-By Brandi Givens, RD
Everyone seems to have their own love language. I have come to realize that nothing makes me happier than seeing the people I love care for themselves. Ironically, despite my dietitious profession, my husband has never been a fan of eating well.
So, when he casually remarked one day, “I think I want to eat more vegetables,” I’m certain my face morphed into a heart-eye emoji.
Like an excited bee, I got right to work. Knowing home-grown veggies taste best, I wanted to support his declaration by starting a garden immediately. Unfortunately, I had these barriers:
- It was October, and not the typical planting season.
- We travel a lot, and I despise asking neighbors for help with caring for things when I’m gone.
- I’m weary from fighting the elements over my years of gardening experience including animal and insect pests, unpredictable weather, etc.
Not to worry! The Google ears were listening, and for once I was thrilled. An ad appeared on my social media page for Gardyn, a door-sized, indoor hydroponic garden system. Hydroponic means that I could grow plants using only fertilized water; no soil necessary!
A Solution to My Garden Dilemma: The Hydroponic Garden
Gardyn offered solutions to my busy-with-other-life gardeners’ dilemmas:
- It’s made to use indoors, so I could start planting immediately.
- It’s a smart device and can be set to water itself on a programmed schedule, monitored by an app. We can check on our plants from anywhere with our app because the unit comes with live cameras.
- No need to worry about the deer, rabbits, or insects helping themselves to my hard work.
- Can’t remember when to water or fertilize? No problem! The app will tell you if it’s time.
- No soil in the house means minimal mess inside.
Other perks I noted right away is that the unit would fit perfectly against a wall in my dining room, and it would look beautiful in our home. It’s a natural work of art!
By asking for it as an early Christmas gift, it only took the smallest amount of convincing to talk my hubby into ordering right away. It has been the best gift I’ve ever asked for!
Gardyn was delivered to our home within a few days. It took about an hour for him to put it together. We were able to get growing right away using the seed pods that came with it. Within days, we had sprouts of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, tatsoi, and various other greens and flowering plants.
The Downside to Hydroponic Gardening
Although our garden is fine on its own for a few days, hydroponic systems are not as leave-and-forget as I had hoped. For example:
- As our plants got bigger, we needed to add water to the tank more often. The flowering plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant seem to soak up about a gallon of water a day, and the tank only holds a few gallons.
- Mildew can be an issue. We learned to use hydrogen peroxide in the water to keep it under control.
- Cleaning the tank is important about once a month, which means we need to disassemble the unit, which takes about one hour.
- The parts can be fragile and getting the watering system to work after reassembly can be tricky.
- The leafy green vegetables provide more than enough for two people, but the flowering plants like cucumbers, strawberries, and eggplant are less plentiful.
Overall, my husband enjoys the Gardyn maintenance and considers it a new hobby. It’s adorable.
Hydroponic Garden Results
It’s been 5 months since we ordered our hydroponic system. We grow old classic like lettuce and cucumbers and have new favorites like kale and tatsoi. My husband’s newly discovered green thumb has kept the plants thriving with a fraction of the effort I used to put into my garden outdoors.
But the real question is, does my husband eat more vegetables?
Truthful Answer: ABSOLUTELY!
I’ve seen that man eat salad almost daily since the harvest began. He makes kale chips every chance he gets, and we sauté tatsoi into every Asian, Italian or breakfast dish we create. Having fresh produce handy for picking has made eating veggies convenient and rewarding for him.
Finding the Right Hydroponic System
While Gardyn happened to be the brand that caught my eye at the right time, there are several brands that might be right for you. These brands might offer different styles or smaller sizes that fit your needs better.
-Rise Gardens: This brand offers different sizes from countertop to wall-sized units.
-Lettuce Grow: They also offer a variety of sizes, and you can choose whether you want an indoor unit with LED lights or an outdoor unit without lights.
-Aerogardens: This brand offers more compact models for your counter or tabletop.