C. Quish photo
C.Quish photo
C.Quish photo

On a recent trip to Florida, I visited Hydro Harvest Farms, a hydroponic farm in the town of Ruskin. The barren lot was not the most fertile soil for growing, so the owner invested in vertical planters stacked four high. The growing medium is a soilless mix of perlite and vermiculite. The containers themselves are made of two-inch thick styrofoam, providing insulation to the roots from the heat and occasional cold nights during the winter. Mind a ‘cold’ night in mid-Florida is 35 degrees F. The plants are watered with a nutrient solution providing all the water and minerals the plants need to produce the fruits and vegetables. The solution is delivered through a series of plastic and rubber hoses and sophisticated injection pump system. Pests are controlled using IPM, integrated pest management. Pest insects are indentified, damage evaluated and only then a predator insect will be released to eat the pest insects. Crops grown are a root crops in the base rectangular planter or stand alone box. Potatoes, onion, beets and turnips were on display during this March. Herbs, different lettuce and collard greens filled the stacked star-shaped planters. And there were rows and rows of stacks containing strawberries. This area of Florida is known for its tomatoes and strawberries.  Tomatoes were already harvested and passed and the strawberry crop was just coming in.  Thankfully, my husband doesn’t mind indulging my lust for visiting farms, gardens and botanical adventures, even when we are on vacation.

C. Quish photo

C. Quish photo