Lots of people have heard of the miracle of indoor gardens without soils. The very idea of having a nearly infinite source of healthy green without all the hassle of dealing with dirt excites most amateur gardeners. In this post, we are going to be discussing some of the best veggies that grow in water and how to take care of them.

Although most plants indeed rely on soil for germination, you will be surprised at the number of veggies that grow in water alone. Vegetables like Kang Kang, lotus, watercress, sweet flag, water chestnuts, and duck potatoes are great examples of vegetables that don’t need soil at all. They are, however, mostly associated with parts of eastern cuisine and have no solid roots in western food culture. If you are looking for something a little bit closer to home, you will have to settle for partial water seedlings or hydroponic gardening.

What is a water seedling?

As messy as potted gardens and weeds can sometimes end up being, they are a necessary part of the gardening process and cannot be wholly eliminated without some reliable alternative. That is where hydroponic gardens come in.

Most vegetables don’t require lots of nutrients in their first few days of growth. All they really need is constant water and a ton of sunlight. While these vegetables won’t fully mature in water, they will start growing. With a mason jar and some water, you can get them to grow and later transfer them to a more a pot of soil. You can partially grow celery, romaine lettuce, bok choy, green onion, leeks, cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots in water.

Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponic farming is a revolutionary method of farming that allows you to completely remove soil from the growing process. Instead of using soil, you use some other soil alternative like vermiculite, peat moss, rock wool, or perlite. The plants depend entirely on the nutrient enhanced water for sustenance. This farming style might sound overly complex, but trust us it’s not. Most shallow-rooted plants can grow using this method and it is perfect for everyday veggies. You can grow celery, romaine lettuce, bok choy, green onion, leeks, cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes, carrots or any other vegetable with this great growing technique. Although it is mostly used by large farming corporations, it can be adapted to more modest goals like indoor gardening.

Popular Vegetables That Grow in Water

1. Celery

Celeries are resilient little suckers that can survive in very poor environments. They are the vegetables that are recommended for new indoor farmers trying the Mason jar seedling technique first.

To get your seedling to grow in water, the first thing you need to do is cut off the lower part of the celery and about 3 inches of root left. Once you have done that, proceed to submerge half of the celery root and stem in water.  After a few days of sunlight and attention, you should see new green leaves emerge from the thicket of chopped celery. When that begins to happen, you should let them stay in the water for a day or two and transfer the plant into the soil.

2. Romaine Lettuce

The process for romaine lettuce is very similar to celery. All you need to do is cut most of the leafy edible top off and leave the root and part of the stem. Once that is done, submerge the roots and stem halfway in water and wait for them to grow. After a few days in the water nursery, you should see some leaves begin to sprout. After a day or two of watching them grow, you should transfer them to a pot of soil.

3. Bok Choy

Bok choy was traditionally grown and cultivated in Asia. They prefer warmer climates and thrive in humid environments. The process for planting your Bok choy is very similar to that of celery. All you need to do is cut off the root and some of the lower part of the Bok choy off and submerge it in water. It should take off relatively quickly, and caring for it should pose no real challenge. It is resilient like celery, and you should transfer it as soon as you notice new roots begin to grow at the bottom and leaves begin to sprout on top, then it is time to move them to dry soil.

4. Green Onion

The process of growing green onion is a little bit different from that of Bok choy or any other plants we have talked about so far. Instead of cutting off a huge chunk of the plant off, you need to cut the white stem and roots.

Multiple green onions can be planted in the same jar so we recommend stuffing several green onion roots into a jar and filling it halfway in water. When you see new roots below and fresh leaves on top. Then it’s your cue to move them to somewhere more permanent. Green onions are not as sturdy as celery or Bok choy, they will need some type of support to stay upright in the jar. You can help them maintain balance by either tying them to something stable like a strong twig. You can also tie a number of them together with a rubber band if you want something less disruptive.

5. Leeks

Leeks are very similar to onion in terms of their seedling requirements. All you need to do is add some water to the white stem and roots. You should find some support for them too and keep only half of the stem and root underwater. Leeks grow fairly fast, and you should notice growth under a day after planting. Once they being to grow, you should transport them to the soil.

6. Cabbage

The only thing you need to get your cabbage growing is the thick stem in the middle of a cabbage and a little bit of cabbage. Place the base of the cabbage in water and fill it with water until you have covered the base. Make sure it has plenty of sunlight, and in a few days you should see cabbage leaves bursting outwards. You should leave the cabbage seedling in the bowl for a while longer and transfer it to a soil bed.

7. Beets

Beets are a tuber vegetable that grows in a very unconventional way. What you need to start growing your beet indoors is a jar of water and tons of sunlight. Start off by cutting the top and stem of your beet from the rest of the plant. After that, you want to submerge the stem and top leaves face down underwater. After a while, you should notice that new leaves are growing. Then would be the perfect time to transport it to new soil.

8. Potatoes

There is a neat little trick for growing that applies to both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. To grow a sweet potato or regular potato, you are going to need a small chunk of potato, some toothpicks, lots of water and fresh water and lots of patience.

Using toothpicks or twigs as support, suspend your potatoes over a bowl of water. You want to make sure that only half of the chunk of potato is in water, and half is not. Potatoes usually take a while to grow, but given enough time, they will sprout and begin to grow.

You should plan for somewhere between 60 to 90 days before you expect any real progress. What you are looking for is any long term leaves. Leaves that are strong enough to be transferred to stable soil to grow. Unlike most vegetables, the part of a potato that is actually grown is the leaves. When the leaves are big and strong enough, they are separated from the chunk of potato and are planted in soil. In time they will develop roots and begin to grow.

9. Carrots

The process for growing carrot is relatively simple and straightforward. The first step is to cut about an inch of carrot and the stem off from the remainder of the carrot. The next step involves submerging it in water and letting it grow. In time, new leaves will begin to sprout. Once this begins to happen, you want to transfer them to a soil bed or pot.

10. Fennel

The steps for growing this vegetable is very similar to several vegetables already discussed. All you need is a bowl of water and a fennel bulb. Cut off about one inch of the fennel in addition to the root and submerge half of it in water. It might take some days for it to spur to life, but it will begin to sprout eventually. What you should be looking out for is new leaves on top of the cut part of the fennel.

What about water-based vegetables?

All you need for the vegetables mentioned earlier is a lot of water, perhaps some minerals, and a lot of sunlight.

What do you need to know about caring for your vegetable seedlings?

They will need lots of water changes and sunlight above everything else. This will prevent bacterial buildup and help them grow healthier. Aside from both these things, vegetables don’t really need much to grow.

My Final Thoughts…

Several vegetables thrive really well in water at the beginning of their young lives. Some vegetables like leeks can even be harvested immediately and used, but others like potatoes require a lot of time and patience. In this post, we have gone over the most popular vegetables you can grow in water, and have told you what to expect from each of them. Hopefully, this will help you choose what vegetables you want in your little water garden.