I'll make every attempt to stick to the what, where, when and how of growing stuff using simple and inexpensive hydroponic systems. The “who” part will occasionally come up, but only for background. Bandwidth is still finite! If you haven't read my “introduction page” on the website, now would be a good time to do so. It pretty much rounds me out, at least for now. You'll notice that I rarely make an appearance in my videos. Hopefully I can prove to you, my Plain 2 Grow Systems viewers and readers, that I can talk the talk and we can be aqueous friends! Of course, for a friendship to happen, you'll need to be in this conversation. That's what I like about the internet.
Your first question might be, “Why in the world would I want to grow stuff in water?” You might also ask, “Is it hard?” You wouldn't be trying if you didn't also ask, “How much does this 'hydroponic' stuff cost, anyhow?” Well, those questions are the first few, of many, I will attempt to converse about with you over time. Remember, this is a conversation, not a lecture!
For this first blog, let's stick with “Why in the world would I want to grow stuff in water?” A simple question on the surface but an extraordinarily complex one in it's full spread.
I could take the easy way out and tell you to watch all twenty-two (soon to be twenty-three) of my You Tube videos on my 'Plain 2 Grow Jim' channel. In fact, you have my permission. But, I am “old school” and I like to put things into writing. I love to read REAL books and I love to write. I have a Kindle that I look at occasionally, but I would much rather go to the used book store or Goodwill to find dusty and forgotten gems.
'Because it's there,' was one of my choices. 'It's a geek thing,' squeeked in my geeky head. 'It's kinda cool,' was my hope. I've never been very cool. Except that I was “grunge rock” before Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Brit “First Wave” while everyone else was trying to out-disco John Travolta and the BeeGee's. I was Jimmy Buffett when he was country before 'Margaritaville' and everyone suddenly was a “parrothead.” I was Robert Johnson “blue” and I'm still blue for B.B. King and Ry Cooder. Well, hydroponics isn't THAT cool, is it? So why? What has captured my interest so much that I listen to music while I make things grow?
Because I can take a little seed that God was so gracious in designing and watch it send down roots into water laced with essential salts. “Salary” comes from the Latin 'sal dare,' or “to give salt.” Salarium is a Roman-era word that encompasses the act of employment and of soldiers being paid with salt. With my Plain 2 Grow Systems, I can actually see most of the process. The plant seems to grow before my eyes! It is an awesome thing to watch a puny little hard container of amino acids, sugars, elements, chlorophyll, and a smidgen of H2O grow into a fruit-bearing LIVING green food machine. Something, that with a few cents worth of seed, a few more cents worth of chemicals and water, and almost nothing in the way of support, can, in the space of about two feet square and a one-gallon milk jug, grow into an eight-foot tall tomato plant covered with juicy sweet tomatoes the size of baseballs! That my friend, is COOL!
I enjoy eating. I especially enjoy eating foods like banana peppers and tomatoes. Dark chocolate should be a separate food group. The Aztecs created an amazing food from cacao! The technology for growing a cacao tree in a hydroponic system exists but it's beyond my skill level, so I have to be content with growing banana peppers, tomatoes, beans, peas, collards, and other fairly compact but nutritious foods. I am in the process of growing a watermelon from my current hybrid aeroponic / nutrient film technique system. Part one of the experiment is currently on my You Tube channel and part two will be on the channel in the near future. It takes a very long time to grow watermelons -about a hundred days- so this was an attempt based on my twelve year-old homeschooled son challenging me with: “Can you grow a big ol' watermelon with the Plain 2 Grow System?” Just maybe, son.
If this doesn't answer why I want to grow things in water (and why you should), then I probably didn't sell the sizzle. Because it's there. If I can do it, anyone can. We can all eat graciously and well. Everyone can be better prepared for emergencies and disasters. It's fun. It's awesome. It takes up a lot less space. It conserves water and resources. You can watch the roots grow. It's inexpensive. It can be done indoors, outdoors, or in a greenhouse. You can use the sun or artificial lighting. You will double your yield. Tastes better than anything you can buy in a store. And cool as heck.