Adding some fresh herbs into any dish you are cooking up in the kitchen can help to bring a brand new dimension and flavor to it. You would have probably seen several cookbooks and chefs recommending the use of fresh herbs in our cooking but dried herbs are another alternative as well. However, what is not as well-known is that dry herbs are miles apart from the fresh ones in terms of the flavor they help to bring to the food.
You might be thinking that fresh herbs are not worth the hassle because of the price difference – dried herbs are way cheaper, and their shelf lives are so much longer than their fresh counterparts.
At this point, I would say touché; good point, but why even buy herbs in the first place when you can grow them hydroponically with ease? Herbs are deceptively pricey and you might be thinking that they are rather affordable, but in reality, you are paying about three to six dollars for several grams. If you are big on herbs in your dishes, you might notice yourself spending quite a bit on herbs before you realize. Additionally, buying herbs off the shelves in supermarkets is not eco-friendly either, with tons of plastic used to packaged the herbs essentially contributing to the pollution of the environment. As consumers today, we need to exercise discretion in our consumption habits and seek to reduce our plastic and carbon footprint.
Here’s a solution for fresh and affordable herbs all year round: investing in a hydroponic herb garden. Before you dismiss the contents of this article, let me assure you that this will not be complicated. We have also put together a comprehensive guide to hydroponic herbs for beginners, so keep on reading.
A Hydroponic Setup
To grow your own hydroponic herbs, we will first need to build our hydroponic setup. Head over to your local hardware store or simply jump over to amazon to obtain these items: a decent-sized and opaque plastic tub, air pump, air stone, airline tubing, and tubing holders, pH testing kit, and netted containers for the plants. We recommend getting about eight of these netted containers. Also get some growing media, nutrient solution, and the herb saplings from your local gardening store.
After you have the necessary items to build the setup, it is time to assemble them together. Wash the tub and dry it. Take the netted containers meant for the plants and place it parallel to the top of the tub. Make a marking on the tub where the bottom of the container is and this will serve as the waterline.
Now, place the netted containers on the cover of the tub and ensure that they are evenly spaced. Next, drill or punch eight holes into the cover, These holes will the openings to the plants. Then, make another hole that is large enough for the airline tubing, above the waterline.
Installing the Air System
Moving on will be to install the air system with the air pump and air stone. Place the airstone in the tub and attach the airline tubing to the airstone, through the hole that you last made. A 14-liter size tub will require about 9.5 liters of water. Depending on the size of the tub you are using, you may require more or less. Basically, just fill it till the waterline and take note of the amount of water used, which is going to be critical later for the nutrient solution ratio.
Up next its to introduce the pH kit to the hydroponic system. For optimal growth of the hydroponic herbs, it is important that the pH of the water we use is within the range of 6 to 6.5. To do so, treat the tap water with the pH down in the kit to reduce the pH of tap water to the stated level. Once the water has been treated, test for its pH. It should be yellowish in color and match the color for the 6 to 6.5 range as indicated in the instructions booklet. Once you reach this step, we are now ready to add in the nutrients. It is imperative that this step is done well, so do be cautious with pH down and not get it on yourself.
For the nutrients mix, refer back to the product. It should come with a recommendation table on the amount of nutrient mix to be used according to the amount of water used in the hydroponic setup. It is important to note this as you are buying and if the product does not have a recommended use table, you can consult the gardener or grower selling it.
Just a few more steps and we are close to completion! Add some growing media to the netted containers to act as a base and attach the containers onto the openings in the tub cover. As we are using saplings for this guide, remember to clean away any trace of soil or dirt from the roots with care. This will help prevent the possibility of your plant being infected with diseases. Take caution to not damage the roots as you wash them. Once done, place the saplings in the netted containers and cover the roots of the sapling with more growing media.
With this, you are done! However, there is the maintenance of the herb plants which you should take note of. For lighting, herb plants generally require six hours of light daily. Make the necessary lighting arrangements for the herb plants to receive adequate light. For the water, make sure the water is at the waterline. You may consider changing the water regularly to prevent any bacteria infestation.
Depending on what herbs you plant, they will take a different amount of time to be ready for harvest. However, most of them will take less time to mature, about two weeks or less on average. Make sure to snip off any flowers to keep the herbs in the vegetative stage. This way, you will have access to fresh herbs whenever you need them in your kitchen. Simply snip off some leaves of the mature herb plant and add them to your dishes. The best part of hydroponic herbs? This is basically about it for its maintenance! No daily watering of plants and other mundane tasks needed.
That’s it for our guide to hydroponic herbs! Herbs are generally easy to cultivate even for beginners, so we highly encourage all to try it out. With a hydroponic setup, you will have access to at least eight different types of herbs, which are sure to alleviate your home-cooked dishes to another level.