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

I'm not sure there is anything more frustrating than trying to replenish your supply of herbs from every shop in town.  Not only are some very difficult to find but the price tag attached is mind-boggling!  On top of that, if you want "fresh" herbs, check your bank balance and hope they stay in good condition for a whole week!  Herbs do not last for a long period of time and are rather disappointing in both flavor and cost.

Grow Hydroponic Herbs:

Some people have chosen not to grow their own herbs with hydroponics due to limited space, the tubes, buckets, lighting and filtering systems taking up what little space they do have.  On top of that it can be time consuming and that's tough if you have many other commitments.  They look for other solutions or for something that will work well in their living space and their busy lives.

Modern Sprout:

Founders Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows have come up with a really sweet solution with an contemporary and trendy hydroponic system that will surely be embraced by busy folks.

Nick and Sarah had tried just about every form of gardening from containers to hydroponic and found very little was working for them in their small Chicago apartment.  So, they sat down and decided to design the perfect gardening system that is easy to use, looks really nice and is built from materials close to their Chicago area.

The Light Came On:

In April, they started a Kickstarter to find out if they were the only ones who were dissatisfied with indoor gardening. They were amazed at how quickly they were able to discover market interests and they were not alone regarding indoor gardening woes.  They formed a community and in turn this community gave them many great ideas for their design.

Asking questions regarding so many aspects of the design ultimately brought about a great design.  From a slimmer planter to a very simple timer, these were things everyone was looking for.  The planters come in a variety of finishes from chalkboard, white, weathered gray and wood.

Another question they brought to their community was involving a solar panel vs a plug for the air pump. They received an overwhelming "yes" response.  One-third of the backers were already purchasing solar powered planters!

Another high-end product they are implementing are brass valves vs plastic valves.  Again, others thought the brass valves were worth paying a little more for.

Nick and Sarah are now working on their site and hoping to have their initial backers serve as the forum.  They can test items, answer people's questions and get more people interested in their product as well as offer new ideas.  They are hoping to add more inventory to their product, including grow lights, in the near future.

Conclusion:

Living in a small apartment, Nick and Sarah fully understood other wannabe farmers and their frustration with no space.  They are loving their new life as full-time hydroponic farmers!

Whether using grow boxes or planters, solar panels or grow lights hydroponic gardening is constantly changing and offering more alternatives for fresh produce without the pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.

Understanding the value and importance of indoor gardening and wanted fresh produce and herbs available any time of year is what hydroponics is all about.  Nick and Sarah understood busy lifestyles and the need for a system that would allow people to  have their busy commitments and still have access to fresh herbs at their fingertips!

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

Although hydroponics allows would-be urban gardeners to grow plants anywhere without the need for light or soil, the method of growing is only now beginning to take off among those who consider themselves part of the growing organic movement. This is because the nutrient solutions used for hydroponic gardening are considered by many to be incompatible with organic growing. Recently, an experiment in Montreal has shown that organic and hydroponic growing methods are compatible.

The Purpose of the Project

Funded by the Canadian government, the Montreal Project sought to compare the success of growing tomatoes in an organic hydroponics system and in an organic traditional soil system. The purpose of the experiment was to help determine the most beneficial way to grow plants on rooftops in the urban environs of Montreal. At the end of the project, the tomatoes grown in the organic hydroponics system were much larger than their soil-grown counterparts. In addition, the hydro organic vegetables were less damaged by aphids than the soil-grown variety.

Organic Materials for Hydroponics

To be organically grown in a grow room or grow box under grow lights or outdoors in a hydroponic system, seeds must get the benefits of nutrients. Typically, the nutrition is provided by chemical solutions, but there are alternatives. Chemical nutrient solutions can be replaced with entirely organic growing solutions, such as an organic compost tea or a mix of 1-1/2 teaspoons of emulsified fish, 1-1/2 teaspoons of liquid seaweed and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of bloodmeal. Perlite and vermiculite, made from lava and mica, respectively, and ordinary sand can be used as the growing medium for hydroponics boxes.

The Feasibility of Hydroponics

Those who champion organic growing often criticize hydroponics, saying that it is too expensive to be a practical choice for the every day person wanting to grow flowers or an herb garden. Many assume that the cost of plant lights, water filters and the other component of a hydroponics system must be very expensive. The Montreal Study found that because higher yields were possible with hydroponic growing, the comparative cost per tomato grown was not much more than that of standard organic growing outdoors. In terms of indoor growing, the cost is even less, as you can continue to grow vegetables and other plants year round when you would otherwise be unable to grow with an organic soil system.

While the Canadian government does intend to continue to study the benefits of hydroponic organic growing, the Montreal Project does prove that hydroponic and organic growing methods are compatible. If you'd like to get started growing plants the organic way without traditional soil, check out the selection of supplies in our grow shop. We have all of the essentials that you need to set up your organic hydroponic garden system.

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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.

seafood, seafood restaurants, seafood allergies, allergic reactions, nutrition, hydroponics, hydroponic gardening

Seafood allergies are caused by the protein that is found in fish. Fortunately, seaweed doesn't contain any fish protein.

Seafood Restaurants:

If eating at a seafood restaurant, you should be cautious because seaweed can become contaminated by fish protein. They can share the same countertops, cookware and utensils. Even if you are not eating any form of seafood, sushi rolls that are vegetarian are being prepared on the same countertops as sushi with fish.

Seafood Allergies:

Some people are only allergic to a specific fish but it is advised that you check with your doctor before moving on to other seafood dishes. Seafood allergies cause your immune system to react to fish protein on a very high scale.

Some of the most common symptoms from seafood allergy reactions are inflammation and swelling. Swelling takes place in skin, lungs and sinuses. If you suffer from arthritis and have a seafood allergy, you could suffer from a good deal of joint pain. Therefore, it is highly recommended you steer clear of seafood.

If you suffer from seafood allergies, you will probably have an allergic reaction to other forms of seafood products, such as gelatin. In case you're unaware of the content in gelatin, it is often made from the skin or bones of fish. Some people cannot take fish oil supplements for the same reasons.

Kelp Allergies:

Kelp is used as an herbal supplement and found in some medications. Should you consume these supplements, there's a good chance you will have an allergic reaction.

Severe allergic reactions are facial swelling, hives and shortness of breath which could lead to anaphylactic shock. If this should happen, contact a doctor immediately. Consult with your doctor and have the clinic test you for a possible kelp allergy. You should probably stay away from ingesting any form of kelp until you receive your medical results.

About Kelp:

Kelp is a type of ocean seaweed that looks similar to a tree, and is harvested in the ocean. It comes in a variety of colors: green, red and brown. Kelp is widely used medicinally for various conditions such as thyroid disorders, digestive disorder, arthritis, and iodine deficiencies.

Always be cautious if you suffer from any form of seafood allergies. Seaweed that is packaged and sold without any contamination of fish protein will not give you a reaction. Do your homework and look into the origins of the seaweed before incorporating it into your diet.

Should you have a condition that is commonly treated by medications containing kelp, make sure your doctor is aware you have seafood allergies. He or she will prescribe something else for your treatment.

Hydroponic Gardening:

Seaweed has amazing benefits, along with other plants on this planet. It would be a shame to limit yourself to just a small selection. Why don't you start your own hydroponic garden in your home for excellent, fresh produce?!

Hydroponic gardens are a snap to setup. Purchase a grow box, plant lights, some water filters and excellent nutrients for your plants. Grow your own herbs or vegetables, and throw in a few flowers along the way!

You can enjoy fresh foods in the dead of winter, by harvesting directly from your indoor garden! Add healthy seaweed to your salads today. Bon Appetit!

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

Want to take up vegetable gardening at home? If you choose to grow plants in a hydroponics system over a traditional soil-based system, you can enjoy higher yields, conserve water and avoid the hassles of dealing with pests. You can even grow your vegetables indoors in a groom room under plant lights in any season. Just follow these steps to start your grow hydro system.

1. Start your seeds by placing two to three in a starting cube. Leave them under grow lights or in the sun, watering as needed until the roots begin to poke out of the cubes. This should take roughly 1 to 2 weeks.

2. Purchase a flood table, a rectangular plastic container that can hold 10 to 12 gallons of water.

3. Buy 2 drip emitters, which you can find in the irrigation section of hardware stores and at many nurseries. Choose ones with a 2 gallons per hour rating.

4. Create a setup with the flood table placed on a bench or stool, so that the ends protrude over the edges of the bench or stool.

5. Heat a nail over a hot stove using pliers. When it is red hot, drive it through the bottom of the tray in two spots.

6. Use a sharp knife and sandpaper to make the holes large enough to fit the drip emitters through them. Seal with hot glue to keep them in place and prevent leaks.

7. Hydroponic growing requires nutrients, so you'll need to create a planting media mix for your gardening. Try mixing coconut fiber and perlite. For dry climates, use more coconut fiber than perlite and vice versa for more humid environments.

8. Purchase 4-inch square planter pots with holes in the bottom.

9. Fill the bottom third of each pot with your growing media.

10. Place one of your started seeds into each pot and then fill in with media.

11. Water the pots and then arrange them in your flood table.

12. Purchase a plant food of your choosing. Make sure that the nutrition it contains is suitable for the plants that you are growing.

13. Mix the plant food with 5 gallons of water, following the instructions on the plant food packaging.

14. Pour the mixture into the flood tray, not into the plants.

15. Place the bucket under the flood tray.

16. After dripping stops, cover the bucket with a lid.

17. Every day, pour the plant food and water back into the flood tray. If it begins to smell, dispose of it and make a new batch. Even if it does not begin to smell, pour it out and make a new batch every week.

18. Always keep 5 gallons of water in your bucket to pour onto the plants. This will require you to add extra water during the week.

19. Monitor the growth of your plants and harvest when ready.

This method is best for growing plants outdoors, but you can also start an herb garden or garden of flowers and vegetables indoors with grow lights. You'll find all of the supplies that you need to join the ranks of gardeners who are using hydro growing to enjoy lush, bountiful gardens in our grow shop.

With the advancement in technology - everything from cable services to iphone carriers - are allowing consumers to program settings in their homes and their cars remotely. Now, Honda and UC Davis are joining in with this high-end technology. Honda has built their Smart Home on the campus of UC Davis to study and learn more "Green" efficient technologies for "Smarter Homes". This home is built from FSC certified lumber, metal roofs, and other materials of the highest standards.

Businesses and consumers alike are opting for technologies that will save us money when cooling our homes, or recharging our electric cars! How about the actual design of smart homes from the framework up?

Google, Bosch and GE are all using their technological skills to design thermostats, heating pumps, and sensors for the next smart home.

Solar Design:

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Using their best technical minds, they have studied the best ways to reduce cooling and heating costs by studying various angles of the sun and various times of day - when full sun or shade come into play.

Construction:

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Using Grade A exterior double stud walls made from two 2x4 stud walls on 24" centers that eliminate thermal bridging, except at the fire blocking. Wall cavities are insulated with cellulose, and windows are constructed with triple-glaze. The home is tested at 2.0 air changes every hour at a difference of 50 units of pressure.

Concrete:

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Concrete is accountable for 5% of all man-made emissions. These emissions are the result of producing concrete by heating limestone to more than one thousand degrees Celsius. This form of heating requires burning fossil fuels which causes a natural porous variety of volcanic ash. This is then injected into the Honda Smart Home's concrete, replacing the typical amount of cement needed. Post-tensioning is a technique that uses steel cables to compress the concrete slabs and thereby reduces the amount of concrete and steel normally used.

Intricate Ground Resources:

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This home also has the most intricate, complex heat recovery systems anywhere. Gray water travels into tanks in the garden, and is then renewed and placed through heat pumps for heating and cooling the home. The downside is these systems are extremely expensive and not necessary for high-efficiency homes in the first place.

On the other hand, combining domestic hot water and the use of radiant cooling and running everything out of one heating pump, is highly cost efficient. This would lead to savings in hardware and software.

Lighting:

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Honda has worked with researchers at California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis to look into a new day-to-day color control lighting. This copies natural light throughout the course of the day and provides the best lighting alternatives for night hours. At night, hallways will provide ample light for one to walk through without overbearing light fixtures.

Electricity:

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Should the electrical grid become overloaded, this smart house is perfectly capable of restoring back power. This will allow for the distribution of renewable energy to electric vehicles without deterring the grids reliability.

With the level of technology being poured into this smart house, the most impressive aspect is the house and car working together. This alone, will equate to zero energy consumption and zero carbon emissions. It doesn't get any better than that!

The Honda Smart Home is revolutionizing technology for the future of home building and electric cars.

Hydroponics and The Future:

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Hydroponics has grown in leaps and bounds due to consumer concerns regarding healthier, green living. Imagine tending your hydroponic garden 24/7 with an iPhone. Such technology is steadily on the rise for gardeners today. Adding nutrients on time, or setting timers on plant lights, has never been easier. It's literally a click away!

Photo credit: AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Karen B. Vance

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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!

vegetarian, vegan, semi-vegetarian, vegan society, food, healthy, diet, vegetables, hydroponics

A vegetarian obstanes from eating any form of animal product that is made available through the slaughtering of animals. A vegan also obstains from consuming or using any animal products from meats to dairy products to lotions or creams.

The term Vegan was first coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founder of the Vegan Society in England. Originally the term meant non-diary vegetarian. Later on the vegan's doctrine said man should live without exploiting animals.

In the early 2000s, due to the growth in popularity, many supermarkets and other stores started selling foods and products catering to vegetarians and vegans. They have several top athletes and celebrities that have been practicing veganism for some time now to share their stories.

The Vegan Diet:

Researchers have found that vegan diets are higher in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, E, iron, magnesium and phytochemicals. Vegan diets are also lower in calories, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fats, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. It is suggested that those on vegan diets should take a vitamin B12 supplement.

A really well-balanced vegan diet may offer protection against various generative conditions, including heart disease.

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diets

Vegans:

Vegans, as a general rule, will not consume or use any animal products.

Dietary vegans will not consume any animal products, including diary products and eggs.

Ethical vegans will also stay away from any products such as shampoos, lotions, etc that have any form of animal components or products tested on animals.

Vegetarians:

Vegetarians, similar to Vegans, will steer clear of red meat, poultry, seafood, any flesh from an animal or by products of slaughtering animals. Many object to meats in their diets because they feel animal meats are unhealthy, or due to religious beliefs, or the rights of animals.

Semi-Vegetarians normally stick with vegetarian foods but may also include fish or poultry. Once in a while they might consume read meats but rather infrequently. Some who incorporate fish and poultry in their diets will not eat red meat because they are mammals.

Ovo-Vegetarians will consume eggs and diary products mainly because they suffer allergies from various other foods such as seeds or various beans.

Most long-term strict vegetarians and vegans will stay on strict vegetarians diets, and not revert back to any form of animal products.

In many cases, vegetarians and vegans feel the consumption of animals is unhealthy. Due to products used for raising beef or chickens, the processing of eggs and many other health reasons.

For whatever reason, should you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are many wonderful recipes and dishes that will leave you more than satisfied with your choice to move away from animal products.

Hydroponics:

vegetarian, vegan, semi-vegetarian, vegan society, food, healthy, diet, vegetables, hydroponics

While collecting wonderful recipes for your new found vegan/vegetarian diet, why not start your own indoors hydroponic garden? You can grow fresh vegetables and herbs in the comfort of your home and enjoy every morsel of freshness!

Hydroponic gardens are easy to setup and easy to take care of. There are so many gardeners that have been successful with hydroponic gardening -you'll get a lot of help in getting started.

Start off with a nice size grow box, a few plant lights, a good nutrient for feeding your plants, a water filter and read up on water treatments. Depending on what vegetables or herbs you want to grow and your available space will dictate the size of garden you want to start off with.

Research online, talk to people growing hydroponic plants, or visit your local plant shop for tips and tricks. You'll discover a whole new world of fresh and healthy produce.

Nutrition,food,health,life,fruits,vegetables,hydroponics

With the ever growing popularity of hydroponic gardening, along the way come questions regarding the nutritional value of hydroponics vs soil grown vegetables and fruits. Nutritional value has become a very important part of our lives, therefore knowing what you are growing and consuming is an important factor.

Without doubt, hydroponics is an environmental giant but are the nutritional values on the same scale as soil grown plants? Elements and nutrients found in soil have a strong impact on the plants' values. Hydroponics, on the other hand, are grown in water vs soil. It could be said that hydroponics are therefore lacking in important nutrients and elements. That is not the case though because hydroponic growth relies on a liquid nutrients fed to the plants and therefor hydroponic plants are given the same essential elements and compounds as soil grown plants.

Some will say that soil grown plants will always have a higher level of nutrients than those grown in water. If the hydroponic gardener chooses his or her nutrient supplements wisely, they will have plants that are just as robust and loaded with great nutrients as those grown in soil. There are higher-end nutrient solutions on the market that are probably a good investment to ensure the bumper crops within your home are top quality.

Pros and Cons:

Hydroponics, grown the proper way, have exactly the same values as plants grown in soil. Those interested in hydroponic gardening must do their homework and learn how to grow plants the proper way in a hydroponic system. Without the proper lighting, nutrients and water, whether grown in soil or hydroponically the plants will not do well.

If you are just starting off with a hydroponic garden, it is strongly suggested that you get with someone who has been doing this for some time. Your local nursery might have hydroponic systems and people experienced in how to grow plants correctly.

Humidity must be controlled regularly because these plants are using water for their base of growth. Too much water can cause rot and wilting but this can be said with plants based in soil as well. Getting advice and learning from knowledgeable hydroponic gardeners is going to save you from unexpected mishaps and get you on the road to great gardening success.

Some of the Pros for hydroponics is not needing soil which makes for a great alternative for apartment dwellers. Hydroponics can be grown in the middle of a desert as long as you have an ample water supply.

As the water stays within the system, you will save on your water bill unlike soil gardening. Nutrients can be controlled as well as deciding whether you want a lower end nutrient or a higher end, it's your choice. You will not have to worry about pesticides and other chemicals that are sprayed on produce you purchase from the store. Hydroponics is extremely environmentally friendly and cost efficient.

Learn from those with experience and you will have year round wonderful produce for your table and fresh aromatic herbs for your many wonderful dishes. You will have the same high quality nutritional value as you have come to experience in an outdoor garden.

Always include a good amount of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet. These foods are loaded with vitamins and proteins that your body needs to stay healthy. Experiment with a variety of vegetable and fruit dishes for a wonderful change of pace.

food,smartphones,health,technology,hydroponics

As hydroponic gardening grows in popularity and technology, hydroponics is entering a new world of controlling your garden with smartphones!  A new European company called Niwa is a technological breakthrough for greenhouses.  This first-time technology allows you to setup the very best environment for your plants and is literally a smartphone growing system.

Their smart food technological device will literally turn your greenhouse into a smartphone garden!  Niwa is a small, smart-looking hydroponic farm ready to grow in your home.  Imagine fresh, succulent foods grown in your home with the latest cutting-edge devices and operated by your smartphone. Through your phone, you can watch the progress of your plants' growth or go for autopilot. 

Niwa offers two systems for indoor gardener. A small garden will run $199 and a much larger version is $399.  Whatever plants you are growing from tomatoes to strawberries the App will upload the appropriate program settings, including the correct values for each type of  plant.

Javier Mirrillias, Niwa's founder, said the idea came from a great deal of frustration over the globalized food system in place today.  His research brought him to "Almeria", which is the largest tomato producer on earth using hydroponic greenhouses.  Almeria is so enormous, it can be viewed from space.  He started meeting and discussing advanced technology with agricultural experts from around the world.  He wanted to know how to go about creating technology that could be utilized by ordinary people to grow their own foods.

After many prototypes and a great deal of research, Niwa was created.

food,smartphones,health,technology,hydroponics

Just What Is Niwa and Hydroponics:

Niwa is based on hydroponics which is a soilless technique for growing plants.  The plants receive their nutrients from water.  Hydroponics has become very popular in recent years, even though the technique has been around for a very long time.  The idea is to setup a grow box or grow room, purchase grow lights or plant lights and place your plants in a water-based formula of nutrients.

The difference between hydroponic gardens and Niwa is it's microcontroller with custom created software which is a built-in expert farmer.  You do not have to know how much water or when, what the ideal temperature is for each of your plant types or practically anything else.  Niwa has the knowledge and does it for you!

How Niwa Works:

Niwa comes with built-in sensors in order to create the best environment for your plants by controlling temperature, lighting, humidity and when water is needed.  As various plants have various needs, the App will ask for your input on some very simple questions.

For example, if you are growing flowers, the App will ask if you buds, if you answer yes, the system will start a new segment and new settings will be put into place.

You can control your settings from your smartphone App which will also allow you to keep track and understand your plants' progression.  More experienced gardeners can also setup incubation along with various experimentations for the growing process..

As mentioned earlier, grow lamps are a big part of hydroponic gardens.  Niwa offers a compact fluorescent lamp of 200 watts when running along with the heating system.  The reservoir of water should be changed out and refilled every other week.

Hydroponics is an extremely popular and easy way for everyone to grow fresh foods, house plants, veggies, fruits and herbs within their homes.  This is a wonderful alternative for those who live in cities or apartments.  Gardening could not possibly be easier or fun.

Should Niwa, while still new on the scene, be able to offer such great technology and place experience in the hands of novices, what a giant step this will be for hydroponics.  Only time will tell.

Photo credit: Niwa

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Is Green Tea Really a Weight Loss Solution:

Did you know outside of water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world?  There are many reasons tea is so popular. It offers cleansing components and in some cases can remove stress for a higher level of health.  Green tea has been used for a long time in assisting people who need to lose weight.  Drinking green tea along with a well balanced diet has proven to be quite successful.

Should Green Tea Be Consumed Before Meals:

Water, green tea or low calorie drinks do curb one's appetite allowing the intake of less food.  You should show moderation with teas or other beverages that are high in caffeine, as these drinks can cause dehydration and have a negative effect on your overall health.  Some nutritionists believe that consuming green tea with meals will allow the caffeine to  serve as a fueling agent for your metabolism vs drinking the tea by itself which can cause blood sugar issues.

Some dieters prefer their tea with added sugar but realize an excessive amount of sugar will defeat their dietary goals.  According to the Mayo Clinic, taking in more than 6 - 9 teaspoons of sugar daily will lead to weight gain. Many soft drinks, such as soda, will use up your daily maximum sugar intake with one can or bottle.  Many dieters find there is a need for something sweet to satisfy their cravings.  If you suffer from sugar cravings, try adding sweets that are low in sugar content.  Some fruits, such as watermelon have zero calories and yet is naturally sweet.

Green tea, by itself, is not going to have much effect on weight loss if you continue consuming high calorie desserts, snacks or high-sugar beverages.  If you need cream and sugar in your tea, go for sugar alternates and use low fat milk.

How Often Should You Consume Green Tea Daily?

Studies have shown consuming 2 - 3 cups of caffeine-free green tea daily will offer overall benefits.  Two to three cups of green tea offers 240 to 320 milligrams of polyphenols which are antioxidants associated with anti-aging benefits and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Caffeine vs Caffeine-Free Tea:

Most people have a good tolerance toward caffeine if consumed in moderation.  Excessive consumption (500 milligrams or more) can cause insomnia, anxiety, nervous stress, high blood pressure and digestive problems.  It is recommended that you stick with caffeine-free green tea for overall good health and steer clear of the caffeinated varieties.

Adding Fresh Nutrients To A Diet Can Ramp Up Your Dietary Goals:

Many people wishing to improve their overall health and take off excess pounds have found fresh fruits and vegetables are a perfect alternative to processed, high-calorie foods.

Hydroponic Gardens And Your Dietary Needs:

Hydroponic gardens are becoming extremely popular for a number of reasons.  They are easy to grow and you can enjoy healthy, fresh foods everyday of the year.  Setting up a grow box or grow room, adding appropriate plant lights and purchasing the appropriate nutrients is not difficult to do and the end result is fresh, tasty, non-toxic foods for you and your family.

Fruits and vegetables purchased from your local supermarket are becoming extremely expensive and not necessarily fresh produce.  You should always wash these foods before using them because of unknown pesticides and other elements that have been added to grow them.

With a hydroponic garden you add nutrients that are safe, you never need to add pesticides and using water filters keeps your plants healthy and robust.

Conclusion:

Diets can often be something no one looks forward to starting, but are necessary for overall good health.  Incorporating healthy nutritional foods, drinking lots of low-calorie or calorie free beverages and staying focused will bring you to your dietary goals.

Pay attention to the warning signs that you will encounter along the way.  Keep your caffeine level as low as possible, incorporate caffeine-free green tea and run from excessive sugar intake.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening 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

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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

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

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Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is most commonly used for flavoring Italian and Asian dishes. Fresh or dried its versatility has graced many a dinning room table. These annuals grow between 18 to 24 inches and are extremely prolific. Lets first take a look at growing basil in your garden or in containers:

How To Grow In Your Garden or Containers

This herb thrives in either garden soil or containers and prefer full sun, regular watering, a fast draining environment and rich soil. Prior to planting, be sure to mix compost or aged animal manure into the soil.

Planting Basil

You can either sow seeds indoors for approximately 4 to 6 weeks before moving outdoors or when the soil is warm and the temperature does not go below 65 degrees F. You should space the plants 4 to 5 inches apart from each other.

Seeds should not be planted deeper than just below the soil surface. Germination will take from 5 to 30 days and you should keep the soil moist. It is suggested you apply organic fertilizer once or twice during the growing season to ensure robust growth.

Be sure and pinch back the flower spikes to promote bushiness and prevent spindly growth. Sow regularly for summer use and then freeze the rest for winter needs.When summer comes to an end, allow Basil to go to seed, this will attract bees and other beneficial insects.

How to Harvest

When the plants reach 6 inches in height they are ready for harvesting. You want to wait until morning dew has dried just above the leaf nodes. Basil's aroma is important for many dishes, therefore do not wash the leaves or you will lose their aromatic oils.

To dry basil, hang the plants upside down in a dark, dry, well ventilated room then store in air tight containers.

If you harvest basil frequently it will encourage new growth from the plants.

Treating Diseases and Insects

In order to prevent fungal diseases make sure your site has good air circulation. Should you notice symptoms of fungus, apply a fungicide.

The most common pests that can plague basil are aphids, slugs and Japanese beetles. Use natural pest controls if any of these pests surface on your plants. Natural pest controls include keeping your garden weeded and clean. Use good composts and mulches in the soil and only use organic pesticides when necessary.

Harvest Seeds

Basil forms seed capsules that contain four seeds. You should allow these capsules to dry before harvesting and then separate them by hand.

Now that we have covered outdoor gardening, let's take a look at growing basil hydroponically. Growing basil year round makes this great herb available for all your fine cuisine. You could collect and freeze basil from your garden, or you can enjoy fresh basil by growing it hydroponically!

What you Will Need

Getting Started

First off, purchase basil seedlings from your local nursery or transplant from your garden early in the year.

Once you have your seedlings, remove them from their containers (if applicable) and rinse the roots completely. Hold the root ball under a gentle flow of water while working the root mass apart with your fingers. Remove any clinging soil, being extremely careful when cleaning the top area of the root ball where it joins the body of the plant.

Select four or five plants for each hydroponic container. Add water, following the manufacturer's instructions for the particular container you have purchased.

Once the plants are in place, put your container in direct sunlight. Southern exposure is really the best, but if you do not have that luxury, buy a fluorescent growing light and place your container under it.

Take your hydroponic nutrient and fertilize the plants. The rate should be 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. If you will be harvesting often from the plants, increase the fertilizer to 25%.

The Sky's The Limit

Growing hydroponic basil is really very easy to do and will give you wonderful crops to enjoy year round. As you become more knowledgeable with hydroponic containers, you'll want to add other plants to enjoy fresh produce even in the dead of winter.

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

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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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Winter is approaching with the flu in tow.  It is important to start consuming tons of vitamins and minerals and there’s no better or tastier way to get vitamin C into your diet than with kiwifruits.  A medium sized kiwi, about 100 grams or 3.5 ounces will give over 100% of your daily recommended dose!  Another awesome thing about the kiwi is that it’s easily grown in a hydroponic set-up.  Now that you know a little about the kiwi, let’s get right into the ins and outs of this super fruit.

The ideal pH balance for kiwifruits is usually between 5.0- 6.0.  Don’t worry if the pH falls down to 4.5 or rises as high as 6.5. It will not be disastrous for your harvest as kiwis are very resilient. Kiwis also do well in colder temperatures, so keep it at about 35-40°F during the night time and no higher than 55°F during the daytime hours.

As usual, keep an eye out for any abnormalities in the leaves, vines or the flowering fruit and you should be expecting a delicious harvest in about 5-7 weeks. Armed with this information you are ready to grow some delicious, healthy and immunity boosting fruit. Bon appétit!

 

 

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

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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

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Most Popular Produce

So, you have your hydroponic system all put together and you're ready to grow? Great! But, what is it that you're growing? Since the sky's the limit, it's really hard to recommend or suggest anything but here's a list of the most popular produce to grow with a hydroponic system!

1. Lettuce - One of the easiest, and thus more popular options for hydroponic farmers. This leafy vegetable doesn't require high temperatures or too much maintenance.

2. Tomatoes - Who doesn't love a fresh, plum, ripe tomato? Make sure to maintain the growing of your tomatoes (which is a fruit, yes, tomatoes are a fruit), in the upright position.

3. Peppers - Let's face it, almost any recipe for just about everything asks for some sort of pepper. Jalapeno, habanero, paprika, cayenne are all both tasty and zesty, not to mention nutritious! Just like tomatoes, they should be kept in the upright position as they mature and ripen.

4. Arugula - A vitamin and mineral powerhouse, this great green, leafy vegetable is easy to grow and yields a generous amount for minimal time and effort on the grower's part!

5. Spinach - Yet, another powerhouse in the nutrition sense, spinach of any variety is not only plentiful and easy to grow but yields in as little 2 to 3 weeks! That's right, if batched out a week apart you can have a fresh batch weekly! Another benefit is that you can pick the leaves young for what is called "baby spinach" and is just as tasty and nutritious as the larger, more ripened variety!

Mint, basil, spearmint, cucumbers, radish and even some fruit like watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupe all thrive in a hydroponic system and are great all year around! So, now that you've an idea of what you can grow, get to work and soon you'll be enjoying fresh fruit and vegetable salads that are all of your own making!

 

 

4 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable 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

 

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

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Growing your own fruits and vegetables means that you know what goes into your food and exactly where it comes from. You will be getting healthier as well. You will be eating your own produce as well as exercising. You could save money on expensive items like salad leaves. If you have children, it can be a very fun experience for you and your family. Personally, I believe the sense of achievement is worth more than anything.

 

For the urbanized dweller we know that there isn’t much space (if any) to grow fruits and vegetables produce in the dirt. However, taking advantage of a hydroponic kit allows you to grow your own vegetables and fruits indoors. So even people that live in apartments can grow their own type of produce without the use of a outdoor garden. It doesn’t require much space depending on the size you want. Some produce cost much more when it is out of season and often supermarkets must inflate their prices to keep up with the rising cost. Think about having tomatoes in winter, cucumbers in the fall and romaine lettuce all year round.

 

It’s never too late to start growing your own produce. You can find hydroponic room box to setup gardens, big and small, become a hydro gardener today and grow organic fruits and vegetables in your own herb garden. Look forward to growing your own produce and enjoy the rich taste of your own food when it’s time to harvest!

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

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