Cannabis legalization means that 70 million Americans can now access marijuana legally. Naturally, hydroponics are the best way to grow marijuana, and hydroponics and DIY shops are being flooded by people who want to have a hand at growing their own pot.
But systems set up for cannabis work just as well for growing any other plant, so urban farmers now have a way to grow year round using hydroponics. For a backgrounder, read 19 ways hydroponics is better for growing than soil.
But what should you grow?
In 2015, a jewel of a survey from the National Gardening Association was published, which detailed what America is growing. We’re going to share this list with you, and tell you which ones work best in hydroponics. It’s a great primer.
10 Essential Foods for Home Growers
#1. Tomatoes. The number one favorite among Americans is tomato! At least someone in your family will be growing tomatoes this year. It’s a classic hydroponic crop, and the top vegetable grown at home. Kids love how tiny vine-ripened cherry tomatoes offer gifts on a daily basis, and they are usually so sweet that they rarely make it to the table.
Bigger varieties work well on your summer hamburgers or in a caprese salad. We like them with lots of salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tomatoes are also a classic hydroponic crop because they are always in demand year round and fetch high prices when done well. Winter tomatoes shipped in thousands of miles are pasty and starchy and not at all nice to eat.
Tomatoes are a great plant to grow hydroponically because of the great rewards they offer. Small tip though: if you go into a hydroponic shop saying you are growing tomatoes just know that’s also a code word for growing cannabis. You might say: “I am really growing tomatoes.”
#2. Cucumbers. Next up in popularity with Americans are cucumbers. Another staple veggie we eat year round. In soil you might get a few weeks of cucumbers. With the right support and nutrition, you can grow cucumbers hydroponically year round.
#3. Sweet peppers. This is America’s third favorite homegrown vegetable. We love sweet peppers baked in the oven with olive oil, skins peeled and then turned into a salad or tapas, served cold. Doesn’t matter much what color they are. We love them all.
#4. Beans are a top 5 favorite among American gardeners. Before you start thinking Jack and the Beanstalk in your hydroponic garden, think about support for all those beans. You can do it.
#5. Carrots. They can be grown hydroponically, because anything can be grown hydroponically. But it’s not easy. We recommend keeping your experiments with this root until you are an expert grower. But if you are curious, watch the hydroponic carrot invasion in the Youtube video we’ve posted below.
#6. Summer squash is another American favorite. Because squash grows so well in soil, and squash keeps so well throughout the year, you might devote your hydroponic space to other plants. But watch these babies grow in this video.
#7. Onions. Like carrots and potatoes, onions grow underground, or in the dark. It is possible to grow them hydroponically, but start with chives or green onions until you get more experience.
# 8 Hot peppers. It’s a great choice for your greenhouse, covered patio or basement. They will need support as well as they grow up, but if you get the smaller, hot varieties you will have productive plants that put a lot of tasty spice in your life. Our friends at Blue Planet in Ontario, Canada have a running team contest on who can grow the hottest peppers. Ouch!
#9. Lettuce. This is a classic hydroponic favorite. But lettuce doesn’t have to be boring. There are hundreds if not thousands of varieties and plenty of colors. Mix it up and keep your dinner guests guessing.
#10. Peas please. This is the #10 favorite veggie grown in America. You will need to build up support to make these work. But dainty sweet peas pod and all are such a treat, especially if you don’t use pesticides. Money can’t buy flavor like that.
Of course, we know not everyone grows food.
If you’re interested in other home grow essentials, this might be the list for you.
Now it’s your turn. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below?