Heirloom Vegetables Available at Homegrown Hydroponics

More and more people are choosing the varieties of food they will grow based on two very important factors often overlooked today: Flavor and nutrition! These qualities rank among the top priorities of the modern gardener looking to enrich their diet with natural, flavor-full and non GMO foods. The answer lies with heirloom vegetables. Heirloom vegetables are old, interesting varieties of the foods we eat today. They come in all shapes and colors and flavors, and are a throwback to a time when less emphasis was placed on yield and shelf life but rather taste and nutrition. This is why Homegrown has selected some unique heirloom varieties and made them available through our stores.

Below of a list of some heirlooms and other plants we propagated for sale this season:

tomato_earl_edgecombeEarl of Edgecomb Tomato– When the 6th Earl of Edgecombe died in the 1960’s, the heir to the title was a tomato lover and rancher living in New Zealand. He traveled to England to claim the title, and took this extraordinary tomato with him. The smooth, beautiful 3-inch round, orange, mango-colored fruits are perfectly globe-shaped, growing in clusters of two or more. Flesh is smooth, meaty and marvelous, with sweet, rich flavor, rather tropical and fruity. Indeterminate 73 days.

Indigo Rose Tomato -The blackest tomato yet. Acidic taste and deep plum interior. They show good field resistance to fungal disease and blight. Growing in clusters of 6-8 fruit weighing 2-2.5 oz. Very, very productive. Indeterminate.

tomato-mariannas-peace

Marianna’s Peace Tomato – It is said that Marianna’s Peace is among the 3 finest tasting tomatoes inexistence. Creamy, dense, red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance, great old fashioned tomato flavour. Large 12 cm (5”) fruit. Czech Heirloom from early 1900’s. 80 days Heirloom. Indeterminate.

tomato-matts-wild-cherry

Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato – A very old tomato, possibly an originator of the modern tomato. Very tall vines can grow to 300-400cm. Harvest an immense amount of delicious, very small tomatoes right up to frost. Indeterminate, Heirloom 1889.

black_zebra_

Black Zebra Cherry Tomato– Perfect for smaller gardens and containers, the Black Zebra Cherry is unique and flavorful. It’s a Heirloom and open pollinated Tomato variety which produces slightly larger cherry tomatoes (1-1.5?) with a firm consistency. Great for slicing!

tomato-brandywine-yellow

Yellow Brandywine Tomato – A large Yellow Brandywine tomato. Good, sweet flavour, producing 1-2lb fruit on potato leaved plants. Pick just before ripe to avoid cracking.90 days. Indeterminate. Heirloom.

ROMA-

Roma Tomato – The Roma tomato is a determinate, oblong variety that is very meaty with a low number of seeds. Average fruit size is 5 ounces. Great for cooking, canning and making sauce, this heirloom dates back to 1958! Average time to maturity: 76 days.

yellow stuffers

Yellow Stuffers – These big, blocky, thick-walled tomatoes are the best beefsteaks for stuffing and baking. The tastyyellow stuffers 200g (7 oz) fruits are like bell peppers, with large interior cavities. Plants perform just as well outdoors as in the greenhouse. Matures in 80 days. yellow stuffers

Peppers:

pepper_little_bells

Little Bells – These are very early sweet bells with thick walls, densely set onto dwarf plants. At the green stage these are apple yellow, ripening through orange to a dark red at maturity. Great pepper for northern climes with short seasons.

Poblano (Ancho) – These hot peppers are very, very popular in Mexico. They are called Poblanos when fresh and pepper-poblanogreen but Ancho once they are ripe and dried. Green peppers turn reddish brown. They are mildly hot with a sweet taste 100-2000 SHU’s. Can be roasted and stuffed for chili rellenos (don’t forget to remove the skin after roasting). Dried, they can be ground for chili powder and added to mole sauces. Fully mature at 80 days.

Thai Sun Pepper – Perfect pepper for apartments and small Gardens. The miniature plant only grows ten to twelve thai sun pepperinches high and about one to one and a half feet wide. The one inch peppers grow facing the sun. One plant has literally hundreds of these fireballs. This little devil packs a big wallop. The leaves are tiny so the plant is almost all peppers. It is easily grown in containers put on a porch, patio or deck. Anyone, anywhere can enjoy plenty of hot peppers with the Thai sun pepper. They ripen early and produce all season long. Each pod has a few scarce seeds.

Korean Gochu Pepper – Tired of making kimchi too spicy by accidentally putting in one too many Thai peppers? Korean Gochu PepperThis pepper is here to save the day & make the best authentic kimchi. Not quite as hot as a Thai or cayenne, which means you can make your kimchivery red (tons of chili) without killing the people who eat it. Still fairly hot so be careful. The real greatness of this pepper is in its earliness to turn red in cool conditions & its enormous yields (No, really. So many peppers you won’t know what to do with all of them.) Dries easily & is great for ristras. Fruit are similar to a cayenne in shape but a little shorter & wider.

carolina reaper

Carolina Reaper – GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS DECLARES THE CAROLINA REAPER THE “WORLDS HOTTEST PEPPER” Large plants produce loads of the hottest peppers on the planet. Beware! Peppers average 1,569,000 Scoville Heat Units.

For customer’s who would prefer to start their own plants, Homegrown provides a full range of information and products to help you achieve your goals. Stop by, or call your local store for details!

View the original article here

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The New Face Of Hydroponics

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I have to say that there are lots of new faces in hydroponics these days and they are addressing an emerging and growing new demand – that is delicious and locally grown produce.

The latest issue of Produce Business, an agricultural trade magazine, addresses the shifting behavior of consumers towards a more local and fresher food source. Vertical Harvest Hydroponics was asked to contribute to this article and we gladly accepted. Here are some behind the scenes Q&A with Jodean Robbins, a writer for Produce Business and Linda Janes of VHH. A link to the full article is at the end of this blog.

Nalo Farms sells their greens at KCC Farmers Marker, Oahu, Hawaii. Nalo Farms sells their greens at KCC
Farmers Marker, Oahu, Hawaii. March 2016.

A. Alaska is one of the states that can benefit the most from a reliable internal food source  – thus we must be on the forefront of the “growing local” movement.

Some things to consider, when it comes to AK agriculture:

In spite of growing demand, 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.Only 1% of AK’s GDP is agriculture (2012 Alaska Economic Performance Report). This number hasn’t changed much in 2014, 2105.Less than one percent (.24%) of Alaska’s 365 million acres of land is farmed; it is estimated only 15 million acres (4%) is suitable for farming.Alaska has 318 different soil types.Permafrost is more than 2,000 feet deep on Alaska’s North SlopeAbout 95% of Alaska’s food is imported, which is not sustainableA majority of the price charged for produce is captured in the supply chain, which is also not environmentally friendlyBy the time food arrives in Alaska, it is nutritionally inferior to recently harvested cropsIn Alaska, consumers pay a high and volatile price for low quality vegetablesNationwide, merchants lose $15bn annually in unsold produce attributable to shrink during transport and spoilage on the shelvesAccording to Alaska DHSS, we are also seeing a rise in preventable chronic diseases. In the past 30 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased sharply for both adults and children, which together with physical inactivity and unhealthy eating contribute to a number of chronic diseases, including some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Summing up, vertical farming can be a great option to augment traditional farming practices in Alaska and there are many reasons to welcome controlled environment agriculture (CEA) into our state:

Nutrient-dense green vegetables—are some of the most important foods to focus on for preventing and managing chronic illnessesVertical farming is also very environmental friendly, since bypassing the supply chain reduces the environmental load quiet extensively.It allows for large-scale, high quality food production, maximizing output while minimizing facility space, land requirements, water usage, electricity, waste, and man-hours. Our systems are also very insulated, thereby requiring less for heating costs.Being able to produce food locally and deliver it to the consumers within hours or a short number of days after the harvest takes out the middleman and reallocates the benefits directly to the community and the local producers.Lowered cost of produce, higher nutrition, more buying power, consistent harvest, workforce development and stable produce prices are just some of the benefits of a well-designed hydroponic food production system.

A. Hydroponics has the potential of satisfying the recent trends in healthy eating, buying local, while at the same time delivering produce on a mass scale. Agriculture has always been important to the human race and now more and more people are interested in locally grown. For example, demand for local food has been rapidly increasing. According to USDA, the number of farmers markets has more than quadrupled over the past two decades (Nation wide from 1,755 in 1994 to 8,144 in 2013). In The Organic & Natural 2014, national syndicated research, the Hartman Group assesses that local may even surpass organic as a principle of transparency and trust (know your farmer).

Because food has become less expensive and takes up a smaller portion of our budget, people are looking at it more intently, particularly the quality of our food, where it comes from and the impact it has on our lives. Without commenting too much about the multitude articles in the recent years regarding how consumers are driving the growth of health conscious companies or the kind of big VC money that’s been lately invested in such businesses, we are seeing fundamental behavior changes away from big packaged mass-produced foods to locally grown, artisanal and highly nutritious options.

Millennials are definitely playing a role in this shift. While, the Gen Y as well as many Gen Xers are the natural inhabitants of the information age, they are also big proponents of community. They desire healthy, convenient, technologically driven and increasingly local food, event if that means paying a premium, as the evidence points to in the growth of farmers’ markets.

Delivering our first hydroponic farm to a client in Anchorage, AK. Delivering our first hydroponic farm to a client in Anchorage, AK.

Being on the cusp of Gen X/Y, the three founders of VHH are all very aware of the food we eat and are part of the cohort that is determined to change the food industry. This is our common cause, which is extremely important to us and serves as fuel for all the long days we have spent working up to this point. We have engineered a hydroponic farm that is made from shipping containers. We upcycle these containers and retrofit them with a hydroponic growing system that rivals one acre of traditional farming in production capacity.

Here are some highlights of our Containerized Growing System (CGS)

Local produce, all year roundReduce the supply chain from weeks to hoursFrom farm to your table, just in time for lunch or dinnerEat food that’s still alive – that’s superior nutritionProduce that is grown without pesticides using non-GMO seedsRich flavor profiles, superior freshness, locally grown greensHydroponic farm manufactured by repurposing 40 foot shipping containers Hydroponic farm manufactured by repurposing 40 foot shipping containers

Beyond consumption, millennials are a good target market for becoming hydroponic producers. In comparison to cultivating our own food and livestock, modern agriculture has given us extra time to put into cool products such as iphone, computers, automobiles, etc. Gen Y is obsessed with having extra time away from work to attend to “pleasurable” activities. With our growing systems for example, the labor requirements are drastically reduced, which is synonymous to the type of day a Gen Y person aspires to have. As technology improves, the next step in agricultural revolution is growing quality food locally and sustainably on a mass scale.

A. Right now the current CGS design allows a wide variety of culinary herbs or leafy greens to be grown economically. We’ll be working on R&D to create systems that allow for flowering plants like tomatoes or berries to grow. The biggest thing with these systems is it has to be an economically/commercially viable option, as most use it as a business. Doing R&D and tailoring the design just right are big components to manufacturing a system that’s financeable, sustainable (pays for itself and brings money into the community), offers employment opportunity and brings home “the bacon”.

In Alaska, it makes sense to grow produce that’s difficult to ship, that doesn’t have a long shelf life and that can’t be grown year round or stored to be sold off season. Leafy greens fit this description well and that is what we offer right now for our clients.

Please click HERE to read the entire Produce Business article.

In closing, as always to your health,

The team at VHH

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View the original article here

What is organic gardening?

Making a commitment to healthy eating is a great start towards a healthy and long life. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, there is the question of food safety, nutrition, and sustainability. How foods are grown can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up a few questions:

What is the difference between organic foods and non organic foods?

Foods certified as organic in Canada must meet certain requirements found in the Canadian Organic Standards Document. These standards are geared around sustainable crop production with minimal impact on the environment.  To summarize these requirements food must be produced in a way which protects the environment, minimizes soil degradation and erosion, decreases pollution, optimize biological productivity and promotes a sound state of health. This means crops must not be genetically modified organisms, or treated with pesticides which way harm the environment or consumer. They must also be grown in a way which recycles materials and resources to the greatest extent possible.

Is “organic” more healthful, or worth the added expense?

While is great to purchase foods which are grown by methods which protect the environment and conserve resources,  it is important to note that certified organic foods are not necessarily more healthful than their non-certified counterparts. The Canadian Organic Standards document specifically states “Neither this standard nor organic products in accordance with this standard represent specific claims about the health, safety and nutrition of such organic products.”  This means that the quality of food grown organically does not necessarily surpass the quality of non-organically certified foods.

Can non-certified organic foods be just as healthful as certified organic products?

Yes! Assuming the food was not treated with pesticides or grown from GMO genetics, it should be just as healthful as food produced according to the organic standards listed above. It is worth noting that organic fertilizers such as manure and guanos are not available to plants as a food source until they are broken down via the soil food web. Once this process has been completed, the organic inputs are chemically identical to the synthetically derived nutrients often used in non organic gardening. In soil based gardens synthetically derived nutrients can affect long-term soil fertility by impacting conditions for biological activity within the soil. However, in a hydroponic application these nutrients are recycled, therefore never making their way into the ground or affecting the quality of ground water.

Can you grow organic food hydroponically?

Yes! Hydroponic gardens can produce non GMO food by using organically derived nutrients with the absence of pesticides while recycling and conserving water and thus having a minimal impact on the environment. Hydroponically produced food can be grown with 1/5 the water and can also many times more productive per square foot of garden space without the risk of leaching nutrients into ground water sources.

This means the home gardener should focus not on labels but on growing quality proven genetics, through sustainable gardening methods while avoiding the use of pesticides.  When growing outdoors in the ground, organically derived nutrients can be used to minimize soil degradation. When hydroponically the home gardener has the flexibility to use either organically or synthetically derived nutrients to produce high quality food in their hydroponic gardens.

View the original article here

Heirloom Vegetables Available at Homegrown Hydroponics

More and more people are choosing the varieties of food they will grow based on two very important factors often overlooked today: Flavor and nutrition! These qualities rank among the top priorities of the modern gardener looking to enrich their diet with natural, flavor-full and non GMO foods. The answer lies with heirloom vegetables. Heirloom vegetables are old, interesting varieties of the foods we eat today. They come in all shapes and colors and flavors, and are a throwback to a time when less emphasis was placed on yield and shelf life but rather taste and nutrition. This is why Homegrown has selected some unique heirloom varieties and made them available through our stores.

Below of a list of some heirlooms and other plants we propagated for sale this season:

tomato_earl_edgecombeEarl of Edgecomb Tomato– When the 6th Earl of Edgecombe died in the 1960’s, the heir to the title was a tomato lover and rancher living in New Zealand. He traveled to England to claim the title, and took this extraordinary tomato with him. The smooth, beautiful 3-inch round, orange, mango-colored fruits are perfectly globe-shaped, growing in clusters of two or more. Flesh is smooth, meaty and marvelous, with sweet, rich flavor, rather tropical and fruity. Indeterminate 73 days.

Indigo Rose Tomato -The blackest tomato yet. Acidic taste and deep plum interior. They show good field resistance to fungal disease and blight. Growing in clusters of 6-8 fruit weighing 2-2.5 oz. Very, very productive. Indeterminate.

tomato-mariannas-peace

Marianna’s Peace Tomato – It is said that Marianna’s Peace is among the 3 finest tasting tomatoes inexistence. Creamy, dense, red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance, great old fashioned tomato flavour. Large 12 cm (5”) fruit. Czech Heirloom from early 1900’s. 80 days Heirloom. Indeterminate.

tomato-matts-wild-cherry

Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato – A very old tomato, possibly an originator of the modern tomato. Very tall vines can grow to 300-400cm. Harvest an immense amount of delicious, very small tomatoes right up to frost. Indeterminate, Heirloom 1889.

black_zebra_

Black Zebra Cherry Tomato– Perfect for smaller gardens and containers, the Black Zebra Cherry is unique and flavorful. It’s a Heirloom and open pollinated Tomato variety which produces slightly larger cherry tomatoes (1-1.5?) with a firm consistency. Great for slicing!

tomato-brandywine-yellow

Yellow Brandywine Tomato – A large Yellow Brandywine tomato. Good, sweet flavour, producing 1-2lb fruit on potato leaved plants. Pick just before ripe to avoid cracking.90 days. Indeterminate. Heirloom.

ROMA-

Roma Tomato – The Roma tomato is a determinate, oblong variety that is very meaty with a low number of seeds. Average fruit size is 5 ounces. Great for cooking, canning and making sauce, this heirloom dates back to 1958! Average time to maturity: 76 days.

yellow stuffers

Yellow Stuffers – These big, blocky, thick-walled tomatoes are the best beefsteaks for stuffing and baking. The tastyyellow stuffers 200g (7 oz) fruits are like bell peppers, with large interior cavities. Plants perform just as well outdoors as in the greenhouse. Matures in 80 days. yellow stuffers

Peppers:

pepper_little_bells

Little Bells – These are very early sweet bells with thick walls, densely set onto dwarf plants. At the green stage these are apple yellow, ripening through orange to a dark red at maturity. Great pepper for northern climes with short seasons.

Poblano (Ancho) – These hot peppers are very, very popular in Mexico. They are called Poblanos when fresh and pepper-poblanogreen but Ancho once they are ripe and dried. Green peppers turn reddish brown. They are mildly hot with a sweet taste 100-2000 SHU’s. Can be roasted and stuffed for chili rellenos (don’t forget to remove the skin after roasting). Dried, they can be ground for chili powder and added to mole sauces. Fully mature at 80 days.

Thai Sun Pepper – Perfect pepper for apartments and small Gardens. The miniature plant only grows ten to twelve thai sun pepperinches high and about one to one and a half feet wide. The one inch peppers grow facing the sun. One plant has literally hundreds of these fireballs. This little devil packs a big wallop. The leaves are tiny so the plant is almost all peppers. It is easily grown in containers put on a porch, patio or deck. Anyone, anywhere can enjoy plenty of hot peppers with the Thai sun pepper. They ripen early and produce all season long. Each pod has a few scarce seeds.

Korean Gochu Pepper – Tired of making kimchi too spicy by accidentally putting in one too many Thai peppers? Korean Gochu PepperThis pepper is here to save the day & make the best authentic kimchi. Not quite as hot as a Thai or cayenne, which means you can make your kimchivery red (tons of chili) without killing the people who eat it. Still fairly hot so be careful. The real greatness of this pepper is in its earliness to turn red in cool conditions & its enormous yields (No, really. So many peppers you won’t know what to do with all of them.) Dries easily & is great for ristras. Fruit are similar to a cayenne in shape but a little shorter & wider.

carolina reaper

Carolina Reaper – GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS DECLARES THE CAROLINA REAPER THE “WORLDS HOTTEST PEPPER” Large plants produce loads of the hottest peppers on the planet. Beware! Peppers average 1,569,000 Scoville Heat Units.

For customer’s who would prefer to start their own plants, Homegrown provides a full range of information and products to help you achieve your goals. Stop by, or call your local store for details!

View the original article here

Common Myths about Hydroponics. – ThyBlackMan

(ThyBlackMan.com) Hydroponic growing provides many advantages for both commercial farmers and home growers. This easy and efficient growing technique offers healthier and nutritionally better plants than conventional growing methods. Yet, hydroponics is still a much maligned and misunderstood growing methodology.

Here we look at some of the commonly believed myths about hydroponic growing.

It’s unnatural

To the outsider, hydroponics may seem to be somewhat of an unnatural process. But the truth is that the plants feed from dissolved nutrients much in the same way as they extract nutrients from fertilized soil. The concept is the same – but the delivery BlackWoman-Hydroponics-2016system for these nutrients is different. In fact, it is often the case that hydroponically grown crops use fewer chemicals than conventional soil-based crops. Therefore, it could be said to be a more natural growing technique.

An eco-friendly approach

Hydroponics, as a growing technique, is greatly superior in terms of the impact is has on the environment. It consumes a fraction of the water required in conventional farming; it uses less fertilizer, and as it is not soil-based there are no residual effects in terms of runoff into streams or degradation of land by pesticides and other chemicals commonly used in soil-based cultivation.

Hydroponic lighting is damaging

There is a common misconception that because hydroponic lighting emits ultra violet light it must be harmful to growers in the same way as the lights used in sunbeds are harmful to people. However, the levels of UV light emitted are very small, sufficient for plant growth, but not to pose any danger to individuals.

Hydroponics is limited to indoor growing

Many people believe that hydroponic systems can only be used indoors, and while many growers do prefer to install such systems inside – this is mainly because of climate considerations, as hydroponic growing can be done all year round in even cold climates. However, there are plenty of large scale commercial farms using hydroponics on a large scale outdoors to produce their crops.

Hydroponic growing is more expensive than conventional growing techniques

While the initial costs required for setting up a hydroponic growing system may outweigh conventional growing techniques, when it comes to large scale operations, over time the operational costs are less than those incurred using traditional soil-based growing techniques. And for small scale growing, and home growers, hydroponics offers an efficient and cost-effective growing method.

More technical knowledge is required for hydroponics

Hydroponic growing is not overly technical. The basic principles can be easily and quickly learned. There is a wide variety of hydroponic kits and HYDROPONIC SUPPLIES designed for all common growing applications and once set up, the growing systems are relatively easy to maintain.

Staff Writer; Josh Stewart

 

View the original article here

Growing Potatoes – When to plant potatoes

By geekgardener, on September 13th, 2015Growing-Potatoes Howto grow Potatoes Growing Potatoes Howto grow Potatoes

Growing potatoes in your garden is fun and very rewarding. Harvesing potatoes is like a treasure hunt. With so many varieties and colors of potatoes available, it is essential that we know how to grow potatoes, how and when to plant potatoes in your garden.

A growing potato plant doesnt need lot of attention actually. Potatoes are a cool weather crop, so the best time to plant them is early spring. If you are in the tropics, check your sowing schedule for more appropriate sowing times.Growing potatoes in your garden starts with a seed potato rather than a seed. Seed potatoes are potatoes themselves that have a sprout or buds coming out of the nodes in the potato tuber what is commonly called as “eyes”. Seed potatoes are those that are infection and disease free.

Once you have the seed potatoes, there are many ways to plant potatoes. They can be grown straight in the ground. Growing potatoes can also be done in big containers that have more root space.

Planting potatoes start with the a sprouted seed potato. If there are no sprouts in the seed potato, they “chitted” to ensure the sprouts show up before planting potatoes. Chitting is a process of providing an environment to seed potatoes so that they grow sprouts on the eyes of the potatoes.

The seed potatoes are planted about 2-3 inches under the ground. As the growing potato plants become larger in size, the soil is mounded to ensure they get lots of soil space around the roots to ensure more potato tubers form.

There is nothing more fun than growing potatoes in a container. Preferrably a 5-10 gallon container is used. Larger the better. Fill the up the container with 1/3? of good potting soil. You can easily make a rich potting soil your self. Place the potatoes on the top of the soil and cover them. In a week, the sprouts will show up, as the growing potato plant becomes larger, keep adding more and more potting soil until the entire pot is covered.

One can also get creative and make containers out of barrels, used tires and even straws.

Adding rich organic compost while growing potatoes will do lots of good to the plant and also enrich the soil. The potting mix for a container should also be amended with good compost. One can also water the plants with a good water soluble fertilizer that is high in potassium to get good sized tubers.

While growing potatoes, one question remains in the gardener’s mind. When to harvest the potatoes? The early signs of potatoes getting ready for harvest.When you see the potato plant flowering, its time for early potatoes. Early potatoes are soft skinned and creamy. They taste the best. You can always dig up a few when the potato plant goes to flower.

If you need fully grown potatoes just like the ones you get from the grocery store, then you need to wait for the plant to dry out and die back. Growing potatoes till the end of the plant gives you fully grown potatoes that store well. Once harvested, all them to air dry before storing them.

Tips for Growing Potatoes and When to Plant Potatoes in your gardenGrowing potatoes in your garden is fun and very rewarding. Harvesing potatoes is like a treasure hunt. With so many varieties and colors of potatoes available, it is essential that we know how to grow potatoes, how and when to plant potatoes in your garden. Share this with your garden buddies:

View the original article here