Last week I drove a long 3 hours over to the Farmtek Greenhouse in Dyersville, Iowa for their Hydroponics Workshop and I’m so glad I went – it was really awesome & filled me full of ideas! Here is what one of their greenhouses looked like – all hydroponically.
Isn’t it amazing? I’m SO jealous, although I actually wouldn’t want quite that big of a greenhouse because I would be SO incredibly busy!! :) (That’s lettuce you see up in the front growing.)
Not only did we get to tour all of the Farmtek greenhouses but we also had the opportunity to get hands-on and plant our own seedlings. It was so simple – just place the seedlings which were grown in rock wool and squeeze them down into the holes. The entire set up will have small tubes flooding water into the bottom to feed the plants.
We also got to harvest our own lettuce to take home for dinner! Aren’t those lettuce HUGE!?
Another absolutely incredible thing that I got to learn about at the Farmtek greenhouse and really wanted (even though I have no need of it!) was these hydroponic systems called fodder where you can grow grasses, barley, etc. People are actually growing grass in these and feeding hundreds of heads of cattle! In just 6 days the grass is ready to pull up and you can just roll it up in a huge mat – it’s just amazing!
Ebb and Flow Hydroponic Table:
These simple tables are called an ebb and flow hydroponic method where basically those plants are just floating in styrofoam or rock wool bricks and water fills up in it and slowly drains throughout the day.
In a different section of the garden they also had a regular dirt gardening section, but underneath the dirt are actually heating coils and heating pads to keep the roots warm during the winter. These tomatoes grow for over 18 months before they pull them up and get so big they hold them up with string!
See how big these are – they grow their veggies all year around! I just took this picture and it’s November.
If you ever have the chance to visit a hydroponic farm it’s a really neat experience. I am hoping to raise enough money from grants and donations to start a full hydroponics greenhouse at our school. Of course not as big as the one above but I could always dream right? :) Hydroponic produce is actually more nutritious – it’s quite interesting. We were able to hear from a farmer who sells over $8000 of lettuce – JUST lettuce a month!