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Hydroponics for sustainable living

These days With the worlds population getting larger, and more and more city’s growing in size, this leavesĀ  less and less land to grow food with. As the farms that grow this produce become smaller and farther away from these city’s, this poses a big problem in getting enough fresh produce to these places in order to feed the people who live there. Not to mention the increasingly diminishing quality and nutrition of the produce being grown. As farmers are needing to turn to more chemical pesticides, hormones and genetically altered plants, in order to make every acre count. Also because the farms are so far away from the stores where they are sold, farmers are needing to pick the produce before it’s actually ripe, then use various means of artificial ripening on its way to the store. This just leads to bland, less nutritious produce.

In recent years there has been a lot of focus on being environmentally friendly and green. Previously regarded as unusable space, the landscape of the rooftops are being reclaimed for productive and sustainable purposes. Their is a huge trend in turning to urban rooftop gardens for sustainable living, could this be the future of urban farming? Well I cant tell the future, but these hydroponic rooftop gardens are sprouting up on many rooftops around the country, especially in large urban city’s. Both commercial and home gardeners alike are looking to be able make the most of the resources they have. Along with rooftops, home gardeners are even using any usable patio, balcony and deck space they can find for their gardens. Even backyards, basements and garages.

Benefits of rooftop Gardens
Besides taking advantage of all the unused space on the rooftops, there are some particular advantages. For one it helps cool the rooftop itself down, this uses less electricity to cool the building during summer months. The plants and greenhouse (if using one) block the direct sunlight that ultimately heats up the roof. Also if you can use solar power that’s so abundantly collected from rooftops in order to run the timers pumps and environmental control systems (if using them), you can create an even more efficient garden.

On the rooftop the plants can take full advantage of all the free direct sunlight. This reduces the cost of a hydroponic farming operation significantly. With a hydroponic farming operation (even a home garden) the largest cost is always the lighting, both in the cost of the lights and all the electricity needed to run the lights. The cost of the lights alone generally cost more than it does to build the hydroponic systems. On the rooftop the plants will get full benefit from all the free direct sunlight, at the same time the plants help shade the roof from the sunlight.

Also with a water collection system in place for collecting rainwater, you can take advantage of free rainwater, that would just otherwise just make it’s way down to the sewer system. This reduces the amount of water that the city water works need to process (that just costs taxpayers money). Not to mention the water company needs to charge money for water use, but by taking advantage of the free rainwater you can reduce your water bill while growing a sustainable urban garden to feed your family, that also reducing your food bill.

Long story short
With all the benefits of being able to utilize previously unused natural resources, along with the need for replacing the diminishing farmland surrounding large city’s, its no wonder that rooftop gardens are on the rise. Hydroponic Rooftop gardens also minimizes weight while maximizing plant space and vegetable productivity. One rooftop does not have a lot of acreage, but by using the method of hydroponics you can still utilize this space in an much more efficient way than any soil grown crops. There is vertically no downtime to using hydroponic systems between crops, no need to recondition soil, or rotate crops because of depleted minerals and/or soil born pests and/or diseases.

Once one crop is done, it only takes a matter of hours to pull the plants clean the system, refresh the nutrient solution and insert new plants that were already started by seeds many weeks earlier. In one day you go from the old crop, to a completely new crop by the end of the day. Even if you don’t have a suitable roof to be able to place your garden, when growing with the method of hydroponics, just about any space will do because you don’t need ground/soil to place the plants. A balcony is a great place to put a garden. Also you can design the system to custom fit your space, even if all you have to work with is just wall space. Like hanging a picture, you can hang a hydroponic garden.

Useful Links
8 greenhouses made using sustainable materials
Tapping the Potential of Urban Rooftops

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