Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2007

The future of food

Hydroponics may boost safety, quality of produce

If you are one of these savvy consumers who has already begun to tread on the path of gardening to feed yourself and your family, you might want to consider hydroponics for year-round, fresh-from-the-vine goodies. You'll know just what is in your food and where it came from, leaving at least the kitchen a somewhat safe haven.

If you are one of these savvy consumers who has already begun to tread on the path of gardening to feed yourself and your family, you might want to consider hydroponics for year-round, fresh-from-the-vine goodies. You'll know just what is in your food and where it came from, leaving at least the kitchen a somewhat safe haven.

December 6, 2007

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There sure are a lot of recalls happening these days - toys harming our children, tainted foods, even simple household items with lead-laced paints.

As a result, there is a surge of people wanting to become more informed as to how and where our foods and other products come from.

If you are one of these savvy consumers who has already begun to tread on the path of gardening to feed yourself and your family, you might want to consider hydroponics for year-round, fresh-from-the-vine goodies.

You'll know just what is in your food and where it came from, leaving at least the kitchen a somewhat safe haven.

The basic concept of hydroponics is gardening without soil. Hydroponic gardening has been around for thousands of years, according to hydroponics.net.

The question at hand when researchers today explore the theory of soil-less gardening is whether a plant get its nutrients from the water or the soil. Some farmers would say it is from water because they see their crops shrivel and die in droughts.

Commercial hydroponics

Chuck Marr, retired professor of horticulture at Kansas State University and state program leader for extension horticulture for 37 years, has spent much of his career studying hydroponics.

"I began hydroponic research and demonstration plantings to provide information to Kansas producers that were developing production systems for commercial hydroponics - primarily in greenhouse tomato production," Marr said.

Hydroponics has steadily grown in the commercial market. Commercial crops are turning to soil-less cultivation increasingly because of the speed of plant growth combined with control over the growing environment.

"I've had great success with hydroponics for greenhouse tomatoes, greenhouse cucumbers, greenhouse peppers, lettuce and strawberries," Marr said. "We have also experimented with a small, pot-type hydroponic growing system using a variety of vegetable and flower plants."

Home use

Hydroponics can be an expensive endeavor for the home gardener and be fairly time-consuming as well. Marr suggests for home gardens, "It requires a certain level of expertise to manage the hydroponic system as well as manage growing plants. You'll want to not just jump in without doing a lot of reading, studying and preparation. This is not a particularly easy form of gardening."

A home gardener will need to make sure to rely on a modern, commercial nutrient system to get started, as well as a clean, sanitary growing area in order to avoid any algae or pest issues, and invest in a "kit."

Marr explains, "There are a variety of companies offering kits, including nutrient solutions, which are probably a good way to start for the average gardener. Don't purchase the cheapest one that you can find but make sure that the company has a solid reputation and has been in business for a number of years. Avoid TV ads or commercials as an avenue to purchase these products."

The future

As the climate changes, as pests evolve and as we explore our surroundings more, the future for hydroponics looks bright.

There are many opportunities for soil-less gardening - whether it is in our own basement, a sprawling commercial greenhouse, or a station in space, the dream of the gardening future is also the reality for serious gardeners today.

Comments

lounger 7 years, 4 months ago

MMM...I dont think you can classify hydroponic as natural. You cannot grow hydroponic "organic" anything- so its out in my book.

sibkiss 7 years, 4 months ago

Good article. Email me at sibkiss@sbcglobal.net and give me your interest inquiry in a custom built system.

Crossfire 7 years, 4 months ago

If you like your food to taste like water, fertilizer and grow lights then yum-yum.

btw White rice grows in the mud. Long grain rice is a grass and grows in the dirt waving in the breeze and soaking up the sun. I don't think it works in hydro-food factory.

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