About the Author: Chris Wimmer is an urban hydroponic hobbyist who uses hydroponics to maximize his 400 square foot yard and extend the short Chicago growing season. Chris blogs about his hydroponic experiences at HealthSmartLiving.com (formerly CaptainHydroponics.com) and is on facebook.
The Hydroponic Produce Debate: Healthier or Not?
Traditional plants grown in soil get the nutrients they need to grow from that soil. Organic matter is composted over time, giving plants the essential and non-essential nutrients they need to grow and produce healthy greens, fruits and vegetables.
Nutrients that make our produce nutrient-dense and healthy include:
Carbon (air and water)
Hydrogen (air and water)
Oxygen (air and water)
Various non-essentials (chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, sodium, nickel, molybdenum)
How it (Hydroponics) Works
Hydroponics takes soil out of the equation and feeds nutrients to the plants directly. While soil is considered “more natural”, it’s also the limiting factor in plant growth. Environmental impurities, bacteria, insects, man-made chemicals, and poor soil conditions limit every living plants true potential.
Growing your produce using hydroponics allows you to give your food, herbs, spices and flowers exactly what they need all the time – never too much or too little. You control all the critical growth factors: oxygen, water, fertilizer, pH (acidity), and pest prevention.
Plants are suspended in, flooded with, drip fed, or sprayed with a feeding solution at set intervals, to keep the roots supple and healthy. There are a variety of popular methods used; six of the most popular are detailed here: captainhydroponics.com/popular-hydroponic-systems
Benefits of Growing and Eating Hydroponic Produce
1. Hydroponic food can be just as healthy as organics (which we pay much more for at the supermarket), due to the lack of growth-inhibiting soil contamination issues, and the possibility of increased vitamin/mineral content by maximizing the plant’s growth factors.
2. Chemical pesticides and herbicides aren’t necessary, meaning you aren’t consuming cancer-causing, fertility-curbing chemicals that build in your body over time and shorten your life.
3. Being independent from society’s food supply means that you don’t have to deal with the ups and downs in seasonal pricing or sudden food shortages.
4. Hydroponics requires fewer natural resources than soil growing.
5. Much higher yields (30 – 100x) are possible.
6. After a small equipment investment, you’ll be saving hundreds a year in groceries, while eating fresher food.
Growing Healthy Hydroponic Watercress
It’s a great addition to any salad, and the most divine healthy nectar when run through a juicer.
Watercress is one of the best-pound-for-pound veggie greens available to us (protein, calcium, and iron) – and it’s one of the easiest greens to grow in a home hydroponic setup. If you want to learn more about the health benefits, check out this whitepaper.
Watercress, as it’s name implies, loves water. It grows best in flowing water, so those of you who love the health benefits of Hippocrates’ favorite food, and want to start your first indoor hydroponics system, we’ve got just the information you need!
It’s also a great starter plant for hydroponic newbies, because it’s very tolerant to pH fluctuations and will thrive in very low light conditions, meaning you can make a few mistakes with your feeding solution, and don’t need to blow the bank on grow lights and fixtures to get started.
Deep Water Culture
A deep water culture system which is also known as a raft system is perfect for watercress. In fact, all you need to do is follow this guide to create a simple lettuce raft but where it says ‘lettuce’ substitute ‘watercress’.
If you’ve decided to use the storage tote method described in the guide above and wish to grow inside during the winter then you can check this simple DYI home lighting system. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and will only cost you about $10 at your local Home Depot.
That’s all there is to it!
Watercress is easy, healthy, and highly sustainable for growing in a home hydroponic setup.
A note from Treesa
Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to share with us!
I hope Chris has inspired you to try growing watercress (or other veggies) hydroponically. Watercress was the one veggie on the Gerson juicing list that I have had a hard time finding (organic). Thank you, Chris, for giving us a way to grow it at home. I am going to try it out and wiil post my personal ‘first time’ experience with hydropincs in my next post.
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