Gardening without soil, or hydroponic gardening, originated with large commercial greenhouses that grew lettuce, tomatoes and other crops for sale to markets. Now you can buy a small home kit complete with planter, growing medium, watering system and grow light. Instead of soil, hydroponic gardens use a growing medium. Plants receive nutrients from fertilizer mixed with water that circulate around the growing medium.
Plants grown in hydroponic gardens grow rapidly due to the concentrated amounts of nutrients available to them. So you can have fresh herbs for your table within weeks instead of months. Hydroponic herbs may also be larger and healthier than conventionally grown herbs, producing large basil leaves for pesto and bigger sprigs of parsley for garnishes.
You can set up a hydroponic herb garden on the kitchen counter, so the herbs are convenient for cooking and always available. With these systems, you can grow herbs in the dead of winter or heat of summer. You'll always have fresh oregano available for spaghetti sauce.
Hydroponic systems allow you to grow more in a smaller space. If you live in a small apartment, you don't have to limit yourself to one or two pots of herbs on a windowsill. You can experiment with new varieties, such as chocolate basil or lemon thyme, yet still always have your favorites available.
Picking herbs from the garden can be a joy, but if it rained the night before and the plants are covered in mud, you may have to wash them multiple times in order to avoid eating grit with your salad. Since hydroponic gardens don't use soil, your herbs are always clean. A quick rinse is all you need before adding them to a dish.
Because hydroponically grown plants receive a steady supply of nutrients, herbs grown by this method will often be thicker and sturdier, and more productive. You don't have to worry about running out of an herb you use a lot. Make pesto one weekend, and you should still have enough basil for tomato sauce later in the week.