Wondering what Hydroponics is? We got you covered! Hydroponics is a form of gardening that uses no soil, but instead grows plants in a solution of water and nutrients.
There are lots of ways to set up your hydroponics system, but here at Just Farmin we’re using an NFT or Nutrient Film Technique. NFT is a hydroponic technique in which a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is re-circulated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully, also known as channels. Our design like many, means that a very shallow nutrient solution is continually pouring down through the channel. The bare roots of the plants absorb the nutrients in the solutions when they come into contact with the water. The water then flows to a reservoir where it is pumped through the system again! You can see from the picture that the gully looks a lot like the gutters on your house, but it has an enclosed top with holes for the plants to grow through. We’re Feeding them with an organic calcium, greens mix made up of nitrogen potassium and minerals. This is the optimal mix for the types of plants we’re growing in our system. For now, our system is using natural lighting through the hoop house. We’re looking into some lighting options for when the days get shorter this fall.
- Hydroponics has a few advantages especially for small farmers like us.
- Plants grow faster. Some studies suggest that plants grow at least 20 percent faster in hydroponic systems than they do in soil.
- Yields are often 20 to 25 percent bigger with hydroponic systems compared to growing in soil.
- Hydroponic growing takes less space. Plants take in nutrients more efficiently and therefore don’t need as extensive a root system. Simply put, you can get more plants in less space.
- Less Water. Despite its name – Hydroponics actually uses less water than traditional soil growing. The reservoirs used in hydroponics are enclosed to prevent evaporation and the systems are sealed. This allows plants to take up only the water they need.
Here at Just Farmin’ we’re growing lettuce, basil, cilantro and Thai basil to start. You can see from the pictures that the system is thriving. We’re starting new plantings every week and hope to be able to have continually crops to harvest throughout the season. At peak we plan to be able to grow 280 head of lettuce a week. These crops will be available to CSA members, Farmer’s Market customers and our restaurant customers as well. With an efficient system like this we’ll be able to provide everyone what they want and need when they want and need it.
We’ve only just begun, but already we’ve seen our water bill drop dramatically. We know from years of CSA that everyone loves mini head lettuce but it uses vast amounts of water to grow well. We’re hoping that this new Hydroponic system helps us provide you with more of the crops you love while saving money and resources at the same time.
So, what does this mean for the future of Just Farmin’? Adding hydroponics allows us to broaden our horizons. We’re not so locked into the weather because the system is always hooped. This makes a difference not only in mitigating temperature swings, but also it helps us balance those rainy days and dry days since the system is not dependent on South West Ohio weather. Not only will we be able to have a more level and balanced growing season but we’ll be able to start earlier and end later than traditional growing seasons allow for.
We’ll keep posting pictures of our progress and look forward to the day when you can take a peek in person! It’s really amazing what you can do with a small amount of space and good growing techniques!
Until then stay safe and healthy and keep checking in here at Just-Farmin.com to watch us grow!