How to start your own hydroponic garden

Fulfill your desire to raise plants without actually getting your hands in the dirt.

Hydroponic systems can grow a variety of plants in soilless solutions. (Photo: Becky Stern/flickr)

If you like to garden but don’t like digging in the dirt, there’s still a way you can have a garden. It’s called hydroponics.
Is hydroponics for you? To help you decide, here’s a primer on hydroponic gardening. We’re assuming you’re new to hydroponics, so we’ve tried to anticipate your questions, starting with the basics. (And if we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments.)
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a soilless solution. Because the method is called hydroponics and “hydro” means water, most people think the soilless solution is water. Of course, it can be water, but it doesn’t have to be. Hydroponics can be any nutrient solution or inert growing medium such as perlite and sand — basically anything other than traditional potting mixes or soil.
Is it complicated?
It doesn’t have to be. In fact, hydroponic growing can be so simple that a child can do it. There’s even a good chance you gave it a try when you were a kid. Did you ever put toothpicks in a potato and suspend it in a jar of water? If so, do you remember waiting for the roots to grow into the water and then watching green shoots emerge from the portion above the water? That’s hydroponics!

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