What are the advantages
of hydroponic (soil-less) growing?
What are the difficulties in
growing plants in soil?
How does the Floating
Gardentm Kitchen Garden Kit Work?
Can I grow lettuce and
herbs indoors in the Floating Garden?
Where is the best place to
locate the Floating Garden?
What's in the Floating
Garden nutrient mixture?
What is the purpose of
aerating the nutrient solution?
What is aero-root
Can flowers be grown in
the Floating Garden?
Do the kits come with
How do I clean the Floating
Garden between crops?
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in
a water-based liquid nutrient without soil. In translation the term hydroponic
means water work. It is also known by the term 'soilless gardening'.
What are the advantages of hydroponic
In addition to water and carbon dioxide in the
air, plants need nutrients, trace elements, and oxygen to be supplied to their
roots for photosynthesis to occur. This is true whether the plants are grown
hydroponically or in soil. Plants essentially "don't care" where the nutrients
are coming from as long as they are available in sufficient levels and in
proper form for uptake by the roots. If the hydroponic nutrient solution
contains the right proportion of inorganic compounds and trace minerals to
optimally support photosynthesis and plant growth, the hydroponically grown
plants will be afforded what they need for growth and at the same time their
roots will be maintained in a moist or wet root environment. In short,
hydroponics affords optimal control of plant nutrition, oxygen delivery and
root moisture - difficult to obtain when growing plants in soil.
What are the difficulties in growing plants
For plants grown in soil, soil conditioning and
fertilizing is crucial for healthy plants and high yields. In the home
gardening context, soil conditioning, as generally practiced, is an inexact
procedure at best. The home gardener generally doesn't know the composition of
his/her soil. Soil mixtures differ in makeup and organic content, as do soil
amendments. There are a plethora of fertilizers on the market that are intended
to be added to the soil on a regular basis; most casual gardeners apply
fertilizers irregularly, if at all. And the downside of fertilizers is that
they kill soil microbes necessary to break down the organic compounds into
inorganics that the plant can utilize. Fertilizers also percolate through the
soil and contaminate our aquifers and groundwaters.
Even if optimal soil chemistry could be
concocted and maintained, the soil must also remain porous for oxygen to reach
the roots, but not so porous that regular watering will quickly leach away
plant nutrients from the root level. For nutrients to be made available to the
plant roots, the soil must also contain microbes that break down organic
compounds not directly usable by the plants. Importantly, the soil must also
remain moist for the plants to uptake nutrients and for photosynthesis to
proceed. These issues are not only important for plants grown in the ground but
are particularly challenging for plants grown in pots due to nutrient and
mineral leaching and the difficulty of keeping a uniform moisture level.
In a world where water is becoming a scarce
commodity, much of the water that we use in both commercial and home gardening
percolates below the root level and carries "nutrients" into the groundwater.
From a water utilization standpoint, even drip irrigation is a poor compromise
to growing plants hydroponically.
How does the Floating Gardentm
Kitchen Garden Kit Work?
The Kitchen Garden Kit has a square reservoir
containing a specially formulated nutrient solution and a closed-cell foam
plant bed which floats on the surface of the nutrient solution. Plant roots
extend into the nutrient solution where they absorb just the right amount of
nutrients for their growth. The roots never dry since they are constantly
bathed in the nutrient solution. As the plants respire and liquid is lost by
evaporation, the nutrient level drops. A small gap between the planting bed
tends to resist algae growth. Oxygen is transferred to the nutrient solution at
the air gap, fill port, through the plant net pots, and by periodic addition of
fresh nutrient or water. By periodically lifting the planting bed out of the
solution and by occasionally emptying the unit and replacing with fresh
nutrient, oxygen in the nutrient solution can be kept at an acceptable level.
Can I grow lettuce and herbs indoors in the
Yes, but adequate light is required. As long as
the plants are grown in a location where they can receive sunlight (say through
a window) for a portion of the day, the plants will grow. You can supplement
the available lighting with inexpensive full spectrum compact fluorescent (CFL)
lights or fluorescent "grow lights". This will markedly enhance your plants'
vitality and growth. We have successfully grown basil and other herbs
solely under CFL and fluorescent plant lights.
Where is the best place to locate the
If indoors, locate your hydroponic garden near a
south-facing window where the plants can receive sunlight during a part of the
day. During the summer months, direct sunlight does not come in through a south
window. Early in the day, the sun comes in from an east window, and the
Floating Garden can be placed in an East window. During mid-day, the south
window is best, and late in the day, as the sun sinks toward the West, a West
window has the most sun. As a rule of thumb, if you do not have supplemental
lighting, locate the Floating Garden in the location where the most window
light is available.
Outdoors, you can locate your Floating Garden on
a sunny patio or in your yard. For summer gardening outdoors our recommendation
for lettuces is to choose a location that is relatively cool. This might mean
trading off locating your garden in full sun with locating your garden in
partial or filtered sun to reduce lettuce leaf burn.
What's in the Floating Garden nutrient
Each Floating Garden kit is supplied with
packets of dry nutrients which are added to water to make up a nutrient
solution. Each nutrient packet comprises the twelve macro and micro nutrients
that all plants require. The Floating Garden nutrient mixture is intended
solely for use in our Floating Garden.
What is the purpose of aerating the nutrient
Roots need oxygen for the plant to grow. The
aerator puts oxygen in the water and the roots absorb this oxygen. Our Floating
Garden Kitchen Garden Kit is non-aerated. As the plants respire, the oxygen
concentration in the nutrient solution slowly decreases. Without aeration,
oxygen transport into the nutrient solution takes place at the boundary between
the floating bed and nutrient tray, the fill port, and through the net pots.
This kit is not appropriate for long growth cycle plants such as tomatoes and
cucumbers. To help aerate the roots in the Kitchen Garden Kit, it is
recommended that you periodically raise the planting bed out of the nutrient
solution and "dunk" a few times to help aerate the roots and the nutrient
solution. You can also purchase a small air pump and aerator from aquarium
What is aero-root technology?
Aero-root technology is our term for our
patent-pending technology imbedded in the Grass Gardentm Wheatgrass
Hydroponic Garden Kit. Using our patent-pending technology the upper portions
of the roots of the developing grasses are kept in air while the bottom
portions of the roots are maintained in nutrient. This not only enhances the
growth and vitality of the grasses but also reduces the chance of fungal growth
- which is prevalent with other methods of growing wheatgrass in soil or coco
fiber or inorganic media.
Can flowers be grown in the Floating
Yes. Annuals like Icelandic poppies, marigolds,
petunias, and pansies make excellent choices. Furthermore, there are a number
of edible flowers that can be grown in the Floating Garden and harvested
periodically for salads, etc. Try growing nasturtiums to add to your summer
Do the kits come with instructions?
Each kit comes with complete instructions
covering setting up the Floating Garden, starting your garden from seeds or
seedlings, routine maintenance, and starting a new crop.
How do I clean the Floating Garden between
The Floating Garden is extremely easy to clean
and set up for your next crop. Simply remove the net cups and rinse the
reservoir and planting bed. Then rinse the net cups, rockwool plugs/cubes, and
ceramic beads (they are re-usable).
Periodically you can sterilize the Floating
Garden and re-useables by rinsing with a dilute bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach
to 2 quarts water). Pour the solution into the tray, float the planting bed in
the reservoir and soak for five minutes on top and bottom. Remove the planting
bed and rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Then soak the net pots, rockwool,
and ceramic beads in the solution for about 5 minutes. Remove, and rinse
thoroughly with fresh water, squeezing the rockwool a few times to remove all
of the bleach solution. Empty the tray and rinse.