DIY Aquaponics: 5 Easiest Veggies & Herbs to Grow From Seed in Hot Climates

We built a small self-watering aquaponic gutter garden on our lanai (concrete patio) in Hawaii over two years ago, and since then, we’ve experimented with a zillion heirloom seed varieties …salad greens, herbs, peppers, beans, tomatoes, sunflowers, even strawberries! Bright red strawberry growing in backyard aquaponics systemMany of these things were cute but not really practical seeing as our aquaponic grow beds are made out of shallow rain gutters!

giant sunflower
The sunflower roots tried to completely overtake the entire gutter garden!

But several types of green leafy vegetables and herbs produced abundantly in our lil aquaponics gardens with little or low maintenance. Here’s a list of the top 5 easiest vegetables and herbs to grow in your small garden  which experience virtually zero pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiency problems in warm tropical climates like here in Hawaii.

The trick is to buy heirloom seed varieties, that way you can save seed for next growing seasons! 

Top 5 Vegetables to Grow in Small Aquaponic Gardensgutter garden lettuce1) Lettuce

All types of lettuce simply thrive in our AP gutter garden. From seed to harvest in weeks – be sure to plant a few seeds every week or so to ensure a continuous harvest for fresh daily salads. Choose from several varieties — green full head to red leafy organic varieties.

aquaponics swiss chard

2) Swiss Chard

This type of perpetual spinach is by far my favorite leafy vegetable to grow in our backyard AP system. It seems the more you harvest, the more leaves spout out and grow! Very easy to grow and provides fresh greens all season from one sowing. Chard can be harvested and eaten raw as a baby leaf for best taste or full-size — better for use in smoothies or lightly cooked. I like this 5 color swiss chard organic seed variety the best — super ornamental!

3) Bok Choy

These succulent choy leaves have a mild, swiss chard-like flavor but slightly sweeter, tender and delicious. You will find it in stir-fry and in soup, but I like to throw it in smoothies completely raw. It is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Like chard, it’s super easy to grow from seed and you can harvest the outer leaves continuously until it bolts (goes to seed), then harvest the entire plant.

bok choy thrives in aquaponic raingutters

4) Cilantro

Love love love this tasty herb. Continuously pinch back the tops of cilantro plants (especially seed shoots!) to encourage bushy and prolonged growth. Our cilantro has had zero serious problems with insects or diseases. In fact, probably due to cilantro’s strong scent, it is considered an insect repellant! Drop some leaves in your water to help detoxify heavy metals from your body. Very easy to grow from seed.

aquaponics basil

5) Basil

Last but not least, this culinary and medicinal herb grows fantastically in our aquaponic salad garden. Harvest leaves year around from your basil plant, and make sure to pinch off any blooms to ensure continued leaf growth. In contrast to the top 4 listed above, do not overcrowd basil plants as they need a tiny bit more root space to stay happy. Choose from several different organic varieties including SweetThaiGenoveseLemon, and Greek Basil seeds.

Happy Farming!

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