The fastest hydroponic vegetables’ growth phases
Any types of plant generally have the same life phases.
Though they may come from seedling or propagation techniques, plants in soil usually go through germinating (from seed or rootstock), sprout, seedling, vegetative, budding, flowering, and ripening.
Then, most gardeners transplant the plants during the seedling phases into hydroponics.
It is also possible to grow plants hydroponically from the germinating, but not all plants are suitable for this. The right growing medium is needed to germinate, like Rockwool, coco peat, coco coil, and others.
The fastest hydroponic vegetables, like leafy greens, could grow from hydroponic germination. Hence their growth phases include germination, seedling, transplant, and harvest.
How long does it take for the fastest hydroponic vegetables to harvest?
After knowing the growth phases of plants, the harvest time is usually counted from the transplant phases. The duration of each plant varies.
The fastest hydroponic vegetables take 3-4 weeks to harvest since transplanting. A little bit longer, some veggies could be harvested in 6-8 weeks. Besides vegetables, other plants like fruits might take a long time, even years, to harvest.
Compared to other plants, the fastest hydroponic vegetables have a shorter growth time from germination to transplant. They mostly take less than three weeks to get transplanted.
The shortest is lettuce which reaches the transplant stage in less than two weeks and harvest time in less than six weeks.
The list of fastest hydroponic vegetables
Not only lettuce but also other vegetables grow faster in hydroponics. The veggies will be categorized based on the harvest time since the transplanted phase:
3-4 weeks: lettuce, arugula, mustard green, swiss chard, basil, cilantro, fennel, oregano, spinach, watercress, spring onion
5-6 weeks: Chinese chard, kale, chive, parsley, celery
6-9 weeks: cherry tomato, cucumber, bean, mint, rosemary, bell pepper, cabbage, cauliflower
Basically, leafy and soft-stem vegetables grow fast in hydroponics. The vegetables listed above could be harvested sooner than the growing time in the soil.
Lettuce, as an example, can only be picked from the soil after 5-9 weeks. Yet it only takes 3-4 weeks in hydroponics.
Factors affecting the harvest time of the fastest hydroponic vegetables
The duration stated before does not always apply to each plant. Even the fastest hydroponic vegetables could be harvested longer than expected. Several factors that may slow down the process are:
Air: it includes Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide for photosynthesis. Further, air management should consider ventilation, air quality, air exchange, and wind direction.
Light: the important factors of light are quantity and quality. Choose the right light source, shading, color spectrum, and more.
Water: measure the pH. Use clean water only because pathogens and high levels of chemicals bring disease to the plants.
Climate: certain plants require certain temperatures and humidity. Fungal mostly appears when it’s too humid. Frost kills plants, and high temperatures wither the leaves.
Nutrients: plants need 16 elements. Missing or giving too much of one of them may cause the abnormal growth of the plant.
Tips for harvesting the best and fastest hydroponic vegetables
Some leafy vegetables, like arugula, lettuce, basil, chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, and rosemary, can be harvested twice or more.
Yet, they need some treatments to grow gain. If the gardeners keep the plants in the right condition and do the tips below, re-harvesting is always possible.
Harvest the oldest or the closest leaves to the water.
Do the right pruning techniques: Headingcuts, thinning cuts, shearing, or pinching.
Always fertilize after pruning and harvesting
Remove dead leaves and diseased branches.
Check the root too.
Do the cut-and-come-again method that leaves young leaves to grow more.
When the growth stops after several harvesting times, it is time to change plants. Hence gardeners should know when and how the vegetables are ready to harvest or to change.
Myths about the fastest hydroponic vegetables
When people talk about the effectiveness of hydroponic crops, many will say that hydroponic vegetable harvests are:
- No vitamin
- Bigger yet watery and plain
Those are myths and not true. Regarding taste, even the same type of the fastest hydroponic vegetables grown in different soils will also have a different taste.
It is not the growing media, whether soil or water, but the nutrients that affect the taste of the vegetables.
For those who experience eating plain hydroponic veggies, it might be the nutrient formulation that was not right and affected the texture and taste of the veggies.
No vitamin or unhealthy is a misconception. People could test them in a lab to see the nutrients of the vegetables. As most hydroponics uses refined mineral fertilizers, the harvest may be inorganic.
Yet, there are still many organic hydroponic systems. People need to check the hydroponic system first before judging whether the vegetables are organic or not.