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dehydrated snacks, organic food, healthy diet, growing vegetables, fruits, vegetables, lifestyle, health

Dehydration is a method of preserving foods that involves removing water from vegetables, fruits, seafood and meats to help them last longer. With dehydration, you retain many of the health benefits of the vitamins and other nutrients in foods without having to worry about botulism. Dehydrated foods are easy to store and don't require refrigeration or freezing.

Here is a quick guide to DIY food dehydration to help you get started enjoying the many benefits of dry-food.

Getting Started

  1. Carefully select the foods that you want to dry. Select fruits and vegetables that are fresh and ready to eat. Fish, crab, lobster and other seafood and meats should also be as fresh as possible.
  2. Ready your foods the way you would to enjoy them. You need to do all of the cutting, slicing, mincing, trimming and chopping of your foods prior to dehydration. Foods in thinner 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch pieces will dry more quickly.
  3. If you're dehydrating any fruits, vegetables or plants that include skins or outer coverings, such as grapes or herbs, be sure to wash the foods first.
  4. When you're drying light-colored fruits and veggies, coat the foods with lemon juice or an ascorbic acid product to help prevent drying. Vegetables should also be steamed or blanched to help prevent them from becoming tough during dehydration

Successful Drying

  1. You can dry foods in the oven, in an appliance called a dehydrator or even in the sun. Dehydrators are by far the fastest and most efficient way to dry, so you may want to invest in one if you plant to prepare your own dry-foods frequently.
  2. Before you begin to dry and throughout the drying process, you should get the temperatures of the oven or dehydrator to 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and then maintain the temperatures at that level. Air should also be allowed to circulate through the space to ensure optimal results.
0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance

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

If you've decided to try hydroponics gardening to grow plants indoors, you may be uncertain exactly how to begin, but don't worry, you're not alone. Many of the questions that we get at our grow shop are from new gardeners who need a little help getting started. To help get your vegetable or herb garden underway, just follow these simple steps.

1. Make sure you have all of the essential components for your hydroponics environment. You'll need grow lights and a ballast, a grow room or grow box and a hydroponics system with water filters.

2. Decide what you're going to grow! If you're not sure what to place in your hydro grow environment, check out our earlier blog post on selecting vegetables and plants for hydroponic gardening. You'll also need to decide if you intend to buy starter plants or germinate seeds. If you're going to start with seeds, continue on. For plants, skip to step 11.

3. To get your seeds started, add 1 quart of water to a large container. Be careful not to make it too hot or too cold.

4. Check the pH level of the water with a tester. You want the pH to between 5.5 and 6.5. You can use water treatment products to alter the pH, but a simple, organic way is to add drops of lemon juice gradually. If you end up with a pH below 5, add a little more water in until you're in the perfect range.

5. Soak rock wool cubes in the water for at least 1 hour. Make sure that you wear protection over your face like a surgical mask to protect your lungs from the small fibers in the cubes.

6. Shake the cubes off when you take them out of the water. Wringing them will damage them.

7. Place the seeds inside the cubes. Typically, you should put just one or two seeds for vegetables in each cube. For an herb garden, 7 to 8 seeds can be placed in each cube.

8. Use a plastic planter tray to hold the cubes. Cover with a lid and let them stay in an environment that is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use plant lights.

9. Each day check on your seeds and give them a spritz with water.

10. Once your plants are at least 2 inches tall and have at least 3 leaves, they are ready for transplanting.

11. Set up your grow room or grow box with your growing lights, the nutrients delivery system and the other components. Follow the instructions provided with your growing environment.

12. Place your seedlings or plants in perlite in growing pots.

13. Fill the hydroponics system with the liquid for nutrition, according to the directions.

14.Congratulate yourself! You're on your way to organic, hydro gardening indoors!

You can purchase many of the growing supplies that you need for your hydroponics herb garden or vegetable garden right here at the iHidroUSA grow shop.

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

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights, gardeners, gardening, vegetables, water filters, water treatment, nutrients, nutrition, seeds, flowers

 

Hydroponic gardening is a soil-less method that allows for the growth of just about any plant with their roots suspended in a mineral-rich solution. There is also the option of the use of an inert medium culture such as coir, sand, expanded clay aggregates, wood fiber, sheep wool, pumice, perlite, vermiculite, rock wool, and many more.

There is recorded evidence of this type of gardening that dates back to the seventeenth century. The benefits of hydroponic gardening are far-reaching and this gardening methodology is fast gaining in popularity. Let us review a few of the reasons hydroponic gardening is advantageous:

 

  • Plants that would otherwise not grow in a certain region can now be grown just about anywhere in the right hydroponically controlled environment.
  • It allows for most plants to be grown in urban settings which would otherwise not be possible because of soil requirements.
  • It is a reusable and sustainable system.
  • Mineral levels can be controlled which not only cuts down on wastes, but also allows for adequate levels being provided to the plants at all times.
  • The versatility of the system allows for easy mobility which is ideal for pest control as well as disease control.
  • Plants thrive in a hydroponic environment therefore higher harvests of crops are normal.
  • Since this system is soilless; the use of harmful chemicals that would often be necessary to control the various issues of the soil is negated. Therefore, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, et cetera; no longer pose as health risks to individuals.
  • Harvesting of mature plants is a simplified process in comparison to soil-based gardening.
  • Plant growth and harvest are constant.
  • It is a user-friendly system that is independent of weather conditions and users’ gardening experience.

 

 

4 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights, gardeners, gardening, vegetables, water filters, water treatment, nutrients, nutrition, seeds, flowers

 

What are static flow cultures?

Static solution cultures is a method where plants are full grown in a reservoir filled with artificially made nutrient solution. Static solution is sometimes referred to as hydroponics for novice gardeners and is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. The system requires the least number of devices and hassles.

The water and solution remain static and supply nutrients to the submerged roots where the roots come in contact with air, water and nutrients. Nutrient solution is aerated using an electric pump to provide oxygen to the roots. If there are no pumps in the system, plant roots can be kept above solution level. Plants are placed in nets or containers which allow the roots to absorb from the solution below them.

In another modification called raft solution systems the plants are grown on a sheet of plastic floating on the surface of the nutrient solution. This prevents the solution from dropping further than root level.The work is minuscule however does require more attention when water/solution levels drop. Each time the levels drop either fresh nutrient solution or water is added. Maintaining pH levels of the water is also a must.

 

What are continuous flow solution cultures?

In continuous flow solution cultures a constant flow of nutrient solution is provided to the plant around the roots. This is a more advanced method as compared to the static flow solution. However, it is a lot easier to mechanize since adjustments can be made and temperature and concentration levels can be sampled easier. A popular technique used is the nutrient film technique, a very low flow of water and solution is re-circulated constantly around the roots of the plant in a solid mat. A correct canal slope along with the correct stream speed and the correct canal length can designate a proper nutrient film technique.

A huge advantage is that the growth of plants is given ample water, nutrients and oxygen. This allows high yielding and nutritious crops. However, a little negligence can result in negative impacts.

Still, nutrient film technique has been considered the most practical technique. It is easy to adjust and automate the temperature and water flow. Hydroponic conditions result in no pollution of nutrients or insects.

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

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights, gardeners, gardening, vegetables, water filters, water treatment, nutrients, nutrition, seeds, flowers

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydroponics

There are many advantages of using a hydroponic system however there are also disadvantages of using one of these systems.

 

Advantages

  • Plants grow quicker and have higher yields
  • No need to prepare soil
  • The risk of plants developing soil borne diseases is eliminated
  • Reduces the use of water
  • All nutrients are recyclable
  • Requires small space grow growing
  • Less labor intensive

These are just of the few advantages of owning a hydroponic garden.

 

Disadvantages

  • High initial cost to set up, for decent size kits are about 200-300 dollars minimum
  • Requires daily attention (monitoring water, nutrients and pH levels)
  • Electricity cost
  • Since all the plants share the same nutrients, a disease can spread like wild fire
  • Not all plants can be grown hydroponically
  • Requires perfect control of environment
  • Any slip can be seen immediately in plants

Hydroponic systems have their advantages and disadvantages. If you can commit to a hydroponic system the advantages usually outweigh the disadvantages.

 

 

3 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights, gardeners, gardening, vegetables, water filters, water treatment, nutrients, nutrition, seeds, flowers

 

Common Hydroponic Systems That are Used Commercially

Many commercial growers adopt certain hydroponic techniques to grow commercially. One of the most common systems are drip systems. These systems never fully submerge the roots or grow medium while also never allowing it to dry out. The process is simple: a timer controls a submersible pump and water/solution is dripped onto the base of each plant via small drip lines. When it is done the water drips back down into the reservoir where it is reused.

Another common system is the continuous flow system. Water is pumped constantly through pipes while plants are placed on the pipes, allowing solution to bathe the roots before returning into the tank.

 

Some commercial growers opt to use a nutrient film technique. Plants are grown in equally spaced holes in plastic gullies. A nutrient solution of minerals and water is pumped into the higher end, supplying roots with nutrients before returning to the tank where the process is repeated.

It can be a small system for home gardeners and for a commercial grower it is scaled to fit. Virtually any system can be scaled to commercial size.

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

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