Gardening Kits Make Growing Your Own Food Easy, But Which One is Right For You?

According to the National Gardening Association, 18.3 million people took up gardening for the first time last year, and many of those new gardeners are growing their own food. Have you noticed home gardening kits popping up everywhere? Aspiring gardeners have quite a few options—from small herb garden kits to container gardening subscriptions to hydroponic and  systems. How do you know which one to choose? We take a look at the options below.

Photo of multiple lettuces growing in a container.
Lettuce growing in soil in a container.

What is Hydroponic Gardening?

Hydroponics is a way to grow plants in a water solution instead of soil. While hydroponics is soilless, plant roots grow in another medium, such as foam. Additionally, you add synthetic fertilizers to the water, and plants have access to oxygen and nutrients within the unit.

People gardening with hydroponic systems seem to like how quickly plants grow. But, one thing to note with this gardening option is that you have to keep tabs on the water solution’s pH weekly to keep your plants healthy. If the pH is off, you could lose them. Brittany Levine Beckman, a writer for Mashable, noted the cons of one particular hydroponic system, including “noisy when indoors, cleaning it every four months requires space and patience and you may need to deal with gnats indoors.”

What is Aeroponic Gardening?

Aeroponic gardening is an offshoot of hydroponic gardening. It uses less water, and the roots are suspended in air—no growing medium necessary. With aeroponics, you mist the roots with a synthetic fertilizer to give them the nutrients they need to grow, and checking the pH is necessary.  Plants grow quickly with aeroponics like with the hydroponic method. Another similarity is that the device requires regular cleaning.

Both aeroponic and hydroponic systems can get costly because you need specialized fertilizer solutions. In addition, if you’re growing indoors with one of these devices, a power outage can be problematic.

Lettuce and herbs growing in Planted Places felt pots. Example of container gardening.
Leafy greens thriving in felt pots via a Planted Places subscription.

What is Container Gardening?

Container gardening is when you grow in pots instead of a traditional garden or raised bed. If you want to start small, growing food in containers is a good way to begin. You can grow your plants from seed or make it easier on yourself by purchasing pre-grown seedlings. 

Which Gardening Method is Better?

Hydroponics and aeroponics are good options for urban gardeners who don’t have access to outdoor space. They’re also viable options for people who want to grow indoors. But if you have the room for container gardening in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun, soil is the ideal option for a few reasons, which we share below. 

Growing in Soil is Good for the Planet

We know that our planet’s soils sequester carbon, which reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change. Growing your own food reduces our carbon footprint, and gardening in organic soil contributes to a more significant footprint reduction.

Inorganic Fertilizers Come from Fossil Fuels

We spoke with expert Tom Wilson, Ph.D., Soil Chemistry, about healthy soil. He said that one of the things most of us don’t realize is that inorganic fertilizers are derived from fossil fuels. He went on to say that “…there’s a connection there directly between fossil fuels and hydroponics.”

You Can Grow Food 100% Organically

Hydroponic and aeroponic systems rely on synthetic fertilizers, so growing in these solutions can’t be entirely organic. However, when you grow your own food in soil, you can use organic fertilizer and soil supplements like worm castings and compost. They are better for the earth and enable chemical-free gardening.

Growing in Soil Mimics the Natural Processes in Our Bodies

Planted Places soil.
Planted Places soil.

Soil is a living thing with microbial activity that’s similar to the human microbiome. Research reported in The Washington Post shows that “soil microbes help regulate our emotions and immune response. And they also play a key role in determining the nutrient content of our food.”

Got Sun and a Bit of Space? Try Container Gardening

Like we mentioned earlier, if you have a bit of space with 6 hours of sunlight, try container gardening. You could test out a Planted Places subscription. We send you everything you need for a container garden, including seedlings grown organically, felt pots, soil, fertilizer, soil amendments and clippers. There’s no cleaning required with a container garden. The messiest part is filling your pots with soil, and that’s just when you’re planting seedlings. Read one mom’s experience growing a container garden with Planted Places

It’s All in Our Soil

Planted Places sends our members living soil—a nutrient-rich environment full of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Not all potting soil is made equally, and we send you chemical-free soil designed for growing success.

Our living soil environment enables plants to thrive, filling your plate with the freshest greens, full of vitamins and minerals. Our blend is further reinforced with soil supplements like biochar, a type of charcoal created by burning wood and agricultural byproducts slowly, at low temperatures, with a reduced oxygen supply. Biochar dramatically enhances and facilitates the nutrient flow from the soil into the plant’s roots, offering a long-term sustainable alternative to more degradable carbon sources such as manure. 

Leafy greens and herbs growing in the Planted Wall.
Leafy greens and herbs growing in the Planted Wall.

Ready to Grow Lots of Greens? Try the Planted Wall

So if we’ve convinced you to grow food in soil, and you want to jump right in, try our Vertical Farm Wall. It’s a moveable container gardening system that stacks plants vertically, saving space. What’s even better? It’s self-fertilizing and self-watering, so there’s less work on your part. Also, the Planted Places Membership regularly sends you everything you need for your wall, including seedlings, fertilizer, soil amendments and more. 

We know you have options for growing your own food, and we want to make it the best possible experience for you.

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