By Barbara Damrosch
Hydroponic gardening could not be more different from organic gardening if it tried. Maybe you’ve seen a hydroponic greenhouse operation, or a home gardener’s kit, in which plant roots are bathed in a solution of chemical fertilizers but never come into contact with any soil. It is a clever and useful system that can be used in places where the soil is contaminated, or one where a living soil does not exist, such as Mars.
Organic gardening, on the other hand, is a practice in which we participate in a natural system already in place, and it is complex beyond our ability to know. The living interactions of microbes, animals and plants in the soil are what created Earth’s atmosphere and keep it livable. If we don’t disrupt them, they give us healthful food with all the nutritional subtleties we’ve evolved to need.
According to James W. Brown, writing on the Web site of CropKing, a company that sells greenhouses and hydroponic equipment, the word hydroponic suffers from an image problem that the word “organic” might correct. By using a system whereby certain bacteria digest organic matter to create nutrients in a separate location, which are then “delivered to the plant via solution,” growers can “market their produce as being organic because that will command a premium price.” The process, says Brown, is “certifiable under the guidelines of the National Organic Program” (NOP).
But that’s just because the NOP is dragging its feet. Read Full Article »