Best Hydroponic Kits for Home Gardeners (2018 Update)
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Best Hydroponic Kits for Home Gardeners

Hydroponic kits

A lot of people choose to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home for many reasons. Firstly, it will save you money not having to buy fresh produce from the supermarket. Secondly, it’s the best way to ensure you’re getting organic food, without any harmful chemicals. And thirdly, it’s rewarding ground something from a little seedling and watching it bloom into something juicy and succulent you can really sink your teeth into. 

The problem for many people is, up until quite recently, growing produce at home never seemed viable unless you had a huge lawn where you can have your own greenhouse or vegetable patch. However, with the rise of hydroponics kits, that’s now become a different story as people are bringing their gardening indoors.

Hydroponic gardening involves using nutrient-rich water opposed to soil in which to feed the plants. While this form of gardening has been around for quite some time, it’s only really taken off in the past couple of decades as kits have been introduced to make it much easier for people to set up and maintain from home.  

In this article, we’ll explore some of the main benefits of hydroponic gardening as well as what you should consider when buying a kit. We’ll then share with you some of the most frequently asked questions and answers surrounding hydroponic gardening as well point you in the right direction as to some of the best kits around at the moment.

Benefits of Hydroponic Gardening

If you’re new to the world of hydroponic gardening, you may be wondering why people turn to this method over regular gardening. Well, there are several reasons for that. Here’s a few of them:

  • Grow all year-round. With a hydroponics system in place, no longer is the weather a barrier. You can better control the temperature and humidity, giving your plants exactly what they need 365 days of the year.

  • Better control over water and nutrient content. Although these systems rely heavily on water, they’re actually very efficient as both the water content and nutrients can be reused. The average hydroponics system will use around 10 percent less than a soil-based setup. 

  • Less labor intensive. With a hydroponics system, there’s no weeding or tilling involved as there is when growing in soil. Simply pot your plant with its roots exposed to the water underneath on a regular basis and watch your plants thrive like never before. 

  • Maximize space. With a hydroponics system in place, you can grow a lot more plants in a smaller area than if growing with soil. This is true for both indoor and outdoor hydroponics systems and is simply because the roots can be grown much closer together.

  • Plants grow quicker and produce bigger yields. Double bonus! It’s estimated that plants grow around 30-50% faster when grown hydroponically opposed to in soil. This is largely because those grown in a hydroponics system receive far more oxygen in which to stimulate growth. The plant doesn’t need to stretch to find nutrients as they get delivered on a routine basis directly to the roots.

  • Fewer pests. Attacks from pests are quite common when growing in soil. Using hydroponics, you eliminate that risk considerably by placing the system somewhere these critters can’t reach.

Any Downsides to Using Hydroponics?

As with anything, there are a couple of downsides to using hydroponics, but nowhere near enough to outweigh the benefits. The main hurdle to get over with these systems is the upfront cost. If you’re converting from soil gardening, you will notice the cost of a decent setup is considerably more. That being said, as long as you don’t encounter too many problems your crops will be much larger than before.

Another downside to using hydroponics is that pests and diseases tend to spread quicker due to the fact that nutrients are being shared. You need to keep a very careful eye on your plants to ensure they don’t get overcome with disease.

The last drawback I can see with using hydroponics is that not all plants are suited to this kind of set up. While crops like lettuce, peppers, and spinach grow very well under these systems, most root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, and carrots typically grow better using soil-based methods.    

What to Consider When Buying a Hydroponic Grow Kit

So, now you a lot more about the benefits and drawbacks of using a hydroponics system, we’re going to run through a few of the things you should consider when buying your own kit:

What crops you intend to grow 

As mentioned above, not all crops are suitable for growing hydroponically. If you’re happy with the items you can grow this way and it will still be economically viable for you, then happy days! But, if there’s only a couple of items on the list that you want to grow and you don’t want much of it, you may want to consider if this is the best method for you.

Space/location

Once you’ve worked out what you want to grow, the next thing you should consider is where you’re going to put your hydroponics system. Whether you decide to have it indoors or outdoors, you need to ensure you have enough space for the type of system you’re considering as some need a lot more room than others.

Some things to bear in mind when choosing a location are water changes and maintenance. You’ll want to be able to access your system easily to do this so make sure you leave enough room for you to work.

Usability

Some hydroponics systems are much easier to use than others. Those systems that are heavily automated are no doubt the easiest to use, but are also the most expensive. You’ll need to find a system that is suitable for both your budget and the amount of time you have available.

Kit components 

Not all hydroponics kits come with everything you need to get you going. And what may seem like a bargain at first could soon start mounting up when you start to add all the other components needed.   

Your budget 

Hydroponic systems vary considerably when it comes to price. While you can get away with spending less than a $100 on one, it may be quite small and you may not be entirely happy with it.

By investing a little more (say between $100 - $400) you can pretty much guarantee yourself a decent system that will give you a good yield. There are some systems out there that cost $400+, but typically these are for the more advanced gardener who grows a lot.  

Reviews

If you’re looking to do some serious gardening and want the help of some of the most advanced hydroponics technology to do that, then look no further. The AeroGrow AeroGarden Farm Plus Hydroponics Garden is by far one of the best kits on the market today, but bear in mind that it does come with a hefty price tag.

AeroGarden Farm Plus Hydroponic Garden, 24' Grow Height, White

Available in a sleek black or cool white, and with a 12” or 24” height option, this kit has everything you need and more to grow your very own fresh crops from the comfort of your own home. In this kit, you get 60W of dual LED light power that are individually adjustable so you can grow different crops at the same time. It’s also fitted with v2.0 Wi-Fi technology that enables you to control the lights right from your smartphone using the AeroGarden app. You can even get reminders sent to you never miss watering or feeding your crops.

Other than the price the only other slight problem I found with this hydroponics system is that it takes a while to assemble. You should probably allow up to an hour for this. On the plus side, all you need is the Allen tool provided with the kit.     

Pros
  • 2 color options to choose from
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    2 height options
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    Individually adjustable LED lights
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    Remote control of lights via the smartphone app
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Assembly is time-consuming

For anyone that’s new to the world of hydroponics and wants to try it out small-scale first, I would highly recommend the iRSE Garden Indoor Hydroponics LED Growing System.

iRSE Indoor Garden Kit, Hydroponics LED Growing System, 2 Self Watering Gardening Pots, Including (Lettuce Seeds, Fertilizers, Planting Media)

Equipped with everything you need to get started, it’s the ideal kit for beginners. The 8W LED grow light is fitted with a timer that has 3 modes: a cycle of 16 hours on/8 off; constantly on; and constantly off. There are 2 detachable planting pods and covers, fertilizer, and a user manual to help you if you get stuck. 

The thing I like most about this system is that it’s so easy to use. There’s no soil to concern yourself with and at 15 x 6 x 4.8 inches, it’s small enough to place just about anywhere. Assembly is simple, with the system consisting of just 3 parts, and it’s an excellent price.

Where this kit falls short for me is the size. While it’s ok if you just want to try out a couple of plants, it’s not so great if you’re looking to completely rid your need to shop for fresh veggies.   

Pros
  • Great price
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    Easy to use
Cons
  • Very small

If you know you’re going to be growing some big crops then this may be the ideal system for you. Just be aware that this is not a full kit and you will still need to add a light to your setup if growing indoors.

Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic Bubbler Bucket Kit by PowerGrow  Systems (4) 5 Gallon - 10' Buckets

The PowerGrow Hydroponics System uses deep water culture (DWC) in which to grow crops. DWC systems work by suspending the plant roots in nutrient-rich solution. Included in the kit are 4 x 5-gallon FDA buckets, an air pump, air stones, airlines, and basket-style lids. Each individual bucket has its own water level indicator so you can be sure your plants are getting what they need. And, there’s even a 1-year warranty should anything be wrong with the kit.

Overall, it’s a pretty good (partial) kit. It’s easy to use, the results are good, and the price isn’t too bad either. The downsides are that it doesn’t come with any lights and it’s a little more difficult to maintain than other hydroponic systems. You will have to change the water completely every 1-2 weeks.         

Pros
  • Easy to use
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    1-year warranty
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    Great for larger setups
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with lights
  • Harder to maintain

Designed to make your life that little bit easier, the H2OtoGro DWC Self Watering Hydroponic System is one of the most popular systems on the market for many reasons. Firstly it’s so easy to set up that pretty much anyone can do it. Secondly, it’s self-watering, so once you have it up and running there’s literally nothing left for you to do.

H2OtoGro 04063.75TF DWC Self Watering Hydroponic System No. 04St, 6 Site, 18x13-Inch, Black

If growing outdoors, you have everything you need to get going including an air pump, airline, and air stones. But, if growing indoors, you will need to add your own lights to the mix. I found the end result to be very good, with my crops actually growing around 30% faster using this hydroponics kit, as opposed to a soil-based system.

The main problem I found with this kit is that it’s so small, and is really only good if you’re just starting out or growing as a kind of novelty.  

Pros
  • Faster crop growth than a soil-based system
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    Easy to assemble
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    Self-watering means less work for you
Cons
  • No lights included in the kit
  • Quite small in size

Here we have another fantastic hydroponics system on offer from AeroGrow. While the AeroGarden Bounty may not be quite as exciting as its big brother, the AeroGarden Farm, it’s still a system to be reckoned with.

AeroGarden Bounty with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit

Packed with fabulous smart features and functions, including a fully interactive touchscreen control panel that lets you know when to feed your plants and when to water them. It can also turn the lights on and off as need be. The LED light system is a powerful 45W, invoking a much bigger yield than many systems. 

It’s a 9-pod garden that has an extendable 24-inch lamp arm allowing you to grow all kinds of different crops. To help get you growing faster, included in the package are a mixture of 9 different seeds including Thai Basil, Italian Parsley, Mint, and Thyme. The only real problems I found with this system is that it’s been designed in such a way that the plug gets in the way a little, and it is one of the more higher-end models on the system. That being said, it’s also one of the best performing.

Pros
  • Complete package (including 45W LED light)
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    Free seeds with purchase
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    Fully interactive control panel
Cons
  • A little expensive
  • Design flaw means plug is a little in the way

Top Tips on Obtaining a Good Yield

While you will no doubt see a difference in yield size when switching from a soil-based system to that of a hydroponics one, there are a few things you can do to help enhance your yield even further:

  • Maintain a consistent temperature. Most plants do best when kept at an ambient temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit). Too many degrees either side of this will be detrimental to your yield.

  • Be sure to maintain your bulbs. A lot of people buy their bulbs and then just leave them forever, thinking they’ll keep performing just as well over the years. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some lights lose as much as 30% of their lumens per year, so be sure to replace your bulbs regularly in order to get the best yield.

  • Watch your water content. If your plants are exposed to too much water, the roots will rot. If they’re deprived of water they will dry out. The leaves of your plant are a good indication as to how much water they need. If your plants perk up soon after watering, water more often. If they start to wilt, water less often.

  • Store nutrients effectively. To ensure your nutrients don’t lose their strength, make sure you store them somewhere cool, out of direct sunlight. 

  • Use only high-quality fertilizer. If you’re going to go through all the time and expense of setting up a hydroponics system you may as well go ahead and use the best fertilizers. High-quality fertilizer can work wonders on your crop. Just make sure you do your research before choosing one and only ever buy from reputable sources.
     

We hope you found the above article useful and are now feeling more confident as to making your hydroponic purchase. While they all differ in their own way, all of the above systems are worth taking a look at. It just depends what you want from your kit.

If you’re looking for advanced features then I would definitely consider either of the AeroGrow Systems. Both are very well made and produce great yields. However, if you’re new to the world of hydroponics and just want a low-key system, the iRSE Garden Indoor Hydroponics System may be more suitable.

About the author

    Joseph Biggs

    Author and retired entrepreneur Joseph Biggs writes for Organic Daily Post exclusively, when he is not spending time outdoors with his family. He, his wife, and their children and grandchildren live on an extended mini-farm where they all practice conservationism and a whole-Earth approach to life.

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