There are a few factors to take into consideration when choosing plants for your garden. Planting your AquaSprouts Garden is easy! In most ways, you can treat it just as you would a standard garden bed.
- Size: Keep in mind the full size of plants you want to grow. While you can prune plants to keep them from growing too large, it’s much easier to select varieties that are suited to the space you have available, and you’ll get better production from naturally small-statured plants than from big ones that you artificially constrain.
- Nutrient and Environmental Needs: Most plants adapt well to aquaponic growing, but some whose natural environment is very different than that of typical crops won’t adjust. A few to avoid - or at least wait to attempt until you’re more experienced - include cacti and succulents, as well as anything woody like trees or shrubs. Root vegetables, while they can be grown in aquaponics, won’t have enough depth to grow into in the AquaSprouts Garden.
- Light Requirements: In general, plants will be more productive with more light, but you should try to select plants that will grow well under the lighting conditions you have. If you add a strong grow-light to your Garden, you can attempt almost anything, but if you’re relying on ambient light or partial sunlight from a window, it’s a good idea to pick more shade-tolerant varieties, generally greens or ornamentals, and steer clear of anything that needs a lot of energy - which includes most fruiting plants.
Some plants that we’ve found do very well in the AquaSprouts Garden include: Herbs like basil, oregano, mint, and dwarf varieties of rosemary; Salad Greens such as lettuce, arugula, mesclun, and radicchio; Microgreens like baby spinach, kale, and chard (all of these varieties can grow much larger, but harvesting them while they’re small and tender makes them great for eating fresh). You can grow Fruiting Plants in your garden as well, but be aware that it’s a little trickier! Many fruiting plants need special conditions to bear fruit and may require hand-pollination, or much higher levels of nutrients to be productive. Small fruiting plants like strawberries, many hot peppers, and container- or patio-type tomatoes can do very well in your Garden, as long as you’re up to the challenge! Many Flowers and Ornamentals will also take well to your garden. And of course, this list is just the beginning - there are many more varieties of plants that will thrive in an AquaSprouts Garden. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
How many plants you can add depends on the expected size of each plant, and their nutrient needs. Try not to crowd plants in - remember, they’re competing for light and nutrients, so if you add too many, they’ll all do worse. Consider the adult stature of plants when determining where to place them in your Garden. Of course, if you do overplant, you can always thin out your crop - and in some cases, like cilantro or microgreens, this thinning process can even be part of the harvest!