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Hydroponics,Gardening,Fresh Produce,Fruits,Vegetable,IHidro

Hydroponics vs Dirt:

Some of the obvious reasons people are turning to hydroponics for their foods are fresh produce, the high quality of nutrients and foods can be grown and enjoyed all year long.

Another really big persuader for growing hydroponically is not having to wash your produce!  Let's face it, how many times have you gone to the supermarket or the local farmer's market and upon returning home, having to washing everything.  From removing unwanted pesticides to that clump of dirt hanging off the roots!

No matter how you slice it, dirt is dirt and there is nothing appetizing about eating dirt!

Not only are novice farmers jumping on hydroponic gardening, so are large and small farms alike.  Large greenhouses are popping up everywhere with state-of-the-art plant rooms, grow lights, extensive watering and filtering systems.

Recycled water uses a tenth of the amount of water needed for conventional gardens.  This nutritionally rich water travels down channels encompassing the young roots of every plant from an assortment of greens to herbs.

About Gotham Greens:

In an area of Brooklyn known as Greenpoint, founders Viraj Puri and Eric Haley along with their director Jenn Nelkin have set gardening on a whole new path with the largest greenhouse, to date, in the urban USA.  This $2 million dollar greenhouse is constructed on the space of a former bowling alley and light manufacturer.

All plants are grown from seeds that are embedded in tiny sponges of fiber created from volcanic basalt.  This greenhouse provides the very best produce on the market to restaurants and high end retailers.

The Tug Of War:

While there are many restaurant owners who enjoy hydroponic produce, they also believe that some foods should fall within the season they are preparing menus for.  Although they enjoy the fresh produce they purchase from hydroponic greenhouses, they aren't ready to give up on plants grown in soil.

Others feel having fresh produce directly at the fingertips is a heck of a lot better than shipped produce that is over 3 days old.

From restaurants to food stores, the biggest plus for hydroponics is without doubt freshness and accessibility.  Endives, lettuces and herbs do so very well in hydroponic gardens that this is a big step forward for this kind of gardening.  Many chefs like working with chervil, an herb in the parsley family.  Unfortunately,  chervil is very difficult to grow and does not travel well at all.  Now chervil is being grown in hydroponic greenhouses and is literally at the reach of chefs.  This is a huge win for hydroponics!

Those unmoved believe that if produce is not grown in soil, the plants lack in flavor.  Yet, due to weather conditions, too much sun or the lack thereof can also affect the final outcome of those plants too.  Management, growing conditions and various species can also dictate the final taste of any grown plant in any condition whether hydroponics or soil.

The More The Merrier:

With the growth of hydroponics and more farmers developing hydroponic greenhouses, the accessibility of fresh produce is definitely on the rise.  People are finding fresh food literally a block away and are willing to pay a little more for this quality of food.

There are those that argue growing hydroponic plants takes a great deal of labor and high-end maintenance and that water cannot replace the richness of soil.  Others cannot tell the difference between a plant grown in soil or grown in water because of the ability and knowledge of the farmers.

The Pluses in Hydroponic Gardening:

Without doubt, we are running out of land mass, people are growing their own foods on roof tops and they are not being affected by pesticides, herbicides, pest controls, etc.  Those same roof top gardeners are learning new techniques and enjoying hydroponic gardening.  They are setting up grow boxes, plant lights, adding vegetables and herbs into their gardens and feeding them all with rich nutrients.

Like anything new, there will always be negative thinkers believing - The Old Way Is The Only Way. With that kind of thinking, we'd still be getting around in a horse and buggy instead of in cars.

Hydroponics,Gardening,Fresh,Produce,Fruits,Vegetable,IHidro

Hydroponic gardening is on the rise in popularity.  Understanding exactly how to successfully grow fresh vegetables and herbs starts with the basics.  In Hydroponics 101, the main heart and soul to a successful hydroponic garden is the reservoir!

Understanding that the reservoir is the single most important part of the hydroponic growing system is a must.  Maintaining your nutrient solution reservoir will dictate how successful your gardening efforts be.

Your Tap Water:

You need to test your water quality before putting it in your reservoir.  Tap water registers around 300 ppm or higher.  Your water's ppm should stay between 0 to 50 ppm before the addition of nutrients.  Start off by checking a small amount of your water quality with your TDS/PPM EC Meter. 100 ppm or higher is acceptable but there is a chance that micro nutrients will show up in your test.

All vegetables are not created equal.  There are so many varieties of vegetables and so are their nutrient and pH level demands.

Your Nutrient Solution:

Your nutrient solution should be checked every day, around the same time of day, to measure the strength of your nutrient and its pH.  Using a digital probe, measure the strength and pH and right this down in a log or notebook.  Keeping track of changes will help you develop healthy plants.

You should run tests on your solution after it has run through your system at least once, twice is best.  Purchase good test equipment because paper strips and test tube kits will not do the trick.

Adjusting the pH Levels:

The best level for pH is between 5.5 to 6.2, do not go over 6.5 and do not go below 5.5.  Although various vegetables need various levels, they all need to be between these levels.  Also note that adjusting your solution's pH will affect its strength. When adjusting the pH use propriety solutions as: pH Up or pH Down.

Check Your Solution's Strength:

Grab your TDS/PPM meter and check the strength of your nutrient solution.  If it's too strong, add water -- if it's too weak, add some fertilizer.  Always re-check your pH after making changes.

A top-up nutrient should only be used 3 to 4 times between full nutrient changes.  Never use full nutrients for top-ups.

It's advisable to have a nutrient reservoir as large or larger than the empty volume of the containers or tubes.  If you have a 20L container, at least 20L of nutrients should be used, though twice that amount is better.  It is a good idea to use the largest nutrient reservoir you possibly can.

Your Nutrients:

Depending on the volume and your plants requirements can vary greatly.  It is a really good idea to nutrient the water every day when you are first starting off.

When your nutrients come to the end of their usefulness, you can simply pour the solution into your plants grown in dirt.

Outdoor Hydroponic Gardens:

Although many enjoy their hydroponic gardens outdoors, keep in mind that any runoff water, including rain will affect your solution.  Rain, for instance, will dilute your solution rather quickly.

Indoor Hydroponic Gardens:

If your garden is indoors, you will have better control over the nutrient solution and other aspects of growth.  You will need plant or growth lights, your grow box or grow room can vary enormously and you will be able to grow herbs, vegetables, greens and even flowers year round.

Conclusion:

Hydroponic gardening is catching on like wildfire.  Whether you live in an apartment or in a cold climate that restricts your outdoor growing.  Hydroponics can offer you fresh produce and herbs whenever you want them.  There is a fountain of information online for you to study up on before starting your own garden.  Visit your local nursery to talk with someone knowledgeable in hydroponics.  Hydroponic gardening is not difficult and the rewards can be awesome!

While a vertical hydroponic system can look impressive, its real value is turning a normally underutilized space in your home into a productive and space-saving garden. Instead of just having photos or a bookshelf on your wall you can have a beautiful garden growing flowers, herbs, and vegetables for you to enjoy. With a tower system you can grow a larger number of plants in a smaller area, and still have room to move around freely.

What is the difference in growing plants vertically? Normally, in a standard garden with soil or in a hydro grow box the plants are grown on a horizontal surface. This layout requires space for the grow area as well as extra space for you to move between or around the plants to care for them or to harvest. If you don’t have much space available this limits how many plants you can grow, and it can make it difficult to have access to the plants to care for them and make sure they are healthy.

A vertical layout allows you to have a larger area that can hold more plant sites, and with more sites you can grow a wider selection of plants and have larger yields. For instance, let’s say you like to eat fresh salads. You can grow a variety of lettuce to make a spring salad mix, and then have fresh herbs growing alongside to add more flavor, like basil, dill, mint, oregano or thyme. Think how much you can save by growing your own instead of purchasing each of these items at the grocery store, and how much better your food will taste with the herbs being fresh picked right before dinner.

There are several benefits of a vertical hydroponic system that are especially good for older gardeners who may have issues with their knees and back, or for people with disabilities that limit their movement. First, as the plants are growing in a nutrient solution you will not need to lift heavy bags of potting soil into your home. Also, with the plants arranged neatly in rows on a wall or in a tower this allows much easier access to the plants for tending and harvesting.

A vertical hydro system also makes maintenance simple. An electric pump in the reservoir below the system pumps the nutrient solution up through connecting hoses that run along the plant sites. These systems often use drip emitters at the base of each plant to deliver the solution to the roots, which then drains back down into the reservoir. Sometimes these emitters get clogged or need to be adjusted so they are flowing correctly. With a vertical hydroponic system each of the emitters is easy to reach and adjust. It is also easy to manage your plants, and if you need to remove a plant it is simple to lift it out of its site and move it to another site.

If you want to start growing fresh vegetables and herbs indoors but you are limited for space, or if you have mobility issues that make it difficult to reach around a conventional growing table, then a vertical hydroponics system could be for you.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Garden Delights In Every Season: Growing Vegetables Indoors With Hydroponics

Imagine plucking a juicy red tomato right off the vine to top off your burger or put in your salad. See yourself picking a freshly grown spicy hot pepper that you can use to flavor your dishes. Picture yourself harvesting your own cucumbers or squash for your recipes. Now, imagine that you're picking these veggies in your pajamas inside with a foot of snow covering your backyard!

This delicious vision isn't just a dream; it can be a reality with a hydroponics vegetable garden. Hydroponics is a way of organic gardening indoors in any season without having to deal with messy potting soil. You can grow a wide variety of vegetables indoors in a hydroponics system, and this step-by-step guide will tell you how.

1. Take a plastic seedling tray and fill it up with peat moss, which you can purchase online and at home and garden stores. Spritz the peat moss with a water bottle until it is wet to the touch. You want it to feel like a sponge that is damp but not dripping wet.

2. Plant your vegetable seeds according to the depth instructions on the packaging. For best results when you're starting your first garden, pick vegetables that grow low to the ground and that grow quickly, such as leafy greens like kale or lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower.

3. Put plastic on the tray and place the entire setup on a windowsill that receives light but not direct sunlight.

4. Check your plants every day. If the peat moss is dry, spritz it the way that you did in Step 1. When the seeds sprout, remove the plastic.

5. Continue checking the seeds daily. Continue until the plants are beginning to outgrow the tray.

6. When the plants are too big, take each one gently out of the tray. Use water on low pressure to clean the peat moss away from the roots.

7. Take an aquarium fish tank and encase it with aluminum foil to block out the light and help the plants grow.

8. Purchase a hydroponics nutrient solution and mix it with water as directed on the packaging.

9. Pour the nutrient and water solution into the fish tank.

10. Connect a fish tank bubbler to a tank air pump with plastic tubing and gently put the bubbler down on the bottom of the tank.

11. Use scissors to trim a piece of Styrofoam sheeting to slightly smaller than the length and width of the fish tank.

12. Make holes inside of the sheet that are slightly smaller than the mouth of the Styrofoam coffee cups that you purchased.

13. Use an exacto knife to make slits in the sides of the cups.

14. Fill each cup up completely with vermiculite.

15. Make a depression enough to accommodate your plants inside of the vermiculite-filled cups.

16. Carefully set one plant in each cup.

17. Put the Styrofoam cups into the holes of the Styrofoam sheet.

18. Put the Styrofoam sheet with the cups inside of the fish tank.

19. Turn on the bubble.

20. Put the fish tank underneath hydroponics growing lights.

21. Monitor your plants and wait for your vegetables to grow!

These simple steps will have you enjoying your own fresh-from-the-garden vegetables all year round in no time!

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Each day, more and more people are finding out just how fun and how profitable it can be growing herbs in hydroponics. The fun part is being able to grow plants in your home grow room any time of the year, and the profitable part is the growing demand for produce picked fresh from a home herb garden.

It is easy now to grow plants in hydro, and gardeners who were used to growing in soil are now finding they can enjoy gardening growing the plants in a nutrient solution under grow lights. There are some differences in the techniques, but the fundamentals of growing plants, flowers, or vegetables, from seeds or from cuttings, are the same. The major differences are providing a light source with plant lights rather than the sun, and controlling the pH and the levels of nutrients with routine water treatment.

There are two drivers of the demand for hydroponically produced food; the quality of the vegetables and herbs in your local grocery store, and the ‘foodie’ movement. With many vegetables now being imported from Mexico and South America, even though they may look good, they may not be of the quality people want for themselves or their families. There may be unhealthy pesticides used when growing the plants, and since they are shipped such long distances the food is picked before it is ripe, causing it to lack flavor and nutrition.

The foodie movement is leading a push to high quality foods with the maximum flavor and nutrients. This has led restaurants and groceries to seek suppliers of fresh vegetables and herbs that are locally produced, without the worry of harmful pesticides or a lack of flavor. Another example of this growing trend is how farmers’ markets are popping up in most cities and towns, and how the prices are higher than you see in your local grocery.

These premium quality products bring a premium price, and a gardener who can grow the best herbs and vegetables will have no problem selling them to this eager market. If you can supply a product that is different from what you can normally find, grown with care, free of pesticides, and picked at the peak of freshness, you will find that customers will begin to contact you to make sure they are the first in line at harvest time.

The best plants to start out with when you are beginning to sell to restaurants and markets are heirloom tomatoes, specialty lettuces, and uncommon herbs. Restaurants, in particular, are always looking for ways to set themselves apart, and a wide selection of produce allows them to update their menus and keep the customers coming in.

In a grow room with a hydro system and grow lights you can offer a selection of products, and grow them fast. A plant grown in a hydroponic grow box will grow between 30% and 50% faster than a plant in soil, and you won’t have to worry about pests or weather affecting your crop.

As the gardener who has the best produce, the quickest delivery times, and the ability to provide a variety of herbs and vegetables, you will find that being a hydroponic gardener can be both fun and profitable.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Since 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs, everything from crack cocaine to marijuana has been illegal in the United States. Forty years later the war on drugs has been anything but successful. These facts make it pretty clear that ridding of drugs in the U.S. is pretty much impossible.

Most law enforcement agencies still focus on the illegal trafficking using of hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, but bringing in pot smokers or those possessing pot has not been on the top of the list where crimes are concerned.

Over the past 10 years, the overall attitude toward the use of marijuana has changed drastically. When studies first showed that marijuana could be a medicinal solution to numerous health issues, many states dropped pot off the illegal list and onto a legal list for medicinal purposes.

Many Americans believe that pot is a great deal less dangerous than alcohol and various studies have backed that claim. During the elections in November, 2012 voters chose to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington as a recreational drug. Whether pot is more or less dangerous than alcohol will probably take a great deal more research.

Is Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol?

Recent studies have shown that pot is just as likely to impair judgment and motor skills behind the wheel of a car as alcohol. A study performed at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has shown an increase in fatal accidents, nationwide, involving the use of marijuana.

Studying auto fatality statistics in California, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Illinois from 1999 to 2010 showed an increase in accidents involving marijuana. These 6 states were chosen for the study due to their constant toxicology tests given to all drivers involved in fatality accidents. This study examined more than 23,500 deaths that happened within one hour of a collision.

Their research showed that alcohol was a contributor in 40% of fatal accidents and remained the same throughout this time period. With constant ads and education showing the results of drunk driving, there has been little to no effect on those that choose to drink and drive.

Unfortunately, in 1999 16% of fatalities were blamed on drugs and grew to 28% by 2010. Co-author Dr. Guohua Li, "If This Trend Continues" believed in another 5 to 6 years, drugs will overtake alcohol as the leading contributor of death related car accidents.

This particular test does not differentiate between illegal drugs and marijuana or even legal drugs such as painkillers. The tests did show that the most common drug found in the blood streams of drivers was marijuana. In 1999 that number was only 4% and in 2010 reached 12%.

Further Research Is Inevitable:

Alcohol only remains in the blood-stream for a certain number of hours where marijuana can remain for weeks after smoking. Some studies state that 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood weren’t enough to impact drivers. These studies do not indicate that a driver is impaired from pot at the time of the accident; only that pot has been used in the recent past.

THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the active ingredient in marijuana or "cannabis" which gives narcotic and psychoactive effects to the drug.

On the other hand, advocacy groups such as MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving) back other studies that believe there is a connection between fatal accidents and the use of marijuana.

Now that more states are considering legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, more studies will be inevitable. Only time will tell at this point whether the states that have legalized marijuana's, if it is a good or bad choice.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Tasty Fresh Vegetable Recipes from Your Hydroponic Garden

Everyone loves the taste of fresh vegetables straight from the garden, but unfortunately the summer and fall harvest seasons are much too short. The good news is that you can enjoy the same wonderful flavor year round from a hydroponic garden in your home. With a simple grow box, nutrients, and plant lights you can enjoy vegetables that taste as good as anything you can grow in the soil.

One of the most popular vegetables to grow hydroponically is tomatoes. In North America in the wintertime the tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store are usually imported from Mexico, or are grown in giant commercial greenhouses and shipped. The tomatoes are picked before they are ripe, the texture is tough and the flavor is bland. But if you have a tomato garden in your grow room you can wait to pick them until they are so ripe they are about to burst with flavor.

Basil is an herb that also grows well in hydro. It doesn’t take up much space and grows a pretty little plant that is easy to maintain. It is also a very versatile herb that goes well in Italian dishes such as tomato-basil pasta sauce or on a Caprese salad with mozzarella cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes, and sprinkled with basil.

Another plant that grows really well in your indoor garden is pepper. It is happy to grow in a media like clay pellets where its roots can dig in firmly and hold the plant up straight under the weight of the heavy peppers. Just put the grow light about 8 to 10 inches above the top of the plant so the heat from the lamp doesn’t burn the leaves and raise the light as the plant grows. Give it 10 or 12 hours of light and it is happy.

You can make a wonderful roast pepper dish that is easy to make and tastes delicious. From your garden select 3 fresh peppers, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and a half a cup of basil. Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds, then fill the pepper halves with tomatoes and place them in a baking dish. If you have any mozzarella left over from your Caprese salad add a little bit to each pepper. Chop up the basil in a bowl and add 8 chopped garlic cloves, cover the tomatoes with the garlic and basil, then salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the peppers with aluminum foil and put the dish in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and put the dish in to bake for another 15 minutes. Take the peppers from the oven and sprinkle them with about a tablespoon of herb vinegar, then enjoy. This dish is very healthy, with low carbohydrates and full of nutrients.

When you have a hydro grow room you are able to create gourmet meals like this every night. Just grow a selection of your favorite vegetables and herbs, pick up a recipe book, and enjoy fresh-picked veggies on your table all year long.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Hydroponics growing gives you the ability to enjoy fresh from the garden produce all year round. When you grow plants in a hydroponics grow room or grow box, you won't have all the hassle of using soil, keeping pests away from the garden, weeding or fertilizing. Everything is done through a system of grow lights and feeding tubes. It's simple, eco-friendly and organic.

Once you've decided to set up your a grow box and plant lights and get down to some hydro growing, you'll have another thing to decide: what to grow! To determine which plants would be best, follow these tips.

Consider your likes

Decide what vegetables you're likely to eat the most of. Planting vegetables that your family does not really enjoy won't give you very many benefits. Pick things that you eat often and that everyone likes.

2. Maximize your space

Instead of planting lots of one type of vegetable in a small grow room, try just one or two plants of all of your favorite veggies. This will help you determine just how much your family can eat in a timely manner. You can always add more later.

3. Think seasonally

If you pay attention to prices in your local grocery store, you'll quickly see that some vegetables are more expensive during the winter months. By growing these in your indoor grow box, you'll save money. For example, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are often very pricey in December, January and February, making them better choices than beets or broccoli, which are in season even during the winter.

4. Know what not to plant

Corn, zucchini, summer squash and melons all take up a lot of space in a growing environment, so steer clear of these unless you plan to invest in a very large grow room.

5. Plant the Dirty Dozen

Every year, the Environmental Working Group identifies vegetables and fruits that are likely to be contaminated with pesticides. By planting these in your hydro grow box, you can help to protect your family from toxins. Items on the 2013 list that you can grow indoors include celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, hot peppers, potatoes, spinach, sweet bell peppers, kale and collard greens.

6. Try herbs

If you love to cook, devote at least some of your growing environment to an herb garden. Herbs that you pick fresh right before you cook are far more flavorful than dried and even the fresh ones available at the grocery store.

7. Consider availability

If you often cook ethnic foods that require special chilies or other vegetables that are difficult to find in local grocery stores, planting these in your grow room is a wise idea.

Now that you have an idea of what you can grow with your hydroponics system, you're ready to get started. If you still need supplies like grow lights, a grow box or an exhaust fan, you can get those essentials here in our grow shop.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

There is something so wonderful about watching little seeds turn into sprouts from an indoor container. Many gardeners are skeptical when talking about growing seedlings or just about any outdoor plant indoors. Little do they know, this is a great way to start plants off in a strong and healthy way while having a great deal of fun. Starting seeds from indoors is actually quite easy and fills those winter month voids with sprouts appearing before your very eyes.

Why Start Seeds Indoors?

One, it'll give you a jump on spring planting and it's a great way to get through the doldrums of winter. Seeds are a great way to start plants that can be quite difficult to find as a full plant at your local nursery. Starting from seeds vs a grown plant will save you a great deal of cash as well because you will get great deal more for your money. A packet of seeds will have at least a dozen seeds and only cost a few bucks. One full plant will cost more than that packet of seeds. Again, buying a packet of seeds and starting them indoors will be a rewarding experience during the cold winter months.

Can I Choose Any Seeds I Wish and Get Great Results?

If you are a seasoned gardener who has worked with seeds, yes. If you are new to seed starting, it's a good idea to start with those that are easier to grow. Tomatoes, Basil, Peppers, Marigold, Zinnias and Cosmos are really easy to grow and germinate very quickly. Once you have mastered some of these easier varieties, go ahead and try some of your favorites that are little more on the fussy side.

What Type of Soil Works Best for Seeds?

A light weight mix formula created for seeds is your best bet. Garden soil and other soils are too heavy and will not drain as well. Garden soils also carry organisms that can kill or damage your seedlings.

Are There Specific Pots I Should Use?

Containers with excellent drainage holes and designed for seeds such as trays and/or pots are the best choices. Some people like using biodegradable pots such as Paper Pots, Cowpots or Reusable Trays. You may also purchase self watering systems that are literally foolproof.

How Deep Should The Seeds Be Placed?

Your seed packet will give you needed information including the depth of the seeds. You must be careful not to plant seeds too deep. Plants have a very limited amount of food stored for nourishing the seeds. If the seeds are planted too deeply, they will run out of food before they ever reach the surface. Each packet has very concise and clear planting instructions that should be followed.

A Windowsill vs a Grow Light:

Although you are welcome to place your seedlings on a sunny windowsill, it's advisable to use a grow light. First, seedlings will develop more quickly with a light vs your sunny window. Secondly, the light coming through the window is not as intense as the summer sun, so they might not receive the desired light for good growth. Plants grown under a grow light will be larger and stockier and therefore adapted better once transplanted outdoors. If you use a grow light, make sure the light is a few inches above the seedlings' tops. As the sprouts start getting higher, adjust the light's height.

Should Grow Lights Remain On All Day and Night?

Seedlings will grow better if they have the grow light kept on for 14 to 16 hours a day. They do need some hours of darkness in order to rest, so you might want to purchase a timer for the lights.

Should They Be Watered From the Bottom or the Top?

As a general rule, you should water from the bottom so the surface soil remains dryer. If surface soil becomes really wet you could run into disease issues. If you have small seeds or those requiring surface sown, use a mist to keep the surface moist for germination.

When Should I Remove a Greenhouse Cover?

Greenhouse covers are great for holding in moisture and humidity for a faster germination. At the first sign of sprout growth, remove the cover. This gives the sprouts air circulation and keeps them away from various diseases.

Should Seedlings Be Thinned Out?

Once they start growing, they might start crowding each other out. That's the time to start thinning the seeds. You need to choose the strongest ones to stay and remove the weaker ones. Some gardeners choose to remove the weaker ones and replant them. Roots can become damaged but if you want to give it a try go ahead. If you choose to just thin out the plants, snip off the seedlings, that are being removed, at the soil line.

When To Fertilize:

When the seeds' food storage structure starts appearing, they look like leaves but aren't. When the second sets of real leaves start developing. These are the times to start your fertilization.

When Should Plants Be Placed In Larger Pots:

Some of your larger, fast growing seedlings will need to be moved to larger pots before it's time for them to go outdoors. Tomatoes are a good example, so when they get around four inches tall, gently remove them from their smaller pots.

When Should Plants Be Moved Outdoors?

Depending on the climate you live in and when the last frost arrives in the spring will dictate when you should move your plants outdoors. Seed packets should offer planting suggestions regarding their sowing requirements.

You should also consider whether your plants like cool or warm growing conditions. If the packet doesn't give you enough information, there are reference books that address all plants and their ideal environment.

I Don't Know The Last Frost Date, What Should I Do?

If you have moved from a different part of the country or are new to gardening, others will help you out. Ask a friend, a neighbor or contact the local gardening center, these people will be glad to help you out.

How Will My Plants Inoculate To Outdoor An Environment?

The process is called "hardening off", it simply helps the plants to become used to outdoor conditions. Outdoor conditions are harsher than the soft life they have experience indoors. Approximately one week before planting your seedlings into the garden, place them in a protected area outdoors for a few hours a day and bring them in a night. The protected area should be partial shade and out of the wind. Gradually expose them to more sunshine and wind, leaving them outside but moving them around, for approximately one week to ten days.

Problems Along The Way:

Poor germination can be a problem with some plants. Usually this is caused by seedlings that take a little longer to germinate. The packets should have the germination period and growth rate for that specific plant. Some seeds will take two or more weeks to start sprouting.

Poor germination may also occur from too wet or too cold soil which will cause them to rot. Sometimes the soil is too dry and the seeds are not capable of absorbing the moisture needed to sprout. Their roots are very fragile and this will cause them to die before any shoots can emerge. Seeds that are not properly stored or are too old will also not germinate.

Soil borne fungi will attack stems, causing the plants to fall over.You will have to start over by cleaning the containers and sterilizing the mixture. The soil should dry out or be mostly dried out before applying water. Make sure their is good air circulation such as a fan if needed. In order to clean and disinfect used containers, use a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water.

If you notice white fuzzy growth or green slimy parts on the surface of your mix or the outside of your biodegradable pots, it's more than likely mold or algae. This is a sign that the mix is way too wet. Although the seedling will probably be fine, you need to get that mix partially dried out. Again, use a fan or other options to bring about good air circulation.

Leggy plants are not getting enough light. Place them under a grow light with the light only a few inches above the plants. Keep the lights on for 14 to 16 hrs a day. If your room temperatures are too warm, this cause leggy problems as well. Over crowding and poor fertilization will cause weak and pale plants.

Pale leaves that are green, yellow or purple are probably a sign of poor nutrients. Once the seedlings are approximately one to two inches in height, start feeding them fertilizer. Use a water-soluble fertilizer that is diluted to half strength for a few weeks. Then start applying full strength each week. Always follow the directions on the labels.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is an attractive plant that grows between 2 and 3 feet and is a member of the mint family. Used as an herb to enhance many dishes as well as an beautiful ornamental plant for gardens. It is a hardy perennial commonly used to season poultry.

Sage is an ancient herb used for medicinal purposes from wounds to broken bones. It was also believed to help relieve stomach disorders and helped one's memory. The Greeks used sage to treat ulcers, snake bites and consumption. To the Romans, sage was considered sacred including a ceremony in honor of it. They would gather sage dressed in clean robes and make a food sacrifice. It is also believed they used sage as a form of toothpaste.

Unlike other herbs, Sage seeds do not germinate well and can take as long as two years to reach maturity when grown traditionally. Sage cuttings are a more popular alternative for growing.

Planting:

Sow approximately six to eight weeks before the last frost.Planted in soil, seeds will take about 3 weeks to germinate. Using a hydroponic system, proper light, and in a controlled environment germination, time can possibly be cut in half.

Planting sprouts in a hydroponic system with a nutrient solution will give you a better growth rate and healthier stock. As sage loves high sun, a fluorescent light should be placed approximately 2 inches above the sprout growth. As the plants grow, raise the light. You may also use a windowsill if it offers bright sunlight. Keep your water level high enough for the roots to reach at all times. Hydroponic systems water your herb garden with a rich nutrient solution that will promote a healthier and faster growth than outdoor gardening can possibly do. You will experience less diseases and a lack of outdoor insect infestations.

Hydroponic Solutions:

There are many wonderful ways to grow your herb garden with hydroponics. Visit your local gardening shop that offers hydro growing. Many gardeners like to use either a partially enclosed grow box or a completely enclosed grow box system. These boxes are ideal for those winter months when outdoors is a complete impossibility. Growers are thrilled with having fresh herbs and vegetables in the dead of winter.

With a partially enclosed or completely enclosed grow box, the world is open to a huge selection of plants and herbs to enjoy year round. Your only limitation for a grow box is your available space, as they range from small to large containers. Some of the tremendous features include a large variety of lighting options such as grow lights to ventilation systems.

Grow Boxes:

Partially enclosed boxes will require grow lights that are placed appropriately above in order to grow plants. Grow lights come in a variety of bulbs from fluorescent to more energy efficient lighting such as LEDs (light emitting diodes).

Many completely enclosed grow boxes come with added features including built-in grow lights and fan ventilation systems for air circulation to prevent the onslaught of various molds and fungi.

Grow Rooms:

Grow rooms offer a controlled environment for your plants. In order to grow plants in one of these rooms depends on your available space as they come in a good array of sizes. You should acquire a good ventilation system, such as a fan, because these rooms can become extremely hot and air circulation will be extremely important to keep temperatures down.

With the growing popularity in hydroponic systems, there has never been a better time for indoor gardeners. The sky truly is the limit from herbs to fresh vegetables and even exotic flowers. New systems, products and techniques are constantly on the horizon and gardeners are ready to jump on it.

Harvesting:

Cut the leaves sparingly in the first year of growth and prepare to dry. Tie the cuttings into small bunches and hang upside down in a dark, well ventilated room. Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store whole.

Disease & Insects:

In an outdoor environment various diseases are carried by insects or are often found within the soil. Spider mites and slugs are the two biggest problems for sage. Use a natural insect controller to combat these pests. Hydro growing will help prevent this from taking place because of the nutrient solution vs soil.

In an indoor hydroponic system, regulate the nutrients and watch the temperature. Keep air circulated with a fan to keep the possibility of insects and diseases developing. Using a sandy soil will promote good drainage which will keep diseases down as well. A good insecticide soap or natural insect controller are in order should you find problems developing.

Collecting Seeds:

Once the blooms start turning brown and the heads are totally dry, gently crush them between your hands and carefully fan away the bracts.

Conclusion:

Growing sage indoors allows you to enjoy these wonderful herbs year round and especially during the winter months when all else is barren. Sage has a wonderful aroma and delightful flavor. Pull out those dusty old recipes that call for sage and prepare delightful dishes!

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Pickling foods for abundance during the fall and winter months is nothing new. Your great-grandmother, your grandmother and possibly your mother were doing this long before you were around.

Some very popular pickled foods are: cucumbers, carrots, beets and peppers. Canning these foods is actually a lot easier than you might think, it just takes a little simple instruction.

The History of The Pickle:

Pickles go back as far as 2400 BC during the time of the Mesopotamians. Pickling is a preserving process and therefore were necessary throughout the centuries before refrigeration came into existence. The British were big believers in pickles since the Middle Ages and still are today.

Did you know Julius Caesar gave pickles to his troops because he believed these little pickles offered physical and spiritual strength.

Aristotle believed pickles offered great healing properties.

The benefits of pickling your vegetables is the fermenting process. This process increases good bacteria that promotes a healthy immune systems and bodily functions.

Let's Pickle:

Peel, slice (1" thick) 3 pounds of cucumbers

Place your cucumbers into canning jars.

Each jar should consist of:

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 to 3 dried chili peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Place In A Sauce Pan:

3 cups of white vinegar + 3 cups of water + 2 tablespoons of Sea Salt + 2 tablespoons of organic coconut sap or sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil for approximately two minutes or until the sea salt has totally dissolved.

The Jar:

Fill the jars with this mixture short of 1/4 inch at the top.

Put the lids on the jars and then seal and secure the them. Refrigerate for 48 hours or longer and enjoy!

About The Mighty Pickle:

Although pickles only have 16 calories, the sodium is 1,181 mg or 49% of your daily intake. That's a great deal of sodium!

Americans consume over 8.5 million pounds of pickles each year and twice that amount for dill and sweet pickles.

In 1500's NYC hosted the largest group of Dutch commercial picklers!

It is believed pickles will last 2 years which is past the expiration date on the jar.

A Crunchy Moment:

People love pickles! We enjoy them with hamburgers, at any form of barbecue, as a snack at any given time and are forever popular in homes across the country. NY Delis believe they created and perfected the giant pickle, which is always sitting on the counter top in a huge jar! With their own special herbs and spices, Deli customers would never dream of leaving the establishment without at least one huge pickle in tow!

Whether you would enjoy pickling cucumbers for the almighty pickle or enjoy other vegetables, pickling is a history old culinary delight! Try various pickling techniques and what vegetables appeal to you the most. Pickled foods are lasting and a great way to enjoy your summer vegetables in the dead of winter.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Hydrogen peroxide (H202) has been used for years in treating minor cuts and burns within households. It gets rid of infections and various bacteria without any discomfort. Hydrogen peroxide also prevents future infections in your hydroponic system, protecting your ability to grow plants in many positive ways.

Using hydrogen peroxide in your Hydroponics System offers many good outcomes. If your nutrient reservoir solution maintains 72 degrees, hydrogen peroxide is a necessary ingredient. Warm water decreases the oxygen level in the water causing many bacteria, viruses and fungi. Hydrogen peroxide adds oxygen and cleans the water of these pathogens. Your herb garden and other hydro gardens will love you for it!

Grow lights can cause a temperature increase in your grow rooms or grow boxes. Hydrogen peroxide will help bring the water temperature down and protect your plants. Plant lights are commonly used in partially enclosed grow boxes and completely enclosed grow boxes. Watching your temperatures is extremely important to insure you grow plants with great success.

Hydrogen peroxide counteracts the chlorine that many water providers use to sterilize your drinking water. Well water is high in methane and organic sulfates which hydrogen peroxide will also remove. As you draw your water from one of these sources, the purity of water in your will have a strong effect on your herb garden, vegetable garden or flower garden.

Bacterial, fusarium fungi, pythium fungi and many other organisms are destroyed by free oxygen released by hydrogen peroxide. Many herbs are effected by various fungi and mildew, using a little precaution and providing hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the potential of these diseases is important.

Plants must have oxygen as it is a major part of a plant's structure, allowing nutrients for the plants to feed on and assists in critical functions for all metabolic processes.

When using a grow room, keep in mind these rooms can become extremely hot. Good ventilation and oxygen are critical to proper growth. When applying hydrogen peroxide, follow label instructions carefully and other instructions included with your hydroponic system.

Extra oxygen provided by hydrogen peroxide benefits many functions including:

  • Breaks down carbohydrates brought on by photosynthesis
  • Gets more nutrients to your plant by increasing root zone movement
  • Creates thicker stems
  • Aids oxidization of metallic elements
  • Provides plant energy
  • It enhances photosynthesis by stimulating the level of protein production
  • Boosts the survival rate of plant cuttings
  • Escalates seed germination
  • Disinfects and cleanses your hydroponic system providing less disease
  • Excelling seed germination will greatly help seeds in sprouting while protecting them from molds and mildews.

Wet Sprouting:

Once a day, place a wet paper towel or cloth onto a flat surface and spray the outer surface of the material encasing the seeds. Supplement watering with a 3% solution once the sprouts start growing. Should you notice any form of bacterial growth, spray a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide onto the foliage, blooms and barks.

Regular strengths of hydroponic peroxide (3%, 5%, 8%) are safe and very easy to use. Look for "hydrogen peroxide (stabilized) 3% on the label.

Three percent hydrogen peroxide should be in a solution of 2-1/2 teaspoons of peroxide per gallon. You should start off at a lower concentration and then increase after a few weeks.

Changing Out The Reservoir:

When changing the reservoir, every two or three weeks, start off with 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per gallon and slowly increase to the full 2-1/2 teaspoons per gallon.

Allow your hydroponic system to fully circulate the peroxide and water solution for approximately 30 minutes. This allows the peroxide to rid of pathogens and allows the solution to stabilized before you add the nutrients.

Take The Advise of a Professional:

Your standard peroxide can be purchased in most drugstores and many times at your local supermarket. You may also purchase a hydrogen peroxide solution from your hydroponics retailer. You should also consult with them for any professional advise regarding the solution strengths and when it should be applied. Take their advise and follow the instructions that are clearly listed on the bottle. Your hydro grow shop professionals are just a phone call away should you have any questions or concerns.

We have used hydrogen peroxide for healing minor wounds and killing off diseases. Now you know it will serve the same purpose for your hydroponic herb and vegetable gardens!

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

If you want to grow plants indoors simply and easy, there are two methods of growing that do not require the hassle and mess of dealing with soil. The first is hydroponics, which involves the use of a growing medium. The second is a specialized form of hydroponics called aeroponics. With aeroponics, plants are grown under grow lights in a groom room or box like hydroponics, but there is no growing medium used at all.

So which type is right for you if you want to plant an herb garden or grow vegetables indoors? Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of indoor growing.

Growing Medium Differences

In a grow box or room for a hydroponics system, you won't need any dirt. Instead, you'll use a medium like the fibers from coconut shells, perlite or pebbles made of clay. Plants are fed nutrients through a system of tubes to help them grow. In an aeroponics growing environment, you will not use the medium. Instead, you'll need to turn off the plant lights periodically and spray the roots of your plants with a nutrient solution.

Advantages of Hydro Growing

Some of the advantages of hydroponics growing include:

- Large degree of control over the nutrients your plants receive

- Less water wasted as systems recycle the water. A high quality system can use 90 percent less water than traditional methods used to grow plants indoors

- No pesticides or herbicides are required

- Plants can be grown in every season since grow lights are used in place of natural sunlight.

- Less expensive to maintain than a traditional garden

Disadvantages of Hydro Growing

Although there are many distinct advantages of using a hydroponics system in your grow room or box, there are some disadvantage as well:

- Water based diseases can be easily transmitted through hydroponic systems due to the recycling of water

- The plant lights consume energy, and there is a need to have back-up generators in place in case of power failure

- There is a high initial expense for setting up a grow box or room

Advantages of Aeroponics

Aeroponics growing offers many of the same advantages as hydroponics; however, it does have one distinct advantage over hydro growing methods. Since there is no growing medium, plants are able to absorb more nutrients, which can lead to lusher growth and bigger harvests.

Disadvantages of Aeroponics

Like hydroponic growing, aeroponics is expensive to set up and requires electricity. In addition, an aero system requires more maintenance, as you will need to consistently monitor the pH of the plants and the amount of nutrients your plants are receiving. Generally, aeroponics systems are more difficult to use than a hydro growing environment, so the growing method is less ideal for beginners.

Whether you're interested in hydroponics or aeroponics, the iHidro grow shop has all of the supplies that you need to grow plants indoors. Check out our selection of products and get on your way to that indoor herb garden or vegetable garden.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is an herbaceous, perennial plant. Native of the Mediterranean region, lovage grows wild in the mountainous districts in the south of France, in northern Greece and in the Balkans. Growing tall, the stems and leaves are a shiny green, has a hint of celery flavor and also a smell of lime when the herb is crushed. Cultivated as a sweet herb, with its roots used for medicinal purposes, its leaves can be used in salads, or to make soup of broths. The bottom of the stems can be blanched and eaten the same as celery.

This article will explain how to correctly sow lovage by means of soil propagation and hydroponically.

Growing Lovage in Soil:

Preparation:

Traditionally, out in the garden, the hardy lovage herb prefers rich, damp soil and a shady site. Before planting, it is important to consider how much space a gardener would devote to growing this herb. Lovage can grow very tall, with adult plants reaching 4-6 feet high. One large lovage plant is enough to keep a family sufficiently supplied with its fragrant leaves throughout the year while many plants create the perfect backdrop for a garden in the ground or set in planter pots.

Propagation:

Lovage grows well from seed. Start indoors 6-8 weeks before planting out at a depth of 2.5 cms in small peat pots. Seeds require on average 10-20 days for germination. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed. It is advised to transplant the seedlings again in autumn or spring to positions 2 feet (60 cms) apart. By the time the seedlings are four years old; they will have most likely reached their full size and should be spaced about 4 feet (1.2 m) apart.

Harvesting:

Lovage may be harvested after the first growing season if the plant is growing healthily. If very large, aromatic leaves are desired for flavoring, the plants must be watered especially well throughout the course of its life. If the lovage plant has enough water, plentiful cuttings can be taken from the plant a few times a year. As with most culinary herbs, the best time to do cuttings are in the morning after the morning dew has dried. Best used fresh, lovage can, however, be stored frozen in plastic bags or even dried. If only the leaves of the plant are desired, then the plant should be kept from flowering and seeding.

Lovage can successfully be dried in a cool oven, at a temperature of a little less than 200ºF (94ºC with the door left a little ajar). It is important to check the leaves often to prevent burning. Lovage can also be dried by tying cuttings in small bunches and hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room.

Lovage has also been noted as having a high amount of quercetin, a plant flavanoid said to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The plant has been used medicinally for generations as it can relieve abdominal pains due to gastrointestinal gas. When consumed as a tea, lovage is also said to decrease flatulence.

Insects and Disease:

Lovage, like many leafy vegetables and herbs, is sometimes the target of leaf mining insects such as burrowing worms. Unfortunately, control of these leaf miners, even with pesticides, isn't very effective. The only thing that can be done is manually pick the affected leaves as soon as they are spotted. If the problem becomes widespread, then a cover over the crop is a good option in order to limit the flying leaf miners from leaving its eggs inside the lovage leaves.

Seed Saving Instructions:

The plant produces huge flower heads of seed. To properly dry for storage, allow the flower heads to dry on the plant. Once dried, collect the seeds and store in a cool dark place. Seed heads may also be bagged to capture ripening seed. Dry seed head can be brittle, so collect over a bowl, basket, bag or other container to collect all seeds.

Growing Lovage Hydroponically

Hydroponics and Growing Lovage

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants, like vegetables and herbs, without the use of any kind of soil. All the nutrients a plant needs while growing primarily in water are provided from a water-based nutrient solution. Anchors such as rockwool, pumice, sand or perlite are desired, so that the seedling can keep itself anchored.

The advantage of hydroponics over conventionally planning in soil is that when gardening with this method, plants can be placed close together. This in turn increases the yield in the space being used. There are also no weeds in hydroponics and normally no pests. Hydroponics, however, does more often than not cost more for the needed equipment as well as taking a little more training to learn the process as compared to the standard soil gardening technique.

Lovage can be grown hydroponically and has been noted to grow much more quickly in water than in soil. To grow lovage in this way, large amounts of equipment needn't be purchased as a small DIY hydroponic garden can easily be set up with reusable materials. This method of hydroponics is called hydroponic organics, and is currently one of the most popular methods of hydroponic growing. It allows the gardener, no matter the level of expertise, the freedom and flexibility of choosing their plant’s container, organic solution, and fertilizer (if desired) as they water the plants directly without the use of an automatic water on a timer. Hydroponics, although having the image of being a complex operation is in fact a moderately simple and inexpensive process when done on a small scale.

DIY Hydroponic Organics

  • One 2-liter soda bottle, emptied and cleaned
  • A pair of scissors
  • Heavy tape (duct tape is a good choice)
  • A Styrofoam cup
  • A pencil or screwdriver
  • Perlite
  • A lovage seedling with the soil gently cleaned from its roots
  • Hydroponic nutrient solution

Instructions

  1. Cut the top from the soda bottle. The hole should be large enough to hold the styrofoam cup. Make the cut level so that the Styrofoam cup will sit evenly in the hole.
  2. Cover the cut top of the bottle with the heavy tape. This is to keep both the styrofoam cup in place while hiding sharp edges of the plastic bottle.
  3. Using the pencil or screwdriver, poke several holes into the bottom of the cup. The holes should be large enough that the roots of the lovage plant will have a way grow through to reach the water, while the pieces of perlite do not fall through.
  4. If the seedling was started in soil, wash the roots gently before planting the seedling in the perlite. Make sure that there is no soil on the roots of the seedling. With clean roots, plant the lovage seedling into the perlite. Put enough perlite in the cup to fill it almost to the top.
  5. Follow the instructions written on the label of the hydroponic nutrient solution. Carefully mix enough hydroponic nutrient solution to fill the 2 liter bottle that the cup now sits in. Fill the bottle with enough of solution mixture so that the mixture is touching the lowering roots of the seedling within the cup. Ensure the solution does not cover all of the roots of the plant because the seedling’s roots also need access to oxygen in order to grow.
  6. Preferably, lovage does well with a relative humidity and at least six hours per day of light. This is the optimum conditions for the seedling to grow. If this cannot be adequately supplied to the seedling by natural means, grow lights and timers are also available from grow shops. These allow direct control over the amount of light the plant receives.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Over the past few years, people with sensitivities toward gluten have also developed certain diseases such as celiac disease. Consuming a great deal of gluten can have a pretty negative impact on your overall health.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a "sticky" protein found in many grain products such as wheat, rye, barley and many other grains. It's called "sticky" because it literally hold nutrients together within the plant. This sticky ability is why it is used in processed foods as a filler and a binder. It is a two part protein that consists of peptides gliadin and glutenin.

Why Are People Turning Away From Gluten?

One of the biggest reasons we are turning away from gluten is that we are not eating the wheat that our parents grew up on. In order to produce a bug-resistant, fast growing and drought resistant product, we have to hybridized the grain. ( Hybridized = to breed or cause the production of a hybrid.) Approximately 5% of the protein found in hybridized wheat is considered a "new form of protein" and this is where the problem lies. This new form of protein leads to increased inflammation within your system, causes an intolerance to gluten and can bring about systematic problems.

How Is Wheat Now, Different Then It Was Years Ago?

Wheat has been de-amidated or in other words, amino groups have been removed from the product. This is done in order to allow the wheat to become water soluble and therefore able to be mixed into just about every single packaged food. Unfortunately, this process has shown to create a large immune response in many people. In this fast-paced world that we live in, we are surrounded with fast foods available at a snap and we are eating a great deal more wheat then our ancestors ever did.

So, What Goes On In Our Bodies When We Eat Gluten?

While you are consuming that "whole-grain" pasta that every health nut under sun claims is good for you, or that 12-grain sandwich, it's eventually is going to enter your intestines. (TTG) tissue transglutaminase is an enzyme that breaks down the gluten into building blocks, gliadin and glutenin.

So, what does all of that mean? Let's break it down so it's more clearly understood. Everything you intake must make its way through your digestive system, your lymphoid tissue or GALT which is the term used for the immune system within your gut! Your system literally reviews everything to make sure there are no harmful substances trying to make their way through.

Now, if you do not have any issues with gluten, the entire process moves along very smoothly and there are no problems. Unfortunately, if you have a sensitivity to gluten , your system identifies "gliadin" as a dangerous substance and starts producing antibodies to attack it. Gliadin is a prolamin derived from the gluten of grain. Prolamin is a simple class of proteins. Those with Celiac’s Disease, these antibodies don't just attack the gliadin, they also go after the TTG which originally broke down the gluten.

Symptoms Within the Digestive System Can Cause Serious Conflicts:

The enzyme, TTG, has numerous jobs and one of the most important duties is pulling together the microvilli, or little finger-like projections on the surface of the epithelial cell within our gut.

Your body collects nutrients by absorbing them through the walls of your intestines. The more surface space there is, the more they can absorb. These Microvilli exist in your intestines to increase the surface area and absorb nutrients. When these fingers become blunt, this is an indication of celiac disease.

When the production of antibodies are cut back within your body to defend against gliadin, these microvilli will erode and decrease your ability to absorb needed nutrients and can cause the walls of your intestines to become leaky.

When this leakage takes place, you can develop digestive symptoms such as bloating, constipation, weight loss, diarrhea, malnutrition and fat malabsorption. Malnutrition can be in the form of lack of iron, anemia, low vitamin D or even osteoporosis.

How Does Gluten Cause a Leaky Gut?

In order to absorb nutrients, our system must be accessible to small molecules. Regulating our intestinal attainability is one of the leading functions of the cells that line the intestinal walls.

That said, people who are sensitive to gluten can have their gut cells release "zonulin". Zonulin is a protein that will break the tight junctions of your gut apart. Once this happens, you will experience a "leaky gut". When this occurs toxins, microbes and undigested foods particles escape your intestines and travel throughout your body via your blood stream. Adding to that, this also allows antibodies to escape as well and these antibodies were formed to originally fight off gliadin.

The Link Between Gluten, Inflammation and Auto-immune Disease:

Antibodies often confuse more than TTG for gliadin and attack other organs and systems. From your skin to your thyroid or your brain can be at high risk. This is precisely why gluten sensitivity is often associated with auto-immune conditions and the onslaught of Celiac Disease. Once this has manifested, this can cause a second auto-immune disease as well.

What To Do If You Are or Suspect You Are Gluten Intolerant?

One of the best tests you can run is to remove any form of gluten from your diet for approximately 3 to 4 weeks before reintroducing it back into your diet. You need to run this test for a good amount of time because gluten is a very large protein and takes a long time to get it out of your system. If you can keep out of your diet for a longer time frame, all the better.

Once you introduce gluten back into your diet, should you feel significantly worse then you were before chances are you have a low tolerance to gluten. You may also request that your doctor run a series of tests:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • Total IgA antibodies
  • Tissue Transglutaminase antibodies
  • Genetic Testing
  • Intestinal Biopsy

Tests are not always accurate because gluten is made up of hundreds of peptides and gliadin that are broken down into 12 different sub fractions. Quite honestly, your body knows more than any test can possibly show. If you rid of gluten from your body and you feel great and then reintroduce it back into your system and you feel terrible, it's time to unload gluten permanently!

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How To Treat Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity:

You should eliminate gluten by 100% from your diet. Even low amounts of gluten from supplements, medications, cross-contamination can cause serious immune reactions. The mentality that gluten is only eaten when out at restaurants is a poor excuse. An article published in 2001 stated that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten just once a month increases the risk of death by 600%.

For some people, just removing gluten from their diets 100% isn't enough. The damage that has been caused must mend. Even those who only show signs of bloating or headaches, these effects can last up to six months and in some cases longer.

Because the damage has already been done, the gut lining must totally heal. Because of years of ignoring gluten sensitivity, other infections could arise such as parasites, bacterial overgrowth and bacterial imbalances, to name a few. In some cases some folks might need to go completely "grain-free" due to damages that have incurred.

Keep in mind, you are not losing any needed nutrients by cutting out gluten. You could very well be saving your own life or the life of someone you love. The wheat products we consume in this day and age are not what our ancestors consumed, nor did they consume as much as we have in recent years.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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We all have a plant or two that are favorites and we want to continually harvest from. Whether you are taking cuttings from your outside garden or want more harvesting from your indoor garden, it's essential that you go about it correctly.

Before you even start considering a constant supply of cuttings, you must start with a mother or donor plant. This plant should always be productive or abundant and healthy.

Choose a plant to grow that offers as many nodes as possible. An abundance of nodes will assure the plant's stress will remain low when you are making your cuttings. Also, be sure your mother plant is well watered at the time of cloning, as dehydration can be a serious problem for the clones.

Cutting Your Branches:

You are going to cut the side of the branch, approximately 6 inches long. Then emerge the cutting under water and make a second cut about two to three inches in from the cutting's end. This is to prevent an air bubble entering the inside tissue of your clone.

Once you have completed the above step, dip the clone in the rooting gel and place it in your choice rooting medium.

Rooting Gel:

A rooting gel is better than a powder because the gel will stick to the end of the clone and not wash off when watered. The gel also serves as a capping element for the end of the clone, preventing embolisms. IBA is a hormone that generates essential root formation.

Please Note: Never dip your clones into the bottle of gel. This could contaminate the gel for any future use. Pour a sufficient amount into another glass container or place on wax paper.

Rooting Medium:

Rockwood and peat plugs seem to be the favorites for root mediums. You can see the development of the roots without having to tug on the clones to find out if they are taking root.

Minimize Moisture Loss:

You want to make sure your cuttings have a high level of humidity by using a flat cover to maximize the moisture. This is important because moisture is lost during transpiration Transpiration is the passage of water through a plant from the roots and then into the atmosphere.

If you cuttings have large leaves, cut them in half to decrease moisture loss.

The Hydroponic Cloning System:

If you are planning on having many clones on a regular basis, you might want to seriously consider buying a hydroponic cloning system. These systems offer a much higher rate of returns on your rooting success. These systems do not require a medium to plant the cuttings into before they root. Clones can either remain in these systems or can be planted in soil afterwards.

The two most popular systems:

Bubble Cloners:

You can make a bubble cloner very easily, all you need are:

  • One three to five gallon bucket
  • One Air Pump
  • One Stone
  • Some 2-Inch Net Cups
  • Neoprene Collars

Maintain a water level that is just under the net cups in order for your stems to remain moist.

Aeroponic Cloners:

Although these systems are somewhat expensive, they offer the easiest and most efficient way to clone your plants. You should see visible root growth within 8 to 10 days and in some cases as briefly as 5 days.

You can then transplant your rooted cuttings into soil, a hydroponic medium or a soilless medium. Whatever you choose!

Cleaning:

It is very important that you keep your cloning system clean. This will prevent the chance of bacteria and fungi developing, which will rot your clone's stems very quickly.

Between uses, run H2O2 through the system for a few hours. Should you find areas that are not cleaning well, take a brush and dilute H2O2 or a bleach solution and apply to the stubborn spots. This will also insure there are no micro-organisms remaining in the system.

To Sum It Up:

Make sure your 6 inch cuttings have few large leaves and maintain a temperature of 75 degrees. Provide anywhere from 60% to 80% humidity.

Use cloning gels that contain micro nutrients with IBA hormones to hasten root development. Water your cuttings with a light, liquid fertilizer that is made specifically for clones and seedlings.

Cloning plants can be a great way to have extra harvests throughout the year. If you are new to cloning, ask your local nursery for assistance. If you are interested in purchasing a hydroponic cloning system, check with a nursery that specializes in them.

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Without doubt, the white potato is the most consumed potato on most consumers tables. Although the skins of these potatoes offer a certain level of nutrients, as a general rule they are not on the top of the list for good food value.

That said, there actually is a potato out there that is loaded with nutrients and packed full of mega antioxidants. It's the purple potato! I'll bet almost none of you have eaten or even seen a purple potato. It's time you did become acquainted with this perfect little gem, because it's extremely good for you.

The purple potato is from South America and is named for its rich, dark purple skin and flesh. These potatoes are loaded in antioxidant phytochemicals which aid in creating a lower blood pressure.

Vegetables and fruits that are rich in color often reveal the nutritional value and that value is quite high. Nutritionists have stated over and over that the deeper and richer a fruit or vegetable appears, the more dense it is in nutrients. It has always been suggested that your diet should consist of a combination of colors to ensure you are getting the best possible nutrients into your body.

Purple has the characteristics of rich and powerful antioxidants also called anthocyanin. From the flavonoid family, anthocyanin boosts the immune system and offers fighting agents against cancer.

Varieties of Purple Potatoes:

  • Purple Viking
  • Purple Majesty
  • Purple Peruvian

There are other foods that offer anthocyanin including blueberries and pomegranates. These foods, as well as the potato, have the ability to protect the structure and integrity of DNA. Anthocyanin also produces cytokines which are extremely important in prompting a proper immune return.

Other Antioxidant Benefits:

Antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory values that will protect the health of capillaries and strengthen membranes. It has also shown to regulate estrogenic activity, thereby lowering the risk of hormonal related diseases.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure:

A study that was presented in 2012 at the American Chemical Society national Meeting in Denver, stated that consumption of purple potatoes actually lowered the blood pressure of those consuming these potatoes. It is believed the consumption of these potatoes had an effect on the capillaries and blood vessels.

Purple potatoes have a high concentration of chlorogenic acid which lowered the blood pressure in mice.

What About Flavor:

Most consumers are accustomed to eating white potatoes for their flavor and texture. Given the nutritional values in purple potatoes, what do they taste like? Actually, the purple potato tastes very much the same as your standard white and is actually a little creamier in texture.

Cooking Purple Potatoes:

You should cook these potatoes with the skin on, as you should with the white potatoes. Keeping the skin on allows moisture to remain within the potato and prevents the loss of their nutrients.

The skin on these potatoes are loaded with vitamin C along with polyphenols and potassium.

The best ways to prepare purple potatoes are through steaming or baking. If you must have fried potatoes, use a clean healthy oil such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Some folks believe in just taking a big bite out the potato from the onslaught! Now granted, as this potato is a new concept and you are still trying to get over the color, this might not be the best time to just chomp down on its royal rawness!

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Mint (Mentha) is one of the most popular herbs due to its excellent aroma and wonderful flavor. This herb spreads profusely and is an easy herb for beginners to grow. It is a perennial and is easily recognizable by its sweet aroma and square stems.

Preparing for Growth:

Mint is not particular regarding the soil it is grown in or the amount of light it acquires. Mint thrives on ample amounts of water and actually grows from underground runners.

You will want to mix your soil with a great deal of compost but stay away from manures. Manures will cause weeds and weeding is extremely difficult within a mint patch.

Planting:

Even though many opt to grow mint from seeds, it is advisable to select small plants instead. Choosing small plants will give you the ability to select a specific variety. Mint should be planted 1 to 2 feet apart from each other and mulch in order to retain enough moisture. If you have older mint plants, they can be divided every four to five years.

As mint will take over your garden, it's a good idea to actually plant them in a container that is sunk into the soil approximately 10 inches deep.

Harvest Time:

The best time to harvest mint is in the morning before dew evaporates. In order to dry the mint, cut the stalks above the first set of leaves as soon as buds appear. Hang them upside down in a dark, dry and well ventilated room. They should remain there for approximately 2 weeks or more. Mint can be harvested quite often for your enjoyment.

Diseases and Insects:

Mint is highly vulnerable to fungal diseases. Remove the infected leaves by hand and apply an organic fungicide when fungus first appears.

Aphids, flea beetles, spider mites and cabbage loopers are common pest ailments for mint. You should apply a natural pesticide to prevent further infestation and damage.

Seed Harvest:

Harvesting can begin once the blooms start turning brown and dry and the heads are completely dry. Very gently crush them between your hands and carefully fan away the debris.

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Growing Mint Hydroponically:

Hydroponics is a way of growing plants without soil and is replaced with a special mixture and nutrient water system. The water system supplies the roots with needed nutrients regularly.

You can purchase hydroponic kits at your local gardening center that specializes in hydroponic gardening or online. For those with limited space, these systems are ideal. They take up less room than other gardening venues and produce healthy produce. Due to their versatility, they can be used both indoors and outdoors. As mint loves water and requires plenty of it, this is the perfect plant for hydroponic systems. Mint is also extremely easy to grow making it ideal for the beginner as maintenance is light once its been planted.

What you need to grow mint hydroponically:

Getting Up and Running:

Place the soilless growing medium into the growing kit and follow the directions that came with the kit. Each kit can vary, thereby needing a particular medium. Sand, perlite and peat are only a few soil-less mixtures available.

Next, prepare the nutrient solution and water mixture, then add it to the kit. The brand and strength of the nutrient solution can vary as different solutions require different nutrient ratios. Again, follow the directions supplied with the kit.

Place the mint plants into the kit. Although it is best to purchase seedlings that have been rooted in soilless mixtures, do not remove the planting medium from the roots of the plants. Place the mint plants in separate containers as ideally each plant should be separate.

Ideally, the kit should be placed in full sun. You can place the mints outside during the summer months and then in cooler weather move them inside. Place the hydroponic system under a grow lamp for approximately 12 to 16 hours daily for ideal growth.

Summary:

Hydroponic systems are an excellent alternative to outdoor gardening. You can enjoy numerous herbs and vegetables year round without the hard labor entailed with a garden.

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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When the Fukushima nuclear plant suffered a massive radiation leak in 2011 after the record-magnitude earthquake 9.0 and the tsunami, it seeped into the soil surrounding it. This included the soil of the farming village Kawauchi, located 19 miles from the plant, bringing to halt farming and possibly the village’s future.

Before the leak, Kawauchi was the country’s fourth-largest rice producer. However, in 2012, it slipped into seventh place because the amount it outputted slipped 17 percent. Over 105 billion yen has been lost from the nearly 100,000 prefecture farmers since the catastrophic event. Many farmers cannot even begin farming again including the imperial-family suppliers Sonoko and Yoshitaka Akimoto.

Despite repeated lab tests that showed there was no cesium in their crop last year, both farmers are suffering. Certificates have shown that they have organic produce but the nuclear blasts that decimated their area have also decimated their livelihood because no one trusts the food to be free of contamination.

In fact, not even half of the farmers have come back to the area after the disaster to revive the farming industry.

Factory Farming and Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a sub-category of hydroculture and is used to grow plants, not in soil, but with mineral nutrient solutions or another kind of medium like mineral wool, gravel, expanded clay pebbles, perlite, coconut husk, etc. The method is widely used in teaching and biology research.

Although the method was initially discovered in the 18th century, hydroponics didn’t really gain a foothold until the 20th century. In fact, the method, which is now being used to rebuild and revive the contaminated area, was initially tried in the country in 1945 by U.S. occupation forces. Why did they try it? Several local area farmers were fertilizing their fields with human excrement.

Enter in Local Government Official Takeo Endo who came up with the idea of farming without soil to combat the problem with soil contamination. Endo, along with a local government team, has pioneered a project to cultivate food in a sealed-off hydroponics factory.

The factory, which will be the size of a soccer field, is currently being constructed and will be able to grow 8,000 heads of lettuce every day. And, if all goes well, more factories will be built to grow strawberries, tomatoes and other fruits.

The 36-year-old said he was worried farmers were not going to be able to cultivate vegetables and rice for at least 10 years, and growing them in a building ensures that contamination from radiation doesn't happen.

Using a water-solution mixed with fertilizer and LED growing lights, people who once thought they were out of a job may find themselves back in one thanks to the cooperation of the government, researchers and the industry who wants to give farmers an opportunity to compete in the market and let Japanese consumers know their food is safe for consumption.

No Limits To Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponics doesn’t have to be limited to decimated areas; it can be also used in urban areas like New York City, which has a large proportion of people living in it and little farming space to grow food. Hydroponics factory farming could reduce the time it takes to get fruits and vegetables to grocery store, which also reduces the costs paid for the transportation of these foods.

The Past and Current Costs Behind Factory Farming

A big reason factory farming didn’t take off is how much it costs to do. However, with some time and development, the costs have dropped significantly. For a head of lettuce it costs 60 yen to grow; 10 years ago, it cost 300 yen. Today, hydroponically lettuce needs just one percent of water with 25 percent of fertilizer.

Last year, roughly 100 fruits and vegetable factory farms were developed and used in Japan. In 2009, that number was only 34.

Kawauchi’s Factory Farms

The lettuce plant is going to use filtered groundwater and is free of contaminants, and about 25 employees will be hired initially. The produce is set to be sold in supermarkets around Fukushima and will be labeled Kawauchi.

Hydroponics works for fruits and vegetables, because it doesn’t take long to grow the foods. For now, grains cannot be cultivated using this method because they still take months to grow. It’s a new kind of farming that will assist the community affected by the contamination to move forward in the industry.

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword

More people have become environmentally aware, and work in various ways to be greener. One such way people have become greener is to create and cultivate roof gardens. And, once limited to buildings and other similar structures, roof gardens can now be found on moving vehicles.

That’s right! Moving vehicles like buses and vans. That means the next time you are waiting for the bus, you could get an environmentally friendly ride to your destination. Roof gardens on bus tops are showing up in various parts of the world.

How Are Rooftop Gardens Created On Vehicles

Now, you might be wondering, how in the world can gardens be grown on rooftops of vehicles? That’s a good question. And, it’s not as hard as one might think. These phytokinetic gardens created out of aquaponics foam are rooted in a steel grid that ensures the plants stay in place even in cases of sudden stops. A sedum carpet of succulents keeps the flower bed moist along with ferns and small shrubs. The entire area is covered using a protective mesh.

The vehicle’s air conditioning system waste waters the plants. And, with rooftop gardens, the buses see an automatic cool-down of 3.5 degrees Celsius, which saves on the vehicle’s air conditioning.

A roof garden also helps to reduce how much weight is on the roof of the bus. And, since soil isn’t used, additional weight isn’t a concern.

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What Benefits Are Associated With Rooftop Gardens?

There are several worthwhile benefits to the rooftop gardens of moving vehicles including but not limited to:

  • It increases the aesthetic value of the bus.
  • It provides both Thennal and Acoustical Insulation
  • It increases the absorption of CO2 emissions.
  • It reclaims real estate that has long been forgotten.
  • It boosts public awareness and recreation.

What’s so popular about moving roof gardens? Well, the idea behind them is to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere while also boosting the amount of overall vegetation and bio-diversity in crowded cities, especially in cities that are limited in space due to infrastructure such as Tokyo, Barcelona, etc.

One Creator of Rooftop Gardens

There hasn’t been just one creator of the rooftop gardens, and the design’s birth was for various reasons. One such creator is New York City designer Marco Cosio, who used the idea from his graduate thesis. He designed rooftop gardens to make use of forgotten space on the city buses while also bettering urban life with greenery.

A prototype of his design was installed on the BioBus’ roof. The BioBus is a mobile science laboratory and has become the first bus to have the detailed green roof system. It’s been seen in areas around New York City and has even traveled to Ohio and other places in the Northeast United States. Of course, the BioBus is just one several other mobile gardens, which have been found on trains, trucks and other various other moving items.

Cosi said the public transit buses have a surface space of 340 feet with the Metropolitan Transit Authority owning about 4,500 buses. The amount of green space in the city could expand exponentially. Basically, that means an additional 35 acres of green space.

With so many benefits behind this concept, and the ease in which to implement it, it can definitely be viewed as being the wave of the future. And, there is little doubt that moving roof gardens – be it in the form of buses, trucks, cars, or trains - could be the best in carbon-neutral motoring. You can create one yourself, if you think a home roof garden of plants is doable, than you should go and take part in saving the planet. 

1 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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As you have stopped by iHidroUSA.com, you are probably considering growing hydroponic plants at home. You have your eye on a particular unit and are now considering what plants to grow. When choosing your system, keep in mind there are certain plants that will work better than others. Let's take a look at the best choices and which ones should be left along.

If this is new to you, you want to start off with easily grown plants and a relatively simple unit.

The Freshness of Vegetables

Vegetables are always an excellent choice for those wonderful salads that you and your family enjoy. If you are starting off small, stick to vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and celery. If you're wrinkling your nose at radishes, don't be so hasty, you might be pleasantly surprised. Radishes grown fresh have a wonderful taste vs buying them at the store.

If you have ever grown tomatoes in your garden, you know how much better they taste then from those from the store. The same can be said about fresh grown lettuces and celery. You would be amazed how little flavor store bought onions have compared to freshly grown. How about leaving some space for those wonderful herbs that add the perfect touch to your salads?

Stay Away from Root Vegetables

You will need a great deal of space for root vegetables and would actually be a waste of your time and energy. Potatoes and turnips are not going to taste any differently then buying them in the store, so why bother. Root vegetables are much harder to grow in a hydroponic system because they require a great deal of depth.

What to Steer Clear of

There are some plants that would be great to grow but are not good choices unless you have a great deal of space. Steer clear of zucchini, summer squash, corn and melons are not good choices for hydroponic systems. You can grown them if you want, but they are enormous space hogs!

I'd stay away from vine crops for now, as your time is better spent on more compact plants. Once you have mastered growing hydroponic plants, go ahead and give them a try!

The Traditional Garden

Those of you who have worked in a traditional garden environment, you know how much work goes into it. You head off to your local nursery and hopefully you will get there before everyone else!

You race through the aisles for baby plants, grab a few flats of tomatoes, eggplants squash, etc. Head over to the seed racks then, on top of that, load up on those heavy bags of manure, moss, fertilizer and sand! Yikes!

By the time you return home, you are already spent but you must get to work! You will probably spend the next week laboring to finish that vegetable bed. You know the rest: constant weeding, applying bug sprays or end up with bug infestations and whatever else comes down the pike!

The Advantages of Hydroponics

Granted, you will have to think "space" and therefore be a little selective in what you are going to plant. How about two or three peppers, numerous onions, lettuces and spinach? Don''t forget to grab a tomato plant and a selection of herbs.

That's the hardest part of growing hydroponic plants, choosing what you want. You will never weed or worry about bugs! By planting fewer plants of each type will give you the ability to grow a much greater variety with less waste.

Welcome to the World of Hydroponics

Now that you have a good idea of what will work and what will not, it's time to get your hydroponic system and go for it! You are going to be amazed at the plants you produce, their flavor and the little effort going into growing them. As you become more familiar with these systems, you can always upgrade to larger units, where space allows.

2 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details By Charles R. Sword

Using the hydroponics growing medium requires placing plants in objects that support the plants. Then adding a nutrient rich solution through this medium, providing rich food for plant growth. Coconut husks, perlite or clay pebbles are examples of some supportive elements used.

There are two different schools of thought regarding growing plants through hydroponics or aeroponics. There are pros and cons to both methods and pretty much it comes down to a personal choice. Horticulturists have know for some time that removing plants from soil and using other methods of growth reap healthier plants.

Plants expend a great deal of energy growing roots in search of the nutrients within the soil. Nutrients are what plants need to grow and to retain health, not soil. Let's look at the two non-soil methods, covering the positives and negatives of both.

Growing With Hydroponics

The dictionary definition of hydroponics is: "the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil."

Advantages of Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems give horticulturists total control over the distribution of nutrients throughout plants. Plants that are grown using a hydroponics system show greater productivity than plants grown in soil. Many gardeners experience water restriction during the summer months. Many of these systems recycle water, reducing the amount of water used and the headaches brought on by city and town restrictions. Hydroponic systems only use approximately 10% of the water required by conventional gardening.

For those concerned with herbicides or pesticides used in conventional gardening, hydroponic systems never use these chemicals.

As hydroponic systems can be setup and plants grown inside, these systems take very little space and do not rely on seasonal changes.

The Disadvantages of Hydroponics

One of the biggest concerns with this system is water based diseases working their way through the plants. This is caused by the nutrients being passed between the plants constantly. Another concern is the amount of electricity consumed using hydroponic or aeroponics systems alike. The setup for the hydroponic system is expensive because of the equipment involved. The upside is, once the system is up and running, it's still cheaper than conventional gardening methods.


Growing With Aeroponics

The dictionary definition of hydroponics is: "the method of growing plants without soil by suspending them above sprays that constantly moisten the roots with water and nutrients."

Also referred to as Aeroculture, the aeroponics system uses absolutely no growing formulas. The plants are suspended in a dark area while nutritional solutions spray the roots at set intervals.

The Advantages of Aeroponics

Using this system allows plants maximum nutritional absorption. This is due to the plants being totally isolated and no plant chemicals or formulas are applied.

The Disadvantages of Aeroponics

Aeroponic systems required a great deal of attention to ensure the pH levels or nutrient density ratios are exacting. The systems are quite difficult for inexperienced or beginner gardeners to master. Therefore, aeroponic systems should only be attempted by those experienced gardeners who are familiar with its workings.

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In a Nutshell

With more and more people seeking healthier foods and wanting to take charge with what their families consume, the popularity of these growing systems could well become common place in future homes.

Purchasing a simple system and seeing the results of growing your own vegetables and fruits can be extremely rewarding. As you become more profuse and upgrade to a more sophisticated system, you can expand your assortment of plants and experience a significant savings on your supermarket purchases.

2 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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You would think that growing a houseplant would be easy, yet many people struggle to get it right. Knowing the type of soil to use, how often you need to water and how much water is needed is often enough to do people in. The process can now be made a whole lot easier by using a process known as hydroculture. There is no soil or compost used in this growing technique, with a nutrient solution used to make the plants grow. This is something of a dream come true for those who would love to have houseplants, but have had issues in the past.

What should be pointed out, though, is that the costs associated with growing plants this way is quite expensive. What that means is that the cost of filling your entire home or office with plants may be prohibitive, but once you see how easy it is, you might just become hooked. In order to get started, you will need to invest in a hydroculture unit. Once you have it set up, you will only be required to add water once or twice a year. The unit itself is usually comprised of a plastic container, an outer container that houses the nutrient solution and an inner container that holds the plant. You will also need an aggregate, which is often clay granules, to anchor the plant, and you may also find that the unit contains a water reservoir that shows the current water level.

The aggregate plays a major role in the growing of the plants, as they are able to absorb a great deal of water. It is the proper delivery of water that often causes normal plant growing to fail. The soil can also cause a problem when trying to feed plants properly, but that is taken away with the use of the nutrient solution used in hydroculture. The effect here is that the plants are steadily fed exactly what they need, with very little needing to be done to look after the plant you are growing. Pretty much all that is required is to check the water level, which will probably only have to be topped up every 6 months.

This doesn’t mean that you can simply pot the plant and do nothing else, as you will still need to make sure that the plants are placed in an area that affords enough light and humidity. Plants grown using the hydroculture process are still prone to the same pests and ailments as other plants, so you will also need to be on the lookout for those issues, too. The temperature of the water is also important, so make sure that you always add room temperature water in order for your plants to thrive.

You need to be aware that not every type of plant is a good fit for the hydroculture growing process. It’s best to check with a professional at your local garden center before choosing a plant to grow in this way. They should be able to set you up with your first hydroculture system unit, as well as being able to help you choose the perfect plant for your home or office.

3 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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In life, choices are often more confusing than they are helpful. The world of hydroponic farming is no different, from tents to grow room boxes, fans, filters, and now lighting. First it was conventional lighting, then induction lighting, and now Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting technology. Before you write it off as a trend, or a waste of money due to its higher upfront cost, let's take a closer look at this promising lighting source for the hydroponic gardeners and enthusiasts out there!

If you are already using an LED lighting setup, the first thing you may have noticed is that it’s a whole lot cooler. That’s a great plus for keeping your plants from overheating, as well as your pocket, for obvious reasons. Though an LED setup is more costly upfront, over time it is much more cost efficient. This is due to the fact that LED lights last longer than conventional lights by a few thousands hours and also utilizes up to 70% less electricity. That is A LOT if your energy bill is several hundred dollars a month. The savings are enormous to say the least. LED growing lights are also easier to control temperature wise due to their digital nature. And because their heat is more stable, your fans and filters aren’t struggling to keep the temperature optimal, thus saving your initial setup costs, long term costs and giving you a piece of mind in its ease of use.

As with many angles in hydroponics, cost and budgeting are important. If you’ve a few extra bucks to spend upfront, you will be saving more in the end.

 

 

3 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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Fall is here along with cooler temperatures and if you're looking for something new to grow in your hydroponic system, my suggestion is to look into tomatoes. These nutritious and tasty fruit (yes, that's right, they are technically fruit) are easy to grow and come in a plethora of varieties, shapes and colors, not to mention tastes. Tomatoes are some of the healthiest produce you can cultivate and cultivate rather easily, too. Tomatoes are traditionally associated with cardiovascular health and contain lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant, as well as high levels of vitamin A, C and potassium.

But enough bragging on the behalf of the tomato, let's take a look at ideal growing conditions for this super-food! As usual, the grow room temperature is a crucial aspect to a great harvest and as such should be kept 60-65 °F during the night and 70-75° during the daytime. PH levels of the water or nutrient solution should be 5.8 - 6.3 for tomatoes.

Also, keep an eye out on the physical characteristics of the flowering fruit. Leaves should be green and vibrant. If they are yellowish, check the pH and nutrient solution to ensure highest quality of the harvest. If the leaves are curling up, then the nutrient level is actually too high so add more water and a bit less nutrients.

After about 7 weeks your fruit will began to flower and the hard work is over.  From there it's only a few more weeks until ripening and enjoying some great, homemade, marinara sauce, tomato puree, or freshly sliced tomato salad. Bon appetite!

 

 

3 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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