About the Author: Chris 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.
Hydroponic gardening is the easiest way to ensure you always have food, no matter what’s going on in the outside world. The price of produce seems to always be going up and worse, few of us have any clue where the food we eat has been before it hits our shopping cart. Hydroponic gardens use artificial lighting (if inside) and an automatic feeding/watering system to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs. An inert medium such as clay pellets or rock-wool is used to hold the plant’s roots. Since dirt isn’t used you have a reduced risk of pests and other common infestations. The nutrients are delivered directly to the plants so your plants can focus on growing foliage and fruit vs. prospecting with its roots for their nutrients. You can control all the variables needed for optimal plant growth: light, temperature, and nutrients.
Benefits to hydroponic back-up garden:
1. Less reliance on supermarkets and other external factors:
There’s so much we can’t control. Farmers can lose crops, warehouse workers could go on strike, natural disasters may occur… All these factors and more lead to less crop availability and higher food costs if you’re relying on factors outside your control to feed you and your family.
2. Larger yields:
Hydroponic gardens produce more crops per plant and per square foot than traditional gardening. Each plant has a constant supply of nutrients, light and temperature stability – all of which are essential to growth. In nature, there’s always interruptions that can stunt growth (thunder storms, cloud cover, drought.)
See this quote from Rana Zahid (Project Director for Fareed Farmhouse in Pakistan):
“Through this technique, farmers can get between 450 and 550 tons of vegetables
per acre, compared to the average yield of 15 tons per acre from traditional farming.” (source).
That’s nearly 37x the yield over traditional gardening. A small 10ft x 10ft (100 square feet) space in your home could easily produce hundreds of pounds of produce per year! It’s very possible that in times of unrest you will need to be able to produce food in limited indoor space so you’re acres of land may not make much of a difference.
3. Less resources:
Soil-based gardening can use as much as 20x more water and 10x more land over hydro growing. Not to mention you need to provide several times more fertilizer to soil as much will be lost to water runoff.
Food independent of the established system is more important than you think:
- Produce is handled multiple times before it lands in your shopping cart. Who knows who’s touched it and what or how many animals or insects have relieved themselves on that food you’re eating?
- Pesticide use is rampant. Read the following story about Aldicarb (Toxic Pesticide Banned After Decades of Use). What ‘safe’ pesticide will be banned next?
- War and strife continue to plague the human race and it’s safe to assume that modern society can fall apart overnight. Supermarkets are the first places to be emptied in a catastrophe.
Not only will a back-up hydroponic garden give you independence from all the societal and environmental factors affecting the quality and quantity of produce available to you, but the pride that comes from being prepared for anything that life throws at you.
What you need to stock pile for an emergency hydroponic garden system:
Here’s a quick list of supplies and tools you should ensure is part of your preparation list. I recommend using this list and considering your ‘what-if’ scenario planning to determine exactly what you need.
- Water Pump
- flexible water hose (25 feet)
- Air pump
- air tubing (25 feet)
- Large seal-able tub/tank for a water reservoir
- 3” net pots (plan to use gravel for the medium)
- 10 gallons of hydroponic liquid fertilizer. (A quick note: liquid fertilizer stored properly can last years.)
- pH testing kit
- Thick plastic sheets and 2 by 6’s for a large outdoor planting
Supplies for grow light system (will over ~ 3 by 3 foot growing area)
- Two 100W CFL bulbs
- PVC pipe
- Extension cord
- 1” PVC pipe
- 1 1⁄4” PVC pipe
- 1” PVC pipe tee split
- Outlet to adapter socket
- Lamp socket splitter
- Saw/box cutter
Many of these items should already be on your prep list but consider adding and adjusting the total amount so you will be able to build a back food supply. Finally, it would be wise to print out the plans listed above or others so you have a ready guide.
Guest Post Written By: Chris Wimmer