3 Fully Integrated Hydroponics Systems

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For pain-free indoor, soilless gardening many growers opt for fully integrated hydroponics systems. These all-in-one units come with everything you need to grow your own food at home. These have been designed to make it easier and faster to grow the plants you want without major concerns over maintenance or other headaches that may arise.

GH WaterFarm Hydroponics System
Allows growers to grow up to five small plants in one self-contained unit. Complete with 4 gallon reservoir, nutrient set, air pump, and clay pebbles.

Get the system here.

Tower Garden Aeroponics System
Vertical aeroponic system that works both indoors and out. A perfect solution for small spaces like balconies, rooftops, patios, or offices. A closed-loop system efficiently conserves water, delivering more nutrients directly to the plants’ roots.

Get the system here.

The Aquaponicals Aquaponics System
Small, tabletop-sized aquaponic garden. Comes in a kit and can hold up to 4 smaller fish in a 4-gallon reservoir. It’s size and low-maintenance requirements make it perfect for your home, office, or classroom.

Get the system here.

Your garden will however, still need to be monitored so that it achieves optimal growing conditions. Read more about the benefits of fully integrated hydroponics systems.Feature Image: The Aquaponicals indoor aquaponics system. Image via The Aquaponic Source.

3 Cloud-Based Controllers For Your Indoor Garden

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Today’s advanced smart technology has really taken off in one of the most ancient of practices: Agriculture. For some, indoor gardening is a hobby, and for others it’s become a lifestyle. For those serious about controlling their indoor gardens, and maintaining the consistency of yields, cloud-based controllers offer major advantages for your garden’s performance.

Cloud-based controllers monitor and provide feedback for growers on their garden’s performance levels in the form of data collection. The grower can then use this data to make necessary adjustments to water, nutrient, oxygen, pH, and energy consumption levels. The result is a more efficient, effective, high-performing indoor garden with fresher, healthier produce right in your own home or office.

Here are three cloud-based controller products available for your indoor garden:

Bitponics
This device aims to help gardeners with the growing process, making it far easier and better for the garden’s wellbeing, while improving efficiency.
SmartBee Controllers
This device’s software and hardware collide with one another, offering hydroponic gardeners a myriad of tools to maximize their garden’s health and growth.
OsmoBot
Currently beta testing and to be released in 2015, the OsmoBot seems to be another stellar product that will provide valuable benefits to many forms of “ponics”, including the ability to run gardens using important data information, helpful apps, wireless options, monitoring, and other features.

Read more about cloud-based controllers and smart technology for indoor gardening.Feature Image: The Bitponics indoor garden smart controller. Image via Bitponics.

21 Benefits of Hydroponic Growing

Here are the top benefits of hydroponic growing of your food or other plants. Not only is it a cleaner, faster, and easier way of growing as compared to traditional methods, but at PowerHouse Growers we also believe hydroponics will move from being the trendy way to being the sustainable way for future urban cities.

1. No soil needed.

2. Almost any plant can be grown.

3. Lower water consumption as it is recycled through the system.

4. Lower nutrition requirements.

5. Pollution free with the fully controlled system.

6. Healthy stable plants that produce higher yields.

7. Pests and diseases are easier to get rid of.

8. Ease and richness of harvesting.

9. No pesticide damage.

10. Shorter growth cycle.

11. Plant’s roots don’t grow out as far in search of nutrients.

12. No weeds (unless of course you are growing weeds on purpose)

13. No back breaking labor because the process can now be fully automated and mess-free

14. Wheelchair accessible – portable and can be placed anywhere.

15. Modern, trendy, and compact systems are perfect for condos and all small spaces.

16. Indoor systems keep you and your plants out of the cold.

17. With the right system (not one that totally infuriates you) stress will melt away!

18. Nurture plant growth by playing music – try some indie rock.

19. Get back in touch with nature – need we say more.

20. Provides the WOW factor.

21. Impress your friends and family with your gardening talents.

Read more.

Feature Image: Making a salad. Image via Shutterstock.

17 Reasons To Grow Your Own Food

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It’s hard to believe there’s still debate over whether or not it’s important to know how our food is being produced and where it’s coming from. Are we really still having this conversation?

Cue eyeroll…

And/or facepalm…

So if you’re already buying organic or you’re trying to buy locally as much as possible, you might also be considering attempting to grow your own food. PowerHouse Hydroponics has lots of great information on how you start growing your own food but here’s a snapshot of why. Because the why is what is really going to push people over the edge and compel them to go for it. These are just some of my own reasons but feel free to send in yours and I will add them to the list!

If you grow your own food you will:

1. Help reduce global water consumption

2. Contribute to a reduction in pollution

3. Prevent further habitat destruction

4. Avoid harmful pest control chemicals

5. Eat healthier and fresher foods

6. Eat what’s in season

7. Save money

8. Add your own greenery to the city

9. Reduce harmful water runoff

10. Reconnect with nature

11. Gain an appreciation for the value of food production

12. Reduce personal waste by purchasing less packaged goods

13. Use your vegetable garden as a peaceful getaway

14. Have fun trying out different grow mediums

15. Receive incentives depending on your city’s programs and potentially be able to provide the community with food as well

16. Give the bees more plants to pollinate

17. Know with 100% confidence that what you’re putting in your body is all-natural organic produce

If you want to get started growing your own food then have a look at our articles on gardening in small urban spaces using living walls, containers, or hydroponics. You can even start growing your own food from kitchen scraps. You could also try vertical or rooftop gardens depending on how much space you have.

The important thing is that you now know the amazing benefits from growing your own food and that it’s easy enough to get started no matter where you live with these 17 reasons to grow your own food! Check out the Urban Organic Gardener’s Virgin Veggie Formula to determine which are the best plants for you to start growing right now in your climate.

Feature Image: Urban farming and growing your own food, courtesy Nourish.

 

17 Benefits of Local Food Production

It’s hard to believe there’s still debate over whether or not it’s important to know how our food is being produced and where it’s coming from. If you’re already buying organic or you’re trying to buy locally as much as possible, you might also be considering attempting to grow your own food. There is lots of great information on how you start growing your own food but here are 17 reasons to grow your own food.

1. Help reduce global water consumption

2. Contribute to a reduction in pollution

3. Prevent further habitat destruction

4. Avoid harmful pest control chemicals

5. Eat healthier and fresher foods

6. Eat what’s in season

7. Save money

8. Add your own greenery to the city

9. Reduce harmful water runoff

10. Reconnect with nature

11. Gain an appreciation for the value of food production

12. Reduce personal waste by purchasing less packaged goods

13. Use your vegetable garden as a peaceful getaway

14. Have fun trying out different grow mediums

15. Receive incentives depending on your city’s programs and potentially be able to provide the community with food as well

16. Give the bees more plants to pollinate

17. Know with 100% confidence that what you’re putting in your body is all-natural organic produce

Read more.

Feature Image: Fizzy Farms compact hydroponic grower. Image via Inhabitat.com.

16 Essential Plant Nutrients

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In hydroponics, plants are grown in a solution of essential nutrients. Plants require these nutrients to thrive at optimal levels. Nutrients and water are taken up through the plants’ roots in hydroponic gardening systems. Adjustments to nutrient levels need to be performed throughout the plant’s life in order to ensure there’s neither nutrient excess or deficiency.

Here is a list of the 16 essential nutrients plants require for healthy growth.

Macronutrients

1. Nitrogen (Nitrate or Ammonium are both typically used)
2. Potassium (Potassium Nitrate or Potassium Sulfate are most commonly used. Potassium Chloride is also used)
3. Phosphorous (Phosphates containing Ammonium and Potassium are commonly used. Also, Phosphoric Acid)
4. Calcium (Calcium Nitrate)
5. Magnesium (Magnesium Sulfate)
6. Sulfur (Sulfur is sufficient with the sulfates present in Potassium Sulfate and Magnesium Sulfate)

Micronutrients

7.   Iron (Numerous forms are used: Ferrous Sulfate, Ferric Sulfate, Ferric Chloride, Iron Ammonium Sulfate)
8.   Copper (Copper Sulfate)
9.   Zinc (Zinc Sulfate)
10. Chlorine (Chlorine does not usually have to be added to the solution, since it is already present in most water)
11.  Boron (Boric Acid, Solubor, Borax)
12.  Cobalt (Cobalt Nitrate)

Read more about optimal growing conditions in hydroponics.

15 Benefits of Aeroponic Growing

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Though aeroponic technology was initialized in the 1930’s it hasn’t gained popular awareness until recent years. In fact aeroponic technology is now seen as a major advantage in the movement for large-scale urban food production. More and more facilities are opting to go with aeroponic growing methods as opposed to regular hydroponic or aquaponic hybrid methods. With ongoing advancements in soilless growing technology and plant sciences it’s no wonder growers are seeking to understand the benefits of aeroponic growing methods.

Here are 15 important benefits of aeroponic growing:

1. Delivers nutrients directly to the plant roots

2. Completely programmable technology conserves energy

3. Closed-loop system conserves water

4. Conserves water through runoff absorption into roots

5. Moisture control for better plant growth

6. Can be combined with hydroponics

7. Crops are easier to harvest in the absence of soil

8. Higher density crops optimizes output

9. Reduce labor cost through automation

10. Produces higher quality food in a controlled environment

11. Reduced risk of disease and pest infestation in a controlled environment

12. No need to immerse immerse roots in water which offers more control

13.  Roots are provided with better exposure to oxygen

14. Scalable systems can range from commercial level to apartment-sized gardens

15. Produces more food with less effort

13 Plants You Can Grow Hydroponically

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting out your hydroponic garden is determining what you’d like to actually grow. The good thing about hydroponics is that you can grow most any agricultural plant soillessly.  Some grow better than others given the typical space constraints of hydroponic systems. Regardless here is a non-exhaustive list of 13 common plants you can grow hydroponically.

1.   Tomatoes
2.   Strawberries
3.   Raspberries
4.   Lettuce
5.   Various salad greens (kale, spinach, rocket, arugula)
6.   Micro greens
7.   Carrots
8.   Radishes
9.   Cucumbers
10. Cilantro
11.  Basil
12.  Mint
13.  Parsley

Read more.

Feature Image: Hydroponically grown plants. Image via Growing Plants Indoors.

10 Vertical Hydroponic Gardening Systems

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Vertical hydroponic gardening systems and living walls or green walls, and can be either free standing or attached to a building structure. It is a great way to grow vegetables, fruits and other plants either indoors or outdoors and can also incorporate automated hydroponics. Vertical gardening is becoming extremely popular which means there are now several products available for you to try. Here are ten different vertical hydroponic gardening systems and living walls available for you to try.

  1. Spring System, vertical gardening tower by Bright Agrotech
  2. Florafelt Vertical Planter, by Plants on Walls Vertical Gardens
  3. Windowfarm, indoor vertical garden kit by Windowfarms
  4. SageWalls, by Sage Vertical Garden Systems
  5. Tower Garden, by Juice Plus
  6. Urbio magnetic vertical modular garden, by Urbio
  7. Flower Tower, by Vertical Gardening Systems
  8. Growpol, by Sun State Organics
  9. Rainwater Terrace
  10. Wally Three, by Woolly Pocket

Read more.

Feature Image: The Tower Garden, an aeroponic gardening system. Image via Juice Plus.

10 Indoor Winter Gardening Tips

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Just because winter is here, it doesn’t mean that we need to put away our gardening gloves and wait until spring to get our hands dirty again. I do just as much gardening in the winter time as I do in the summer! We often overlook the fact that during the winter, our home provides a perfect environment for plants to thrive and we can produce most of the fresh greens and veggies that we would grow during the warmer months. Here are a few winter gardening tips to make your indoor growing experience a huge success:

1. Have a plan

As a city dweller, I understand the value of prime real estate when it comes to gardening. In the summer time, I take days to plan out my perfect summer garden. I’ll even map out what areas on my balcony get the most sun and draw up different layouts to maximize space usage. A plan will help determine how much and what kind of food you intend to produce and how much space will be needed. I usually start with a quick drawing of my home and then I pencil in what I wish to put where.

2. Light is your friend

As winter takes over, as it does here in Montreal, the hours of sunlight sometimes seem to completely vanish. Effective and affordable lighting is probably the biggest challenge we face as indoor gardeners. Although a sunny window sill may be adequate to keep a few herbs or small plants going, to reach the full potential of your indoor gardening space you’ll want to add supplemental light. To keep it simple here is my recommendation for lighting: T5 HO lights make the best bang for your buck. They produce the desired 6,400 kelvins of light ideal for vegetative growth, and at 54 watts, they don’t consume much power – and they’re affordable. Hang these lights a few inches above your plants and you will quickly see why they are a vital part of indoor growing.

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3. Create a clean work area

Working with soil indoors can be very messy. To help keep dirt from getting all over the place I always put a clean tarp down before I do any work. This way I am not worried about spilling soil and it makes mixing soil blends, transplanting and filling pots much more enjoyable indoors. Once I am done working I can easily sweep up and put the tarp away.

4 . Keep a steady temperature

Many plants that we eat are rather sensitive to temperature changes. For instance, Basil is particularly sensitive to the cold, therefore, a draughty area near an exterior door would not be appropriate. However, kale and other cruciferous vegetables are very hardy and will have no problem adapting to a shadier, cooler area.

5. Proper ventilation

Plants need a decent airflow to grow properly. Although not mandatory for success, placing a fan near your plants will ensure that they are getting a constant stream of air. Maintaining a steady airflow not only helps harden your plants but also keeps pests at bay and helps improve growth rates.

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6. Proper humidity

I’ve found this to be extremely helpful and usually overlooked. One way to do this is by placing a cool mist humidifier next to your garden. This is best for leafy greens, cruciferous vegetable, berries and herbs. For larger plants and trees I use a simple and effective trick. I fill up a 3 to 4 inch deep runoff tray with gravel and place the potted tree on top. By filling the rocks to 3/4 with water, the evaporation will raise the humidity around the plant, giving it the extra moisture it needs.

7. Inspect thoroughly and often

Indoor gardening does have it’s drawbacks. Unless you want to create a complex ecosystem in you living room, chances are there will be no beneficial insect and microbes to fend off pesky insects often associated with indoor gardening. Spider mites and white fly are particularly common but easily avoidable. maintaining a sanitary work area and using products intended for indoor use help immensely to keep your garden bug free. Early detection, and in case of anything suspect, a thorough treatment will prevent pest from spreading to the rest of your garden.  Taking insect inspection seriously is a very important step for the indoor gardener. I can say from experience there is nothing more frustrating than having to wash your entire house with vinegar and bleach to eliminate a white fly infestation.

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8. Use the right fertilizers

Gardening outside, plants benefit from their ecosystem to thrive. When in balance, thousands of different organisms work together to help plants grow and stay healthy throughout their life cycle. Indoor gardening however, requires a more controlled approach to avoid potentially overwhelming problems. I tend to use very simple and inert soil blends indoors like a mixture of coconut coir and vermiculite. In this case, fertilization is a vital part of a successful indoor garden. I tailor what I use depending on what I am fertilizing. I personally prefer all natural fertilizers, although I have nothing against more traditional fertilizers if you find them more simple. I always use a mixture of high grade kelp fertilizer blended with a small amount of ocean water concentrate. This seems to work well in general although I sometimes have to tailor different amendments depending on what I am seeing. My citrus trees get an extra dose of Epsom salt for magnesium and I spread coffee grounds over the soil once and a while as well.

One last thing that I use and have seen tremendous results with is a bacterial soil activator. I know, I know. I said the B word, but adding certain bacteria to you soil can greatly improve the ability of your plants to uptake nutrients. Bacteria will actually help transform many nutrients into a more soluble form, increasing the availability of over all food for the roots to absorb. One that I have used with much success is this.

9. Pollination

Although I’m sure the though of having honey available year round in your house may be appealing, most people would shy away from indoor bee keeping. Fruiting plants often really on the help of bees and other pollinators to do the deed for them, but in an indoor garden, you’ll have to fill that roll as well. It’s not as hard as it sounds however. Generally speaking this can be acheived very easily with a small paint brush or a cotton swab. All that is necessary is that you thoroughly rub the end of your brush or cotton swab against both the male and female (the male part is called the stamen and the female part is called the pistil) and bob around from flower to flower while making a BUUUZZZZ sound (optional, but fun). Some plants, like cucumbers, have both male and female flowers. The process is similar, but I do a lot more back and forth between flowers to ensure a good pollination rate.

10. Enjoy the bounty

Winter gardening can be extremely rewarding. There is nothing better than eating a fresh garden tomato straight from the vine in the middle of winter. Lettuce is always best when eaten directly after harvesting and picking things like strawberries from a window sill while it’s -30c and snowing outside is nothing far from blissful. Once an indoor garden is set up, you’ll be amazed at what you can grow. I’ve even taken to challenging myself every year with more and more exotic plants growing in my home. This year I have planted a mango tree and Blacktail melons!

Use these winter gardening tips in your own home. It’s easy when you’re using an automated system, like NutriTower. Learn more about indoor gardening systems so you can grow year round.