables-herbs-without-using-soil-health

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in nutrient-rich water or solution. The differences between hydroponics from the other method are: 

  • Fertilizers are added into the water 
  • The entire growing cycle of the plant is in water 
  • Hydroponics is a bit more technical and expensive 

Hydroponics help growers who live in cities or who do not have access to soil to grow their healthy and organic vegetables. There are several different hydroponic systems.

  • Deep Water Culture (DWC): Vegetables are suspended on the surface of a nutrient-rich solution 
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): Water flows through the roots of plants in a pipe 
  • Ebb and Flow (E&F): Also called “Flood and Drain,” water flows into and out of the growing medium
  • Aquaponics: This method could be any of the designs above. In this method, aquaculture water is the source of nutrients for the vegetables. 

The different hydroponic system designs can be purchased in a local hydroponic/gardening store or an online shop. You can also make them yourself. 

Every plant (except root vegetables) can be grown hydroponically. Root vegetables should not be grown in hydroponics because exposing the roots to too much water can damage them and make them inedible. Popular crops grown with hydroponics are: 

  • Herbs 
  • Lettuce 
  • Spinach 
  • Peppers 
  • Cabbage 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Cucumbers 
  • Microgreens 
  • Strawberries 
  • Peas and Beans 

Every vegetable that is not a root vegetable can be grown with hydroponics

When growing hydroponics, make sure that the container with the nutrient-rich water is black or does not allow light to reach the nutrients. If light reaches the nutrients, algae and bacteria will grow in it and compete with your plants for nutrients. 

Conclusion 

The practice of growing vegetables in water is educational, fun, and rewarding. You can start the root in water, or you can grow the vegetable hydroponically. Examples of crops that you can start in water are avocados, potatoes, lettuce, and basil. Examples of plants that can be grown hydroponically are spinach, lettuce, herbs, cabbage, and tomatoes. 

What crop will you grow in water? Tell us in the comment section below. 

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