Hydroponics, by definition, is a method of growing plants in a water based, nutrient rich solution. Hydroponics does not use soil; instead the root system is supported using an inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, or vermiculite. The basic premise behind hydroponics is to allow the plants roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while also having access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth.
For more info on what is hydroponics, the advantages and benefits of hydroponics, check out our blog: Top 15 Reasons Why You Should Grow Vegetables in a Hydroponic Garden.
There are numerous advantages to growing plants hydroponically in a Sunny Garden vs. growing outdoors in soil. For starters, the Sunny Garden can grow herbs and greens considerably faster than outdoors because the plants are given exactly what they need and nothing they don’t. By removing stress from the growing environment you can experience rapid growth and healthy, nutritious plants. Plant density per square foot is also much greater in a Sunny Garden compared to soil. This allows you get high yields from just a few square feet of your home. It is a much easier way of gardening on our bodies and still provides all the enjoyment of growing your own food. A Sunny Garden can also grow year-round and is never impacted by the changing seasons. It is also sustainable and economic! All of this coupled with a drastically lower water usage and fertilizer usage means that the Sunny Garden makes sense for many different people for any number of different reasons. For more info about why choose hydroponics, please visit our homepage.
As long as the required elements for survival and growth are present, plants in fact don’t need soil. What do plants need? They need carbon dioxide, water, nutrients, light energy and some love. Given these elements are present, to include nutrients that would otherwise be found in soil suspended in solution, most plants can be grown hydroponically.
Sunny Garden Series
The number of different plants the Sunny Garden can grow is virtually unlimited. We encourage you to experiment with different crops and share your results with VHH and other growers using the Sunny Garden. With that in mind, the Sunny Garden was primarily designed to grow herbs, greens and many non flowering plants and therefore those crops will perform best. However, we’ve grown tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and other vegetable varieties successfully as well.
Purchase your hydroponic growing supplies here.
We encourage you to try these cultivars. Check back with us as we will be adding other plants that do well hydroponically to the list.
You may purchase the seeds here.
|Basil||Italian Large Leaf|
|Bush Green Beans||Provider|
|Green Leaf Lettuce||Saladbowl|
|Lemon Grass||West Indian or East Indian|
|Pac Choi (Bok Choy)||Joi Choi|
|Parsley||Giant of Italy|
|Red Leaf||Dark Red Lollo|
|Salanova||Red Oak Leaf|
|Salanova||Green Oak Leaf|
|Swiss Chard||Bright Lights|
|Swiss Chard||Rhubarb Supreme|
|Tatsoi||Organic Asian Green|
*Seeds with an asterisk will take longer to grow
Notes: Remember that some cultivars grow well for commercial applications and some do not. If you're growing for personal use, for educational purposes or for any other reason other than for resale (commercial, business), you can try all the above-mentioned cultivars and you will be pleased with the results.
We provide specific guidance to our commercial indoor farmers to ensure that their yield is sufficient to have a lively and profitable business.
You may purchase the seeds here.
While not certified USDA Organic, they are based off naturally sourced mineral salts and are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a wide variety of plants. Nutrients should rarely need additional supplementation. If you’d like MSDS sheets on our nutrients, please send us an email.
Some are. You will be able to find that in the product description. Additionally, all of our seeds are non GMO.
Rockwool is an inert mineral substrate that serves as an anchor for roots; it is designed to help seeds germinate and to hold a plant in place while growing in the hydroponic trays. It is made from granite or limestone and is melted and spun. It absorbs moisture and retains air pockets for germinating plants.
Rockwool comes in a sheet that sits on a tray or a flat. Each sheet contains 200 individual 1”L x 1”W x 1.5”H squares. VHH recommends using one seed per cube. These squares will need to be separated before seeding and transplanting. The top of each cube is marked by a small dimple, and tapers towards the base.
Food safety is a sole responsibility of the grower. We advise that you should get familiar with all applicable federal and state regulations, particularly if you’re selling your produce. We can get you started by providing you with a list of links on this subject below. These are a mix of federal and state resources regarding food safety. This list is by no means exhaustive or complete. We recommend that you conduct your own research on this topic. Additonally, make sure to check with your local authorities to ensure you’re following the proper and current guidelines, laws and regulations.
DEC Produce Safety Program
This is a website for the department of environmental conservtion for the state of Alaska and you should check with your applicable state for guidelines, rules and regulations.
Printed food safety manuals are also available. Please contact your local Cooperative Extension Service, USDA Service Center or your local health department.
The amount of time it takes to operate your Sunny Garden greatly depends on what you grow and how often you plan on harveststing plants. A more casual user can expect to spend about an hour each week running the system, while a user who wants to maximise their production should budget slightly more time. Most users will find that the time it takes to operate the Sunny Garden will be much higher during the first few harvest as they learn the system’s operations.
The short answer: anytime time you want. Our recommendation however, is that you wait until your plants have reached maturity as this is the most efficient way to get great yields. See the plant growing chart recommendations for suggestions on when you should harvest your plants. It is also recommended that you harvest plants before they become too mature and begin blocking neighboring plants and growing a huge root mass, which can cause leakage.
There are some parts that are automated, such as LED lights, fans and pumps. Otherwise, the garden is meant to be enjoyed as just that… a garden. Gardening is a very blissful experience, so give it a try.
Oh yeah! The unit is sizable though. It will come on a pallet, wrapped in foam, cardboard, and may be even crated. We advise that you read the manual prior to un-boxing it, as you will likely need to grab some friends to help you out.
Getting Set up
If you’re just getting started with the Sunny Gardens, we recommend the following supplies. These should last you about 6 months, with the exception of those items you only need to buy once.
6 month starter kit: (Order your starter kit online quickly and easily here.)
1 x EC pen*
1x Plant labels, reusable*
1 x Hydroponics basics book*
1 x Watering can*
1 x Gardening shears*
1 x set of pH strips 5.5 - 8.0 ( one set may last you a year)
2 x Hydro-Gro Leafy Greens Premier Nutrient blend and Calcium Nitrate 2 part formula (1lb each)
6 x Rockwool
Seed packs – up to you. Depends if you want to grow several varieties or many
*Items only need to be purchased once in the beginning
Order your starter kit online quickly and easily here.
These are ongoing supplies that you will need to maintain while you garden. These consumables should last you for about 1 year.
Consumables for 1 year:
- 12 sheets of Rockwool
- (4) x Hydro-Gro Leafy Greens Premier Nutrient blend and Calcium Nitrate 2 part formula (1lb each)
- 1 x set of pH strips 5.5 - 8.0 (unless you still have some)
- Seeds – up to you!
- The number of seeds depends on how many varieties you’d like to grow. Additionally, some seeds come in 100/pack and some come in 250/pack, 500/pack, etc. Thus, your seed purchase will fully depend on your personal choice. It is important that seeds are kept in the fridge!
You can purchase these consumables online here quickly and securely.
We recommend that you always keep your seeds in the fridge keep them cool, dark and dry, which will extend their shelf life and viability.
Generally speaking yes. You may want to measure Electrical Conductivity (EC) to ensure optimal performance. You can purchase easy to use EC measuring pens on our website. Another note on nutrients – more is NOT better. The rule of thumb here is that less is more and to err on the side of adding a smaller amount, rather than larger. We talk about EC and reservoir balancing/nutrients in a lot more detail in the Sunny Gardens manual.
Order nutrients online quickly and easily here.
Your Sunny Garden is designed to operate indoors in a ventilated room with access to both water and power. Your system is built to operate at normal room temperatures, 65F-75F. Room humidity should be between 50% relative humidity and 80% relative humidity. The Sunny Garden should be kept level, out of direct sunlight and away from house plants. Plug the Sunny Garden into a GFI protected outlet. For more info, consult your user’s manual.
We estimate that the Sunny Pro uses about 2 gallons per day, averaging out over a lifecycle of a plant. You will use less water when the plants are small. Be aware that the water requirement will increase as your plants mature, so you will need to add water more frequently. Of course, this depends on what you grow, whether you are continuously harvesting or harvesting outright and on ambient humidity levels.
We estimate that the Sunny Max uses about 1 gallons per day, averaging out over a lifecycle of a plant. You will use less water when the plants are small. Be aware that the water requirement will increase as your plants mature, so you will need to add water more frequently. Of course, this depends on what you grow, whether you are continuously harvesting or harvesting outright and on ambient humidity levels.
Total energy consumption is expected to be about 7.8 kWh for a 24 hr. period. If your energy cost is 10 cents, then you’ll be paying about $0.78 per day to run the system.
Total energy consumption is expected to be about 6.7 kWh for a 24 hr. period. If your energy cost is 10 cents, then you’ll be paying about $0.67 per day to run the system.
Yes, the lights, fan and pumps are all set on a timer. There are two distinct timer settings – “always on” and “partially on”. When a component is plugged into the “always on” side of the timer, it will be operating 24/7. The “partially on” side of the timer, on the other hand, allows you to designate how long that component will be on. For example, for lights we recommend setting your timer to 16 hours per day, while pumps and fans should always be on.
If the unit is leaking, the first step is to identify where exactly the leak is coming from—sometimes what appears to be a leak is really just splashes of water from harvesting and transplanting. Once the leak is identified, unplug the unit before making any repairs. Small repairs can be made by the grower using a non-toxic PVC cement such as Gorilla PVC Cement. Clean, dry and fully prep the site of the leak before applying any cement. If there is a large leak then please contact VHH for technical assistance. For more detailed info on leaks, please consult your user’s manual or contact VHH.
Dimensions with handles & wheels – 76H x 66 5/16 W x 33 5/16 D
Approximate weight – 430lbs dry and 639lbs running full
Dimensions with handles & wheels – 70H x 52.4L x 26.8D
Approximate weight – 280lbs dry and 408lbs running ful