Last week our team set out on a research mission to Lane Tech High School where we visited their Biology classroom and got a first hand look at their hydroponics system. Allison Jackson’s biology lab is a fully equipped hydroponics and aquaponics lab that allows students the opportunity to explore “urban farming”. We were there to look at different indoor gardening systems to help us with a current project. If you are not familiar with hydroponics, it is the method of growing plants without soil.
By using water effectively and tailoring plants to the most effective nutrient solution, plants are able to grow to their fullest and fastest potential. This method requires precise control of water flow, outside nutrients, and non soil based mediums (like gravel). Our goal when we visited was to soak up as much as we could about the process so we could design a system of our own that is manageable and also easy to ship to customers. With hydroponic systems becoming more and more popular (as we saw at the Housewares Show back in March), there is a need for faster and more convenient shipping of these new appliances. How do you ship an entire hydroponics system without effecting the product and without driving up the cost as a whole? By visiting Ms. Jackson’s class we were able to get a better understandings on hydroponic systems and methods and put ourselves in the shoes of the user.
This system used a sloping design that allowed the water to trickle down into the tank below.
The lab even had fish in some of the tanks (blue bins)!
Seedlings prepare to be transferred to thier new soil-less home.
Lane Tech even has a hydro “wall” which is made of cloth and small hose system that mists the plants.
Other advantages of hydroponics include:
The freedom to grow anywhere! Indoor, Outdoor, City, Rural. It is sometimes referred to as “urban farming.”
Less water and less space. Up to 20x less water is used compared to traditional soil gardening and because it is reusable you are conserving water as well.
Sterile. No pesticides and chemicals interfering with your veggies.
Below is a closer look at how the soil-less system works, as seen in giant hydroponic warehouses. To get your hands on your own hydroponic kit visit your local organic superstore,Roots! Chicago Roots has grow lights, kits, and nutrients to get your hydro garden started.