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Does growing in Hydroponics change the 'taste' of your crops?

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Lots of beginning growers who come to us with questions about the process are concerned about one thing -- taste.

Some have heard about the ways that plants develop aromas and flavors due to their growing material and the environment that they mature in. So does hydroponics change taste? The short answer is ‘yes.’

Many factors change the taste of the plant, especially ‘suggestible’ mild green plants like lettuce and other similar types of greens. Plants that don't have their own genetically induced flavors are much more prone to pick up flavors from the grow environment, but nearly any plant has some vulnerability to a change in taste, based on what it grows in.

The Soil Controversy

A lot of people suggest that hydroponics is just no match for soil-based growth, because of all the natural stuff that soil has in it. But the actual answer is that taste is more complicated than that. A plant grown in optimal soils may have a great taste, but plants growing in bland, weak or insufficient soils may suffer from a not-so-good flavor. By contrast, hydroponics offers the specific ability to micromanage taste by injecting the right materials into the plant’s grow environment.

Flavoring Plants

There are a couple different elements to this. One idea is that through a complex trial and error process, hydroponics growers can figure out what types of nutrient elements make plants taste better.

Another related idea is sometimes called “flavoring.” Some growers experiment with directly integrating strong flavored elements into the grow solution. Two common examples are sugar and citric acid.

You might see growers put sugar into the grow environment in order to try to get a sweeter end taste. This kind of addition has to be weighed carefully, because of the ways that sugars can block water or degrade a reservoir system. Another option is to use citric acid, which can give plants a distinct flavor when they're harvested.

Above all, it's important to really pay attention to what goes into the plant environment, to make sure you get an attractive taste and aroma from the mature plant. We would argue that hydroponics does not suffer too much from the lack of those “mystery” nutrients that people might argue are in organic soil. Specific hydroponic nutrient packages are made to nourish plants in a comprehensive way. And we think that hydroponic plants taste great.

For more on hydroponics and what it can do for you, check out what manufacturers and retailers offer to help individual growers succeed.

 
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