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Exciting New Trends in Hydroponic Gardening

Roof Garden

For much of its history, hydroponics was considered little more than a fringe hobby with little application in the real world. It has had a few influential enthusiasts over the years, but only recently is it emerging as an important player in both indoor home gardens and major agricultural ventures. To get a better idea of just how much hydroponics may be shaping the future of how we grow our food, it helps to take a look at some of the more interesting trends growing up around us.

1. Hydroponics in Home Decor

If on the surface using hydroponics in a wall hanging or conversational fountain seems frivolous, understand that this trend is setting important roots in new territory. People whose only exposure to hydroponics is a Chia Pet are now seeing new and interesting possibilities in elegant, living pieces of art. Live flowers are replacing cut flowers, while vibrant greens and herbs are quietly educating people about the joy of this sustainable system. People protect and support what they know, so hydroponics in home decor is good for the industry.

2. Fewer Synthetic Chemicals

Many of the fertilizers used in both home gardening and industrial crop production are synthetically manufactured chemical compounds. While chemical fertilizers are effective, they are not organic, and the runoff that they produce can be very damaging to the environment. With the popularity of organically grown fruits and vegetables on the rise, people are turning to organic fertilizers in place of chemicals. Nutrient-rich teas made from herbs, castings, compost and vermiculture are rapidly replacing manufactured substances.

3. Large-scale Reclamation

Sustainability and conservation aren’t just good for the soul, they are also good for the bottom line. It is well established that hydroponic systems produce significantly higher crop yields in less space than traditional soil-based farming methods, but the advantage doesn’t stop there. Because there is no runoff in hydroponics, much less water and fertilizer are required, thus reducing costs. Environmental impact is negated, eliminating the need for expensive studies, catchments and containment. Agri-business is warming up to this farming method that allows them to tell a good story that appeals to the consumer and make money to boot.

4. Rooftops and Salad Bars

Customer demand is a powerful force. Not willing to lose out to farmer’s markets and co-ops, some grocery stores are beginning to grow produce on their rooftops. This is an idea whose time has come. Vegetables are raised on the roof using sunlight that is already available. Produce is picked at the perfect time for taste and nutrition, needing no long road trip to bring it to market. Although start-up costs are not insignificant, once the greenhouse is in place, other expenses are reduced or eliminated. The price of produce that is simply carried downstairs and placed on the shelf can actually compete with traditionally grown vegetables that are trucked in from hundreds or thousands of miles. Innovative chefs are taking a page from this same book, growing herbs, fruits and vegetables inside their restaurants. Dining guests like the idea that the greens in their salad were snipped from the plants hanging on the wall beside them.

Growing food hydroponically is no longer quirky science fiction. The method is accessible to the home gardener and agri-business. Livestock will soon be grazing on organic feeds grown sustainably in greenhouses. Space exploration may one day depend on hydroponic systems to provide food for tomorrow’s pioneers. Meanwhile, everyday people are turning to hydroponics for the satisfaction of growing their own meals and knowing where they came from. The future is finally here.

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