Issue 26


Table of Contents:


1. Hydroponic/aquaponic research centers

If you want to be in on what's really new, check out the following hydroponic research urls from time to time.


2. A basemnent operation with high rewards

A couple in Minnesota are earning a nice supplemental living growing hydroponic produce in their basement.

Poor soil and a short growing season are the main reasons why these two individuals have gone "inside".

The first bed was a flat 3 by 4 ebb and flow system which has a bed of perlite fed by a pump 2-3 times a day. This setup sufficed very well. After awhile though the couple were getting so many local requests for their gourmet lettuce mixture that they decided to buy a growing unit which looks like a tent. Actually it's a variation of the "A-frame" used in Scotland.

Crops which are grown in these two systems are lettuces such as Red Oak, Red Snail, Simpson, and romaine. These are augmented with arugula, kale, chervil, endive, and chives.

A factory mixed liquid fertilizer is used along with 400 watt lamps hanging above each of the two units. Ordinary fans are used to keep the temperature in line. Also ordinary pumps are turned on 3-5 times every day and are allowed to pump the nutrient for about a quarter of an hour each time.

The times for pumping are pre-determined and then set up by a timer.

So far the couple have not experienced any diseases or pests among their crops. And though they have not yet decided to go full-time, they certainly are enjoying the pleasures of fresh produce as well as extra income.

These two have found a niche market and are capitalizing on it. Since fresh produce must be trucked in, the natives of the area appreciate having this wonderful source of fresh produce at hand. This is especially true when you buy one of their salads mixes and find it adorned with pansies.

It makes you wonder why more people aren't doing the same. Growing plants this way is quite trouble-free.


3. This and that


4. Sometimes it's smarter to grow orchids

That's what Andy Matsui of central California's coast region has done. He used to grow roses but competition was too much from growers in Ecuador and Columbia. So he began to look into potted plants in the high-end range. Specifically orchids.

US growers thirty years ago were in the lead in orchid growing, but stopped expanding and experimenting. Matsui went to growers in the Netherlands and in Japan to learn the latest techniques. Now he's growing orchids that bloom all year-round which will give him a leg up on his US competition which usually has to sit back and wait out hot weather months.

In fact the Japanese have beeen innovators for some time, particularly on the California scene. Japanese growers are hip to hydroponics and orchids is just one of the many crops they will deal with in the future.

Yoshi Matsuno has added a few tricks of his own. Among a large crop of tomatoes (hydroponic, of course), he has placed a white box which is filled with bees. Why? To pollinate the tomatoes.

In addition to the bees, Matsuno takes small packets which contain predatory wasps and places them here and there about his crop.

Another Japanese invention is used by Matsuno to inject oxygen into his hydroponic system. This basically includes a ten gallon for every row of 100 plants, such as tomato, peper or cucumber. Carbon dioxide is injectd into the system every 5-7 minutes.

The water coming into the container has already been purified by a process known as reverse osmosis. Because of contamination such as excessive nitrates the reverse osmosis method, though quite expensive, is necessary.

It seems that hydroponics has been the saving grace for many growers. In order to face the changing times and overseas competition, California growers have learned to adapt. And the precise controls that go with that adaptation are to be found in the use of hydroponics.

Even nutrients have been programmed for each life cycle of a plant. These various formulae are used from the beginning to the end of a plant's useful life. You can bet the Japanese growers are using every trick they can find.

And so should you.


5. From a small basement to the awesomely huge, and all are making money.

Great Britain growers know how to use hydroponics on a huge scale. At Hazelwood VHB located in West Sussex, England, you will find greenhouses so large that the only way they can be controlled is by computers which set the temperatures at various areas within the greenhouse expanse as well as maintaining ventilation and fans.

Suffice it to say, that computers are necessary for such a huge operation, especially for nutrient and water feeding as well as other plant necessities.

To enter one of these immense greenhouse domains you are required to wear sanitized white coats and hats as well as thoroughly washing your hands with soap which kills bacteria upon contact. This is done because even the smallest infection could have dire economical consequences. Cleanliness is the word here.

These growers only use organic fertilizers and beneficial insects to keep their crops in shape. To give you an idea of the size of this operation, They grow many different crops, but for one of the major crops, salad cress, 52,000,000 boxes a year are produced! Can you imagine? And all with hydroponics!

No wonder Hazelwood is considered one of the top agricultural producers. The gross annual income is L90,000,000 (the "L" stands for British pounds).

But this all seems to be the trend. Even in the United States, we have a few large operations which individually contain greenhouse acreage over 100 acres.

However, don't let this fool you. Although there is a place for the large and even the awesomely large hydroponic operation there are still jillions of niches where the small grower definitely has the advantage. Remember Debi and Tom in their small basement in article 2 above?


6. Black Soldier Fly - beneficial insect of the month

Not only is the black soldier fly's larvae an effective deterrent to the common house fly but the larvae themselves can provide a high protein feed for livestock. In addition to these two benefits, the black soldier fly larave can reduce manure by at least 50 per cent in volume.

Black soldier fly larvae are not only cheaper to use in keeping the common house fly at bay but can provide a new and economical source of feed. Hogs are quite fond of this sort of feed.

As an example, a small hen laying operation of 20,000 hens can provide more than 13 tons of black soldier fly larvae. That's a lot of high protein feed not to mention good protection from house flies and a significant reduction in manure. This reduces costs all around.

Prepupal soldier fly larvae wanting to leave the manure basin beneath the hens were directed through a six inch pipe to collecting containers. They can easily negotiate a pipe as long as forty feet. A vertical wall one foot high or more contains the larvae and prevents them from getting on the walkway.

Not much is known about the adult black soldier fly. They are not pests and do not try to get into houses. They seem to live in the wild, and the only time one sees them is when they are laying eggs or have just become adults.

All in all, the black soldier fly promises to be an attractive tool in managing manure wastes. It is hoped that the experiments now being conducted on swine manure will also give significant results which will be a blessing to those who live in swine-producing areas.


7. Think about it...

My wife said that if I buy any more plants she would leave me.
I'm going to miss that woman!

- Top Banana

Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is
perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception
of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats.

- Woody Allen


bsaffell@mayhillpress.com...Last Update: 52008 copyright 1996 - 2008 by Hilmur Saffell/P>

They are as follows:
"How to Start on a Shoestring and Make a Profit with Hydroponics"
"Big Dollars Growing Gourmet Salad Greens"
"Beneficial Insects - How to Mass Rear and Make a Profit"
If you would like a copy or copies of your own,

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