Guest Post: Hydroponics: The Answer to Small Urban Spaces


About the Author: Chris is an urban hydroponic hobbyist who uses hydroponics to maximize his 400 square foot yard and extend the short Chicago growing season. Chris blogs about his hydroponic experiences at

Using hydroponics herbs, berries, greens and other produce can be grown in just a few square feet of space.  In a densely populated city like Chicago, I’ve learned to maximize my postage size stamp of a backyard in the summer and my 3rd bathtub in the winter.  Both can be done with either off the shelf products or you can take the DIY route like I often do.

Benefits of hydroponics

I’ve seen people make up huge lists of benefits but I’ll just give you the one’s that really matter in a space garden setting:

Shorter growing cycles which let you get more produce per year

Improved yield through better plant nutrition

More food independence and less paying for out of season herbs

Greater planting density

The reason you are can grow more food, faster, and in less space is due to the direct exposure of nutrients to the roots.  Traditionally, garden plants have to seek out their nutrients in the soil.  Believe it or not this actually takes a lot of effort and energy.  Imagine if a plant used this energy to grow faster and bigger?  That is the advantage of hydroponics.

Standard parts of a hydroponic system

Gardeners have developed several unique hydroponic designs but most have a few key common components.

Growing Tray: Plants grow in a tray that is filled with a soil substitute called a media. The most common media are coconut fiber, rockwool, and clay pellets.  A good media provides root stability and allows them to receive a mix of oxygen and water.

Reservoir: A tank for the nutrient solution water which is pumped onto the roots of the plants.

Pump: Pushes the water from the reservoir to the grow tray

Timer: The real convenience of hydroponics.  A timer can help automate manual tasks such as watering or light activation.

Great crops for hydroponics in small spaces

Most traditional crops can be grown hydroponically but certain plants do better and are simply more practical in urban settings.  As a general rule, stay with small compact plants that you harvest above the ground as root veggies require a bit more space.

Recommend urban crops:



Herbs (Basil, oregano, Thyme, etc)



Start a Micro Herb Garden

If you would like to try your hand at hydroponics on a small scale, I would suggest making this DIY hydroponic system.  I’ve grown lettuce, spinach, spinach, and a few other leafy greens this way outside in the winter.  And once the Chicago winter hits, I can move this indoors. If you are going to grow inside and need supplemental lighting, you can make the homemade grow light that costs $10 at Home Depot.

hydroponic completed tote system (1)


Photo Credit



  1. Stephanie on July 10, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Ohm gosh! So doing this~ my 4 kids can help~ make it a homeschool project. This is just what we need.

    • Christine on April 2, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      I’m so sorry I just saw this now! I hope your project went well that is such an awesome idea for a homeschool project. Kids need to learn how important it is growing our own food. Wonderful!

  2. john on April 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Awesome, we sell hydroponic equipment and always have the same old users, I can’t wait for the day that people realize the benefits of growing from home, especially with all the fast food and what not out there. We mostly get medical users but I think in another 10 years more people will be growing from home inside a hydroponic grow cabinet or outdoor hydro system.

    • Christine on April 2, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      I can’t wait to see that day too, that’s why I’m always trying to spread the word! Keep up the great work in getting the equipment out there for people!

  3. Thomas on July 29, 2018 at 8:31 am

    This is what I am looking for. Hydroponics is a good system to grow plants, but if we combine with grow lights, it can give best results.

  4. Christopher on December 17, 2018 at 3:03 am

    Thanks for these!

    Hydroponics is awesome way to grow indoor!

  5. Christopher Jolan on January 21, 2019 at 1:23 am

    Marvelous, we move hydroponic hardware and dependably have a similar old clients, I can hardly wait for the day that individuals understand the advantages of developing from home, particularly with all the cheap food and what not out there. We generally get therapeutic clients however I think in an additional 10 years more individuals will develop from home inside a hydroponic develop bureau or open air hydro framework.

  6. Edwin Moore on December 4, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Excellently Written Article. I was looking for some random information on hydroponics and stumbled upon your article.

    TBH It’s written amazingly well and has a lot to share. I’ve bookmarked your blog.

    • Christine on December 4, 2019 at 6:03 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article so much, hope you’ll be you’ll be back for more!

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Christine Roseberry

About Me

Hi, I’m Christine, thanks for stopping by! As a fibromyalgia thriver (symptom-free for over 10 years now thanks to diet and lifestyle changes), it is my passion to share the healing power of food.

As an RN and Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, it is my desire to empower you to take charge of your life.

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