Vertical farming" is the umbrella term describing indoor growing methods like hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics and other systems. Indoor farming is not new, greenhouse production of flowers and vegetables is already a billion-dollar business in Canada, a country that lacks a long growing season. Vertical farming is not just a way to grow crops in an inhospitable environment. It is seen as a way for urban agriculture to take root — not in a back lot or basement, but in a skyscraper where 30 floors might be dedicated to the raising of fruits and vegetables. Vertical farms provide a way to control the growing process unavailable to farmers who are at the mercy of Mother Nature. "The system also appeals to people with environmental concerns. The beauty of this (vertical) system is that you don’t need green field sites or chemicals to raise crops. ("Vertical farming finds success abroad; is the U.S. next?" By Steve Tarter, GateHouse News Service, April 21, 2011)
Gardeners love hydroponics, because almost anything can be grown and there is no back-breaking work: no tilling, raking or hoeing, no weeds to pull, no poisonous pesticides to spray. Hydroponics is ideal for a home-owner or apartment dweller who does not have the time or space for gardening in a yard. In late spring and summer, your portable hydroponic unit can be put outside on a porch or balcony where natural sunlight helps grow anything from lettuce, to cucumbers, to zinnias. In winter, the unit can be moved anywhere inside the home, even into the basement, where your plants will grow under artificial light (grow light).
Plants love to grow in hydroponics - roots do not have to push through heavy, chunky soil to compete for nutrients; hydroponics distributes nutrients evenly to each plant. Hydroponics water plants automatically. Hydroponic plants grow faster, ripen earlier and give up to ten times the yield of soil-grown plants. Hydroponics plants produce fruits and vegetables that are nutritious and have delicious flavor. Did you know that hydroponic tomatoes and cucumbers are sold in the gourmet sections of supermarkets at higher prices than ordinary vegetables? You can grow the same vegetables for a lot less.
Supermarket vegetables have lost their flavor. Today’s foods have lost their flavor due to factory/large-scale farming. Factory farming provides vast quantities of food for the world's increasing population, with vast decreases in flavor and nutrition. During winter, a hydroponic garden will produce tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and whatever other healthful green foods you choose just when their cost is highest in grocery stores and their natural vitamins are most needed. It is an amazing sight to see vegetables and herbs ripen under a growlight, when the snow is blowing outside. Plants will act as natural humidifiers for the dry indoor air of winter.
Year-Round Gardening Anyone can make plants grow outside in Summer, but hydroponic plants will both outgrow and out produce soil-bound plants. This is because they do not have to use a lot of energy sending out roots to seek nutrients; consequently, they have more energy left for growing. Come Spring, a portable hydroponic unit should be moved outdoors onto a balcony, porch, patio or into a greenhouse to take full advantage of natural sunlight. Since you have already started your garden indoors under lights, protected from Spring ground frost, you can get your first delicious hydroponic tomato two months earlier than your dirt-farming neighbors.
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