There are many ways to get ourselves through winter. The best way, quite often, to do this is to keep gardening. In Minnesota, whether there is snow on the ground or not, it is too cold for us to do much outside until now.
The University of Minnesota has started something new. A hobby for those who would like to continue to raise their own food at home while giving those who are interesting in gardening something to do during the winter months. Hydroponic gardening. The U of M, in fact, has started a brand new webpage dedicated to small scale hydroponic growing. This is right on time for many of us who are still seeking something to do at home during the pandemic or while our children are at home that can be used for something that the family can work on together.
The webpage is https://extension.umn.edu/how/small-scale-hydroponics. Hydroponics has been around for some time and in fact, there are many large scale attractions throughout the US that uses all hydroponics to raise food for their various venues which can be done right on site. The great thing about hydroponics is that since it is gardening in a very controlled way, if you need to stop growing for a short time, you can do that and then start right up where you started. You can also take hydroponics outdoors once the weather improves once again.
A gardener with a really green thumb can grow anything inside using hydroponics but for those of us who would like something a little less challenging, thinking more about herbs and items like lettuce or spinach is probably more along the line of what we can do.
Yes, like most hobbies it does cost a little bit of money to get into hydroponics and at this time of the year you will more than likely have to start your plants from seed. If you do not have seed left over from last year’s harvest, you may have to go online to find seed too.
There are other considerations as well. If just starting out, a single 10 gallon rubber maid tote is all you will need. A piece of Styrofoam block to set your plants in and it also serves as a lid for the tote. Net pots will also be required. These are special little pots that you can either order or make for yourself out of past flower pots that you might have at home. Hydroponics doesn’t use soil so you will need something like coconut coir, pumice or Rockwool to place your plants in. Lighting such as a LED shop light will work the best. LED probably has the best lighting for plants because of the spectrum of light that LED bulbs produce. Aeration is also important for the tank.
If you have access to the internet, going onto the website listed above before digging too deep into this project will help you get on the right foot. Once you have everything set up right, it is about a month or so that you can start to harvest your greens from the system. It would certainly keep going until the whole system could possibly set outside.
This is an exciting addition to other ways to garden while at home during the winter. There are so many things that we can all do for ourselves to keep busy and find a rewarding pastime through gardening. Whether it is houseplants or terrariums, or a mix of terrariums and fairy houses, these can all give us some color to our homes and add something to our own personal lives.
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