Have you heard about hydroponic gardens? My brother, R.C. has had one in his backyard since last fall. As Sweet Boy was working on the “Gardening” merit badge in Boy Scouts we have been closely monitoring the gardens progress. It is a fantastic project to create.
You can grow any type of fruit or vegetable in a hydroponic garden that you can in a regular garden. Hydroponic gardens have been around since the 17th century. My brother recommends the book “Aquaponic Gardening” by Sylvia Bernstein.
In a nutshell a hydroponic garden is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, grave or expanded clay pebbles which is what my brother used.
To the right of my brothers plants is an electric pump that continually recycles the water via sprinkler tubing. You can use pvc pipe, electrical pipe as well as other options. Next to the pump is a large tank filled with tilapia fish. Tilapia are a good choice for Arizona’s climate. Other types of fish, such as koi and trout, can be used in colder climates. The waste the fish create is used as a natural fertilizer. The fish grow quite well and can also be used as a food source.
To see more of this wonderful garden, as well as the fabulous backyard keep reading.
You can use a variety of things to hold your garden. Anything from bathtubs to old fish tanks. My brother chose to use recycled 55 gallon drums.
Underneath each drum are floating plants that together with the fish waste create a good bacteria that results in a PH scale that is perfect for the plants. (Between 6.8 – 7.1) Seashells can be used to calcify the ph balance if necessary.
The watering is done on a timed cycle.
A few of the benefits of a hydroponic garden are:
- No soil is needed for hydroponics.
- The water stays in the system and can be reused - thus, a lower water requirement.
- It is possible to control the nutrition levels in their entirety - thus, lower nutrition requirements.
- No nutrition pollution is released into the environment because of the controlled system.
- Stable and high yields.
- Pests and diseases are easier to get rid of than in soil because of the container's mobility.
- Ease of harvesting.
- No pesticide damage.
My brother generally hand picks off any worms or pests he might find and thereby avoids unhealthy pesticides. Bees are happy to do the pollinating.
I found it fascinating that the ends of some green onions were planted into the pebbles….
…and less than a week later they were once again sprouting roots. Talk about reduce, reuse, recycle!
Zucchini blossoms look so pretty against the metal fence work my brother created.
It is truly a wonderful environment in which birds love to nest in Palo Verde trees.
While a portion of R.C.’s land is manicured, he has also left a large section to natural desert landscaping.
Three tortoises, Larry, Curly and Moe, have free range of the side yard. They eat scraps (such as the watermelon shown in the background) which otherwise would go in a landfill.
They tend to shy away from humans and hide out in their enclosure.
R.C. also created a seating area with a fire pit.
As well as a garden in memory of our mother, Nadine.
It’s a happy place to play games. Here Sweet Guy tries his hand at “Washers”.
Great attempts are made to throw plumbing washers into the center of your opponents platform box.
If you tire of that you can try your hand at “Life Sized Jenga”.
The wood blocks make a terrific crash when the wrong piece is pulled.
I hope you have enjoyed my brother’s garden. I will leave you with his wife, my sister in law Melody, and my darling great niece Gracie.
I would love to create a hydroponic garden would you?