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Florida creates many challenges for growers. The sandy soil is of poor quality; the extremely humid summer season is long; water is a limited resource and urban land is expensive. Hydroponic farming is an innovative solution to these issues. We grow in the absence of soil, providing the plants the nutrients they need through water. Growing within greenhouses provides another layer of control. Struggling though a myriad of issues, we have been able to grow year-round – with more success each year.
Most of our growing utilizes a recirculating NFT (nutrient film technique) system. The plants are grown in shallow channels, angled to allow gravity to return the nutrient water back to the main tank. Seeds are sown in rockwool cubes. After germination the cubes are placed in the channels, where they grow to maturity. We seed 5000 cubes per week for our NFT system.
The second way we grow is using a “Dutch Bucket” system. A drip emitter irrigates each bucket periodically throughout the day. Our cucumbers are grown using this technique. Tomatoes and peppers can also be grown using this method.
Lastly, we use the Verti-Gro growing system for kale. A tower of containers is watered at the top and the irrigation then drains through to the bottom. Our kale house hosts 5600 plants!
Check out our Question Corner for free hydroponic advice.