Eric finds it nostalgic to step back into a greenhouse. His 1st job was in an old, glass greenhouse. Those greenhouses just had benches, some of the fancier had rolling benches. Even so a lot of good memories. This is a lot fancier, it doesn't have wooden sashes. Eric knows this is Nathan's work home, where he spends his day-to day activities, running and maintaining the college greenhouse system. And, this is a somewhat non-traditional situation. And, is pretty elaborate, it has a hydroponic setup. Many may not have seen a hydroponic setup and may not understand what hydroponics are. Hydroponics boiled down is growing a plant without the use of soil. One uses materials other than soil as a substrate, primarily with water flowing through. How might one start their own little hydroponic situation? Nathan and Eric breakdown the materials used and how the system works. They talk about the medium 1st. In most cases that is perlite, or some kind of volcanic rock. Here they use a rockwool plug, which is a volcanic product. It is totally inert. They take a seed and plant that seed directly into the rockwool plug. The plant will then live its entire life in that plug in the system. It doesn't have soil thus are delivering nutrients to the plant via an ebb and flow type of water system. Water is pumped in with all the necessary nutrients and that then must be drained out at some point ensuring they don't create an anaerobic growing environment. The system produces and regulates the water PH as well as the nutrient content. Lettuce, like they have here, has a low nutrient content. The system automatically regulates the amount of nutrients in the water and will adjust as needed.
Could one build something like this at home? Sure. The system here looks like little gutters with a cap on them and a hole. It's really as simple as that. It's a low tech system - gutters and a simple aquarium pump in a 5 gallon bucket, to supply nutrition, would be all that should be required for a small homeowner. It's simple and that's the beauty of the system. It may look elaborate but in essence it's pretty simple.
By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
Labor Day may represent summer’s unofficial close but now is a perfect opportunity to add late-summer perennials that will continue to beautify your landcare until fall arrives. click here for an article that identifies 9 perennials for late summer.
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