|Don and Janet Hawk of Howard Township are in the middle of a signifigant project they have developed. They are growing hydroponic tomatos. Hydroponics is a very complicated process of growing high quality tomatos throughout the year in a soil-free, controlled environment.|
The seeds are planted in January, and the Hawks set up a well-lit, warm area in their basement to raise the seedlings. After four days, the seedlings sprout, but they remain in the basement for two or three weeks while being kept moist with water.The strongest of these plants are then moved to the greenhouse, where they are placed in nutrient soaked cubes of wool.. After another two weeks of steady watering and sunlight, the wool cubes and tomato plants are placed on top of the grow bags.
|Grow bags are long, plastic bags filled with something called Perlite, an absorbant substance which the plants will then grow into. The plants are then connected to a computer which controls the water and nutrient solution that is used to irrigate the tomatos. Each plant has its own irrigation tube, and the computer is programmed to feed it based on its size, fruiting stage, and the time of year.|
|Like the label on the left, there are many varieties of hydroponic tomatos out on the market. More and more people are starting to grow them, and for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons more people are starting to farm hydroponics is because you can farm thirty-five weeks out of the year. You can do this because it takes place indoors, where the temperature is controlled to remain at seventy-five degrees.|