by Ryan Moeggenberg
When I tell people about HomeSpun and talk about growing our food, they often have excuses why they don’t try to grow anything. “Our growing season is too short,” or “The soil here is just lava sand. It won’t grow anything.” This issue of HomeSpun Magazine is all about showing you ways to grow food in Central Oregon that aren’t subject to soil or weather!
Hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics are different ways of growing your food other than in a garden in your backyard. They are usually, but don’t have to be, indoor operations.
A system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.
The process of growing plants in sand, gravel or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.
A plant-cultivation technique in which the roots hang suspended in the air while nutrient solution is delivered to them in the form of a fine mist.
One of the positive benefits of these systems is that they allow people who do not have garden space to still grow some of their own food. Aquaponics systems can literally be as small as a ten gallon fish tank. Amazon sells highly overpriced hydroponics packages that would fit on your tabletop or you could DIY a large system to fit on one wall in your garage with parts and instruction from Ashley at Bends Indoor Garden Station. My family has a fully automated vertical aeroponic growing system in our kitchen that grows more greens and herbs then we can keep up with in a 30 inch square foot print.
We’ve rounded up a cadre of local experts to teach us about these systems. Shannon from Volcano Veggies talks about their aquaponics production facility. Bob Camel from Tumalo Family Farm tells us about his one-of-a-kind, hybrid aquaponic/hydroponic system in his greenhouse. There is an article about Tower Gardens, a family-sized vertical aeroponics system. Did you know that Pilot Butte Middle School has an Aquaponics Club? Lastly, if you want to DIY yourself any of these systems, Ashley from Bends Indoor Garden Station (B.I.G.S.) lays it all out for you.
These growing systems take some setup and experimentation, but when I talk to you, you can’t use the excuse of soil and growing season to not grow your food anymore!