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How Is Your Hydroponic Garden Growing?

by | March 8, 2019

Technology, food and sustainability expert, Dr Gail Barnes took some time out of her incredibly busy schedule to share some tips with us on hydroponic garden, what is it and why we should be considering one…

My name’s not Mary but I can be quite contrary, so if you asked me how my garden was growing, I would answer, “Hydroponically of course, with my herbs like basil, watercress, dill and mint all in a row!”

I’m currently growing herbs because I’m using a small commercial hydroponic unit on one of the counter tops in my kitchen, but with a larger unit I could be growing strawberries, spinach, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, kale and more.

Hydroponic gardening can be done right in the comfort of your own home and is a fun way to learn about sustainability as well as grow your own delicious herbs, vegetables or even flowers!

How Is Your Hydroponic Garden Growing?
Credits: sippakorn/ Shutterstock

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Getting Started With Your Hydroponic Garden

You don’t need a lot of space or expensive equipment to grow your own hydroponic food. All you need is anenclosed structure (greenhouse, basement, patioor deck), a bucket, garden hose, plant clips, 50-gallon nutrient tank, PVC pipe and pH testing kit.There are many videos online to help you get started.

Your hydroponic garden should be indoors duringcooler temperatures where you will also needgrow lights for supplemental lighting. A tip from someone who regrets that she did not do so – buy the most powerful grow lights that you can afford. Also, choose plants of the same height to grow together so that the taller ones won’t block the light from smaller plants.

In a home environment you may get the occasional pest or fungus on your plants. My hydroponic unit is in my kitchen next to the door to the garage – a not-ideal position for stuff wafting in. Checking in on your plants regularly is not only fun – leaves can double in size overnight – it will allow you to literally nip any leaves that are not perfect in the bud. Removing any infected leaves will usually be all that is needed to keep your plants in great growing shape.

A final tip – while it’s fun to try and find out how tall your plants will grow – do harvest them often. It’s good for them and will be fresh and delicious for you!

Ocean Vegetables

As a former high-school biology teacher I am always looking for projects for children that will teach them about the wonders of nature, and the need to protect our blue planet. Hydroponic gardening isa fun way for children and adults alike to learn about sustainability and also about vegetables like seaweed that grow in the ocean and that are also highly nutritious. Foods like seaweed and algae have long been consumed because of their association with longevity, beauty and health.

Seaweeds are also some of the most nutrient-packed foods you will encounter and contain fiber and other naturally occurring substances that benefit cholesterol levels and possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well.

A rich source of several vitamins, including vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and B vitamins seaweed also offers varying levels of protein depending on type of seaweed you consume. Red seaweed has the most, with up to 50 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces of nori.

Carrageenan, the natural, plant fiber from red seaweed, is a key ingredient used in many foods and nutritional drinks. Clinical research suggests carrageenan may play a role in lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation and fighting colds and viruses.

The Future of Farming

Also called vertical farming, hydroponic farming, is the method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water rather than soil. Many, including Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal, believe it may be the future of farming since land and chemicals are not needed,80 percent less water is used (compared to conventional agriculture), and plants can grow twice as fast.

Since 2016, Kimbal Musk’s Brooklyn-based company, Square Roots, has delivered fresh herbs that are grown inside 320-square-foot shipping containers to retail stores across New York City. The company has also pioneered a training program that walks young entrepreneurs through every step of the indoor farming process, from planting seeds to selling crops.

In the wake of the romaine E. coli outbreak, Square Roots now allows consumers to scan its crops and learn when they were produced — and who made them.

If you can’t grow you own produce, knowing exactly who is, is the next best thing! Got doubts on hydroponic garden? Ask us below.


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Gail Barnes

Gail Barnes, Ph.D., is a technology, food and sustainability expert who has consulted with companies worldwide on product sustainability innovation with composting and recycling strategies, as well as navigating food safety and regulatory processes and procedures and advising on consumer insights and evolving trends. She began her career as a high school teacher, and her corporate career with Unilever in South Africa. Barnes’ passion for sustainability and the environment has led to her work in several global environmental initiatives. Her career has helped her gain insight on industry technology issues and consumer trends and education practices. South African born and educated, Barnes is multilingual and holds a master of science degree in biology and a Ph.D. in applied chemistry - food science from the University of Natal. She earned her master of business leadership from the School of Business Leadership at the University of South Africa.

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Categories: News, Parenting

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