The Urban Farmer: Out Of Water * Climate * Spindly Seedlings

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The Urban Farmer, Issue #038 * Harvest out of Water * Climate Requirements *
Spindly Seedlings



“Everything that slows us down and
forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace”.

~May Sarton




There’s nothing like being able to pick fresh
lettuce leaves or herbs straight from the garden – or, in the case of Anne Shaw,
straight out of the water. Together with husband Chris, Mrs Shaw has been
growing hydroponic lettuces and herbs from their Mt Martha property for 20

“We grow the fancy lettuces, such as oakleaf, coral, butter, mignonette and
mini-cos, as well as basil, coriander, rocket and spinach,” she said.
“Hydroponics is surprisingly efficient in water usage. We use less than five per
cent of the water needed to grow crops in the ground.”

Mrs Shaw said growing food hydroponically is great fun. “You can do it using
plastic buckets, storm water pipes – anything. All of our crops are on tables,
so they are at waist-height. And there’s no weeding and no grit or soil in our

The Shaws also use integrated pest management. “We use the good guys to kill the
bad guys,” Mrs Shaw said. “We buy in tiny wasps which eat the aphids, using
natural mechanisms to kill the pests.”

Their label, Peninsula Aquagrowers, is sold through Mornington-based company
Simply Fresh to restaurants, cafes and fruit growers around the peninsula. Of
course, hydroponic growing means there are crops every day of the year. “You’ve
got to enjoy this because you’re working every day,” Mrs Shaw said.

“But there is something good about working with nature.”


A hydroponics system allows you to create the perfect
“micro-climate” for your plants. The beauty of this process is that in providing
perfect food and climate, you can reap a consistently bountiful harvest, season
after season.

Now, a spare bedroom is not automatically suitable for growing vegetables. In
order to succeed, you must provide your ‘ponics setup with adequate light, fresh
air, and a proper range of temperature and humidity.

Fresh air

If your garden is in a closed off bedroom or small grow room; keep the door open
and the window cracked. Air exchange is a must. Plants deplete the CO2 (carbon
dioxide) in the room, and fresh air must be provided, one way or another. A fan
is a must… more on this later.

Unless your garden sits in direct sunlight for a few hours every day, you’ll
need to install supplemental lighting above the grow area. Read about the types
of lighting required for hydroponics here: Indoor
Grow Lights.

Temp & Humidity
You must also provide the correct temperature range and humidity for your plants
to thrive. This is a very basic requirement that beginners often overlook. And
it dooms them to failure! Follow our simple guidelines and you’ll grow a
winner: Temp
& Humidity

Hydro Tip of the Month

Are your seedlings skinny and spindly?


Seedlings grow very tall and spindly? The problem: Not enough light! You would
think it would be the opposite, but it’s not. When the light is too dim or too
far from the seedlings, they strain towards the light, making them almost
unusable for transplanting. Give your seedlings strong and close lighting if you
want stocky, sturdy baby plants.

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of The Urban Farmer Ezine. Each month, we will bring you another inspiring photo, gardening quote or idea, plus fresh new hydroponics news, techniques & products.

Insiders tips to get you growing…


~Stella and Simon from


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