Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Gardening in the winter - Hydroponics

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Snow and cold weather don't have to keep you from tending to your garden, as long as it's inside. More people are turning to hydroponic gardening as a way to grow their favorite plants year-round.

Store Manager Rick Kolceski said, "Plants will grow typically in two-thirds the time they will in soil because in soil the plant is not only pushing up to the plant, but it's pushing the roots down looking for the nutrients. Hydroponics you're just giving the roots everything they need."

Hydroponic gardening, as the name suggests, uses water instead of soil. All you have to do is add nutrients.

"It's very simple. It's like baking cookies. You just follow the instructions. You measure out how much nutrients to put in, and you put them in at a certain time every day," says Kolceski.

More Information

Hydroponic flowers

There may be snow on the ground, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on gardening. News 10 Now's Heather Ly tells us about a way to grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables in the dead of winter.

You can also put your system on a timer, so you'll never forget to feed your plants. Anything that grows in soil can grow in a hydroponic garden. Some people garden indoors all year-round, while others use hydroponic gardening in the winter, so their plants are good to go once spring arrives.

"They'll get a jump start on their plants by growing them indoors, and with hydroponics you make strong healthy plants. It's able to be transplanted and thrive," Kolceski stated.

Kits average about $65, but you can start your own hydroponic garden for as little as $20. The most expensive investment is a lighting system which runs anywhere between $75 and $400 dollars, but it's a one time purchase, and the bulbs will last you three to five years.

So you don't have to worry about putting your plants in a sunny spot. And since there's no soil, there's less mess and no soil-borne diseases or bacteria

Indian family makes a breakthrough in hydroponics

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* An Indian hobbyist has created a purely organic nutrient mixture for growing plants in water.
* Although it is still an evolving science, hydroponic agriculture (growing plants in water solution rather than soil) is spreading fast the world over.
* The nutritional requirement of the plants in this system of soilless farming is met by the nutrient mixtures, called hydroponics fertiliser mixtures, added to the water in which the plant roots are kept submerged.
* These mixtures are made of chemical plant nutrients.
* A breakthrough has now been achieved by an Indian hydroponics hobbyist in creating a purely organic nutrient mixture for growing plants in water.
* This wholly chemical-free plant growth solution has been tested successfully for growing several plants, including common vegetables like tomato and arbi and some high value medicinal plants like Brahmi, Arjun and Cineraria.
* Indeed, a good deal of research is underway in this system of soilless farming in the US and Europe but not much headway has been made anywhere in organic hydroponics.
* Of course, some hydroponics enthusiasts abroad have been experimenting with various kinds of organic manures and mixtures of plants, but successful and commercially viable organic hydroponics models are still not available.
* His daughter, Shweta Singh, a Delhi University botany student, has been assisting him in discovering and further improving the biofertiliser mixture for growing plants in ordinary water.
* "I will work on it for a couple of years more before thinking of launching commercial production of this bio-fertiliser for hydroponics.
* However, if some government organisation, such as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), comes forward, I am willing to cooperate with it in promoting organic hydroponics in India," he says.
* He believes that nearly 200 commercially important plants can be grown by hydroponics technique.

Police want hydroponics buyers recorded

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Shops that sell hydroponics equipment – often used in illegal marijuana grow ops – should have to keep a records of their customers, Edmonton's drug police say.

The Green Team has made a number of large grow op busts this week, seizing almost 4,000 plants worth millions of dollars.

RCMP Cpl. Lorne Adamitz says most of the equipment is bought at hydroponics stores, and believes they should have to keep track of their customers, the same way pawn shops do.

"We are not trying to prevent legitimate users from using equipment for legitimate purposes, but a lot of these shops thrive on the illegal marijuana market," he said. "Maybe they should leave a driver's licence number or some type of identification.

"That would eliminate a lot of the illegal users."

Coun. Karen Leibovici says she's not sure a list of customers would achieve anything, since equipment used in grow ops can also be purchased in hardware stores and greenhouses.

"There are any number of places you can get the fertilizer and to get the chemicals and to get the tubing and the overhead lights that are required," she said.

She says the best approach to halting grow ops is to encourage neighbours to report suspicious activities to the police.