We interviewed Dave Szymanski, our Assistant Grower, to answer your questions about the Leafy Greens Subscription.
What is a hydroponic system?
Imagine a gutter, and on the gutter are the plants. A stock tank dispenses water into rows of gutters. The water lays a film of nutrient solution into the gutters. The nutrient solution runs through the root system of the plants. The water then returns to the stock tank and cycles through again. A hydroponic system eliminates the use of soil when growing plants.
What are the benefits of using hydroponics?
- For one, the plants are grown locally in our Aurora greenhouse, so you know the source from where your food grows.
- Plants grown hydroponically are not susceptible to bacteria found in soil that may have sitting water or wastewater in it.
- Our private well water is treated to control the pH level.
- We are providing optimal nutrient levels to the plants instead of fertilizing the soil and letting them leach out.
- A hydroponic system allows for speedier turnover of produce. Instead of something taking 8 weeks to grow in soil, it will take 6 weeks in a hydroponic system.
- We follow safety protocol and go through a sanitation process every time we harvest, cleaning tools and equipment.
- While we are not certified organic, we only use products approved for organic growing. Our seeds and cuttings are organically grown and non-GMO.
What types of lettuce are you growing?
The hydroponic system we have is designed for head lettuce that can be cut and grown back quickly. Two different types of Buttercrunch lettuce, red and green, have been harvested. Ask for a sample at our Aurora location. Heat tolerant Buttercrunch has been proven to do well in greenhouses and hydroponic systems. We are also currently growing 3 different types of romaine with more varieties on the way.
What edibles are you trialing?
We are trialing cilantro, basil, and bok choy. They are doing well. Baby leaf Kale is on the list to grow, either hydroponically or in soil. The typical broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprout plants are a little too big to grow in the hydroponic system. We will trial some mini broccoli and cauliflower varieties to see how they do.
We are also growing microgreens in flats of soil. They pack more nutrients because the energy is not sent to growth of the plant. We have different mixes of beets, radish, mustards, and chard to give neutral and spicy flavors to the colorful microgreens. If any of the trials don’t take well to the hydroponic system, we will switch them over to soil.
Are pesticides used?
We use natural products and practices to help eliminate pests. Beneficial insects and certified, food safe bio-insecticide spray provide minimal bug damage.
How do I store the lettuce at home?
We recommend you wash your lettuce entirely. Dry it thoroughly or spin the water off. Moisture speeds up the degradation process. If kept in the right atmosphere, 45 degrees and low humidity in your refrigerator drawer, lettuce will stay fresh for about 3 weeks.