Correctly Spacing Plants in Your Indoor Garden

If you’re setting up an indoor garden, the spacing of plants can be a critical factor underlying how much your garden yields. We have prepared this article to outline some of the basic ways that plant spacing effects light absorption, and some tips to optimize your garden’s success.

When light shines on a garden, the leaves near the top of the plants get more intense light than the leaves at the bottom. The top leaves shade the bottom leaves and absorb energy, making less light available to lower leaves. If the lower leaves do not receive enough light, they will yellow and die. Tall six-foot plants take longer to grow and have higher overall yields than shorter four-foot plants, but the yield will be about the same.

Atleast 99 two-week-old seedlings or cuttings can be huddled directly under a singele 400-watt HID. The young plants will need more space as they grow. If packed too closely together, plants sense the shortage of space and do not grow to their maximum potential. Leaves from one plant shade another plant’s foliage and slow overall plant growth. it is very important to space young plants just far enough apart so their leaves do not touch or touch very litlle. This will keep the shading to a minimum and growth to a maximum. Check and alter the spacing every few days. Eight to sixteen mature tomato plants three to four months old will completely fill the space under one 1000-watt HID. Plants can absorb light only if it falls on their leaves. Plants must be spaced so their leaves do not overlap too much. Yield increases very little when plants are crowded. Plants also stretch for light which makes less efficient use of intense light.

Best number of plants per square foot is often a matter of experimenting to find the magic number for your garden. In general each 40-inch square of space will hold from 16 to 32 plants.

Tags: Best Grow Lights, Fluorescent Flood Lights, Garden Grow Lights, Grow Lights for Plants, Hydroponics NJ, Indoor Garden Lights, Indoor Growing Lights, LED Growing Lights, T5 Grow Lights

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 at 6:33 pm and is filed under Hydroponic Growing System, Indoor Growing Lights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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US supports hydroponics to revitalize Mideast food, water and security – Green Prophet

Visit to an hydroponic bell pepper farm

Growing crops without soil, otherwise known as hydroponic agriculture, is not a recent innovation. In fact, it can be traced back to ancient times and kingdoms like Babylonia, whose Hanging Gardens were said to have been created and nurtured by use of hydroponics.

The modern day Middle East, especially water-deprived countries like Jordan and Syria, has had on-going problems in that local agriculture cannot provide sufficient amounts of local food due to lack of sufficient water and arable land to grow crops. Other resource-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates see hydroponics as the only solution for providing hyper local, fresh, nutritious food.

Jordan-hydroponics-eco-consult-a

As a result of this water scarcity problem, Jordan sees potential in hydroponic agricultural projects, which are said to use as much as 90 percent less water over conventional soil-based agriculture.

The Kingdom of Jordan is seeing commercial opportunities for local hydroponic farming and is getting some help from the USAID Hydroponic Green Farming Initiative (HGFI). Hydroponic agricultural projects growing vegetables by both hydroponic and organic methods were the subject of an event held in May 2015, where US Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells featured these vegetables in an event with Jordanian governmental officials and local producers.

The event was aimed at showing how use of hydroponic growing techniques not only saves water resources but produces high quality yields as well. Ambassador Wells told the participants:

“The future of hydroponic farming techniques is bright in Jordan. Hydroponic farming techniques are well-suited toward maximizing Jordan’s scarce supply of water. From my visits to hydroponic farms in the Jordan Valley, I’ve seen that the potential to grow more produce through hydroponic techniques is significant, given the minimal additional investment required to implement them.”

vilsack-wells-jordan-2015-may_0

She added that hydroponic agriculture maximizes Jordan’s scarce water supplies. Her visits to hydroponic projects in the Jordan Valley indicate a good potential for this type of agriculture, with just a minimal additional investment required.

Chefs who attended the event were able to see the quality of the hydroponically-grown produce, which often uses no pesticides. Um Ali, who heads a woman’s agricultural cooperative in the north of Jordan, told the gathering that production of herbs like thyme is much better using hydroponic agriculture than by traditional soil methods:

“Our thyme production from hydroponic farming is far better than traditional soil farming. It uses much less water, which is scarce in Jordan. Our production is clean from soil diseases,” she said.

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Building reliable markets for hydroponically-grown produce is equally important. The USAID program is designed to build greater awareness of the advantages of hydroponically-grown produce, and the chefs in attendance at the reception were able to experience first-hand the quality of produce from hydroponic fields. Developing strong domestic markets for produce will assist farmers in balancing the cyclical nature of produce grown for export.

Developing tools and an industry for hydroponics in the Middle East is just as important. Consider this super cool American company flux from New York powering up the entire industry by providing powerful monitors and controls for hydroponic farms, in the same way that Mobileye enables self-driving Tesla cars. The global market flux is tapping into will grow from about $19 billion today to $27 billion in 4 years. It’s a massive opportunity since there are few global players with no dominant, affordable solution for new businesses.

Jordan can and should be a part of that.

More about hydroponic agriculture in the Middle East:
Hydroponics in Qatar
Saudi Arabia’s OAXIS hydroponic food belt
Khalifa hydroponic farms paying off
Grow fresh food in the middle of Manhattan?
Hanging gardens of Babylon inspire water farming called hydroponics

Maurice Picow grew up in Oklahoma City, U.S.A., where he received a B.S. Degree in Business Administration. Following graduation, Maurice embarked on a career as a real estate broker before making the decision to make Aliyah to Israel. After arriving in Israel, he came involved in the insurance agency business and later in the moving and international relocation fields. Maurice became interested in writing news and commentary articles in the late 1990’s, and now writes feature articles for the The Jerusalem Post as well as being a regular contributor to Green Prophet. He has also written a non-fiction study on Islam, a two volume adventure novel, and is completing a romance novel about a forbidden love affair. Writing topics of particular interest for Green Prophet are those dealing with global warming and climate change, as well as clean technology – particularly electric cars. Maurice can be reached at maurice (at) greenprophet (dot) com.

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Facility Tour; Garden Indoors of New Jersey

Tags: Commercial Hydroponics, Garden Grow Lights, Hydroponic Shop, Hydroponic Solution, Hydroponics NJ, Indoor Growing Lights, New Jersey Hydroponics, Online Hydroponics

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 8:58 pm and is filed under Hydroponic Shop. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Alaska-Based Vertical Harvest Hydroponics Commissions First Generation IV Containerized Growing System – PerishableNews (press release) (registration)

by Vertical Harvest Hydroponics
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 9:07AM EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska –  Alaska-based Vertical Harvest Hydroponics (VHH) recently commissioned its very first Generation IV Containerized Growing System (CGS) in Dillingham, Alaska, marking a new chapter of scalable farming practices in harsh climates.

CGS is a hydroponic fresh vegetable production system housed inside a customized 40 foot insulated shipping container. Measuring only 320 square feet in size, each CGS can supply more than 23,000 pieces of produce annually, which typically requires one full acre of land when grown conventionally. Furthermore, growing in a controlled CGS unit provides the perfect environment to produce safe, clean, pesticide free, non-GMO food. Vegetable options currently include over 150 varieties of nutrient rich, high fiber leafy greens.  The CGS also ensures that produce is affordable, as growing food at the source of where it is consumed virtually eliminates transportation and packaging associated with conventional produce distribution.

After an extensive search, VHH selected CXT Inc., based in Spokane, Washington as its manufacturing partner. As a leader in modular building systems throughout the country, CXT brings a wealth of experience in manufacturing to VHH. “CXT is absolutely committed to the highest standards of construction. We are extremely excited to partner with them to make our dream of food security a reality”, says Dan Perpich VHH co-founder and CEO. 

“When approached by Dan and his team in November of last year, we were quickly intrigued not only by their business model, but their social mission to provide safe, affordable foods to consumers in hard-to-grow areas around the world. We are excited to be a part of their vision and look to support them for many years to come” stated Darren Stuck, Plant Manager for CXT Spokane.

Demand for local food has been rapidly increasing in the U.S. According to the USDA, the number of farmers markets has more than quadrupled over the past two decades. A 2014 Hartman Group study finds that local may even surpass organic as a principle of transparency and trust (know your farmer). The U.S. is seeing fundamental behavior changes away from big packaged mass-produced foods to locally grown, artisanal and highly nutritious options. 

In spite of growing demand and the success of the “Alaska Grown” program, food security due to lack of locally grown food in Alaska is a huge problem and has been a topic of conversation among many state leaders. This is evident, as only 1 percent of Alaska’s GDP is agriculture, which results in a dependence on the majority of its food needs on imported products.

Kyle Belleque, the owner of Belleque Family Farm, a Dillingham resident who purchased the system from VHH with the help of Bristol Bay Development Fund, is excited to add year round growing options to his farm. “This project has been a long time in the making. We are eager to install the unit at our place and begin providing fresh year-round produce to our family and friends around the region.”

As technology improves, the next step in an agricultural revolution is growing high quality food locally and sustainably on a commercial scale. According to an NPR piece on farm to school program in Washington, D.C., an interviewee said  “We’re not buying just from one vendor. Managing delivery schedules and matching growing seasons with menus takes a lot of planning and coordination”. This may be alleviated with a hydroponic farm such as Vertical Harvest Hydroponics’ CGS. No more summer versus winter produce variation and price volatility! No dependence on the supply chain or the price of oil! It is always sunny in the CGS – no need to worry about weather fluctuations either. A farmer can grow produce in consistent quantities for schools, year round. 

Alaska is one of the states that can benefit the most from a reliable internal food source (i.e. food security); thus we must be on the forefront of the “growing local” movement.

About Vertical Harvest Hydroponics:

Vertical Harvest Hydroponics (VHH) is a veteran-owned business, located in Anchorage, Alaska, that designs and builds Containerized Growing Systems (CGS), which allow produce to be grown on-site hydroponically and year round, virtually eliminating the expensive and lengthy supply chain.

Contact: Linda Janes. linda@vhhydroponics.com

Source: Vertical Harvest Hydroponics

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Common Problems Facing Indoor Gardens

Is something going wrong in your indoor garden despite all of your hard work? Take a look at this list of the most common problems that can arise when gardening indoors.

Lack of Ventilation: Leaves cannot function correctly without a steady supply of fresh air; Poor ventilation causes slow growth and poor absorption of water and nutrients.Inadequate Lighting: This can slow down photosynthesis which leads to poor use of nutrients, and give the plants a scrawny appearance.Too High / Too Low Humidity: Either one of these conditions will cause  stress to the plants from over-consumption or under-consumption of water.Temparature: A low or high temperature can slow a plant’s growth, and wide temperature fluctuations of more than 15 to 20 degrees can retard growth altogether.Overwaterting / Underwatering: Overwatering prevents the roots from taking in air, severely limiting nutrient intake and possibly causing them to rot. Underwatering slows the transport of nutrients, ultimately leading to sickly / dying roots.Light Burns: Foliage burned by HID Lamps is at an increased risk of attack from pests and disease.Indoor Air Pollution: This can slow plant growth to a crawl. Make an effort to check for vaporization from building materials and other chemical air leaks.Hot Soil: Soil over 90 degrees can cause harm to a plant’s roots.Roots Receving Direct Light: Roots require a dark environment; Light shining through to them can turn them green and their function will slow significantly.

Tags: Best Hydroponic System, Fluorescent Flood Lights, Hydroponic Drip System, Hydroponic Gardening Supplies, Hydroponic Solution, Indoor Plant Lights, Online Hydroponics

This entry was posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 4:07 pm and is filed under Hydroponic Growing System, Hydroponic Supplies, Indoor Growing Lights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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The Importance of Fresh Air to Your Indoor Garden

Fresh air is an essential yet often overlooked asset to your Indoor Garden, and it can be the difference between success and failure.

Outdoor crops have a supply of air packed with CO2 that is constantly being refreshed by the wind. They also have rain to wash away accumulated dust and pollutants. Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen are both necessary to a plant’s growth: Carbon Dioxide combines with light energy and water to form sugars that are metabolized by the plant, while oxygen is used for respiration, burning of carbohydrates, and nutrient absorption in the roots.

An Indoor Garden must be specifically calibrated to replicate the outdoor atmosphere, and most Gardeners must take the time to set up an adequate ventilation system. Three factors effect air circulation, stomata, ventilation, and circulation.

Stomata are essentially a plant’s nostrils, they are used to inhale CO2 and release oxygen. Stomata can be clogged easily by dirt or other pollutants in the air, and pesticide sprays. To avoid clogging stomata, spray foliage with tepid water a day or two after spraying with pesticides, fungicides, or nutrient solution.

Air circulation is important because when air stands still plants can use up all of the CO2 rich air surrounding leafs in minutes, creating dead air zones. This can also lead to an easier infiltration by fungus and insects. To avoid this, you may want to keep a door or window open and/or install an oscillating circulation fan to keep up a constant circulation of air currents.

Ventilation is important to consider as well to get rid of exhaust air and bring in a supply of fresh air. An open window and a fan may be adequate in bringing in fresh air, but if no vent opening is available one must be created. Ventilation ducts and fans can be used to push or pull air into a room, and roof vents are a practical and discreet option as well.

To purchase hydroponic resources and equipment, please visit http://www.gardenindoorsllc.com.

Tags: Best Hydroponic System, Hydroponic Gardening Supplies, Hydroponic Shop, Hydroponic Solution, New Jersey Hydroponics, Online Hydroponics

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 at 5:26 pm and is filed under Hydroponic Growing System, Online Hydroponics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Tips for Havesting your Hydroponic Garden

The harvest is one of the most enjoyable parts of  running an indoor garden; It is your reward for all of the time and energy you have put into it.

Generally speaking, healthy, well maintained plants are going to produce plentiful harvests, but there are plenty of additional things you can do to get the most out of your plants.

Pre-Harvest Tips:

To avoid the taste of organic or chemical fertilizers, you should flush the garden with plain water 10 to 14 days before harvesting. Some gardeners will use fertilizers up to 3 or 4 days before harvesting and use clearing solutions to remove the fertilizer residue.If you are growing herbs that will be dried, do not water them for 1 or 2 days before harvesting them. The soil should be mostly dry, but not too dry to where the plants begin to wilt. Done correctly, this will reduce your drying time by about a day and will not in any way effect the end product.

Harvest Tips:

Harvest timing is critical, as plants and fruits need to be harvested at the moment of peak ripeness. This window is very small, usually between 5 to 7 days.Growth of the plant or fruit will stop at harvest. Make sure to keep plants from prolonged exposure to the light, temperatures above 80°F, excessive friction, or damp/humid conditions.

Tags: Best Hydroponic System, Commercial Hydroponics, Garden Grow Lights, Hydroponic Drip System, Hydroponic Gardening Supplies, Hydroponic Shop, Hydroponic Solution, LED Growing Lights, Online Hydroponics

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 at 7:06 pm and is filed under Hydroponic Growing System. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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What is Hydroponics? – AZoCleantech

By Benedette Cuffari

Image Credit: Murph | Shutterstock.com

Derived from the two Greek words hydro and ponos, meaning water and labor respectively, hydroponics is defined as a method of growing plants in water, rather than in soil1. While this process may seem arbitrary, the growing of plants in nutrient-rich water has been practiced for centuries.

Hydroponic systems have dated back to its applications in the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon, as well as the floating gardens of the Aztecs in Mexico. In fact, the earliest use of hydroponics in the United States can be traced to the 1930s in which California scientist, William Frederick Gericke, popularized the soilless culture of plants2.

Further application of this technology took place during the Second World War, where large hydroponic gardens in several western Pacific islands were developed by the United States Army in order to supply fresh vegetables to local troops.

Within a hydroponic system, roots of a plant are suspended in either a static, continuously aerated nutrient solution, or within a continuous flow or mist of nutrient solution. This pH adjusted nutrient solution is comprised of 16 of the 19 required elements for survival, some of which include carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, potassium, iron and copper2.

The pH, which measures the acidity or basicity of a given solution, within the hydroponics system is of critical importance to the viability of any plant’s growth. While this pH level will vary for each plant, most plants grow best in a slightly acidic environment, with a pH range between 5.5 – 6.03.

Image Credit: Poramesstock | Shutterstock.com

A crucial aspect of plant growth is the process of photosynthesis, in which plants, as well as other organisms such as algae and certain bacteria, convert light energy into the chemical energy required for growth. Within a hydroponics system, this light energy is typically provided by an artificial lighting source, such as a lamp, combined with a shade or reflector used to direct light towards the plant.

During photosynthesis, carbon dioxide (CO2), a colorless and odorless gas, is absorbed by the plants and reduced to produce carbon and oxygen4. While small amounts of oxygen are used by the plant, most of this oxygen reserve is released back into the atmosphere.

Certain ways in which CO2 is added to a hydroponics system is through bottled CO2 or a CO2 generator5. It is imperative to maintain precise control over the CO2 levels within a hydroponics system through use of a CO2 monitor in order to ensure optimal conditions for plant survival.

Simplistic in its model, the hydroponics system offers several advantages over the traditional use of soil for plant growth. The plant is not grown in soil, which provides the ability to control exactly what type of nutrients are entering the plants, allowing workers to immediately correct any possible nutritional deficiencies6.

This control over the environmental growth conditions further guarantees the eradication of pests, fungi, and soil-borne plant diseases that are typically found in open systems. The conservative nature of the hydroponics system is further emphasized by its prevention of leaching, a process in which a considerable amount of plant nutrients are lost to the soil following rain or irrigation2.

While taking into consideration the cost of construction and the required training to maintain these systems, hydroponics remains one of the most advantageous options for agriculture production to date. The utilization of hydroponics allows for crops to be grown in a protective and sterile environment, while producing maximum yields in a timely manner.

While this agricultural approach appears promising, there is a lack of research on hydroponics within the scientific community. This versatile technology has found its applications in industry, agriculture, and government, and may offer future, more capital-intensive solutions to various manufacturing problems.

Merriam-WebsterJones, J. Benton. Hydroponics: A Practical Guide for the Soilless Grower. Boca Raton, FL: St. Lucie, 1997. Print.pHWhat Is Photosynthesis?Using CO2 SuccessfullyThe Five Advantages of Hydroponics

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Techniques for Long Term Seed Storage

By Clayton Carter

How hard it would be to have a simple piece of toast without our modern conveniences? From mining and smelting the ore for the pan, to refining the sugar for the yeast. Chopping wood for the fire. Starting the fire without matches! And for all that work, it wouldn’t be worth the effort without flour. It takes generations to pull together and build the infrastructure so we can enjoy something that seems so simple. It could be argued that it is a grain at the heart of our society. Every great idea starts with a seed!

Witches-Herbal-Seed-StorageSeeds may be the most valuable commodity on earth when looking for a return on investment. We have come a way from wild corn and wheat in wicker baskets to feed the tribe. The Svarbald Global Seed Vault in Norway opened in February of 2008 represents the pinnacle of what we know about saving seeds and grains for the future. In this article we go deep to find out from the experts how to keep your seeds healthy year after year.

Tips for storing your seeds:

1. Keep seeds at freezing under 40 degrees. Your home freezer is perfect.
2.  Insulate your container to avoid fluctuations in the temperature. Storing in a garage or storeroom that is cold in winter but blazing hot in summer isn’t ideal.
3.  Both light and air are the enemy so never store seeds in direct sunlight or even in a well lit area. Keep them dark and air tight as best you can.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4.  Store your seeds in a containers that provide a barrier against moisture.  A Mylar bag or mason jar is perfect. Film canisters, Ziplock bags, and Tupperware are fine for shorter-term seasonal storage but it’s best to ensure they are high quality with an air tight seal.
5.  After drying the seeds for storage put them in envelopes or old prescription bottles so they can be labeled easily.  Then just drop them in your.

So what are some of the concerns you should have about long term seed storage? 
The most frequent issue that will arise with stored seeds is mold and mildew. Damp seeds will grow a grey fungus quickly if left untreated. The cause of this issue is often because the seeds were not dried before storing them. If you see moisture inside your container after sealing the seeds up they were probably stored too soon. Lay them out in a shady dry area for 24 to 48 hours and try sealing them back up. You don’t want to dry them out completely!

While seeds ripen on the plant they prepare to fall off and dry out a little during the dormant period. This will slow down their internal processes, and by convert food reserves from sugars to more stable fats and starches. Wait until your fruits are ripe before harvesting your seeds so they will be prepared for drying and dormancy. Some seeds even germinate better after drying versus going in the ground “fresh.”

$_35The process of drying your seeds needs to be done gradually. Dry for two weeks in an air conditioned room at 20% to 40% relative humidity ideally. Using desiccants might be necessary when drying in more than 40% relative humidity. During storage, seeds must be kept at 60-76 Fahrenheit for a slow dry and the greatest longevity.

Even when you do everything correctly storing your seeds for more than two years will lower the viability of a percentage of your seeds; some cannot be saved no matter how hard we try. Seedlings produced from stored seeds may also lack vigor as they reach into ancient energy stores. Focusing on keeping the roots happy and healthy for these plants proves to be the best approach at ensuring their survival. We recommend Kelp Extracts and Rooting Supplements to support your seedlings during this critical period.

Ceres Seed StorageSometimes insects like weevils can make their way into your seed stock, and it might be best to just assume you got bugs even if they can’t be seen. Adding in a little diatomaceous earth will provide protection to your seeds. Keeping the container in a freezer will halt their movement as well and keep any damage done to an absolute minimum.

When it comes time to pop a few of your beans from the freezer it is best to allow the container to reach room temperature before breaking the seal. Opening cold seeds up to your warm atmosphere can cause condensation to build up, and that moisture could be deadly.

You can test your the germination rate to estimate how many seeds are still viable.

1. Dampen a paper towel until it is nearly soaked.
2. Put 10 seeds in the center of the paper towel and carefully fold it over.
3. Put this paper towel and seed into a plastic bag not quite sealed all the way and place your bundle in a warm area.
4. After 2 days check it every 12 hours and see just what percentage of seeds are still sprouting.

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Back to Eden – Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses

Hydroclimaponics ‘Hydroclimaponics’ vertical hydroponics system

In South Africa, one company has taken hydroponics to a new level. Its groundbreaking new vertical hydroponic system – Hydroclimaponics – facilitates control of the micro-environment of each individual plant’s carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity to deliver enhanced productivity.

By CHRISTINE BROWN-PAUL

One of the world’s foremost events in agriculture, agricultural Industry, environment, innovation, harvesting, organic agriculture and farming practices—the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA)—was held last year held at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa. Among the exhibitors was Eden Green Hydroponics, which took the opportunity to showcase its innovative new vertical hydroponics system, Hydroclimaponics™—defined as a blending of hydroponics with microclimate control.

“We have applied for a trademark on the concept, which we call Hydroclimaponics. This is a method of utilising a highly efficient, environmentally friendly and economical production facility, which comprises of an automated, closed loop, vertical dual-piping system for growing pristine plants,” said Richard Venn, CEO of Timolux (Pty) Ltd, a company that holds the first and original patent of the growing system. Richard is also CEO Asia and International Investor relations for Eden Green, the holding company, which plans to implement the system worldwide.

Other principals in Eden Green include Jacques van Buuren, inventor and Chairman; his brother, Eugene van Buuren, inventor and Technical Director; Gerhard Ehlers, COO and; Theo Cilliers, CEO Netherlands.

So how does the system work?
Vertical hydroponic systems are not new, however, the van Buuren brothers and Gerhard Ehlers have introduced a provisionally patented air circulation system into the growing tubes, which in effect acts as a tailored air conditioner for each plant.

Tiny jets of air circulate continuously across the leaves of each plant, providing them with the optimum airflow and humidity for transpiration and rapid growth. Traditional greenhouse systems require the entire volume of greenhouse air to be managed, which is energy intensive and expensive. With the Eden Green system, climate control takes place directly at the micro or plant level, significantly reducing these costs. Many other input costs are either eliminated or reduced using the system.

The process involves setting up a vertical stack system through which nutrients are piped to individual plantings. The computerised system is able to monitor temperature, humidity and nutrient levels.

“The plants are able to grow faster because they get the exact nutrients they need. Using this process, a plant grows in four to five weeks, depending on the temperatures and the seasons. During winter, growing time is longer than during summer,” Jacques said.

“The system is fully automated and reads the environment inside the greenhouse,” said Jacques who has spent more than 10,000 hours studying and developing the system to suit different plants.

Unique features
Richard Venn says that there are many key differences between the Hydroclimaponics system and other vertical growing systems on the market and that the system offers unique features.

“Hydroclimaponics is the art and science of getting all the elements required for growth in concert together with a complete macro and micro system that delivers all necessary elements to the plant as and when the plant needs it,” Richard said.

“We seek to manage the environment, continuously monitoring critical factors and automatically anticipating and meeting the plant’s needs such as fertigation, humidity, temperature control, pathogen control, etc.

“Our risk management approach includes designing and engineering to exceed worst-case scenarios,” he said.
“We segregate critical elements to manage the potential for contagion, and utilise advanced methods to remedy any adverse influence.

“With the rapid growth rate, crops can be replaced with little impact on the production,” Richard said.

Key features of the Eden Green system include:
• High yield per square metre.
• Carbon neutral footprint.
• Uses less than 5% of the water used in traditional farming.
• Uses a fraction of the overall energy of traditional farming.
• Far less greenhouse gases than land-based farms because of shortened shipping cycle.
• Virtually eliminates environmental damage from chemical run-off caused by traditional outdoor farming methods.
• Can produce a crop in less than five weeks and produce it consistently year round.
• Uses virtually no chemicals or pesticides.
• Controls the micro-environment of each plant.
• Can grow a wide variety of crops including leafy vegetables, flowers, herbs, and some berries.

Richard said that after looking at various companies around the world involved in hydroponics, he found that most companies make use of traditional NFT systems with improvements to fully automate the systems to reduce human handling, with a subsequent reduction in labour costs.

“A number of new development companies use rotational/mechanical systems either in a frame or cylindrical form. The only other competitive vertical pipe design and format, is used by a company in America, which has similar standalone vertical units, but utilise greater physical spacing, are manual in operation, and appear to generate lower yields,” Richard said.

“Eden Green’s unique vertical pipe technology is lower in capital cost, mechanically simpler to install and operate, has lower running costs, and yields are considerably higher.”
According to Richard, future improvements are already in development.

Challenges and benefits
Getting the Hydroclimaponics system to its present state has not been without its challenges.

“It has taken six years to develop through trials, redesigning the pipes and finding solutions to root-zone cooling,” Richard said.

“The entire system might seem like just another pipe, however, there are approximately 85 different components and elements used to get to the optimum solution—this is the art and science of getting all the elements required for growth in concert and keeping the plant in the optimum state of happiness.

“The uniqueness of Hydroclimaponics lies in the monitoring, controlling and enhancing the micro-environment of each plant within a controlled macro-environment that is herbicide and pesticide free,” he said.

“Hydroclimaponics is designed to be robust to provide intensive production at low cost in virtually any environment. It uses a supply of re-circulated, nutrient-rich, UV-filtered water that is continuously temperature controlled as a growing medium to the roots of the plant.

“Hydroclimaponics adjusts the micro environment around each individual plant automatically according to pre-set parameters for optimum humidity, temperature, CO2 and a number of other elements,” Richard said.

“In the Hydroclimaponics technology one can plant over 4,000 plants a day. The system is 600 square metres with 10,000 plants of which you harvest 10 times in a year. The system needs very little water, less than 2,000 litres of water in a month. The plants take a minimum of a month for you to start harvesting.

“Plants grown through this Hydroclimaponics method to our standards are branded Eden Pristine as it achieves optimal nutritional values, longer shelf life and flavoursome taste,” he said.

Growing yields and costs
Jacques van Buuren says that plants thrive on stability and by giving them a programmed, consistent growing environment, yields are dramatically increased.

Under conventional farming, a typical annual yield will be approximately 45 plants per square metre. Standard hydroponic systems will increase this to about 240. According to Mr van Buuren, the Eden Green system will ramp the yield up to 700.

“Typical water use under conventional farming is around 50L per kg of vegetables produced. A hydroponic system will reduce water usage to 8-12L; the Eden Green system uses just 5L,” he said.

Eden Green growing yields and costs:
• Plants at growth spacing of 25cm apart, 3m high in a 520m² facility.
• Current greenhouse can house 43 512 plants in one cycle
• Yield per m² is 87 plants per cycle
• Yield per m² is 701 saleable plants per year
• Total cost per plant (nutrients, seedlings, power etc): $0.23 per plant.

Comparative Yields – Sky Green Singapore:
• A 3m high A-frame would hold approximately nine grow trays. According to Richard Venn, if such a system were installed in the same area as Eden Green’s (520m²), it would fit 13 A-frames in total.
• Total number of plants = 21,996
• Yield per m² based on 520m² area = 42
Comparative yields using NFT system (used by most competitors):
• In similar space of 520m², NFT will be 32 grow sections, 40m long, each 40cm wide. Each growth section holds 160 plants.
• Total number of plants = 5,120
• Yield per m2 based on 520m² area = 10

“Essentially, our technology produces higher yields at a lower capital cost,” Richard said.

Cost comparison table Table 1. Conventional farming and hydroponics v Eden Green system (click table to enlarge).

According to Jacques van Buuren, Hydroclimaponics is especially suited for growing leafy vegetables, herbs, flowers and medicinal plants.

Worldwide rollout
Richard says that Eden Green Hydroponics has a worldwide implementation and rollout plan in place for growers, produce retailers and wholesalers, and investors.

“We are in the process of rolling out a number of production units worldwide that produce for retailers and wholesalers. Currently, we are already supplying to a similar retailer,” he said.

“Eden Green has also concluded licence and agent agreements for various countries and regions in the world that allows partners to promote our Hydroclimaponics in that market.

“We are interested in discussing potential joint venture opportunities for downstream processing of our produce in juicing, pestos and other applications, and we are also in the process of launching a home system as well as one that will be suitable for smaller community or retail applications such as rooftop gardens, restaurants, household greenhouses and office parks.”

Final thoughts
According to the United Nations (UN), the world’s population is set to increase from its current 7.2 billion to an estimated 9.6 billion by 2050. With food security now and into the future top of the agenda for most countries, the Eden Green system would seem well placed to contribute towards global food security.

(Eden Green Hydroponics has produced several YouTube videos that explain various aspects of the Hydroclimaponics system.)

For more information please contact: Richard Venn; Ph: +27 (0)82 447 0584; email: richardv@hydroclimaponics.com or richardvenn@telkomsa.net; Skype: richard.venn7).

About the author
Christine Brown-Paul is a Sydney-based journalist and a regular contributor to PH&G, with a special interest in the environment and sustainable technology.
Email: c.brown.paul@gmail.com O

June 2016 / Issue 168

View the original article here