Picture this – enjoying your own gorgeous garden chock full of ripe cucumbers, strawberries, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, peas, spinach, kale, collards, parsley, cilantro, dill, and tons of other amazing produce.  Imagine picking your favorite fruits and vegetables and eating them fresh off the vine anytime you want… Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?

Now, I know what most of you are thinking by now – that would be WAY too much work! And, you’d be right. I mean, I love gardening, but who has the time, energy, and knowledge to grow that huge variety of produce all year every year? Spending hours weeding, composting, adding organic matter to the soil, dealing with pests, keeping the deer, rabbits and other wildlife out of your garden, and all the other work that goes with gardening?

Creative Commons Licence: muammerokumus

 

But with new hydroponic technology, we can all grow our own fresh food – without many of the hassles of typical farming. With hydroponics, there’s no weeding, no tilling, no composting (no soil at all!), no worrying about deer eating your plants or a drought taking out half your crops. Hydroponics has truly revolutionized farming as we know it.

Not only do hydroponics require much less maintenance, but the growth rates in hydroponics systems often exceed the growth rate in soil by two-three times. This means that in just 4-6 weeks, you can take a plant like a tomato, kale, or even a pumpkin from seed to full harvest. This gives the home gardener the ability to plant and harvest several crops a year – not just one.

But isn’t hydroponics expensive?

In the past, hydroponics was reserved for those with the technological know-how and hours of free time to design, engineer and build a hydroponics system. Plus, a small hydroponic system costs over $1,000 just to order the basic parts – not to mention all the time it takes to put it together. And there’s no instruction booklet for hydroponics either – you have to order the parts from several different manufacturers and hope they all fit together.

However, with new technology from the industry, today hydroponics systems for the home are much less expensive (between $500-600), and they can grow 20-30 plants in just one vertical growing unit. When you use vertical growing, instead of the older hydroponics technology that grows in structures similar to raised beds, they take up much less space. This means you can grow 10 times as much produce in a given area; it’s how many rooftop farmers are now producing as much food on a New York City rooftop as most farmers yield in several acres of farmland.

If you’re thinking $500-$600 is still too expensive to consider growing this way, then think about this. How much money does the average person who buys organic food spend on produce every month? Where does that produce come from? Is it shipped from California? South America? China? Imagine the massive carbon footprint from shipping all that produce.

Image courtesy of Tom Corson-Knowles: Chefs in New York City are growing their own food on rooftops using vertical aeroponic gardening.

 

Wouldn’t it cost a lot less if we, as a society, grew our own food as close to our table as possible? What better way than to grow your own food at home? And with hydroponics, you can grow indoors, outdoors, and even on a rooftop. Last time I checked we have a lot of rooftops – millions of them – just lying empty, dead space, where we could be growing food instead. Meanwhile we’ve got millions of acres of forest, wetlands, and beautiful natural habitats that are being destroyed to grow food. That’s crazy! I believe we should use all that wasted space to grow food instead of destroying more ecosystems. Embracing vertical hydroponic farming would be a win-win for everyone.

Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of Authentic Health Coaching. Tom blogs regularly about the importance of good nutrition, healthy eating, and growing your own food with hydroponics. He is a rep for the Tower Garden, and sells the system through his website, www.tomcorsonknowles.com.