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Home Hydroponic Gardens

In Print, The Growing Edge Volume 12, Number 2, November/December 2000

Spreading Simplified Hydroponics

Review by Dr. Lynette Morgan

Home Hydroponic Gardens
By Peggy Bradley and Cesar Marulanda
Global Hydroponics Network, (Corvallis, Oregon, 2000)
$34.95; 240 pages

It's not often that a book on hydroponic techniques can be both inspirational and emotive--but Home Hydroponic Gardens certainly merits such description. This book is best described as a manual for the production of hydroponic crops in poverty-stricken areas of the world. The first chapter introduces the reader to some of people who have built their own simplified hydroponic systems in countries such as Nicaragua, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela--places were people are using hydroponics to not only fight hunger, but also create thriving small business ventures.

Peggy Bradley and Cesar Marulanda have gathered their extensive knowledge and experience of simplified hydroponics by actually working in developing countries. Beautiful illustrations help explain--in simple terms--how people who have very little can source materials, design, construct, and gain continuous yields from family and community hydroponic gardens. Techniques on how to recycle water and organic materials are included to minimize waste and get the most from the gardens.

The chapter on plant nutrients contains valuable information for all hydroponic growers and covers many aspects of plant production we don't often think about. There are even sections on adding minerals for human health and an entire chapter on using organic nutrients, creating a worm farm, and extracting organic fertilizer for hydroponic use. Very few hydroponic texts even touch on such topics, which here are covered in a step-by-step fashion that any grower can follow.

Not only are the details of the day-to-day operation covered in detail, but so to are the cultural requirements for many plant species, including seed starting, pollination, pruning, training, low-tech pest and disease control, and symptoms of mineral deficiencies. A fascinating chapter on human nutrition outlines the best combination of crops to provide dietary calories, vitamins, and minerals.

While designed to be a production manual in the use of basic hydroponic systems in poorer areas of the world, anyone can learn a lot from this text. And the easy-to-follow instructions and principles of simplified hydroponics are certainly attractive to someone just starting out with their first hydroponic system. When we consider that over 1 billion people on Earth are malnourished and hungry, the existence of Home Hydroponic Gardens takes on a much greater importance.


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