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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.

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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!

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

What is Gluten?

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

Why Are People Turning Away From Gluten?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symptoms Within the Digestive System Can Cause Serious Conflicts:

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

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

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

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

How Does Gluten Cause a Leaky Gut?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Treat Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity:

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

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

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

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

0 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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

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

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

Cutting Your Branches:

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

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

Rooting Gel:

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

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

Rooting Medium:

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

Minimize Moisture Loss:

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

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

The Hydroponic Cloning System:

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

The two most popular systems:

Bubble Cloners:

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

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

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

Aeroponic Cloners:

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

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

Cleaning:

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

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

To Sum It Up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Factory Farming and Hydroponics

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Limits To Hydroponic Farming

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

The Past and Current Costs Behind Factory Farming

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

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

Kawauchi’s Factory Farms

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

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

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

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

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

How Are Rooftop Gardens Created On Vehicles

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

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

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

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What Benefits Are Associated With Rooftop Gardens?

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

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

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

One Creator of Rooftop Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Freshness of Vegetables

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

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

Stay Away from Root Vegetables

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

What to Steer Clear of

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

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

The Traditional Garden

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

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

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

The Advantages of Hydroponics

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

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

Welcome to the World of Hydroponics

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

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

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

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

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

Growing With Hydroponics

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

Advantages of Hydroponics

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

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

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

The Disadvantages of Hydroponics

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


Growing With Aeroponics

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

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

The Advantages of Aeroponics

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

The Disadvantages of Aeroponics

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

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In a Nutshell

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

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

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

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Gardening outdoors isn’t your only option. You can use plants indoors, whether it’s in your bedroom, bathroom or living room for your guests to see. The problem with indoor gardening is they need extra care and attention. They don’t get the natural light or water your outdoor plants get on a daily basis. Here are some tips on growing beautiful plants inside your home.

Watch Out for the Lifespan

Plants don’t live forever—they’re organic material just like humans. Instead of trying to revive a dying plant that’s been in your home for years, consider getting a new one. You can put the dying one to some use by adding it to your compost heap for your outdoor plants. Some plants, like chrysanthemums, will only flower once.

Get Right Type of Soil

You need soil that is specific for the type of plant you are growing. This allows the plants to get the right nourishment and plant roots to be able to grow well. If you are in doubt, you could check with your local garden store for soil types for different plants. It will also depend on the state of growing. Seedlings need light mixtures that retain moisture while older plants can deal with heavier soil.

Try to Follow the Outdoor Climates

This can be hard indoors but plants need a certain temperature during the day and night. They can cope with the sudden drops and thrive when they get this, but it isn’t always possible in a home. The plants also need resting periods, especially those that flower during the summer. In the autumn and winter periods, you need to cut back on the fertilising and watering. This gives the plants a similar experience to the outdoors.

Offer Good Humidity Levels

50% humidity is the optimum level for the majority of plants but 30%-40% is acceptable. Try to keep the area for your plants at this level. This is why the bathroom is often a great option for plants—the humidity from the shower or bath can really help a plant to thrive. When out of the bathroom, invest in a humidifier to help grow beautiful indoor plants.

Try to create a natural environment for your indoor plants. This is the best way to make them look beautiful and as they would if they were in your garden.

2 Comments | Posted in Indoor 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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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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