Say the word to many people and their first thought is a system that requires as much knowledge and hardware as attempting to build your own pebble bed reactor in the basement. Go on the internet and you will soon feel overwhelmed and thoroughly confused – so much so that you may very well dismiss any thoughts of interest that you might already have. Relax, take a breath and read on.
When I was in the 5th grade I was caught up in all the excitement about man finally breaking the bounds of earth and venturing into space. So much so that I decided to do my yearly science project on an important issue in this new world of space travel – how were the “spacemen” going to eat on their long trips to Mars and beyond!?! That’s when I first heard the term “hydroponics”. NASA was doing research on growing food in space – and in water! So I made a little tank, filled it with water and fertilizer, put some excelsior (that wood fiber filler everybody used to use) on some wire mesh over the water, put some tomato and flower plants in the excelsior so they would stand up with their roots in the water and – voila!! I was growing plants just like the “spacemen” would.
Things have come a loooong way since then. There are commercial operations growing millions of pounds of tomatoes and other vegetables in facilities that resemble NASA clean room facilities. But, there are also a great many people growing lettuce year round, growing all their summer food crops, flowers, herbs etc. in simple, low cost, easy to maintain, weed free, environmentally friendly home systems. The basic rules for successful hydroponic growing are VERY simple. The complexity merely comes as you strive to make the system bigger and more automated.
Fill a flower pot with a soil-less potting mix such as Promix. Make up a jar of water with the right amount of soluble fertilizer. Water your plant. Congratulations!! You are now a hydroponic grower!
If you are new to this newsletter, you know that my goal is to make your gardening easier, more productive, more fun and more environmentally friendly through an understanding of the basic science of growing. Hydroponics is a fascinating segment of the agricultural world that has much to offer you the grower and the planet. By incorporating hydroponic techniques into your growing program you will be taking a positive step for yourself, your family and the planet.
I will be covering many of the basic elements of hydroponic growing in subsequent newsletters – such as growing mediums, understanding lighting, nutrient management and plant physiology. You can access me at any time through this newsletter.
DR. TOMATO is also at the Blue Seal store in Rochester, N.H. Saturdays from about 10:30am until about 2:00pm to answer questions you might have.
For those of you who are serious or commercial growers, I am available for private or group seminars/consultation to help you deal with issues such as:
· CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT CHAMBER DESIGN
· PAR FLUX ANALYSIS
· NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT
· WATER CHEMISTRY ISSUES
· LIGHTING SYSTEM DESIGN
· INSIDE/OUTSIDE IRRIGATION OPTIONS
Contact me for hourly or event rates.
Each year, I produce close to 40,000 vegetable and flower seedlings for Blue Seal stores, commercial Pick Your Own operations, Farmers Market suppliers and individuals. All are produced using hydroponic inclusive techniques. I also grew lettuce for Farmers Markets for 4 years using flotation tank culture.
Recently, the Blue Seal store in Rochester, N.H. contracted me to set up a comprehensive hydroponics department to meet the needs of anyone from the home hobby grower to the serious commercial operation. With the finest products from the most respected manufacturers in the world this is now your source for all your hydroponic needs. They have also asked me to be the science resource to make sure you get exactly the products you need and understand how to best utilize them.
I can almost guarantee you that once you start experimenting with hydroponic production for yourself – there will be no going back!