So you’ve decided to take the plunge into hydroponic gardening. Your tired of the slow growth of soil based gardens and want to take advantage of the increased oxygen availability to roots, achieve the fastest growth rates and experience the biggest yields. Since hydroponic gardening is growing in the absence of soil, you are faced with the choice of which medium to replace it with. The answer should be Rockwool!
Rockwool isn’t the most popular hydroponic medium by accident. Savvy gardeners and greenhouse professionals alike have been using rockwool for decades to achieve some of the most productive gardens on the planet. Rockwool has been carefully designed to provide a near-perfect air to water ratio, far surpassing the oxygen and water retention capabilities of regular garden soil. These ideal root conditions combined with dramatically reduced weight, volume and mess also make rockwool a pleasure to work with. When compared to the equal volume of garden soil, rockwool media will support considerably larger root systems and therefore proportionately larger plants making it a sure winner in the garden.
Rockwool is inert which enables 100% control of the nutrients available to the plants. Rockwool is also extremely versatile, working well with a wide variety of plants. The nutrient solution can be applied manually by hand feeding for small applications,or drip irrigated for larger scale gardens. The reduced volume of rockwool also makes it an ideal medium for flood and drain applications – probably the most simple and reliable method of hydroponic gardening. Due to rockwool’s porous structure it is also very easy to flush excess nutrients out of the media.
Now that we know rockwool is the ideal media for clean and highly productive gardens, lets take a look at its environmental impact. Rockwool is sustainability produced from basalt rock, one of the most common types of rock on the planet. Some larger forms of rockwool media such as slabs are able to be reused for more than one growth cycle. Rockwool that can not be reused can be up cycled as an ideal soil amendment. Although it is a stone product and it will never decompose, it has the ability to improve all soil conditions as it is truly the ideal growth media. Clay soils will benefit from added oxygen retention and drainage, while sandy soils will benefit from added water retention.
Whether you are a novice gardener, or a professional, the exceptional performance of rockwool is well suited to you. Take advantage of this high performance, user friendly and sustainable medium to take your garden, and most importantly your yields, to the next level!
Making a commitment to healthy eating is a great start towards a healthy and long life. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, there is the question of food safety, nutrition, and sustainability. How foods are grown can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up a few questions:
What is the difference between organic foods and non organic foods?
Foods certified as organic in Canada must meet certain requirements found in the Canadian Organic Standards Document. These standards are geared around sustainable crop production with minimal impact on the environment. To summarize these requirements food must be produced in a way which protects the environment, minimizes soil degradation and erosion, decreases pollution, optimize biological productivity and promotes a sound state of health. This means crops must not be genetically modified organisms, or treated with pesticides which way harm the environment or consumer. They must also be grown in a way which recycles materials and resources to the greatest extent possible.
Is “organic” more healthful, or worth the added expense?
While is great to purchase foods which are grown by methods which protect the environment and conserve resources, it is important to note that certified organic foods are not necessarily more healthful than their non-certified counterparts. The Canadian Organic Standards document specifically states “Neither this standard nor organic products in accordance with this standard represent specific claims about the health, safety and nutrition of such organic products.” This means that the quality of food grown organically does not necessarily surpass the quality of non-organically certified foods.
Can non-certified organic foods be just as healthful as certified organic products?
Yes! Assuming the food was not treated with pesticides or grown from GMO genetics, it should be just as healthful as food produced according to the organic standards listed above. It is worth noting that organic fertilizers such as manure and guanos are not available to plants as a food source until they are broken down via the soil food web. Once this process has been completed, the organic inputs are chemically identical to the synthetically derived nutrients often used in non organic gardening. In soil based gardens synthetically derived nutrients can affect long-term soil fertility by impacting conditions for biological activity within the soil. However, in a hydroponic application these nutrients are recycled, therefore never making their way into the ground or affecting the quality of ground water.
Can you grow organic food hydroponically?
Yes! Hydroponic gardens can produce non GMO food by using organically derived nutrients with the absence of pesticides while recycling and conserving water and thus having a minimal impact on the environment. Hydroponically produced food can be grown with 1/5 the water and can also many times more productive per square foot of garden space without the risk of leaching nutrients into ground water sources.
This means the home gardener should focus not on labels but on growing quality proven genetics, through sustainable gardening methods while avoiding the use of pesticides. When growing outdoors in the ground, organically derived nutrients can be used to minimize soil degradation. When hydroponically the home gardener has the flexibility to use either organically or synthetically derived nutrients to produce high quality food in their hydroponic gardens.
More and more people are choosing the varieties of food they will grow based on two very important factors often overlooked today: Flavor and nutrition! These qualities rank among the top priorities of the modern gardener looking to enrich their diet with natural, flavor-full and non GMO foods. The answer lies with heirloom vegetables. Heirloom vegetables are old, interesting varieties of the foods we eat today. They come in all shapes and colors and flavors, and are a throwback to a time when less emphasis was placed on yield and shelf life but rather taste and nutrition. This is why Homegrown has selected some unique heirloom varieties and made them available through our stores.
Below of a list of some heirlooms and other plants we propagated for sale this season:
Earl of Edgecomb Tomato– When the 6th Earl of Edgecombe died in the 1960’s, the heir to the title was a tomato lover and rancher living in New Zealand. He traveled to England to claim the title, and took this extraordinary tomato with him. The smooth, beautiful 3-inch round, orange, mango-colored fruits are perfectly globe-shaped, growing in clusters of two or more. Flesh is smooth, meaty and marvelous, with sweet, rich flavor, rather tropical and fruity. Indeterminate 73 days.
Indigo Rose Tomato -The blackest tomato yet. Acidic taste and deep plum interior. They show good field resistance to fungal disease and blight. Growing in clusters of 6-8 fruit weighing 2-2.5 oz. Very, very productive. Indeterminate.
Marianna’s Peace Tomato – It is said that Marianna’s Peace is among the 3 finest tasting tomatoes inexistence. Creamy, dense, red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance, great old fashioned tomato flavour. Large 12 cm (5”) fruit. Czech Heirloom from early 1900’s. 80 days Heirloom. Indeterminate.
Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato – A very old tomato, possibly an originator of the modern tomato. Very tall vines can grow to 300-400cm. Harvest an immense amount of delicious, very small tomatoes right up to frost. Indeterminate, Heirloom 1889.
Black Zebra Cherry Tomato– Perfect for smaller gardens and containers, the Black Zebra Cherry is unique and flavorful. It’s a Heirloom and open pollinated Tomato variety which produces slightly larger cherry tomatoes (1-1.5″) with a firm consistency. Great for slicing!
Yellow Brandywine Tomato – A large Yellow Brandywine tomato. Good, sweet flavour, producing 1-2lb fruit on potato leaved plants. Pick just before ripe to avoid cracking.90 days. Indeterminate. Heirloom.
Roma Tomato – The Roma tomato is a determinate, oblong variety that is very meaty with a low number of seeds. Average fruit size is 5 ounces. Great for cooking, canning and making sauce, this heirloom dates back to 1958! Average time to maturity: 76 days.
Yellow Stuffers – These big, blocky, thick-walled tomatoes are the best beefsteaks for stuffing and baking. The tasty 200g (7 oz) fruits are like bell peppers, with large interior cavities. Plants perform just as well outdoors as in the greenhouse. Matures in 80 days.
Little Bells – These are very early sweet bells with thick walls, densely set onto dwarf plants. At the green stage these are apple yellow, ripening through orange to a dark red at maturity. Great pepper for northern climes with short seasons.
Poblano (Ancho) – These hot peppers are very, very popular in Mexico. They are called Poblanos when fresh and green but Ancho once they are ripe and dried. Green peppers turn reddish brown. They are mildly hot with a sweet taste 100-2000 SHU’s. Can be roasted and stuffed for chili rellenos (don’t forget to remove the skin after roasting). Dried, they can be ground for chili powder and added to mole sauces. Fully mature at 80 days.
Thai Sun Pepper – Perfect pepper for apartments and small Gardens. The miniature plant only grows ten to twelve inches high and about one to one and a half feet wide. The one inch peppers grow facing the sun. One plant has literally hundreds of these fireballs. This little devil packs a big wallop. The leaves are tiny so the plant is almost all peppers. It is easily grown in containers put on a porch, patio or deck. Anyone, anywhere can enjoy plenty of hot peppers with the Thai sun pepper. They ripen early and produce all season long. Each pod has a few scarce seeds.
Korean Gochu Pepper – Tired of making kimchi too spicy by accidentally putting in one too many Thai peppers? This pepper is here to save the day & make the best authentic kimchi. Not quite as hot as a Thai or cayenne, which means you can make your kimchivery red (tons of chili) without killing the people who eat it. Still fairly hot so be careful. The real greatness of this pepper is in its earliness to turn red in cool conditions & its enormous yields (No, really. So many peppers you won’t know what to do with all of them.) Dries easily & is great for ristras. Fruit are similar to a cayenne in shape but a little shorter & wider.
Carolina Reaper – GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS DECLARES THE CAROLINA REAPER THE “WORLDS HOTTEST PEPPER” Large plants produce loads of the hottest peppers on the planet. Beware! Peppers average 1,569,000 Scoville Heat Units.
For customer’s who would prefer to start their own plants, Homegrown provides a full range of information and products to help you achieve your goals. Stop by, or call your local store for details!