Example: we got directions, three pages long explaining how to bolt together the metal frame for the hydroponic trays, which is self-explanatory, but they only sent one picture on how to assemble the fertigation (pH and nutrient system) to the water supply system—and it wasn’t even a picture of the system we purchased.
Anyway, long story short, we eventually got the greenhouse and the hydroponic system up and running. Did I say growing greens was easier than building a greenhouse? Well maybe I’ll recant that statement…it is easier, but growing plants in nutrient-rich water is a bit more difficult than growing in dirt. Only because you have to constantly monitor the amount of minerals they receive. Spencer has learned through trial and error over the past few weeks why not to do certain things. And he’s found a few other ways to improve the system for our needs too. It is a little difficult to find details about hydroponic systems. Online you find basics (mostly for growing illegal plants unfortunately); books are more educational but only discuss the idea in generally and focuses more on the whys, not necessarily on the hows.
Did you know that Swiss chard has different colored roots? Really. If it is a yellow-stemmed plant, the roots are yellow. Red stems? Then red roots. You would never know because one, you don’t pull the whole plant when you harvest their stalks, and two, even if you did uproot it, you couldn’t see the root colors because they would be coated in dirt.
Once we get things rolling here in the next month or so, we will have 300 pounds of greens harvested a week. Lettuces, kale, Swiss chard, cress, tatsoi, arugala, and hopefully spinach will constantly be growing in cycles so there is always something fresh and young in our greenhouse.
We still grow food in the dirt the way God intended. Our goat cheese will be coming back into season in the next month or so as well. And we have massive amounts of pasture-raised pork products for the foreseeable future. Growing greens hydroponically is our way of staying diverse, the way a family farm should be.