Are vegetables and fruits grown hydroponically as nutritious as those grown in dirt?

andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭

Hi Everyone, I am Andrea and live in super hot, sometimes very rainy Southwest Florida. We have a limited amount of space and I have been toying with the idea of doing a Tower Garden to grow my own vegetables, but then I stop and think, they look pretty, but are they as nutritious as the vegetables I am buying from my local organic farmers who are using great soil? I would love to hear opinions on this. Thank you in advance. PS I am growing lots of herbs and many beautiful flowers and some aloe and pinneapple.


  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    @andrea745 I think it boils down to the fertilizer/nutrient source for the hydroponics. If you have limited space, then it may be your only option. For me the soil is more than just something that anchors the roots, if you love it and put in the effort, it will reward you. If you think about your hydroponic situation the same, the reward should be the same! Welcome to this wonderful forum, it's a great place.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    Personally, I feel soil is really important. BUT—- if that’s all you can realistically do, I think it’s better to just do what you can. There was a presentation a few years ago on one of the summits about how to grow in buckets Using urine as fertilizer. It was super interesting. I wonder if you’d be interested and could access it...

  • AngelaOston
    AngelaOston Posts: 249 ✭✭✭

    Tried the traditional hydroponics, I agree with megan, peeponics is the way to go with some added magnesium sulfate and other micro nutrient. James Fry has some good info on nutrient solutions. My understanding is urine needs to be diluted 50 to one for most uses, or it can burn

  • AngelaOston
    AngelaOston Posts: 249 ✭✭✭

    I also use microbes and a bubbler. So the nutrient solution is essentially similar to an aerated compost. Just more dilute.

  • andrea745
    andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭

    Thank you so much to all of you for providing me with such great information. This forum is the best. @jodienancarrow , @AngelaOston @Megan Venturella Namaste, Andrea

  • moreyshadypines
    moreyshadypines Posts: 72 ✭✭✭

    @andrea745, yes I have tried the tower garden and aeroponics. Both with great success. I found the automation of them was an asset to people who are busy (and who is isn't?). The nutritional value is there due to the nutrient supplied and was obvious in the energy I felt when eating it. However, just to make it clear, they are not a sustainable system, as the store bought nutrients are not inexpensive. I think it could be if someone were to invest time and research how to do it consistently with homestead components, like worm casting tea, or compost tea. Just my thoughts.

    However, having "real greens" available off season - invaluable.

    I live in coastal SC, so yes, the weather can be intense - either extremely humid, hot, windy, raining or during a hurricane. When the season is not experiencing a weather event - its more than fabulous here!

    I have a food forest with raised beds as well, I love the fresh produce from them. I just don't like having my eggs all in one basket. :)

  • MikeF
    MikeF Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    It depends on the setup and types of nutes used.

    Personally, I prefer growing in soil. But that works the best only if I grow things that are in Season and in Zone. I will always grow my summer veg outside during the summer in actual dirt. :)

    But for growing out of season veg, I love a small hydro setup. Indoor hydro gets me fresh lettuce and greens all summer in zone 8. And I can grow tomatoes and peppers thru the winter.

    I also find the growth/production rate to be a lot faster with hydro. My lettuce grows at least 3x faster in hydro than in soil.


  • andrea745
    andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭

    @moreyshadypines Thank you for helping me understand more about hydroponics. Yes in SW FL it is challenging to grow all year. @MikeF that sounds like a great combo for you to have home grown food all years. Thank for responding.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    I am high risk for covid19. That being said, when I first started to simply stay at home, one of the first things I started to miss was green salad. That situation inspired me to try different methods of growing lettuce and other salad greens. Greens grown hydroponically grew faster than those grown in soil, but I never did get really crisp lettuce from the hydroponic method. For that reason, I have since kept my hydroponic equipment, but have gone to growing my salads in soil.

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    wow andrea745! I wish I could grow pineapple! I love it!

  • andrea745
    andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭

    Thanks @KimWilson for your comment. Stay safe out there.

  • andrea745
    andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2020

    @COWLOVINGIRL it took five years to grow two tiny pineapples. We will eat them in one sitting lol.

  • roytg94
    roytg94 Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    I am trying to create a simple hydroponic system using the ideas found on the MIgardener Youtube site:

    He mentions 20-10-20 hydroponic mix with micronutrients. There are a lot of brands out there that use different solutions for different stages of growth. Can anyone give some guidelines from their experiences?

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Some great tips here r.e. hydroponics. I've never actually grown that way, but I did want to mention that nutrient content in fruits and veggies starts to decline as soon as they are harvested. That being the case, if you can grow something hydroponically (even if not with perfect nutrients) and eat it immediately, I wonder whether that's still better than eating something grown in great soil that's been sitting for a few days. I'm honestly not sure -- I just wonder.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    "I am Andrea and live in super hot, sometimes very rainy Southwest Florida...are [hydroponically-grown vegetables] as nutritious as the vegetables I am buying from my local organic farmers who are using great soil?"

    Are you sure that your local organic farmers have excellent soil? High-precipitation climates like Florida can have a tendency to wash a lot of nutrients out of the soil, and much Florida soil is sand that doesn't have much in the way of nutrients or even a lot of organic matter.

    Your local organic farmers may of course have done a lot of work to improve their own soil. It can be done. But I suspect that vegetables grown with the right nutrient balance will grow better, larger, and probably be more nutritious than those grown in barely adequate soil, regardless of whether that nutrient balance comes from a hydroponic system or from carefully-managed soil.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    Great question and discussion! I’m interested in starting hydroponics for the first time and this has been a big help.

  • dmthennessy
    dmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    I thought about a tower garden for the winter, but I don't know how the solutions are made, and the JuicePlus tower garden comes with a California Prop 65 warning. I want to eat healthy organic food, but I'm not sure that the Tower Garden is the answer for me. I guess I like more control.

    I've been looking into Gardener’s Supply Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden as an alternative. Since I especially want to grow greens, this seems like a reasonable solution. I'd appreciate any feedback on the idea. I'll attach a picture to give an idea of the products.

  • MelissaLynne
    MelissaLynne Posts: 205 ✭✭✭

    @dmthennessy I really like the look of the grow light garden. I wonder what the cost difference of purchasing it vs building something similar (equally attractive and functional) would be.

  • rcdunaway
    rcdunaway Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    Look into Greenstalk Huge 5 Tier Vertical Garden Planter they use dirt and grow a massive amount of food in a very small space.

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    I was reading up on this and some of the sites have fish in the water.

    I really liked the Mother Earth site They nibble on the roots for food and having them in the water feeds the plants.

    I hope to work on this project this winter.

    and some of the other sites I was on

  • DurwardPless
    DurwardPless Posts: 162 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2020

    I do not know much about growing indoors and hydroponics but it seems that hydroponics would be more expensive. Is that the case?


  • NarjissMomOf3
    NarjissMomOf3 Posts: 113 ✭✭✭

    Very interesting discussion!

  • Granny Marie
    Granny Marie Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    @DurwardPless I've wondered about the expense with hydroponics. It seems I'd have to pay for the system and then pay to keep it running. I guess if there is no other option...

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    We opted to build our own aquaponics system. My costs are fish food, water I need to add to the system due to evaporation or transpiration, seeds or plants that I plug into the system, and 2 additives (I think are chelated iron & kelp). Hydroponics have to add more nutrients and don’t get fish to eat. My plants grow at the same rates as hydroponics systems.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 1,023 ✭✭✭✭

    I think soil is best more than just because of nutrients. I think there is more going on in the soil then we realize. Having said that, it's not always possible. I am growing microgreens indoors. At first I was using hydroponic growing medium and they did so so and I got infested with fruit flies - ugggh. Then I started vermicomposting. I now have enough castings to grow my microgreens and they love it.

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 257 ✭✭✭

    @MikeF I agree that hydroponics could make a good supplemental growing system. Like @Merin Porter says, fresh food is best.

    Sometimes people like growing in enclosed containers indoors. The closed containers have their own little weather system. I have a couple of used aquariums that I was wondering if I could use for hydroponics. Selecting a $3 DIY Hydroponic system video from the links @MikeF mentionned: