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Hydroponics, by definition, means working water. In practical use, it means growing plants in a solution of water and nutrients, without soil. For the home gardener, hydroponics is growing in a more efficient and productive manner, with less labor and time required. In most hydroponic systems, you also use less water and can grow in a smaller space than with conventional gardening.  

At Kirby Peak Ranch, various methods of hydroponic growing are utilized.  Lettuce and herbs thrive in NFT channels, tomatoes are grown in perlite, strawberries, herbs and other specialty crops occupy the plant sites of a vertical growing system and, in the showcase, numerous other techniques and technologies are demonstrated.  On any given day, you might find egg plant reaching for the sky, edible flowers in full bloom, cucumbers dangling from lush plants or jalapeno peppers ready to spice up salsa. 

Hydroponics is an excellent tool in the classroom and allows hands-on learning in the areas of plant science, plant nutrition, plant physiology, plant care, nutrient and pH testing, and agriculture. A unit in hydroponics also enforces practical uses of chemistry, mathematics, physics, and engineering. The monitoring of a hydroponic garden by students helps instill a sense of responsibility while enforcing skills in testing, analysis, experimentation, data recording, and critical thinking. Educators who want to learn more about hydroponics can visit Kirby Peak Ranch or attend an upcoming educators workshop.  Another source for assistance in teaching hydroponics is "The Hydroponics Educator's Package".   It includes a complete curriculum, video, CD-Rom and transparencies  to guide educators in teaching a unit in hydroponics and is available at www.aquaponics.com

Kirby Peak Ranch opening spring, 2002
1-800-946-5262, Mariposa, California

Richard Radanovich

Kirby Peak Ranch 
PO Box 2099, Mariposa, California, 95338  USA

copyright 2001, 2002 - all rights reserved