Start Your Own Hydroponic Garden

An Aerogarden using hydroponics and aeroponics.

Image via Wikipedia

Hydroponic gardening may be a new concept to some, but it can be a great option for those with limited space. You can use wall space or build a scaffolding or simply use a series of steps, to use your vertical space more efficiently than with traditional gardening methods.

It can actually be fairly simple to start your own, as well. There are a number of hydroponic gardening kits on the market nowadays, so it can pretty easy and affordable to put together your own small hydroponic gardening system.

You can even find some good and affordable kits on such websites as They are generally easy to put together, and don’t take a lot of time or effort to maintain.

Try hydroponic gardening for yourself, and see how easy it is to grow your own vegetables at home, regardless of climate or season!

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Video-Hydroponic Garden

Here is a cool video on hydroponic gardening — just some great views of a vertical garden in a small space.

(If video does not appear below, please click link to view.)

Hydroponic Vertical Garden: DIY hydroponic garden. This is my vertical garden. Started with the idea of getting the most production out of a small space. By growing in the vertical styrofoam pots, you insulate the roots of the plant keeping them warm in win…

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Hydroponic Gardening For Beautiful Plants

If you’ve ever wondered about hydroponic gardening then this article is for you. I will explain just exactly what hydroponic gardening is, why it works, the benefits, and what you will need to get started.

Put simply, hydroponic gardening is growing plants without dirt. This dirt-less gardening is done one of two ways; with the plant roots growing in a liquid nutrient solution aka solution culture or with the roots growing in another solid medium (other than dirt) which is called a medium culture. It’s all about the nutrients. Soil is just a holder of nutrients and with hydroponics your choices can be perlite, coconut fiber, sand, and vermiculite as well as other mediums.

Rix Dobbs shows the roots of a lettuce plant g...

Image via Wikipedia

Hydroponic gardening is simple once you try it, and can be affordable depending on what system you use and to what scale you want to use it. This type of gardening takes less time, uses less space, has no weeds to pull, and requires no digging in the dirt. It’s also very satisfying to watch your healthy plants grow, especially if you’ve never had a green thumb before.

Hydroponic gardening works because the plants are given what they need, in the amount they need, and when they need it. The gardener is in control, not fickle Mother Nature. Also, the plants don’t need to spend time spreading their roots to look for nutrients and they can concentrate on their above root growth. This can mean bigger fruits or vegetables. Another plus to this system is that since the roots don’t spread out, more plants can be planted in a smaller area than when planted in soil.

There are some popular hydroponic gardening name brand systems that you should investigate to educate yourself on what is available. You don’t have to pick an expensive system, especially when first starting out. You will most likely need a grow tray, reservoir tray, submersible pump with a timer, and air pump and air stone to make bubbles that add oxygen and push the nutrient solution toward the roots. You will also need light; natural or other. Keep in mind that with grow lights you can grow your plants anywhere in your house or garage.

Try the hydroponic way to grow your next crop of lettuce, tomatoes, or cut flowers and enjoy success, even if you’re not known for having a green thumb. Maybe you could take some beautiful tomatoes over to that neighbor who’s always bragging about her garden.

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Organic Agriculture in Cuba: An Inspirational Story

As you probably know if you’ve been reading this blog for some time,  organic and sustainable gardening, as well as local food production, is one of my passions, which I discuss often with family and friends.

Community grown vegetables_Cuba 218
Image by hoyasmeg via Flickr

My dad recently mailed me an article he ran across in a magazine, about the re-emergence of organic agriculture in Cuba. It was a tale of struggle, pain, and sacrifice, but ultimately one of triumph. I wish I could find it online to share a link with you, but I haven’t been able to find the exact article. (It was in Christian Century Magazine, September 7, 2010, Page 11, if anyone wants to dig it up. The title of the article was “Organic By Necessity.”)

However, there are a number of related articles, as it’s a pretty inspiring story no matter how it’s told. Below are some other articles on the topic, but here are some of the highlights from the original article.

When Cuba lost its connection with the Soviet Union in the early 90’s, the nation of conventional agriculture, readily available cheap food, and modern grocery stores (sound familiar?) lost its main source of oil-based fertilizer; and it was in for a rude awakening. Or maybe that is putting it mildly. The outcome was starvation, or close to it, for many citizens. As this article put it, “It is difficult for Americans to imagine the horrors of (this period).” Farming and gardening were not familiar past times for many of Cuba’s citizens. And not only did many people not know how to grow their own food, but those in urban areas did not have the space to do so.

But in the years since then, Cuba has become “the world’s largest working model of a semisustainable agriculture.”

Urban Gardens, Cuba: an agricultural system in...

Image by IIED via Flickr

Without easy access to cheap chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Cuba had to start from scratch – which  meant learning to grow food the way people have grown it for thousands of years before modern civilization and the days of cheap oil. (Combined, of course, with modern research and developments which allow for the use of more advanced organic techniques and ways to utilize smaller amounts of garden space more productively.)

Currently, in Havana, organic urban gardens (or organoponicos) have become the main food source for the city (and the same is true in neighboring cities as well). Not only that, but (and I love this statistic) farmers there make approximately three times the salary of doctors! Thus the gardens are also stimulating the local economy to a great extent.

Although most Americans don’t often think of Cuba as progressive or role-model material, I think it is worth a careful look. Someday not too far in the future, we ourselves may have to take a page from Cuba’s book. As the article suggests, “One day soon oil will become too expensive to extract, making the price of oil too high to warrant using it for food production, and with that will come a collective cinching of American belts.”

Hopefully we won’t suffer through years of starvation as the Cubans did, but if we are to avoid that fate, we must start preparing now, and learn more about producing our own food and supporting local growers, before it’s too late.

Related Articles on Organic Agriculture in Cuba:

Havana harvest: Organic agriculture in Cuba’s capital | San
On a recent visit we learned that Cuba has been raising its fruits and vegetables organically for more than 15 years, using worm and vegetable compost and integrated and natural pest management to raise crops for its people.
Publish Date:
02/27/2010 0:20

Cuba: An Urban Agriculture Utopia? « down the garden path
Cuba: An Urban Agriculture Utopia? Jump to Comments. Urban Agriculture in Havana. In 2009 I was lucky enough to participate in a three-week sustainable agriculture tour in Cuba organized through the University of British Columbia by a …
Publish Date:
09/02/2010 14:44

Organic Cuba without Fossil Fuels
experience has opened our eyes to agriculture without fossil fuels, a possibility rapidly turning into a necessity for mitigating climate change as world production of petroleum has also peaked. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho.
Publish Date:
01/23/2008 17:53

Cuba – An Unlikely Model for Organic Farming
Going organic is typically thought of as a choice. Farms choose to become organic; retailers decide that organic is best for their customers and their business; and consumers select the products that best fit their lifestyle. In Cuba
Publish Date:
05/12/2010 15:01

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Recent News in Sustainable Gardening

Here are some recent interesting articles on sustainable gardening. Whether you’re getting ready for fall, saving seeds, or planning your garden for the spring, here are some useful tips for making your sustainable garden a success.

Grow Natural, Nutritional Produce With Non Hybrid Seeds | Sic
These seeds can produce healthy, nutritious foods and seeds that can be planted again and grown into a completely sustainable garden; this leads to economic benefits too since you can keep you garden going from …
Publish Date:
10/31/2010 6:17

Partial view of container garden in Park Seed ...

Image via Wikipedia

sustainable garden: improving productivity!
In the meantime, the rhythm of the seasons beats as we enter ‘the fall’ and the prosaic work of the must be done! Leaves provide vital organic matter for the soil: it’s that time of year when acquisitive gardeners barrow them to …garden
Publish Date:
10/31/2010 10:13

Six Simple Tricks to Make Your New Home’s Garden More Sustainable
Whether you’re moving to a house with a huge yard or an apartment with a modest balcony, make your new home’s garden sustainable with a few simple tips.
Publish Date:
10/22/2010 11:01

Sustainable Gardening: The Main Five Points To Bear In Mind
Sustainable gardening
, like sustainable farming or industry, can be defined as satisfying our desires and achieving our targets, without harming the rights of others or of future generations. More specifically, as horticultural activity …
Publish Date:
10/23/2010 0:05

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Video-Simple Cold Frames

As promised, here is a second video on winter gardening using cold frames. For those with less carpentry knowledge, these are smaller and simpler cold frames — and even better, they used recycled or discarded materials. These may not be as warm or air-tight as the ones in the previous video, so they are probably best for more moderate climates.

For those with limited or no building ability (like me!) there are also cold frame kits available on the market today, with just a little assembly required.

(If video does not appear below, please click link to view.)

Winter Garden
Our winter garden is mostly garlic, onion, and lettuce. Take a look at our simple home made cold frames. They are made from pallets and windows with just a little waste vegetable oil to help the wood last.


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An Inside Vegetable Garden

If you live in a cold climate and don’t have the space for cold frames or other protected garden space, you may still be able to garden in the winter on a smaller scale.

Houseplants and herb gardens are well-known as common plants that are grown indoors.  But they are not the only plants that can be grown indoors.  By using the right containers and having the ability to mimic the ideal growing conditions you can also have an indoor vegetable garden.  The benefits of having one go beyond the beautification of your home or the relaxation you get from gardening, but you can also pick your own vegetables right in your kitchen.

Easter egg radishes, just harvested

Image via Wikipedia

Carrots, tomatoes, and radishes are three of the easiest vegetable to grow indoors.  Each grows differently and will need separate containers but with some research this is not a problem.

You will also want to make sure your plants have enough light. Winter is generally a lower-light season, so you will need either a large south-facing window as a source of natural sunlight for your vegetables to grow in, or to invest in some artificial grow lights.

As with any container you choose to grow plants in, making sure there is enough drainage is key.  If your plants sit in too much water they are not going to survive.  If the pots you choose do not have holes in the bottom be sure to put a layer of gravel or wood chips to allow the water to run out of the soil.  The flip side of this is not to ensure the water does not run out too quickly either.

When choosing the types of vegetables to plant, follow the same guidelines as you would for outdoors.  On the seed packets it will give recommendations on when to plant, the amount of light and water that is needed and the spacing requirements.  Tailor your water schedule according to the condition of the soil, make sure it doesn’t get too dry or stay too wet either.

Even during the winter months, with the proper preparation and care, you should be able to harvest vegetables grown inside your own home!


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