Indoor Growing AUS 19

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630 DE - CMH

Medium Defender Reflector DE Lamp Holder (Adjustable) Controllable LF Square Wave E-Ballast 630W DE-CMH 3K Lamp Super Spreader, Reflecter Connecter Power Cords (Remote/On Board Ballast set-up)


Use for veg, flower, supplementation or full life cycle



CRI: 94.8


Let’s welcome to the CANNA family:

Available now: CANNA CALMAG AGENT Calcium and Magnesium supplement for water conditioning.





Transitioning from



Grow Lights







9 Foreword

44 Nightmare on NPK Street

10 Author Spotlight

50 Transitioning from HID to LED Grow Lights

12 Product Spotlights

54 Fungi Life Cycle

16 Science Corner:VPD

61 Reviving Old Seeds

18 The History Of Hydroponics - A Timeline

64 Pest Prevention:The Itsy Bitsy Spider Mite

26 Going With The Flow:An Interview With William Texier

66 Castrated Seeds Explained

30 Water,Water, Everywhere!

72 The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors

34 Urban Farms in Skyscrapers

78 Who’s Growing What Where

37 Best Of The Blog: Kiss The Ground

80 5 Cool Ways To Learn About Sustainable And Regenerative Growing

38 The Ins and Outs of Organic Cloning





020 has been one hell of a year, and record-level numbers of people are turning to their gardens for solace. Sales of seeds, soil, and gardening equipment

also hit record highs.

Gardening is rising in popularity, but only a fraction of the people getting their hands dirty grow indoors. However, more are choosing to bring their growing ventures inside, often because gardening outdoors can be so limiting. Your zone dictates your choice of veg, the weather is getting more unpredictable, and pests of all kinds have easy access. It can take just one big hail storm to decimate your hard work. When you garden indoors, it will never hail. If properly controlled, the environment is always perfect. The team at Garden Culture can help you get there; we can also help with plant nutrition, watering schedules, lighting, and more. In this issue, Stephen Brookes gives an overview of Vapour Pressure Deficit (VPD). An industry buzzword these days, VPD is a new way of looking at the relationship between temperature, humidity, and plant growth. HID lighting has been the staple forever, but the new LEDs are starting to fly off the shelves. Different lights require different growing techniques. In Important Concepts for Transitioning from HID to LED Grow Lights, Alex Fraser explains just that. We also look back at one of the oldest methods of gardening indoors in The History of Hydroponics - A Timeline by Jesse Singer and get to know industry legend and founder of GHE, now Terra Aquatica, William Texier a little better. Passionate gardeners can extend their season if they have a space in the kitchen, an unused closet, or an area in the basement. Help seed the movement. Teach your friends and family. You can start by giving this magazine along to someone you can start by giving this magazine to somebody else once you’re finished with it. Happy indoor gardening, Eric 3

CREDITS SPECI A L TH A N KS TO: Albert Mondor, Alex Fraser, Anne Gibson, Ari Singer, Catherine Sherriffs, Cody J Garrett-Tait, Dr Callie Seaman, Jesse Singer, Martyna Krol, Nico Hill, Rich Hamilton, and Stephen Brookes. PRESIDENT Eric Coulombe +1-514-233-1539 E XECU T I V E ED I TO R Celia Sayers +1-514-754-1539 ED I TO R Catherine Sherriffs DESIGN Job Hugenholtz D I G I TA L & SO CI A L M A R K E T I N G CO O R D I N ATO R Serena Sayers +1-514-754-0062 ADVERTISING PUBLISHER 325 Media INC 44 Hyde Rd., Mille-Isles QC, Canada J0R 1A0 ISSN 2562-3583 (PRINT) ISSN 2562-3591 (ONLINE) Garden Culture is published six times a year, both in print and online. @GardenCulture




D I ST R I B U T I O N PA R T N ER S • WHG • Stealth Garden Supplies • Dome Garden Supplies • HY-GEN

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Author Spotlight

credit: Tom Rust

Growing organic is simple; all of my ingredients come from nearby farms. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint; it takes some building and hard work at first, but long term results are easy to achieve.


rom natural beekeeping, wildflowers, and allotment gardens to guerilla gardening, aquaponics, and avoiding troubles in the grow room, Garden Culture’s Martyna

Krol covers it all! Let’s get to know this writer and gardener extraordinaire a little better, shall we? What’s your growing motto? Never give up! Sometimes the results aren’t as expected, the space too small, the weather too wet and so on, but they can be taken as lessons rather than disappointments. I try to observe and learn, read about it and assess, so when the conditions are better, I can implement what I’ve learned next time. What is your favourite plant to grow? Tricky question! I love them all for their different qualities, but one that’s been close to my hear t recently is Achocha ‘Fat Baby’. It’s a small, cucumber that resembles a hedgehog from South America. It has a remarkable taste and is very easy to grow, even in wet England.


Martyna Krol

Do you grow organically? I do, however, I also used mineral nutrients in hydroponics and I don’t have anything against them. I primarily grow in soil, so I create a sustainable environment for soil animals and other little critters, as they do half the work for me. Growing organic is simple; all of my ingredients come from nearby farms. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint; it takes some building and hard work at first, but long term results are easy to achieve. What is your favourite food? All of it, I don’t discriminate! Mash can be eaten every day (Polish roots are hard to get rid of ), homegrown roasted veg, fresh juices. It would be easier to say what’s my least favourite food: an aubergine. What is on your playlist right now? Oh, dear! Not up to everyone’s taste, but it’s my go-to playlist called ‘The Slaughterhouse,’ which contains equally energising and relaxing death and black metal classics. Currently on ‘Cannibal Corpse Make them suffer.’ I do listen to ‘normal’ music too, I promise. 3

Are you interested in writing for Garden Culture Magazine? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email introducing yourself with a sample of your work.

Gro-Silic by GROTEK BIOAVAILABLE SILICA A fully soluble, highly concentrated, and effective silica fertiliser. Gro-Silic is made of silica in the form of mono silicic acid, the only silica compound known to be bioavailable. The benefits of using Gro-Silic are many: • • • •

Strengthens plant cells, structure, and reduces the impact of abiotic stress. Reduces plant uptake of heavy metals, increases soil pH, and induces oxidising capacity of roots. Contains boron that strengthens cell wall synthesis, structure, and lignification to promote growth and development. Features molybdenum to improve plant response and resistance to cold, drought, and salinity.

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BACKCOUNTRY Blend Green Planet Backcountry Blend is a granular, controlled-release, complete spectrum fertiliser, designed for either top dressing or incorporating into the potting mix. Backcountry Blend features TrueCote Technology, which allows the unique micronutrients to disperse evenly over the area fertilised. Designed to neutralise acidic soils; the custom-blended formula prevents nutrient lockout and deficiencies and will bring most soils into the correct pH range.The unique humic acid blend improves soil consistency, microbial activity, water retention, natural chelation and will break down heavy soil. It is dust-free and the only formula on the market to contain these added benefits.Available in grow, bloom and boost formulations. Go to to find a retailer near you.


PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS Sol Fusion - Sol Board LED Series Take your yield to the next level with the most advanced LED quantum board systems on the planet. The Sol Board Series comprises the latest Samsung LM301H LED chipsets, OSRAM Far Red LED chipsets, and world-renowned Meanwell LED Drivers.The units are assembled with extra-large, lightweight heatsinks for superior heat dissipation and have waterproof protective shields for the LED chips. Available in three sizes, the 100W (SB1000), 200W (SB2000) and 400W (SB4000). Learn more:

DLI LED Indoor White Dutch Lighting Innovations is an innovative company in The Netherlands bringing world-leading horticultural lighting engineers together. DLI’s newest release is the TopLighting fixture designed for heavy fruiting and fast-flowering annuals. The TopLighting Indoor White LED (358w) is an incredibly powerful fixture utilising Osram components in a customised low-profile housing. With high output PPFD, IP65 waterproof housing, and optimal angled vertical light uniformity, these fixtures are the new standard in LED lighting. Perfect for use in vegetative and bloom phases, the DLI LED delivers heavy yields, high quality, and exceptional flower development with strong penetration for serious stacking! DLI LED is available now in all Australian retail stores, exclusively distributed via Stealth Garden Wholesale supplies. Visit to find a retailer near you.

SENSEN Electromagnetic Air Pumps Driven by high-quality DC permanent-magnet motors, SENSEN Electromagnetic Air Pumps have a non-oil lubricating design that produces cleaner compressed air than diaphragm style pumps. The reciprocal piston moves up and down in the cylinder to create highpressure airflow. Aluminium housings disperse heat efficiently, offering higher reliability and expected lifespan. Check out for more info.

G-Pot Grids NEW & IMPROVED Made for circular pots, G-Pot Grids also fit neatly into G Pots, offering improved base drainage and better aeration of air pots. Larger diameter legs provide better stability and a load rating of 100 kg. Made from virgin plastic, G-Pot Grids won’t leach chemicals, crack easily, or become brittle over time. G Grids stack together for maximum shipping efficiency. Visit to find more great products for your garden.

QUEST 706 The big daddy of the Quest dehumidifier range! Pulls 330L of water per day; this unit is designed for large cultivation zones (approximately 60-70m2). Quest Dehumidifiers are the world-leading dehumidifier range, an essential component of any good climate control system. With the range including the Quest 70 (26L per day), the Quest 155 (71L per day), and the Quest F9 Air Mover, there is a Quest dehumidifier designed for your growing needs. Quest dehumidifiers are energy-efficient, allowing you to remove unwanted moisture in the most cost-effective way possible. Keeping an optimal humidity is essential for healthy plant growth, and Quest 706 is perfect for glasshouses and extensive medical facilities. Check out for more information.


AVERT Signal Blocker “If it wasn’t heard, it was never said!”

The last line of defence for your privacy and personal security, the Avert Signal Blocker is a signal-blocking pouch that stops digital intruders. Features multi-layer protection; this unique product takes your phone or smart device completely off-grid. The RF Signal Blocker blocks all radiofrequency waves (GPS, WIFI, GSM, 3G, 4G, 5G etc.) and is designed to keep your conversations, information, and location private. Your digital rights should include privacy, and the Avert signal blocking is your best defence! Place your device in the pouch, and you’re off the grid! Safety, security and peace of mind; Avert Signal blocking pouch is available now via select retailers in Australia and New Zealand. AVERT Bags, including their premium odour control line and vacuum seal bags, are distributed by Stealth Garden Wholesale.Visit Stealth-Garden. com to find a retailer near you.

Green Planet Liquid Weight A blend of simple and complex carbohydrates with triacontanol, yucca extracts, bio-available amino acids, ascorbic acid, and low molecular weight humic acid. These beneficial carb sources support both your plant directly and act as a food source for the microbial life in the root zone which lead to increased absorption of essential nutrients and growth stimulants such as triacontanol. Fulvic acid helps chelate and elicit a hormone-like response that increases the permeability of the root membranes allowing easier nutrient uptake. Liquid Weight contains natural surfactants, such as yucca. Ascorbic acid is responsible for many of the processes in plant growth and maturity, supports rapid cell growth, protects the plant from the harmful effects of UV light, and dramatically increases the resin and essential oil content of the flowers. Liquid Weight is the premier flowering carbohydrate super supplement. Visit for information on the entire Green Planet range.



PRO MANTIS Using nature to enhance your substrate, PRO MANTIS contains unique insect castings and diatoms that will drastically improve plant health and overall vigour.The insect castings have all macro and trace elements in organic form, which acts as a stimulant and food for your beneficial microbes! PRO MANTIS also contains chitins which stimulate natural defences within the plant, preventing pest and disease while ensuring increases in yield.These compounds amplify the uptake of nutrients, and the specialised blend of diatom particle helps maintain moisture retention via capillary action while adding aeration to the substrate.

Some of the very best on the market! Made in Japan with a choice of chrome-plated carbon steel or 304 stainless steel blades, Flower Snips offer a superior cutting edge that earns them the prestigious reputation as never dull. ARS Flower Snips will last a typical gardener a lifetime. If you are after some of the best secateurs in Australia, ARS Flower Snips are your number 1 choice. Go to to find a retailer near you.

PRO MANTIS is a natural superfood for your plant! Designed for use in coco coir, peat and soil-based substrates. PROTIP: Mix into your substrate before planting. PRO MANTIS is 100% organic and can be used with any mineral fertiliser or as part of a complete soil formula.

Hustler Hydro Plant Support Yo-Yos When striving for garden success, it is necessary to support the branches that hold your heavy growing fruit. The Hustler Hydroponics Plant Support Yo-Yos are equipped with a retractable spring and stopper that will retract as your plant’s progress; secure at one height when desired.

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Monitor Your Key Plant Health Parameters 24/7 With The Bluelab Guardian Monitor

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SENSEN Air Pumps The SENSENYT air pump range offers both reliability and affordability now synonymous with the SENSEN brand. Also includes a 4-way splitter manifold for multiple airlines. Go to to find a retailer near you.

The Bluelab Guardian Monitor will continuously monitor the pH, EC/PPM, and temperature of your reservoir. When you consistently track these three fundamental parameters of nutrient uptake, you’ll be able to spot any fluctuations, allowing you to solve issues as they happen. Here are some of the Bluelab Guardian Monitor’s key benefits: • • • •

High and low alarms to alert you when parameters are out of range Large, backlit display for at-a-glance viewing Easy pH calibration with on-screen instructions Flexible mounting options for walls, posts, and racks

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Science Corner:

Vapour Pressure (VPD) Deficit How does the vapour pressure deficit impact a plant’s growth and the quality of the harvests?

In its most basic form, VPD is the difference between the amount of water (vapour) in a room and how much water the room can hold when it’s saturated. Knowing the VPD is essential because, at low pressure, moisture can form on the plant’s leaves and fruits, increasing its susceptibility to mould and rot. At higher pressure, the plant needs to increase its uptake of water to keep up with its water losses to the room (transpiration). When this happens, the stomata (small pores on the underside of a leaf that take in water and CO2) star t to close, and the plant will stop growing.



Science Corner

In indoor grow rooms, monitoring and regulating VPD will help solve many problems during the vegetative and flowering cycles Why Bother With VPD? In 2017, Zhang, D published an article on VPD in greenhouses showing how proper control can reduce stress and help regulate irrigations to save water over a tomato growing season (1). In indoor grow rooms, monitoring and regulating VPD will help solve many problems during the vegetative and flowering cycles. Furthermore, it will also help you achieve show-grade fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Firm fruits, glossy and colourful herbs, and flavoursome vegetables are a product of the environment they are grown in and have very little to do which the nutrients used. In other words, there is truth to the statement that ‘environment is everything’. When you control VPD, you are allowing the plant to uptake water, nutrients, and CO2 in the most efficient way possible, which speeds up metabolism for faster growth and enables the plant to reach its genetic potential for yield and quality.

How To Measure VPD You’ll need a monitoring system, such as the Minder from PL Grow systems, which can tell you the temperatures, humidity, and VPD from anywhere in the world. These units are small, compact, and accurate. If newer technology intimidates you, have a thermometer/hygrometer and an infra-red thermometer handy to measure the plant leaf temperature. Plug the information into a chart to work out VPD, such as this one from Omni: VPD charts generally all look the same, but it’s essential to pick one that doesn’t overcomplicate things. Google search ‘VPD charts’ and click on the images of one that is colour-coded and looks simple to follow. The chart shows that if you manage humidity as the temperature increases or decreases, you can keep the VPD in the green zone (safe) and allow your plants to grow happily. The same applies to changes in humidity, where you can increase or decrease the temperatures to keep everything moving along at a good pace. The numbers in each square may be confusing at first, but they represent the pressure plants are experiencing in kPa (Kilopascal). The numbers are easy when you know what they should be in your room. • • •

Propagation and early veg: 0.8 kPa (+/- 0.2) Late veg and early flower: 1.2 kPa (+/- 0.2) Mid to later flower: 1.4 kPa (+/- 0.2)

These are the basics; once you are happy with the performance in your grow room, you should naturally begin to learn more and explore VPD in detail, such as the leaf temperatures. In a plant that is metabolising well and in good health, the leaf temperature should be 2-3°C lower than the room temperature. Monitor the temperatures, humidity, and VPD with a data logger consistently over 24 hours and make sure the plant is in the optimum environment during the lights on and the lights off stages. VPD is critical to achieving nutrient-dense fruits and high yields.

How To Control VPD To control VPD, you need to know what the readings are, so whichever method you use (technology or manual measuring), be accurate and consistent with the measurements. Controlling the humidity is where most growers will want to go first to manipulate the VPD. Consider investing in good humidifiers and dehumidifiers with controllers. With these two items, you can maintain a steady relative room humidity, and therefore, have reasonable control over VPD. The control factor can become more challenging during the summer (with plenty of moisture in the air) as well as in the winter (dry air). Altering the room temperatures will help with that issue. Most growers will do this by increasing or decreasing airflow, dimming or boosting the lights, and changing the time of day the lights are on and off. There are hundreds of articles and podcasts that go into more detail on this if you need more information.

Conclusion Too many growers are still spending money on the ‘secret nutrient’ that increases their yields or improves quality. Go back to the basics with nutrients, and concentrate on creating the perfect environment with particular attention to the VPD. Instead of buying fancy nutrients, purchase the right hardware to take measurements. Whether it’s better quality, more vivid colours, or an increase in yields, I promise this will have a far more significant impact on your grow. 3


Stephen Brookes is a hydroponics aficionado and loves to apply the scientific method to his articles. He has been the manager of NPK Technology for 10 years, and produces and hosts the world’s number one hydroponics podcast, NPK Live. Stephen is also owner of NPK Media, a 360 media content production agency. He likes to read and enjoys mountaineering in his spare time. Motto: The more you learn, the less you know.

Reference: (1) Zhang, D., Du, Q., Zhang, Z., Jiao, X., Song, X. and Li, J., 2017. Vapour pressure deficit control in relation to water transport and water productivity in greenhouse tomato production during summer. Scientific Reports, 7(1).



The History Of


Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil and is derived from the words “hydro” (water) and the Greek ponein (to labour, toil) and ponos (labour). While hydroponics has grown in popularity and importance over the last 80 years or so, its origins and some of the modern methods we know today date back thousands of years. For a very complete and in-depth dive into hydroponics, check out the Garden Culture website and our five-part series, “History of Hydroponics.” But for now, you can dip your toes into this fun and fact-filled hydroponics timeline.



600 BC: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are slightly controversial on a couple of levels. The first is that the gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, might never have existed. Some texts reference them, but no real archaeological evidence has been found. Secondly, when examining the texts, there are multiple references to the use of soil. However, the irrigation techniques used to get the water throughout the “gardens” does have similarities to methods used in modern hydroponic systems.


Aztec Floating Gardens The Aztec Floating Gardens are also a little controversial. First off, contrary to popular opinion, these islands, or Chinampas, were attached to the land and not floating freely. But more importantly, while the roots of the plants did grow down through the raft and into the water, the Aztecs did use soil on the rafts, so this wasn’t true hydroponic/soilless growing.

The first ‘modern’ book that discusses growing plants without soil is Sylva Sylvarum, written by Sir Francis Bacon and published posthumously the year after his death.

1627: Sylva Sylvarum

1648: The 5-Year Willow Tree Experiment

An experiment conducted by Flemish Chemist Jean Baptist van Helmont that attempts to determine where plants derive their mass. Van Helmont planted a five-pound willow tree in a pot with 200 pounds of soil. Over the next five years, he added nothing to the pot but distilled water and rainwater. After five years, the tree weighed in at 169 pounds, and the soil only weighed 2 grams less than it had five years earlier. Van Helmont concluded that “164 pounds of wood, barks, and roots arose out of water only.”

5 pounds

5 years

169 pounds


John Woodward


Woodward was an English naturalist who, in 1699, published his “water culture” experiments using spearmint grown in different waters (nonpure, distilled). He found that plants grown in less-pure water grew better than those grown in distilled water.

Julius Von Sachs Professor Sachs publishes the first formula for a nutrient solution that can be dissolved in water to grow plants. This standard formula - with just a few minor tweaks - is used for the next 80 years.


William Frederick Gericke Gericke, the “Father of Hydroponics,” while at the University of California at Berkeley, grows tomato vines 25 feet high in his backyard using only water and nutrients.


Wake Island This rocky atoll in the Pacific Ocean was used as a refuelling stop for Pan American Airlines in the 1930s. Because there is no soil there, they had to use hydroponics to grow vegetables for the passengers, becoming one of the early successful use-cases of this growing method.

HYDROPONICS Gericke coined the term “hydroponics” (supposedly suggested to him by phycologist W. A. Setchell).

The Chemical Culture Company 1938: 20

Businessman Ernest W. Brundin was very interested in Gericke’s work and ended up experimenting himself by growing tomatoes hydroponically. It went so well, he soon was producing tons of tomatoes and had secured contracts to supply several transcontinental trains and steamships. He named his company, The Chemical Culture Company.


Chemical Agriculture System


In 1938, Brundin also patented the Chemical Agriculture System - the first hobby hydroponic system.

1940: Complete Guide to Soilless Gardening Gericke left the University in 1937, and in 1940, he published his landmark book, Complete Guide to Soilless Gardening. In the book, he lays out his formula for both macro and micronutrient salts for growing hydroponic plants.

WWII Military Bases

During the war, British and American armies use hydroponics to grow food for service members stationed on rocky islands.

1952: 8 Million Pounds

The 1940s:

According to the special hydroponics branch of the US Army, over 8 million pounds of fresh produce is grown for the military using the growing method.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) NFT is a hydroponic technique developed by Allen Cooper at the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute in England. The method involves a very shallow stream, or a “film� of water, recirculating past the bare roots of plants in a gully/channel. All of the required nutrients are dissolved in the water.


1976: General Hydroponics CREDIT: GREENBOOKPAGES

credit: wikipedia,


Founded by Larry Brooke, General Hydroponics develops hydroponic systems and products.




EPCOT: Gardens of Tomorrow Disney introduces the world to the “gardens of tomorrow” at the brand new Land Pavilion at EPCOT - featuring a number of different hydroponic techniques. The pavilion is still going strong today with interactive hydroponic experiences.

Credit© Corbis.

NASA Over the last few decades, NASA has been doing extensive research into hydroponic growing for its Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS).

The 2000s:

200 Pounds of Tomatoes Eurofresh farms in Arizona sold more than 200 pounds of hydroponically grown tomatoes.

2007: The 2010s:

Organic The USDA has ruled that hydroponically grown plants can be labelled organic: “Certification to the USDA organic standards is currently allowed, as long as the certifier can demonstrate it is certifying in a way that complies with the standard.”

Aeroponics Caleb Hunter and his team at the MIT Media Lab discover and develop aeroponics. It is a form of hydroponics - in that it is soilless growing - but instead of the plants sitting in the water, they are sprayed with a nutrient-rich mist. There is no growing medium used either.

Jones Food Company At 17-Stories high, Jones Food Company is Europe’s largest vertical farm. They were founded in 2016 and started growing their first crops in 2018 in their facility in North Lincolnshire, UK. With 26 tennis courts worth of space and growing 365 days a year, they are producing hundreds of tonnes of produce (fresh herbs, leafy greens, root veggies, soft fruit).

credit: Jones Food Company




See the most recent Product Spotlights right from your phone or tablet.





If you thought this one sounds like something you would find at Ikea, you’re right. In 2018, Ikea introduced their VÄXER line of products, providing all you need to grow some hydroponic herbs or veggies at home.


World’s Largest Hydroponic Farm Emirates Flight Catering and Crop One Holdings are building the world’s largest hydroponic farm in Dubai. The 130,000 square foot facility will be capable of producing over five tonnes of produce every day (all free of pesticides and herbicides). Even though it is soilless, hydroponics uses less water than traditional farming. The company claims that the technology will use just 320 gallons of water and 100 square feet of land to produce the same amount of leafy greens that traditional farming would require 827,640 square feet of land and 250,000 gallons of water to produce.

In-Store Hydroponic Farm Just last year, Quality Food Centers (QFC) in Seattle teamed up with a vertical-farming startup from Germany, InFarm, to set up in-store hydroponic growing next to the produce aisle in a couple of their locations. They are producing kale, crystal lettuce, and cilantro. Dubai is also introducing in-store hydroponic farms in a few places, producing about 10kg of fresh herbs and microgreens daily - which would typically require up to 1 acre of farmland.


Continued Market Growth Hydroponics offers many advantages to traditional farming, including using less water, better allocation of space, no soil needed, no pesticides, climate and environmental control, faster plant growth, and less labour required. And the food it produces is just as tasty and nutritional as it ever was. With all that in mind, and the continued strain population growth is putting on world water and food supplies, some prognosticators are predicting the global hydroponic market to eclipse $16 Billion by 2025 - and to keep going up from there.

Sources: • • •

• • The History of Hydroponics Organic Hydroponics and Aquaponics This New Method Of Farming Could Change Where Our Food Comes From Jan Baptista van Helmont Hydrophonics


• • •

Jesse grew up obsessed with movies and so it only makes sense that he graduated from McGill University with a degree in Political Science. He then put that degree to good use with a job at a video store. After that, he spent months backpacking around Europe - a continent that he has been back to visit many times since. Jesse is super curious and loves to learn and explore new subjects. For the last 15+ years, he has been writing online for a number of different sites and publications covering everything from film and television to website reviews, dating and culture, history, news, and sports. He’s worn many hats - which is ironic because he actually loves wearing hats and he has many different ones. 2020 Hydroponics Market: Growth, Trends and Outlook Growing produce inside the grocery store? Some QFCs try a new approach Dubai welcomes first in-store hydroponic farm by Majid Al Futtaim

Read the IV Part Series on the History of Hydroponics by Jeff Edwards on our blog. Start at the beginning with Part I: History-of-Hydro-Part-1 25


Going With The


In his book, Texier says a grow room is a source of pleasure that everyone should experience

An Interview With William Texier




fter working in an industry for 40 years, many

William Texier (far right), his wife Noucetta, and their friend Larry Brooke

would agree that it’s challenging to remain relevant. But somehow, William Texier has done it. After

meeting him on Skype for the first time, it’s easy to understand why he is still such a large player in the game.The hydroponics innovator and author of Hydroponics For Everybody: All About Home Horticulture has a passion for the growing method; one that translates through the screen and makes you want to grow something in water immediately. He’s accomplished so much in a career that spans four decades, from developing “bioponics” to helping advance growing technology. And yet, he’s still not done. In his book, Texier says a grow room is a source of pleasure that everyone should experience. And

A Brief History

he means it; he will not rest until we all give it a go. He still offers presentations practically begging people to try growing


“You have to beat them until they try,” he says half-jokingly. “You know that when they try it, they will be hooked. Push them to make the first move; really, whatever it takes.” These days, he may not have to push very hard. Like many seed companies, grow shops, and garden centres around the world, Terra Aquatica, Texier’s European growing company, saw its business double in a single day as COVID-19 forced people into their homes. The grow your own movement is surging in popularity, and with the colder months here, people are looking to bring their pandemic gardens indoors. Enter hydroponics. “Food today is really bad, most of it,” says Texier of the produce found in supermarkets. “Giving easy access and an easy way of growing, since the beginning, this is our goal. We want to provide tools to people to grow their own food, even in urban settings.” Texier is particularly proud of a new ebb and flow system Terra Aquatica has released that is powered solely through solar panels. He calls it the perfect eco-friendly growing system for city-dwellers who don’t have a lot of space. The company is in the process of transferring its entire line of growing systems to solar power, including its commercial model, which covers 200 square metres. When it comes to the environment, every little bit helps.

The Planet And Hydroponics With the United Nations sounding the alarm about the state of the world’s soil, hydroponics is undoubtedly a valid alternative to growing food. It’s especially useful in urban settings where food typically travels thousands of kilometres before making it to people’s plates.

• •

William Texier is a hydroponics innovator and the author of the world-famous book, Hydroponics for Everybody: All About Home Horticulture. Born in Paris, France, he dabbled in hydroponic growing in his 20s, but his experimental work never went far. In 1980, while living in California, he turned his interest into a career and joined General Hydroponics, where he worked until 1994. Texier and GH founder Lawrence (Larry) Brooke developed aerohydroponics together. He credits his mentor, chemist Cal Herrmann, for teaching him everything he knows about manufacturing nutrient solutions. In 1994, Texier moved back to France and created General Hydroponics Europe (GHE) with his wife, Noucetta Kehdi. In 2004, Texier invented and patented “bioponics” (organic hydroponics). In 2013, Texier’s French-language version of Hydroponics for Everybody: All About Home Horticulture was released. In 2014, Scotts Miracle-Gro acquired GH in the United States. GHE was not taken over but was forced to rebrand under the name Terra Aquatica.

“We are not going to save the planet just with hydroponics, but it is one of the really important tools,” says Texier. “In France, Paris especially, we are ahead [in the game]. They give a lot of roofs for people to grow food, parking lots, and underground parking. For a city, [hydroponics] is part of the solution.”










The grow your own movement is surging in popularity, and with the colder months here, people are looking to bring their pandemic gardens indoors. Enter hydroponics.




A Changing Reputation But Texier says before that happens, hydroponics must be included in a more global vision. While having the reputation of being used strictly for cannabis, the growing method is also excellent for growing tomatoes, peppers, herbs, strawberries, and more. Texier says it doesn’t help that the technique hasn’t been properly used for many years. “This technology, from the beginning, has been really badly used,” he explains. “In Canada, you have the west of Vancouver and that region covered in greenhouses growing absolutely tasteless tomatoes. This is what hydroponics has been for the last 50 years.” Since the very beginning, his vision has been to grow for quality over quantity. He and his longtime friend, Larry Brooke, founder of General Hydroponics, have been able to achieve that by taking great care of what they put into their grows. Whether it be food or medicine (or both!), the plants they produce are twice as nutritious as conventionally-grown products or those grown hydroponically with standard inputs.

Bioponics One of Texier’s most significant achievements has been developing and patenting “bioponics”, which is, essentially, organic hydroponics. His organic solutions are made with the ‘scraps’ from other industries. Think vinasse, which is left over after sugar is removed from a beet, or the part of the aloe vera plant that remains after the gel is extracted. Texier has found a way to make plants our medicine by growing it with the leftovers from other foods; a virtuous cycle that makes hydroponics more appealing to people who are turned off by mineral salts. Texier acknowledges that many people are intimidated by the technology and nutrient solutions involved in hydroponic growing, not to mention the fact that the plant’s roots are exposed, something entirely out of the ordinary for gardeners accustomed to growing in soil. But if you look at it from Texier’s point of view, how could you grow a plant without seeing the roots? For those who want to get their feet wet, he recommends starting with coco perlite and a simple ebb and flow

system, which offer excellent results for even beginners. Texier, himself, says it’s his favourite system to grow in, although he points out that there is an appropriate model for every plant.

What’s Growing In Texier’s Greenhouse? Texier’s favourite plant to grow has always been cannabis. He is a huge proponent of medical cannabis and belongs to several advocacy groups throughout Europe. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to grow other things hydroponically. “There are a million of other plants that I really like,” he says. “In our greenhouse in France, [my wife and I] have 230 varieties of plants. I grow mostly medicinals and food crops, and she grows mostly nice flowers. All together, it makes a very nice connection.” As Texier talks about his career, it is clear that he is one of the pioneers who has helped build the hydroponics industry. He and his close friends and colleagues took an enormous amount of risk, especially in the early days, because they believed in the growing method. Rather than remain stagnant, Texier has worked tirelessly to help the industry evolve, whether it be by introducing organic nutrients or developing new and improved equipment. And it’s all inspired by a deep-rooted passion for plants and growing in water. “People always tell me that I’m working on new technology,” Texier laughs. “My God; a new technology that comes from the ancient times!” And although Texier jokingly referred to himself as a dinosaur during our chat, unlike hydroponics, he is far from ancient. He’s just a modern-day guy who wants us all to grow healthy things for our bodies in water. And that’s what keeps him so relevant. 3

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.







ater is something that we take for granted in the comfor t of modern-day living. It’s seen as pure and clean and something we can pop into the kitchen and drink from the tap when needed. Despite all appearing very similar to the eye, there are significant differences

between water types, which can be essential to growers for a plethora of reasons.

Despite all appearing very similar to the eye, there are significant differences between water types, which can be essential to growers for a plethora of reasons What Reasons? Firstly, the background mineral content. These are minerals that contribute to the overall EC reading and can be varied in their make up. These minerals will chiefly be made up of calcium and magnesium (good) or sodium and chloride (bad). The importance of correct mineral ratios is something that doesn´t need much explanation. Bicarbonates need more explanation. The level of bicarbonates present in water has a direct influence on the pH of both the solution and substrate. In Europe, it is typically measured as dKH(degree of Carbonate Hardness). Analysing both of these factors can help establish what water you are starting with and what the best way to use it would be.

Why Are Bicarbonates Important? They help to stabilise the pH levels in a solution, such as the one in your reservoir or substrate. Bicarbonates react with the acid in water and temporarily become carbonic acid before turning into water and carbon dioxide. The reaction goes as so:



(Acid) +

HCO3 = H2CO3 = H2O

(bi-carbonate) = Carbonic Acid = (Water) +

+ CO2

(Carbon Dioxide)

By turning acid into water and CO2, the pH of a solution does not drop too low and remains more stable. This acid could come from either a concentrated nutrient (when you add your base nutes and additives) or activity in a rootzone as the plant takes up nutrients such as potassium. Low (or no) bicarbonates results in unstable pH conditions in your reservoir and substrate. This reaction also goes the other way, so watch out for pH fluctuations when oxygenating reservoirs. Ensuring you have the right levels of bicarbonates means a more stable pH throughout your grow, meaning less chance for nutrient lockout.

What Types Of Water Are There? Extreme Soft Water: Characteristics: • EC of <0.1 • dKH of 0-2 • Very low mineral level • Very low bicarbonate level Common Problems: Drastic swings in pH fluctuation. Either on the application of (acidic) nutrients, over time in a reservoir or from changes in the plant nutrient uptake within the substrate during growth.

Mineral deficiencies. Very low starting level of essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Especially bad combined with high humidity/low air movement (common in propagating stage). Soft Water: Characteristics: • EC between 0.1-0.4 • dKH of 2-6 • Low mineral level • Low bi-carbonate level Common Problems: Minor pH fluctuation. Similar as described for extreme soft water, but not as extreme (depending on level). Minor Deficiencies. Again, similar to the description in extreme soft water, but not as extreme (depending on the level.) Normal Water: Characteristics: • EC between 0.4 and 0.55 • dKH of 6-10 • Most nutrients are formulated with this type of water in mind (excluding soft/hard specific versions). • Expected mineral levels, mostly calcium and magnesium. • Expected bicarbonate level, aiding pH stability. Common Problems: Minimal. If issues arise, they’re often brought on by environmental mismanagement (grower error.) Hard Water: Characteristics: • EC > 0.55 • dKH of 10+ • High bicarbonate level. • Very high mineral level, mostly calcium and magnesium. Common Problems: pH continually rising. The bicarbonates react over time, raising the pH in your reservoir, pipelines, and substrate. This eventually leads to a deficiency. Mineral imbalance can be caused by elements being at the wrong ratios (excessive) in the final nutrient solution and/or substrate.


The optimal Grow is always rooted in Grodan. Realise optimum yields and product quality through: • Ideal substrate air/water holding ratio • Uniform emergence and plant development • Excellent root growth throughout the substrate • Uniform WC and EC distribution • Direct control and refreshment of EC due to inert material • Sterile at manufacture for optimal plant health and vigour • No buffering required before use • Quality manufacture practices under ISO9001, all plugs and blocks WC and EC perform alike for uniform and bumper crops

Grodan Granulate

Grodan Delta

Grodan SBS AO Plugs

Part of the ROCKWOOL Group


Well water can contain unwanted minerals depending on the source, or contain too much bacterial activity if not dug deep enough

Reacts with concentrated nutrients. Particularly when applying a concentrated nutrient, the excess calcium in the water can react with the concentrated phosphor, forming gypsum in the solution and rendering it useless. Bad Hard: Characteristics: • EC > 0.55 • High bi-carbonate level. • dKH of 10+ • High mineral level but wrong minerals! Mostly sodium and chloride.

Whatever your source of water, you need to test it to make sure you know exactly what is in it, how suitable it is for growing, and whether you need to do anything before adding any nutrients

High-Quality H2 0

Incorrect/damaging minerals. Rather than useful calcium and magnesium, sodium and chloride make up the majority of the content, posing a risk to your plants, quickly causing toxicity issues in re-circulating systems or substrates with a high CEC.

Once you have arrived at this point, you are now perfectly placed to begin adding your usual nutrient regime. This is, of course, on the basis that you are getting your water out of a tap. Other water sources will also bring in their own complications. Rainwater will have virtually no minerals, very low bicarbonates, and have contaminates from falling through the air and any guttering. Well water can contain unwanted minerals depending on the source, or contain too much bacterial activity if not dug deep enough. Using pure R.O water sounds good; however, having zero bicarbonates and zero background minerals in leaves you wide open for massive pH swings and/or mineral complications.

What To Do?

Test, Test, And Test Again

The best thing to do is to bring your water back to a suitable level. Typically, that would be to get it back to ´normal´ water. Normal water has the ideal level of background minerals and bicarbonates, not just for most formulated nutrients, but also for your plant´s long term growth habits.

Whatever your source of water, you need to test it to make sure you know exactly what is in it, how suitable it is for growing, and whether you need to do anything before adding any nutrients. You can use an EC pen to get an indication, but the cheap and easy-to-use hardness test kits from aquatics suppliers will give more concise information about your water´s content.

Common Problems: pH continually rising. Similar to the description of hard water. High bicarbonates can also interfere and slow nutrient uptake in an organic substrate.

Extreme soft water´s super-low bicarbonate level is tricky. Similarly to most soft waters, you can raise the minerals to an EC of 0.4 with the addition of a decent quality CAL MAG product, although watch for pH issues depending on your (low) bicarbonate levels. For most normal water, do nothing! For most hard and bad water, it is best to treat it using R.O (Reverse Osmosis) water. With most hard water, add R.O water until the overall EC gets down to 0.4, leaving you adequate bicarbonates and useful minerals. With most bad water, use R.O to lower the EC right down to 0.2, then use a calmag product to raise back up to 0.4. This leaves you with a more typical bicarbonate level, and a partially corrected (although, still not ideal) mineral level.

Other than contacting your local water board, or testing it for yourself, your local hydro store should be well-versed in all things water-related for your local area, so get down there and pick their brains! Doing so could make more difference to your grow than spending hundreds on the swanky new piece of kit is currently hitting the shelves. 3

BIO Nico has been a keen gardener for many moons. Bitten by the hydroponic bug back in 1998, and hasn’t looked back since! After many years as a hobby, Nico’s career in Hydroponics had its start working for Aquaculture in Sheffield, the UK’s largest and most forward-thinking grow shops of the time. He was then hired by Hydromag, responsible for the hydroponic content. From there, he has worked with CANNA, as editor of CANNAtalk, author of the research articles, and delivering seminars throughout the UK to grow shops on the finer details of cultivating in a hydroponic environment. Nico is now writing for companies in the hydroponic industry. 33


credit: Plenty


Urban Farms In Skyscrapers

California-based urban agriculture firm Plenty, which recently raised more than $200 million in funding, in part provided by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. These indoor urban farms use a vertical aeroponic system that requires very little space. 34



ith the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic upon us and teleworking being





office buildings in several Nor th American cities are deser ted. The occupancy rate of office towers in major Canadian and American cities has never been so low,

The occupancy rate of office towers in major Canadian and American cities has never been so low, reaching only 25% in some areas

reaching only 25% in some areas.

Workers aren’t the only people deserting downtown areas since the pandemic hit; more and more city-dwellers are also moving to smaller and rural municipalities. For example, Manhattan had 15,000 empty apartments last august, a new record! Even more surprisingly, many real estate developers and builders continue to erect commercial buildings. But who will occupy these skyscrapers?

Indoor Urban Farms The largest indoor urban farm in North America is located in Newark, New Jersey. AeroFarms is inside a building that housed a former steel mill. This farm uses 95% less water than a conventional farm and provides about 30 harvests of leafy vegetables per year for every square metre of crops.

credit: Aerofarms

What if we gave unoccupied buildings and skyscrapers a new purpose by converting them into urban farms? Read on to see why this project is so relevant and doable!

Located in the heart of Tokyo, the Pasona Group building houses a vast indoor urban farm.

credit: Konodesigns

Around $30 million has been invested in AeroFarms to repurpose a building that housed a former steel mill into a state-of-the-art urban farm.

Another urban farm project called Pasona Urban Farm began a few years ago in Tokyo, Japan. Pasona Group Company grows edible plants in a nine-story building.

Indoor farming More Productive Than Greenhouse Culture Growing vegetables does not have to be done outdoors, inground, or in greenhouses. Large-scale urban agriculture can be practised inside buildings, without even having sunny windows for light. However, the inner envelope of buildings must be waterproofed to protect them from any mould. It is also necessary to equip grow rooms with proper ventilation and LED lighting systems specially designed for growing plants.

Significant renovations to the existing superstructure included adding a green facade, offices, an auditorium, cafeterias, a rooftop garden, and most importantly, indoor urban agricultural facilities. The crop space totals over 43,000 square feet with 200 species grown including fruits, vegetables, and rice. Crops are harvested, prepared, and served in the building’s cafeterias. Pasona Urban Farm is the largest urban farm-to-table agricultural project ever in an office building in Japan.

credit: Konodesigns

Despite these essential modifications needed for an urban farm, the fact remains that the indoor farm’s productivity is much higher than that of greenhouse crops. Inside a building, it is possible to grow plants vertically and increase the growing area. This concept isn’t feasible in a greenhouse without blocking the sun from the plants below. It is estimated that an indoor vertical urban farm can produce up to eight times more food per square metre than a greenhouse. If well insulated, an existing building is significantly less expensive to heat than a double-walled glass greenhouse.




Several dozen urban agriculture start-ups have been founded in recent years. The German company Infarm is a firm specialising in the conversion of old buildings into urban farms with a bright future. Infarm’s growing system is easy to set up and quickly transforms any office building into an indoor city farm.

Locally-Produced Food With rapid urban sprawl, food for city-dwellers is being produced further and further away, thousands of kilometres from where it is finally eaten. Food must be transported to cities by plane, train, or truck, generating large amounts of pollutants and greenhouse gases. According to the Worldwatch Institute, the food that makes up a typical North American plate is transported an average of 2,400 kilometres before being eaten.

credit: Infarm

Transporting and storing food also forces farmers to grow varieties of fruits and vegetables that are firm, contain little juice, and have very thick skins so they can withstand frequent handling, shock, and temperature variations.

It is estimated that an indoor vertical urban farm can produce up to eight times more food per square metre than a greenhouse

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 45% of all fruits and vegetables produced around the globe are lost or thrown away before being eaten, and this, in part, is because of food transport and handling. Creating indoor urban farms in buildings is an excellent idea, especially if food is sold locally and if citizens are involved in the management of these businesses. 3

has practised his craft for over 30 years and created numerous gardens in North America. In addition to teaching courses and lecturing at conferences across Canada, his weekly gardening column has appeared in the Journal de Montréal and the Journal de Québec since 1999. In April 2018, Albert Mondor published Le nouveau potager, his tenth horticultural book. He is a regular guest and contributor to radio and television programmes and his hosting The Trendy Gardener spots broadcasted on Météo Média and online. You can also read his blog called Extreme Horticulture at Follow Albert on Facebook:


Credit: Freight Farms

BIO Passionate about environmental horticulture, urban agriculture and extreme landscape design, Albert Mondor

credit: Konodesigns

The indoor growing areas of Pasona Urban Farm have been created with obvious aesthetic concern. A section of the building is entirely dedicated to rice cultivation.


best of

the blog


he key to solving the climate crisis lies beneath our feet. The documentary Kiss The Ground emphasises the need to save our soil if we hope to save the planet. Read this review and about other critical environmental initiatives at

Kiss the ground C

limate change is the most significant problem in our time. Every day we hear dire warnings about the state of our planet as natural disasters sweep across the globe. The news is terrifying, but Kiss The Ground, a documentary on Netflix, offers a possible solution: save the soil, and we might be able to save ourselves.

Cast With A Conscience

Scared Yet?

The doc is narrated by Woody Harrelson, who admits he’s fearful of where the world is heading and has just about given up hope of fixing what we’ve done. I think we can all relate to how he’s feeling.

There is a way out, and the documentary introduces us to real people working in genuine ways to reverse climate change. People like regenerative ranchers raising cattle responsibly, practising rotational grazing and permaculture. Or farmers who understand the value of cover crops and the need for a radical reduction in pesticides, GMOs, and other synthetic inputs.

Other celebrities with environmental consciences join Harrelson, like Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, Jason Mraz, and more. But the real stars of the show are the slew of experts, farmers, and regenerative ranchers who are dedicating their lives to ensure a future for our children. Ray Archuleta is a conservation agronomist who travels across the United States meeting farmers. He believes that social problems and a lack of education are blocking us from solving environmental issues. For example, Archuleta says our major food producers don’t understand soil.

Education Is Key Soil contains microorganisms, an entire universe of life right underneath our feet. That universe works to sequester carbon. But after years of tilling the earth and spraying it with chemicals to grow food crops, the soil can no longer absorb moisture and carbon, releasing it into the atmosphere instead. Soil erodes and turns into dust, a process called “desertification.” Every year, 40 million people are forced off their land because their soil is no longer adequate. By 2050, one billion people will be refugees of soil desertification. And the United Nations estimates we only have about six decades of topsoil left. Kiss The Ground puts it simply: we only have 60 harvests left. After that, we’re done.

The documentary helps viewers understand that renewable energies and electric vehicles will help balance the climate, but those efforts aren’t enough. Soil regeneration is the solution. Making the earth healthy again will lead to annual reductions in carbon in the upper atmosphere. Then what do we get? Global cooling. Imagine that?

It’s Up To Us We can achieve regeneration in our lifetimes. We don’t have any other choice. Watch Kiss The Ground on Netflix and then tell your friends and family to do the same. We can’t depend on governments to do it for us. We need to lead the way. EDITOR’S NOTE: The Need To Grow is another excellent documentary explaining the urgent need for soil regeneration.




The Ins and Outs of

Organic Cloning




here comes a time in ever y organic gardener’s life when they find the remarkable plant that they want to save for future use, whether for breeding or enjoyment. The good news is one doesn’t need to resor t to using hormone gels or other synthetically-derived ingredients to clone their prized

plants. It is possible to achieve reliable replication organically!

It is possible to achieve reliable replication organically! For the best results, it’s essential to understand what is needed for the cloning process. A typical setup usually involves: •

• •

A cloning medium such as Rockwool, peat pellets, rooting sponges, perlite and vermiculite blends. Coco and seed raising/propagation mixes are also required. A cloning tray with a cover and a heat mat. A propagation gel that contains either the synthetically-derived auxins INAA (1-Naphthaleneacetic acid), IBA (Indole-3-butyric acid), or a combination of both to help with root proliferation and initial callus development. Foliar cloning nutrients and other adjuncts are also sometimes used to speed up the cloning process.

If your environment is right, you should have ver y healthy, strong clones within about a week

Cuttings of the desired size are cleanly cut and dipped in the propagation gel. After, they’re placed into the medium and the clone incubator so their roots can develop. This approach is timeproven and effective. However, for soil grows, where the goal is to maximise beneficial microbial activity as early as possible, this approach doesn’t cover all the bases and involves the use of synthetically-derived ingredients.

For root growth promotion and callus initiation, several natural methods are at our disposal. The first is the use of silicate compounds, which are useful in aiding natural root proliferation. If you’re searching for a source, you won’t need to look very far. Named after the Salix (willow) tree, which is high in salicin, these natural substances are found in many plant species. Of note is aloe vera, which contains adequate amounts of salicylic acid, a potent plant health promoter. Horticultural aloe-based products will work very well for organic cloning, both in the initial soak phase and as foliar sprays during the callusing and root development phases. In the old days, willow water was commonly used in nurseries. This is easily made by steeping freshly cut lengths of a willow tree in water to extract the natural compounds. But today, most grow stores will have multiple well-formulated salicylate-containing products for purchase.

With a few tweaks, we can easily optimise this process for organics while keeping strike rates high. Without chemical stimulation, we need to attack the problem from various angles. To help keep the vegetative material healthy while roots develop, foliar applications of diluted amino acids and kelp/ seaweed provide readily available nutrients.



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Organic soil growers have an advantage Naturally-derived auxins can also be added for better results. Sprouted seed teas made from corn or legumes such as alfalfa, lentils, and peas are useful, and so is coconut water. These all contain a range of enzymes, biostimulants, and are potent root stimulators. When combined with a seaweed solution or humic and fulvic acid, the combined synergistic effects are quite powerful. By utilising a combination of the above ingredients as a soak for clones, you can provide the perfect environment for healthy plants.

Putting it all together: •

• • •

Pre-soak the chosen media with a mixture of seaweed, humic/fulvic acid, a silicate source (either aloe or willow water), coconut water, or some sprouted seed tea for auxins. To further enhance, add some microbial inoculants. In a separate container, save some of this mixture and as you cut your clones, allow them to marinate for a few minutes. Carefully remove and dip the ends in microbial powder and insert them into the media. Lightly mist with seaweed and amino acids.

If your environment is right, you should have very healthy, strong clones within about a week. Happy cloning! 3

Growers can also add living microbes to the equation, which will provide further enhancements such as pathogen and disease prevention by crowding out the spots where they would take hold. Microbes such as azospirillum, Trichoderma, bacillus, and mycorrhizal fungal types can influence early root development. They will also allow for rhizosphere colonisation at the initial step of the growing process. Organic soil growers have an advantage. It’s quite common to apply a microbial inoculant at planting time. However, there is a bit of lag between the spores germinating and colonising the root system. By getting the Sprouted seed microbes in early, you are essentially teas made from priming the plants corn or legumes and avoiding the lag, with further applisuch as alfalfa, cations building on lentils, and peas this foundation.

Salix (willow) Kelp powder

are useful, and so

The best way to is coconut water. apply is to pre-soak the media of choice in a combined mixture of the above ingredients and a small amount of the chosen microbial inoculant. After pre-soaking the clones, roll or dip the freshly cut end into the microbe product, just like you would cloning gel before putting it into place. An effective organic cloning method would be the following: • • •

A cloning medium; this can be any of the above choices. A cloning tray with a cover and heat mat can be used as with regular cloning. Instead of propagation gel, we can apply silicate compounds, beneficial microbes (fungi and rhizobacteria), as well as seaweed, humic/fulvic acids, and coconut extracts to fill the void for auxins and root-promoting compounds. Foliar sprays of amino acid-based products, aloe, and kelp/seaweed extracts, to preserve carbohydrate reserves.

Sprouted seed tea






Someone’s left the faucet running all night, and someone’s in trouble


s you’re heading to your grow room with a long list of tasks to tackle, you walk through the door, and splat! You look down at your wet shoe and know the shine on the floor isn’t because someone polished while you were away; you have a three-inch-deep pool at your feet.Then, you notice the delicate hum of the tap and the trickle

of water coming down the side of your water tank. Someone’s left the faucet running all night, and someone’s in trouble.

This delightful scene is just one of the indoor growing disasters that no one wants to ever deal with, but unfortunately, they happen more often than they should. Growing indoors should make for the most controlled environment possible. Still, when you’re busy dealing with your plants, multitasking between water tanks, mixing nutrients, and then suddenly the phone rings, the running tap escapes your thoughts like a sweet dream smashed by the alarm clock’s ring. Indoor growing is a lot more complicated than outdoor simply because there are more variables to consider, technology included! While there are dozens of incredibly skilled growers in this issue writing about the success stories and top tips from their grow rooms, I’ll take you on a mini horror trip instead, which will hopefully help you avoid some rookie mistakes.

The Buzz Unlike the great outdoors where a plant’s growing cycle is dictated by natural daylight hours, indoors, we try to imitate various seasons with lights and heat. Take aubergines as an example. We can start the seeds in heated propagators when it’s still freezing outside, then by the time cold April showers whip the daffodils outside, our seedlings are well-established and have started to set their flowers. We’re delighted to see a bounty of purple petals but then are horrified to see them fall to the floor a few days later. At this point, you realise that not all plants are self-pollinating. Fun fact: If you don’t release bees into your indoor grow room, the best time to hand-pollinate an aubergine is between 6 am-11 am. When the flower closes and doesn’t fall off, you’re heading for success.

Pollinating stick

Many indoor accidents can be costly and time-consuming to fix

Indoor growing is a lot more complicated than outdoor simply because there are more variables to consider, technology included! Act Before Problems Arise One of the worst things to happen in a grow room is missing the early signs of a pest infestation. When you notice a tiny web around the leaves with two-spotted mites, it’s probably time to bring the napalm out of the chemical cupboard. At this point, make a mental note to your future self: get the predators before you have the problem. Have a sachet of biological pest control ready when plants are young; this way, any pest entering the grow room will have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them. Unfortunately, many critters are hard to spot. The spider mites are light green when young, almost translucent and invisible to an untrained eye. They turn orange when mature, but by the time you notice the leaves covered in a thick white web, you’ve pretty much lost the battle and have to chop and burn the plants before mites spread onto another crop.


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The same applies to other prevalent indoor pests. Before you notice aphids, you may see white parts of their body shed on a leaf, a sticky sap, or black mould on the leaves. Get some parasitic wasps when your plants are still babies and let them patrol the grow room in case an aphid dares enter on your clothing. If the indoor grow is connected to a food hub, consider using one of those UV lamps that attract insects for a quick electric shock and death. Turn them off before you release the wasps; otherwise, you might find yourself wondering why they aren’t working!

Spider mites turn orange when mature, but by the time you notice the leaves covered in a thick white web, you’ve pretty much lost the battle and have to chop and burn the plants before mites spread onto another crop.

Establish A Daily Routine Observation and routine is the key to success with a controlled environment. As soon as you notice discolouration or a leaf curl, go and check all your water tanks to see if your EC and pH are in order, especially if you’re not the only one looking after the plants in your team. In my early growing days, I could not understand how, within a couple of days, a plant could go from healthy to one that was drooping and curling. When I began checking the parameters, I noticed that every water tank had different (and out of scale) EC and pH readings. I learned to double-check my students’ work just in case mistakes were made. If you love technology, invest in a monitoring system like a Raspberry Pi, where all the probes show real-time readings. However, don’t put all of your trust in them; regularly check and calibrate tools, as they may be off the scale. Precision is crucial to indoor growing. Check your system for any leaks, kinks, blockages, sediments, and so on. Verify that lamps are mounted safely and that the plant support system is reliable. Hopefully, the only thing smashed on the floor will be an odd tomato redefining itself as ketchup.

Know Your Animals Many indoor accidents can be costly and time-consuming to fix, but there is nothing worse than knowing that the mistakes made caused an injury or even the death of an innocent animal. When incorporating an aquaponics system into the indoor garden, take extreme precautions as to what chemicals are used and how well the equipment is working. Even the simple soap spray for aphid control can cause severe damage to aquatic life. From the pump and drainage system to the heaters and oxygen pumps, there is a lot that can go wrong in a very short time, so regular observation is critical.

Aphid infestation

Observation and routine is the key to success with a controlled environment 47


For example, one winter morning, I noticed the tilapia fish we kept weren’t very keen on their breakfast, which was odd, but I assumed they didn’t have the appetite. When none of them came up for food at the second feed, I began to worry. All the pumps seemed to work fine, and the water quality was good, but when I touched the heater, I discovered it was stone cold. It seemed to have failed at night, and the water temperature was far too low for the tropical fish to be comfortable. A quick run to the local hydro store and the purchase of all of the small heaters they had in stock raised the temperature enough for the fish to perk up, but trying to heat a ten thousand litre fish tank in the dead of an English winter is not fun. My advice is to purchase a spare heater before this happens to you. There were no casualties, but I had heard a horror story from another grower whose pump system was blocked when nobody was around. Water overflowed the tank, and the team had a very unpleasant surprise in the morning that resulted in the loss of all their fish.

Even the simple soap spray for aphid control can cause severe damage to aquatic life Harvest Time Growing is so much fun, but after harvest, make sure the produce is adequately preserved, so the fruits of your labour aren’t wasted. Research correct drying temperatures for herbs; I can tell you from experience that drying in full sun to speed things up is a no-go! Master the art of preserving, drying, or even pickling some of those gherkins so you can enjoy them for a long time.

Turk’s Turban squash

The key to avoiding many mistakes in a controlled environment is almost always prior knowledge. By the time you notice a problem you’ve never heard about before, it’s often too late to do anything about it. Research the subject at hand to have half a chance of spotting problems before they happen. Read about the techniques, equipment, varieties of plants and their needs, and use the great vault of knowledge growers around the world have created in many magazines, books, YouTube videos, and podcasts. Most importantly, establish a routine in your grow, no matter what it’s size, so you can reap the benefits for months to come. 3

Growing is so much fun, but after harvest, make sure the produce is adequately preserved, so the fruits of your labour aren’t wasted


Martyna Krol is a vegetable grower, natural beekeeper, and edible spaces designer. She is a lover of all soil and urban farming techniques and is the former head of growing at Incredible Aquagarden.



Important Concepts for Transitioning from



Grow Lights




ince the introduction of the fir st UFO lights, there have been diehard proponents and detractor s of growing with LEDs. While we can attribute much of the performance increase in recent year s to technological improvements, grower s have come a long way in learning

how to adapt their plants and environment to growing with modern LED fixtures. With a few of the following factor s in mind, yield and quality produced under LEDs can meet and even significantly exceed those made under traditional HID lights.

Before upgrading from HID to LED, it’s important to measure your current light levels to provide a baseline Footprint The first thing that is essential to consider when evaluating any grow light is the dispersion pattern of the particular fixture in question. Just as different HID reflectors are designed with various footprints, today’s LEDs come in a wide array of beam angle options for multiple scenarios. The first LED grow lights directed all the photons downward, often using lenses that focused the light in narrow patterns of 60 or 90 degrees to minimise light wasted on walls and floors. While suitable for hanging in tall greenhouses, these early products failed to provide a uniform light footprint for indoor scenarios. The results were uneven gardens and unhappy growers.

Yield and quality produced under LEDs can meet and even significantly exceed those made under traditional HID lights

Modern LED producers have ditched secondary optics in favour of diodes with a native beam angle of 120 or 180 degrees. These low-power, high-efficiency diodes are laid out in large arrays on bars or boards to provide extremely high light uniformity at the plant canopy. When two or more fixtures are used together, crossover lighting from the LEDs’ wide spread further improves uniformity and canopy penetration. Before upgrading from HID to LED, it’s important to measure your current light levels to provide a baseline. Throw out your lumen meter and buy a PAR meter from a reliable company. Lumen meters only measure the brightness of a light source based on the sensitivity of the human eye. PAR meters give a more accurate representation of light intensity in relation to photosynthesis. Take readings from every part of your garden and make some notes. Once you know the intensities you’re accustomed to growing under, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to expect from a new LED fixture. For larger spaces, many LED manufacturers will create a custom light plot tailored to your specific needs.

Canopy Temperature For decades, indoor growers have known that the success of their gardens depends heavily upon environmental conditions, most notably temperature. Users of high-pressure sodium lights knew that they grew the healthiest plants whenever their room temperature was between 70°F and 75°F. Surprisingly, rooms outfitted with LEDs need to be in the 80°F to 85°F range to achieve similar performance. This shift in ideal ambient temperature comes down to the differences in how HID and LED light sources produce heat.

HID light sources, whether we’re talking about high-pressure sodium, ceramic metal halide, or anything in between, all work on the same principle. An electric arc heats and evaporates a mixture of metals which emit photons of a spectrum determined by the specific materials involved. Only a small fraction of the electricity used is converted to visible light, while the rest is released in the form of infrared energy. This invisible range of the electromagnetic spectrum heats surfaces directly, which is why sunlight feels warm on your skin, even on a chilly day. Plants grown under a 1000 watt HID light receive massive amounts of infrared energy, and their leaf surface temperature might be 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the surrounding air.



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Before upgrading from HID to LED, it’s important to measure your current light levels to provide a baseline

Most LED products designed for growing plants produce little to no infrared energy, which is why these lights don’t heat surfaces the same as HID. Almost all the waste heat from an LED fixture is released into the air, either passively or via builtin fans. Circulating fans and air conditioners easily remove this type of heat, so plants directly under the light might only be 2 or 3 degrees warmer than the rest of the room. What’s important here is leaf surface temperature. This is where photosynthetic reactions take place, and they happen most efficiently in a specific temperature range dependent on plant variety and other environmental factors like humidity and CO2 concentration. In addition to using a thermometer to measure room temperature, try using a non-contact thermometer to measure and control the temperature at the leaf surface. 84°F is a good starting point.

Stretching Another effect of the far-red heavy-spectrum of HPS lighting involves the plants’ shade-avoidance response. In nature, plants can sense when they are being shaded under taller plants by measuring the ratio of far-red vs visible light they receive. Since far-red light (700-800nm) penetrates through plant tissues better than visible light, a high ratio of far-red to visible red indicates shading. Studies have shown that plants exposed to high ratios of farred tend to stretch out, growing longer leaves and stems to outcompete taller plants. Conversely, plants exposed to higher proportions of blue light grow shorter and stockier. LEDs, with minimal far-red and abundant blue wavelengths, tend to produce shorter plants compared to the same varieties grown under HID lighting. This factor should always be taken into account when comparing or planning HID and LED gardens.

Water usage Heating plant canopies with infrared-heavy lights, then cooling them off with fans and air conditioners set up a scenario for very high rates of transpiration, and in turn high water usage. We’ve all seen how quickly plants grown under high-pressure sodium will suffer when an irrigation system malfunctions. Growers switching to LED will notice that their plants don’t need to be watered as often, but they’ll still need just as much fertiliser to avoid nutrient deficiencies. If you plan to feed with hydroponic nutrients, you may need to dial up the strength (EC/PPM) of your solution to account for less-frequent waterings.

highly skilled growers are using LEDs to push the limits of what was once thought possible in their gardens

Dehumidification There’s one final environmental concern that should be addressed. Well-designed LED grow lights are more electrically efficient than the best HID lights on the market, so you won’t need as much air conditioning to fight all that excess heat. Also, the absence of infrared energy we discussed earlier means that grow rooms can be run warmer, and as a result, air conditioners will kick on less often. Many HID grow rooms rely on air conditioners to handle the bulk of dehumidification. With air conditioners doing less work, it might mean you’ll need to install additional dehumidifiers to keep humidity under control in an LED grow room.

Conclusion Although there are many challenges to transitioning a complex, established grow operation from HID to LED lighting, the long term benefits are beginning to outweigh the costs, and ongoing technological advancements mean that LED grow lights are here to stay. Through careful observation and practice, highly skilled growers are using LEDs to push the limits of what was once thought possible in their gardens. It all comes down to understanding the attributes of the light source and the needs of the plant. 3


Alex Fraser is a product specialist with NextLight LED and the owner of Garden Grove Organics, the Cincinnati area’s oldest hydroponics retailer. Before entering the indoor agriculture industry, Alex spent a decade touring the world implementing lighting and sound solutions for stage applications. His electronics background and love for gardening eventually led him to the world of cutting-edge horticultural lighting and materials processing, where he has consulted clients ranging from hobbyists to largescale commercial installations.







ou’ve decided to add beneficial microbes to your growing process for the first time and are dabbling with the idea of adding mycorrhizal fungi to the mix.You head over to the nearest grow shop and get a recommendation from the sales rep to pick up product X.You excitedly head home and apply the product to your plants. Congratulations! But,

what exactly is in the bag that you purchased? How does it work? How can a living organism arrive in a sealed bag and affect and benefit your plants?

The mycorrhizal fungi penetrate root cells, and from there, branch out into the soil in search of nutrients

Fungi in Commercial Products When picking up your first pack, look at what the product contains in terms of fungal species and their concentrations. This is essential since the higher the concentration of propagules, the faster and more likely they are to colonise the roots. Since we are dealing with biological products, it’s important to observe how they were stored and their shelf life. If the product has expired, do not purchase it. If it has been stored outside and not according to manufacturer recommendations, do not purchase it either, as this could certainly affect the viability of the fungi inside the product. There have been cases where products do not meet the label’s claims and get taken off the shelf by regulatory agencies, which can happen due to improper storage that kills off the fungi. In a bag or bottle of a commercial product, propagules can come in several forms. Viable, meaning alive, or non-viable, meaning dead. The viable propagules in the product arrive

each other through this intricate network and inform each other of pests so that other plants can increase their defence mechanism and much more.

From: Trade-Offs in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis: Disease Resistance, Growth Responses and Perspectives for Crop Breeding

Most commercial mycorrhizal inoculants consist of the following: spores, hyphae, and inoculated root fragments. Propagules are effective inoculation vehicles and can be made up of any of these three elements. Some products contain only spores, while other “whole inoculum” products contain all three. Whole inoculum products tend to be more robust and can inoculate plants at higher rates.

Plants can communicate with


Let’s talk about the role of mycorrhizal fungi in nature and why adding them to growing media benefits plants. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) associate with approximately 90% of all plants on the planet, can be found on almost every continent, and have been around for over 400 million years. The mycorrhizal fungi penetrate root cells, and from there, branch out into the soil in search of nutrients. Plants exchange these nutrients for carbohydrates they give to the fungi. As a result, mycorrhizal plants can absorb more nutrients and water through the fungi’s hyphal network.

in a dormant state and spring to life by two factors. Either biotic, through a hormonal signal from a plant the moment the fungi are placed in the growing media, or abiotic, from a change in environmental conditions, i.e., rain, cold, drought, etc. If there is an abiotic factor that caused the fungi to come to life and no plant for the fungi to connect with and create the mycorrhizal symbiosis, the fungi will die.



Whole inoculum products tend to be more robust and can inoculate plants at higher rates Methods of Producing Mycorrhizal Fungi: In-vitro – This is done in sterile In nature, AMF can connect with spores (Powell, 1976; Abbot and Robson 1981), and specifically, vesicles Petri dishes on “transformed root in roots proved to be highly infectious multiple plants, even from cultures” where the host “plant”, (Biermann and Linderman). Therefore, mostly carrot, has been modified to different species, together the benefits of whole inoculum are produce only roots to have the fungi faster initial colonisation, and higher grow on. This method provides through their hyphal inoculum potential. uncontaminated fungal propagules but has some disadvantages as well. network. This phenomenon This doesn’t mean a product with only The fungi are produced in sterile, has been coined the spores is inferior to a product with artificial conditions, and thus, there all three types of propagules. There is no interaction with the external “Wood Wide Web” are other factors to consider, such as biological world. Various biotic and the propagules’ viability to that of the abiotic stressors affect the fungi and spores alone. These tests are done at labs where they test the how they will perform in a pot or a field (Vasilis Kokkoris and strength of the inoculant by various methods. Miranda Hart, These stimuli include the fungi’s interaction with various microbes, temperature, carbon Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and more levels, and more. research needs to be done on the subject to fully understand the impact of both approaches in an agricultural setting. In-vivo – This method is done by growing fungi on the roots of living host plants. Since approximately 90% of all plants form a relationship with AMF, the number of potential host Nature vs. Controlled Environment plant species is vast, allowing the fungi to be stimulated by How does growing in a pot compare with what happens in the different growth rates, nutrient uptake cycle, and host nature from a mycorrhizal fungus’ standpoint and role? In nature, plants’ other factors. These plants are grown mostly in pots AMF can connect multiple plants, even from different species, in greenhouses with soil or other growing media. While together through their hyphal network. This phenomenon has they are in a greenhouse, the rhizosphere environment been coined the “Wood Wide Web”. Through this network, is more complicated than in a Petri dish. This means that plants exchange nutrients and water, and even information, there is an interaction between microbes and the fungi, among themselves. Plants can communicate with each other an influence of the nutrients used to feed the plants, the through this intricate network and inform each other of pests watering schedule, the temperature, and more. so that other plants can increase their defence mechanism and much more. When growing a single plant in a pot, this network In a product containing the whole inoculum, the sum of exists, but not to its fullest extent. The fungi’s role is lessened, these propagules is estimated via what is known as Inoculum as they do not transfer nutrients between plants or information, Potential (LIU, R.-J., & LUO, X.-S. 1994). Therefore, by but their part is still enormous. They now will “only” absorb adding more root fragments, the Infection Potential grows. nutrients that the plant can’t access, such as locked up Moreover, studies show that root fragments containing phosphorous, iron, zinc, and others, as well as water. vesicles and hyphae increase colonisation speed compared




If there is an abiotic factor that c ause d the fungi to come to l ife and no pl ant for the fungi to conne ct with and create the mycorrhizal symbiosis, the fungi will die Endomycorrhizal Fungi Life Cycle What came first, the chicken or the egg? What’s fascinating about mycorrhizal inoculants is that both the spore (A.K.A. the egg) and the hyphae (the chicken) can start a symbiotic relationship with a plant. Spores sporulate and make their way toward the plant cell, where they construct treelike structures called arbuscules, where the exchange of nutrients and carbohydrates between the fungi and plant occurs. From there, the fungus branches out via hyphae, microscopic root-like structures in search of food for the plant. When inoculating with hyphae and root fragments, the hyphae do not require sporulation and can latch on to the plant roots without sporulating.

Mycorrhizal fungi are obligate biotrophs, meaning they will live only if they have a host plant. If no host plant is around, the spores or hyphae will either remain dormant or ultimately die. Unlike humans, who digest food internally, mycorrhizal fungi secrete powerful enzymes as they spread out in the soil, which break down minerals and nutrients into simpler forms. It is through this method that the fungi feed the plant. As they continue to expand into unchartered territories that the plant can’t reach, they supply the plant with the brokendown matter which the plant needs to grow. In return for this, the plant gives carbohydrates to the fungi. 3

Resources: •


Abbott, L. K., & Robson, A. D. (1981). Infectivity and effectiveness of vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: effect of inoculum type. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 32(4), 631-639. Biermann, B., & Linderman, R. G. (1983). Use of vesiculararbuscular mycorrhizal roots, intraradical vesicles and extraradical vesicles as inoculum. New Phytologist, 95(1), 97-105. LIU, R.-J., & LUO, X.-S. (1994). A new method to quantify the inoculum potential of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. New Phytologist, 128(1), 89–92. Powell, C. L. (1976). Development of mycorrhizal infections from Endogone spores and infected root segments. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 66(3), 439-445.

Ari Singer is a man with a mission: spreading endomycorrhizal fungi spores to benefit plants worldwide. He leads the DYNOMYCO sales team in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Israel and is passionate about mycology, gardening, and making the world more sustainable. Ari has a B.A. in Sustainability & Economics from the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya. When he is not roaming the globe spreading DYNOMYCO spores, you can find him on his urban garden rooftop growing vegetables and mushrooms or on a slackline somewhere between cliffs and trees.

Bio The image above illustrates how this cycle works and how new fungal growth and reproduction can occur at any stage of the fungus’ life.


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in austral ia

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See all the urban growers, backyard gardeners, and inspiring communities featured in Who’s Growing What Where over the years.

Who’s Growing



in australia

& Zea New lan d






here’s something exciting about finding some long-forgotten, rare seeds. Once you have them, the challenge is to revive those genetics, especially considering they’ve been sitting in someone’s tobacco tin,

basement, or garage for decades. While they look like they could germinate, you don’t have many, and you want to make sure they sprout.

Is It Possible? Yes! Even seeds that are thousands of years old can germinate. But proper pretreatment is essential, and the older the seed, the less energy it has left in storage.

Seeds from annual plants aren’t often designed to last many years, part of what makes the germination process so tricky

Seeds from annual plants aren’t often designed to last many years, part of what makes the germination process so tricky. With each trip around the sun, energy declines. Eventually, the embryo doesn’t have any juice left to break the seed coat and push through the soil to the surface. To an extent, we can minimise this through proper storage in cool and dry environments. But even still, the passage of time inevitably wins.

Clean Beans

Aggressive tactics are often needed to give the seed a fighting chance. First, the seeds will need to be cleaned, minimising any potential mould spores and pathogens that may be on the seed surface. Soaking the seeds in a 1 or 2% hydrogen peroxide solution for a few minutes cleans effectively while also providing slight chemical scarification to the seed coat, which has likely hardened over time.

Chemical Scarification? For germination to occur, the embryo needs to be able to exchange oxygen with the outside world. The issue? Seed coats tend to harden over time, which prevents them from properly absorbing water and oxygen. While H202 can provide a chemical roughing, it’s often necessary to get a bit more surgical. Mechanically scarifying seeds can be as simple as lightly sanding the micropyle (edge) with a piece of sandpaper (being careful not to go too far), or knicking a notch out of the seed coat with a utility knife. Cracking the seed coat carefully between a pair of forceps is another method. Many old-timers used to crack the seeds between their teeth!

For germination to occur, the embryo needs to be able to exchange oxygen with the outside world


powerful soil for powerful plants


Once the seeds are ready, place them directly into a quality, organic soil for germination, rather than on a paper towel. The latter makes the seeds more prone to pathogens

Scrubbing In

Once the seeds are ready, Soaking seeds in a diluted Sometimes, you have to place them directly into perform surgery to get solution of blackstrap molasses a quality, organic soil for a seed to germinate. Do germination, rather than or even sugar water will bolster this by entirely removing on a paper towel. The carbohydrate levels the seed coat and directly latter makes the seeds germinating the embryo more prone to pathogens. by placing it on top of a quality propagating media kept Good soil should be brimming with healthy microbes. evenly moist in a controlled environment. Steady hands Direct planting also avoids injury to the initial taproot’s and magnification are a must for this; small seeds mean very fine feeder hairs during transplanting, fur ther delicate work! Often, this step alone is enough for seeds enhancing survival rates. and should improve success rates. Don’t give up on older seeds; try to germinate them to see if they are as good as you remember. 3


To fur ther ensure the best chance of germination, we can attempt to replenish some of the energy and hormones that have been lost over time. Soaking seeds in a diluted solution of blackstrap molasses or even sugar water will bolster carbohydrate levels. When added to the mix, kelp, fulvic acid, B vitamins, alfalfa meal, coconut water, and malted grain (especially barley) provide a considerable array of biocatalysts, including natural enzymes to wake the tired embryos and get them moving. Coconut water is notably used in plant tissue culture as food stock, which proves very useful for these purposes. Germination is an enzyme-driven process, which can be naturally supplemented by the above ingredients.


Cody is the owner of High Powered Organics and a second-generation Australian grower with more than a decade of experience in the horticulture industry. Cody works closely with growers locally and abroad, creating organic solutions for high output cropping. He achieves maximum results by combining aspects from permaculture, biodynamic farming, and Korean natural farming techniques. Cody’s main focus is finding natural, and sustainable ways to produce high-quality plants with a minimum of input.

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challenge that comes with growing plants is deterring garden pests, and the list of potential insect diners wishing to feast on the fruits of your labour is a long one. One of the most destructive problems in the garden is the spider mite.

What are spider mites?

When temperatures reach Spider mites are oval-shaped and above 30°C (86°F), baby Spider mites belong to the only about 0.4mm long; they come in spider mites are born in as arachnid family and look like tiny spiders. They thrive in colours of red, brown, black, yellow little as three and a half days. Females can lay 200 eggs in hot, dry environments, and or green, depending on the species her lifetime. In just 15 days, especially where there are no new mites reach adulthood predators to challenge them. and then lay eggs of their own. Spider mites hatch at a ratio of 3:1 Spider mites are oval-shaped and only about 0.4mm long; they female to male, so it is easy to see how an infestation can quickly come in colours of red, brown, black, yellow or green, depending take hold before the grower has even noticed. on the species. Red spider mites, glasshouse red spider mites, and carmine spider mites are especially concerning because they are sap feeders, sucking juices from plant leaves. Other spider mite species feed on decayed organic matter and small insects rather than plants.

Lifecycle and Reproduction In a warm and dry climate, spider mates breed at an alarming rate. They can be catastrophic in an indoor grow room, destroying crops in next to no time.


Signs of Infestation Tiny brown spots and yellowing leaves are the first indications that spider mites are present. The mites appear as minuscule coloured dots on the underside of leaves. They use spider webs to travel between leaves and branches.

How Plants are Affected Spider mites puncture holes in the leaf and suck the sap out, causing it to turn yellow. The entire plant becomes very weak, and because mites reproduce so quickly, it won’t recover from the relentless attack and will eventually die. Spider mites are super-spreaders when it comes to transmitting disease, as they travel from one plant to another, which poses another threat to crops.


Neem oil and other horticultural oils are spider mite deterrents.

Prevention Spider mites cannot fly. They arrive via other infested plants or hitch a ride to the growing environment on a gardener or visitor. They can also get into greenhouses or grow rooms through ventilation systems.

In a warm and dry climate, spider mates breed at an alarming rate. They can be catastrophic in an indoor grow room, destroying crops in next to no time

Use fine dust filters in grow room ventilation systems to prevent mites from entering the room. Always change any clothes that have been in contact with other plants or gardens before entering the growing environment. Because spider mites love hot and dry climates, keeping the humidity up can help deter them as well. Neem oil and other horticultural oils are spider mite deterrents. The oil creates a barrier on the leaf, and the mites will struggle to penetrate the surface and starve. The oil also coats the mite, softening their shell, and hopefully, killing them off. Keeping all plants covered in oil is not realistic. The best line of defence is to check plant leaves, especially the undersides, regularly for the abovementioned signs of an infestation. The mites are so small that using a magnifying glass is a good idea.

Curing A Spider Mite Infestation

The key to getting rid of an infestation is to act fast! If caught early enough, neem oil will help. If the infestation is severe, however, then the most effective cure is a nonsystemic insecticide that kills mites on contact. Dousing the plant with water for a few days after will reduce any insecticide residue remaining on the plant. If growing organically, cinnamon clove tea might do the trick. Mix an ounce each of powdered cinnamon and cloves into a gallon of cooled, boiled water. Spray regularly onto the plant. Releasing predator mites into the grow room may also help eradicate the pests. Unfortunately, the aggressive nature of spider mite infestations means organic methods tend to have lower success rates. Prevention is the ultimate cure when it comes to spider mites, or any pests, for that matter. Taking the time to check plants thoroughly and regularly may seem daunting, but it is a chore worth doing versus the hassle of dealing with an infestation. 3


An industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in a variety of roles, Rich is currently a business development manager for a large UK hydroponics distributor. The author of the Growers Guide book series, Rich also writes on all aspects of indoor gardening. He is also an independent industry consultant, working closely with hydroponic businesses worldwide.




Seeds A Granny Smith apple seed has a one in one hundred chance of making Granny Smith apples!




o you ever harvest the seeds from the fruit you buy from the supermarket and try to germinate them? Green-thumbed gardeners have a better chance at succeeding than most, but even if the seeds do germinate, the chances of them producing the same fruit as their

parent plant are relatively slim. A Granny Smith apple seed has a one in one hundred chance of making Granny Smith apples! Centuries of breeding and production methods have had a significant influence on the genetics of humanity’s favourite foodstuffs, many of them favourable. But where a fruit farmer at the turn of the 20th century could reasonably expect to influence his crop and perhaps that of his neighbours, food production today is a global enterprise that has a genuine and potentially catastrophic influence on the existence of species themselves.

Feminised seeds are produced by crossing two females with one another. They have the added advantage of preserving the characteristics of their mothers

Anyone seeking a monopoly on food production has to contend with the fact that almost anyone can grow a plant from seed. Patents protect the profit margins of patent holders, but suing farmers is a costly process and success isn’t guaranteed. The less expensive solution is to ‘switch off ’ a seed’s ability to grow. What could go wrong?


So, how did we get here? It’s fair to say we’ve been genetically engineering plants for millennia, to varying degrees. Grafting, the process of attaching the upper por tion of one plant (the scion) to the lower par t (the rootstock) of another plant, is believed to date back some 4,000 years. Asexual propagation is common enough in nature and plants do graft naturally to one another in a process called inosculation, but grafting today is far removed from its natural precursor. In commercial terms, grafting has a host of advantages; primarily hardiness, disease resistance, and precocity – the ability to produce fruit without having to wait years for a seedling to mature. Seeds from the fruit of grafted plants contain the genetic data of both the scion and the rootstock. When these seeds are successfully planted, they tend to favour the rootstock. With apples, that often means their fruit will likely be inedible crab apples. Years of hybridisation means these seeds often contain the genetic data of numerous varieties and cultivars.

Hybrids Many of the fruit and plant varieties we enjoy today are hybrids born of grafting and cloning. Hybrids are generally sterile as a result of polyploidy; a condition where abnormal cell division results from an uneven number of chromosome sets, preventing the creation of balanced gametes. In a commercial sense, this is fantastic; it means you’re not handing your customer the means to compete with you every time you sell them a piece of fruit full of seeds. Then again, why give them a chance, even if it’s one in a hundred? Grafting



Suicide seeds are billed as a biosafety measure that will prevent GM-crops from accidentally spreading into the wider environment

Look for the Radura symbol on food packaging if you’re wondering whether the food you’re eating has been

cell multiplication necessary for creating life. Look for the Radura symbol on food packaging if you’re wondering whether the food you’re eating has been irradiated.

irradiated Seedless fruits are a product of parthenocarpy; the production of fruit without fertilisation. Originally a naturally occurring mutation, highly-prised seedless fruits are propagated through grafting and cuttings, as well as by artificial pollination and through the introduction of external hormones. No more picking seeds out of your teeth or worrying about pesky home growers cutting off your cash; right up until a disease rips through your crop. But that’s someone else’s problem in the future, right?

Feminised Seeds The sale of seeds is a massive industry in itself. Where the fruit and flower of female plants are the prised product at the end of the process, an errant male could easily fertilise your crop. Feminised seeds are produced by crossing two females with one another. They have the added advantage of preserving the characteristics of their mothers. Gibberellins are hormones that induce male flowers in female plants. Silver nitrate modifies ethylene levels in plants, causing the switch to maleness without the disadvantage of male genes. Since neither parent has a Y chromosome, the resultant seeds are guaranteed to be female. With aeons under her belt, Mother Nature always finds the way. None of these techniques can be 100% guaranteed. Humankind has never been one to let anything get in the way of rampant capitalism though, and we’ve still got two big guns to set against the biodiversity that underpins life itself; brutality and sneakiness.

Radiation Strictly speaking, radiation treatment extends the shelf life of foods and prevents the spread of pathogens and fungi. Exposing foodstuffs to gamma radiation isn’t widely discussed, perhaps for obvious reasons, but it is widely practised. Potatoes, in particular, are a staple around the world and they spend a fair amount of time in storage before they reach your plate or the processing plant. Irradiation irreversibly inhibits cell division and multiplication; which is excellent for preventing breakdown and sprouting, but not so great when it comes to the


Radura symbol

Terminator Seeds Genetic Use Restriction Technologies, or GURTs, represent the bleeding edge of genetically modified foodstuffs. Developed in the nineties by the USDA and the Delta and Pine Land Company, a subsidiary of Monsanto, GURTS imbue genetically modified plants with a genetic ‘switch’. The switch induces infertility in second-generation seeds, or only allows them to become fertile in response to exposure to a particular, proprietary agent. Dubbed terminator technology or suicide seeds, names which are incredibly unpopular with their proponents, suicide seeds are billed as a biosafety measure that will prevent GM-crops from accidentally spreading into the wider environment. Around the time that they were being developed, Monsanto was famously suing Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola farmer, for failing to pay them royalties for their Roundup-tolerant canola, a product which he had never purchased. It was a costly battle for Monsanto which brought to light the fact that they weren’t above stooping to base intimidation. Widespread outrage and outright horror at the prospect of terminator technology has seen it shelved and outright prohibited in cer tain countries. Today, it remains ‘not yet commercially available’. 3


Dr Callie Seaman is a plant-obsessed Formulation Chemist at AquaLabs – the company behind SHOGUN Fertilisers and the Silver Bullet plant health range. She has been in the hydro industry for 15 years in research development and manufacturing and had previously worked on the VitaLink range. She has a Ph.D. in fertiliser chemistry and a BSc (HONS) in Biomedical Sciences and loves nothing more than applying this knowledge to pushing the boundaries of nutrient performance.





ith more people spending time at home and mindful of health in 2020, it’s time to reflect on the indoor environment and how that impacts our wellbeing. Research studies in recent years have revealed plants can have a positive effect on indoor air quality, how we feel both mentally and physically, and mitigate a

wide range of potential health issues.

VOCs are carbon-containing chemicals that evaporate into the air at room temperature. Some of these toxic gases are easily identifiable from their distinctive smell. Where Potential Dangers Lie Figures from 2019 reveal over 86% of Australians live in urban areas and spend an average of 90% of their time indoors - either at home or work. According to the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia (NGIA), “Indoor air is generally more polluted than outdoor air due to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) produced by furnishings, carpets, paints, and outdoor VOCs (mainly fuel emissions) trapped indoors.” House plants help clean improve indoor air quality and provide visual amenity

Health Impacts of Poor Indoor Air Quality Polluted indoor air contaminated by VOCs is recognised as a major cause of building-related health conditions, including headaches, nausea, lethargy, nose and throat irritation, and loss of concentration. Few people likely suspect an invisible enemy may be contributing to their health issues. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has identified indoor air quality (IAQ) as one of the top five environmental hazards. Research studies have revealed that pollutants indoors might be two to five times, and sometimes over 100 times higher than outdoors (US EPA, 1993). Normal outdoor carbon dioxide levels range between 300 and 500ppm. Indoors, the average CO2 concentration levels range between 500 and 1,500ppm (Seppänen, 2006), primarily from human respiration. Disturbingly, one study (Satish et al., 2012) revealed that rational thinking and reasoning ability reduced at 1,000ppm CO2 concentration levels. Another study (Bluyssen, 2009) showed occupants could suffer from suffocation and tightness in the chest with exposure to CO2 levels at 800ppm or higher.

VOCs are carbon-containing chemicals that evaporate into the air at room temperature. Some of these toxic gases are easily identifiable from their distinctive smell. Cigarette smoke is an obvious one, and most of us recognise that ‘new car’ or ‘new carpet’ scent, but other emissions are odourless. Some of the worst offenders include newly manufactured products, like curtains and flooring, building products, marker pens, varnishes, adhesives, synthetic fabrics, cleaning agents, craft products, scents, and sprays. Office electronics like new computers and printers may emit a variety of VOCs, according to a US Berkeley study. Common VOCs found in our homes include benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, acetone, and styrene. Higher levels of VOCs occur with new products, and off-gassing gradually reduces over time. However, if new VOC-containing products are regularly introduced, concentrations can build up significantly, particularly in warm, poorly-ventilated rooms. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to avoid all off-gassing. Even if a product no longer smells, it could still be emitting VOCs.

Just one plant can enhance the work environment and improve productivity and mental health Nastur tiums




A greener space is not only a cleaner one to live in, but provides a practical strategy for mental health

Houseplants still need adequate natural or indoor lighting to photosynthesize

Indoor Plants to the Rescue There are positive low-cost solutions – and plants hold the key! Indoor plants not only absorb all types of urban air pollution, but an ever-increasing body of evidence confirms they also promote positive mental and physical wellbeing benefits. The findings from a three-year study, “Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Wellbeing”, conducted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) are significant. A series of tests were performed before and after plants were positioned in offices. The results showed people in offices with plants experienced:


• 58% reduction in depression/dejection; • 44% reduction in anger/hostility • 38% reduction in fatigue; • 37% reduction in tension/anxiety; • 30% reduction in confusion; • 4.5% increase in vigour.

Plants Help Remove VOCs and Reduce CO2 In one of the UTS studies, CO2 concentrations were reduced by 10% in an air-conditioned building and by 25% in a naturally ventilated building – another significant improvement in IAQ. Air conditioning indoors is used for temperature control and to refresh the air by removing CO2 to acceptable levels (a maximum of 1000 ppm). During the UTS office plant testing period, it was observed that just three people talking over 10 minutes in an office could increase CO2 concentrations to 800 ppm. Indoor plants could potentially play a major role in reducing CO2 levels under the extra-ventilation cut-in point for air conditioning systems. In terms of reducing VOCs, the UTS research revealed that after an initial period where the plants acclimatise to the unique VOCs in the room, the potting mix bacteria in conjunction with the plant consistently remove VOCs on an ongoing basis. Residual concentrations of VOCs are removed to insignificant levels (< 20 ppb), which is below the detection limits of the gas chromatography instrumentation. Test results from multiple studies revealed that indoor plants were able to consistently remove VOCs and CO2 within 24 hours regardless of the plant species, whether they were in small or largesized pots, in light or dark, in air-conditioning or not. What’s even more impressive, is when the VOC levels increased, the rate of removal rose in response to the challenge. The research revealed, “the bacteria involved (Burchett et al., 2009) are among the normal decomposing microorganisms of soil/potting mixtures, and similar to those routinely cultured for use in bioremediation of oil spills and groundwater contamination.” An invisible workforce we can employ to improve our health!

The research provides strong evidence to support the use of plants in work environments to reduce stress and improve performance. Impressively, just one office plant was enough to make all the difference. Plants Help Improve Wellbeing Plants can relax and energise us, improve our mood, enhance productivity, and aid concentration. The results from many research works confirm that people find plants an effective mechanism for coping with stress just by being around them. A greener space is not only a cleaner one to live in, but provides a practical strategy for mental health. In our homes, plants can give a sense of connection to nature that lifts the spirits and makes us feel more relaxed.

Looking at green plants while working can help relieve stress



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Polluted indoor air contaminated by VOCs is recognised as a major cause of building-related health conditions, including headaches, nausea, lethargy, nose and throat irritation, and loss of concentration. Indoor plants help us relax clean pollutants from the air and reduce stress

List of indoor plant species UTS laboratory-tested for VOC removal: • • •

• • • The type of plant species used for indoor air phytoremediation is not significant, but rather, it is a healthy microbe population that needs to be cultivated (Leahy and Colwell, 1990). Keeping indoor plants, regardless of species, well-maintained in a moist, well-drained and pH-balanced potting mix rewards us with clean air and healthier homes and workplaces. A win-win! Loving our Indoor Plants It’s clear from this evidence that plants not only play a beneficial role in our outdoor gardens by providing us with greenery, food, and a place to find peace and relaxation, but they also contribute valuable ecosystem services indoors for human health. Indoor gardening is becoming many people’s go-to activity – not only as a hobby to green our homes but also as a way to improve wellbeing through sensory engagement with plants and soil. I have plants in every room of our home including on our desks, bedrooms (where CO2 accumulates overnight as we sleep) and in our living spaces. Not only do they make the house more beautiful to look at by greening our indoor spaces, but they are effectively part of our ‘health insurance’ plan!

Aglaonema modestum (Chinese Evergreen) (Fam. Araceae) Chamaedorea elegans (Parlour Palm) (Fam. Palmae) Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ (Fam. Dracaenaceae; prev. Liliaceae) Dracaena marginata (Fam. Dracaenaceae; prev. Liliaceae) Epipremnum aureum (syn. Scindap(s)us aureus) (Pothos; Devil‘s Ivy) (Fam. Araceae) Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm) (Fam. Palmae) Philodendron ‘Congo’ (Chinese Clone) (Fam. Araceae) Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-law‘s tongue) (Fam.Ruscaceae/Dracaenaceae) Schefflera ‘Amate’ (Queensland Umbrella Tree) (Fam. Araliaceae) Spathiphyllum ‘Petite’ and ‘Sweet Chico’ (Peace Lily) (Fam. Araceae) Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’ (Peace Lily) (Fam. Araceae) Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Zanzibar; ZZ) (Fam. Araceae)

They were all found to be equally effective in removing a standard dose within about 24 hours after a week of acclimatization (induction) to exposure to the VOC.

My houseplants get a weekly ‘spa bath’ treatment with a soak in liquid seaweed for trace elements. They are rotated outdoors for a brief ‘holiday’ in the sun to boost photosynthesis every fortnight and soak up the mineral-rich rain to wash off any dust. I can honestly say my houseplants are thriving and even flowering indoors. They’re like members of our family now and deserve a little TLC in return for the positive health and wellbeing benefits they contribute. Perhaps yours do too? 3

BIO Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener, is an author, speaker and urban garden community educator on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, Australia. Anne is passionate about inspiring people to improve health and wellbeing, by growing nutrient-dense food gardens in creative containers and small spaces. Anne regularly presents workshops, speaks at sustainable living events, coaches private clients and teaches community education classes about organic gardening and ways to live sustainably. She has authored several eBooks and gardening guides. Anne shares organic gardening tips and tutorials to save time, money and energy on her popular website -

African violets are a popular indoor flowering plant that can help lift the spirits as well as clean air

References: 1) Burchett MD, Torpy F and Brennan J, 2009, Towards Improving Indoor Air Quality With Potted -Plants A Multifactorial Investigation, Final Repor t to Hor ticulture Australia Ltd. 2) Burchett MD, Torpy F, Brennan J and Craig A, 2010, Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Wellbeing, Final Repor t to Horticulture Australia Ltd. GA R D EN CU LT U R E M AGA Z I N E.CO M



s ’ o h W Growing

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Murringo (NSW)

Credit: Enviroganic Farm

Enviroganic Farm


Cotton Tree (QLD)

The Dowling family has been farming and caring for the environment since the 1840s. Enviroganic Farm’s founders, Angus and Sonya Dowling continue the family’s commitment to the land with holistic organic production systems to ensure the wellbeing of the environment. They raise certified organic slow grown chickens and turkeys that roam free on certified organic pastures. The Dowlings are committed to the organic, holistic and sustainable management of their natural resources. To be as self-reliant as possible, they ‘share farm’ on certified organic broadacre mixed farms in the Gilgunnia Euabalong region to grow their grain feed. They also grow feed crops in fields surrounding their free-ranging flocks. Enviroganic Farm proudly practices crop and grazing rotations for soil, pasture and environmental health. Compost bedding and chicken manure are recycled and spread over the farm and wheat fields to fertilise and improve the pasture and grain crop production. Their produce is sold through major supermarkets and retailers Australia-wide. Learn more: enviroganicfarm

Learn more:


Credit: The Urban Farm

This small scale intensive city farm uses permaculture principles, regenerative agriculture, and biodynamics to grow organic produce in raised beds. Simon Rixon, head horticulturist for the project based at the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre, coordinates the delivery of freshly picked salad ingredients, edible flowers and herbs to local cafes and eateries and collects their food waste for farm composting. Many local customers come from the high-rise buildings to get their nature fix while waiting for their fresh ingredients to be picked. The Urban Farm builds local food security and educates the community gardeners who rent beds to grow their food on the site. The farm maximises space by turning marginal areas into productive farmland with a Council verge license to grow mulches past the fence line and is classified as a ‘spray-free-zone’. This social enterprise offers a community compost drop-off initiative, converting ‘waste’ into organic soil. The farm provides habitat for the biodiversity of flora and fauna enabling families, schools and childcare groups to enjoy, discover and learn.

Credit: Chester Beatty / Facebook

The Urban Farm



Gurra Gurra (SA)

Gurra Downs, owned and operated by the Reilly family, is a certified organic property growing 30 different varieties of date palms, many of which are not grown elsewhere in Australia. The Reilly’s are passionate about keeping their soils and trees healthy to produce nutrient-rich food to help their customers stay well. They sell a variety of fresh and dried date products via Farmhouse Direct online and post around Australia. They are excited to support and expand the date palm industry in Australia and have 20 years of experience in date genetics. Gurra Downs operates a date palm nursery and works with new growers around Australia, supplying them with a mixed portfolio of propagated clonal material suited to their climate. The family farm also grows winegrapes, figs, pomegranates, and cactus. Gurra Downs offers a unique selection of tastes, colours, and textures from the date varieties they grow, and this is an exciting new industry to watch. Learn more:

Credit: Regans Ridge Olives


Regans Ford (WA)

Credit: Gurra Downs

Gurra Downs

Regans Ridge Olives

Catherine and daughters Elise, Sabrina and Ellen along with a small team of local workers, operate a grove of 23,000 olive trees at Regans Ridge Olives. These female farmers pride themselves on allowing their olive trees to flourish organically. Regans Ridge Olives are one of the few table olive producers in Australia using the traditional Sicilian method. Their award-winning extra virgin olive oil is coldpressed onsite within 24 hours of harvest, preserving optimal flavour and freshness. Organic management practises enable them to produce unique flavour profiles in their table olives and olive oils. They sell unique dukkah blends using their dehydrated olives and organic cashew nuts - one spicy and the other with an Australian lemon and herb flavour. They also harvest mangoes in March. Produce is sold fresh at Perth farmers markets on weekends and selected organic and health food stores, as well as home delivery. Learn more: regansridge 3





TO LEARN ABOUT REGENERATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE GROWING Regenerative and sustainable are two buzz words in the world of growing these days. And they should be; the current climate crisis means we need to be making serious changes and fast. Lucky for us, there are plenty of resources out there that can help us all adopt these practices in our gardens. Here’s our list of 5 cool ways to learn more about regenerative and sustainable growing practises.


The Need To Grow

It costs $7 to watch, but The Need To Grow is a documentary well worth the money.The best part about this flick? It’s inspirational and offers messages of hope; a nice shift from the terrifying news we hear about the environment every day.Yes, the world’s farmable soil is depleting at a rapid rate, but we can find a way out of this mess, and the documentary introduces us to brilliant people who are offering real solutions. Meet a 6-year-old food activist working to ensure her future, a never-say-die micro-farmer, and the inventor of the incredible Green Power House.You will fall in love with the protagonists in this documentary, celebrate their achievements and want to fight for them with every bump they hit on the road. Learn all about biochar as a healing mechanism and vertical hydroponic towers that are a valid alternative to growing in soil. We all eat, so we should all be a part of the solution, right? Check out this documentary to find out how you can help. (To watch:

Epic Gardening Podcast

If you have five minutes to spare or want something interesting to listen to while you’re driving or making dinner, the Epic Gardening podcast is for you. Host Kevin Espiritu is not only really likeable, but he offers a wealth of information to anyone interested in learning about organic gardening, growing in small spaces, or various growing methods. Hear from experts on straw bale gardening, relay planting techniques, regenerative gardening, and more. Learn how to revive dry or silty soils, grow just about anything in pots, tips and tricks for composting, and how to fight pests and diseases naturally. Espiritu offers a wealth of information on a broad range of gardening subjects and breaks it all down into easy-to-follow guides that don’t take up too much of your time. Worth a listen for anyone looking to hone their craft. (Learn more:


Kevin Espiritu





The Rodale Institute

Credit: AgFunderNews


No matter where you live in the world, the Rodale Institute wants to help you make essential changes for the health of our planet.The organisation is all about education and offers a series of webinars (many of them free!), workshops, and online courses, so farmers and gardeners can learn restorative growing techniques. If online meetings aren’t your thing, research and read about a variety of topics ranging from organic gardening, cover crops, and crop rotation to no-till practises, rotation grazing, and compost.There is no better time to educate yourself on this subject; a global switch to regenerative crop and pasture systems could fight the current climate crisis by soaking up 100% of annual carbon emissions! Need some science to back that up? Check out The White Paper, released by Rodale in September. What are you waiting for?


Good Gardening Reads

Between the pandemic-imposed social restrictions and the upcoming holiday season, chances are you have some extra time on your hands for a few good books. Luckily, there are so many out there that help aspiring and seasoned gardeners be the best versions of themselves. It’s never too early to start planning next season’s garden; The Pollinator Victory Garden, written by EcoBeneficial’s Kim Eierman, helps readers win the war on pollinator decline with ecological gardening tips. Learn how to safely attract and support bees, beetles, butterflies, bats, and other beneficial bugs to your garden.Trusted since the beginning of time(ish), the Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives the lowdown on feeding the soil for bountiful yields. Another book on our must-read list? Garden Alchemy, by Stephanie Rose of Garden Therapy. Much like a cookbook, this gem provides readers with more than 80 recipes for organic fertilisers, plant elixirs, potting mixes, pest deterrents, and more, all of them made with Mother Nature in mind. No matter what your topic of interest, there’s a book for it. Pick one or two and plan your winter escape!


Kiss The Ground

The message from another powerful documentary is clear: save the soil, and we might be able to save ourselves. Netflix’s Kiss The Ground lays all the cards on the table; destructive farming practises have stripped the world’s soil of nutrients, and we only have 60 harvests to go before growing in ‘dirt’ becomes a thing of the past. Environmentally-conscious celebrities make appearances throughout the doc, but the real stars are the farmers and ranchers devoting their lives to regenerative agriculture while educating others. Learn about the soil structure beneath our feet and how it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. Discover how essential cover crops are to soil rejuvenation and the simple things we can all do to change our path. Do yourself and future generations a favour: don’t miss this documentary. Read more about it on and page 37 of this issue! 3