Aeroponics: No soil required for beautiful, bountiful garden

2014-06-01T00:00:00Z Aeroponics: No soil required for beautiful, bountiful gardenBy Elena Acoba Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

If you don’t have space for an edible garden, consider growing up.

That’s what Kathleen Rose did when Juice Plus, the company she works for, began selling an aeroponics system.

“I’ve always wanted a garden,” says Rose, a Foothills resident who sells nutritional supplements and the Tower Garden for the company. “But I never had time or space.”

In aeroponics gardening, plants grow without soil. Instead, plant roots hang in the air while a solution of dechlorinated water and plant nutrients is applied directly to the roots.

Most aeroponics systems use misters to apply the amended water. The Tower Garden acts like a fountain. A 20-gallon container holds water and a water pump. A tower with holes extends out of the container.

Inside the tower, water is pumped to its top through a tube. It then percolates through a strainer and drips onto the roots. Plants grow through the holes.

The 4.5-foot Tower Garden with seeds and plant food costs $525. Because water circulates, aeroponic gardening uses far less water than in-ground plants, Rose says.

She’s growing kale, celery, zucchini, cucumber, cherry tomato, herbs and nasturtium in the standard tower and a 6-foot model.

Any type of plant that doesn’t grow on a tree or in the soil, such as root vegetables, can be grown in an aeroponics system.

Aeroponics is pricey compared to traditional hydroponics, in which roots are anchored by gravel or another medium, says Justin Cosgrove, owner of Sea of Green, a hydroponics store.

“Aeroponics is the most expensive of the hydroponics systems” because of the equipment requirements, Cosgrove says.

A single-bucket aeroponics system runs about $60, while a single-bucket traditional hydroponic system costs about $30 at Sea of Green.

Aeroponic plants grow faster than in other methods, he says. A prolonged power outage could cause damage to plants that can’t get water.

Rose says it’s an easy way for her to grow food. Like any backyard gardener, she enjoys going out in the morning to gather fresh ingredients for her breakfast smoothie.

Plus, she says, “I love the way it sounds.”

Contact Tucson freelance writer Elena Acoba at acoba@dakotacom.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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