Hydroponics at Home

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A vertical hydroponic system that also serves a artistic window decor by Michael Doherty.
Source: Washington Post

Hydroponics is far from a new subject on our blog (read on Milo’s experimentation with hydroponics), and while the sustainable benefits of this gardening method have been shared before, there is still one aspect we haven’t covered: appearance.

Just to cover the basics once again, hydroponics is a system of growing plants without soil and using mineral nutrient solutions in water. It’s water efficient and can be done easily in tight quarters, which means anyone can create a hydroponic system – in theory.

“If you understand the fundamentals, what the plants need, and you have some practical use of tools, it can be just a kiddie pool filled with water and a floating piece of Styrofoam board with holes cut in it,” believes Gene Giacomelli, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at the University of Arizona and director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

The proposition sounds simple and perhaps appealing, but maybe only for those in urban areas where gardening is not an option. Who wants a bunch of buckets or foam coolers in their apartment? According to Michael Doherty, a permaculture designer from California, once you’ve got the basics down, it’s easy to transform a hydroponic system into something that adds to your home decor.

“I think hydroponics has gotten a pretty negative image because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing a lot of the time,” he said. “I think it’s easy to take that next step. Even pipes: Something as simple as making a wood enclosure around them would totally change the feel of them. Find ways to obscure the more mechanical parts.”

Beautiful doesn’t have to be expensive. Britta Riley is the founder of a social enterprise called Windowfarms , and its first designs used water bottles to create a similar window system. She started an open-source website, on hiatus for this summer, so designers all over the world could share their designs.

If you’re interested in hydroponics but not ready to build your own, there are plenty of ready-made systems to buy, Doherty said. Some are aquaponic systems, which put fish in the water to create the nutrients the plants need. Windowfarms also created a product to purchase, though the designs are available for those who want to take a DIY approach.

Going online and searching for hydroponic systems, one will quickly see that there are hundreds of instruction sets and designs, varying from low- to high-end. Pinterest is one of the most effective sites to look for ideas because it’s easy to browse and get inspired. Who doesn’t want to brag about their stylish hanging hydroponic garden when guests come over and then welcome them with freshly picked mint served in a cool lemonade?

Read the original article here.

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