How I got into Hydroponics Gardening ...

I was more or less 'led' towards Hydroponics Gardening for several reasons including bird attacks, natural disasters, good old-fashioned manual labor and an intimate association with what comes out of the south-end of a cow.

This is my look back on these events now you may find them amusing (and let's face it, it is pretty funny) but at the time I was definitely not amused.

And, the best part? These events are true...

For several years of my life I volunteered to help with chores on my grandfather's farm. 'Volunteered' is probably the wrong word; a better one would be 'drafted'. You see, I possessed all the needed qualifications; I was young, energetic and, most importantly, a relative.

I vividly remember my first farm task. I was 5 years old and was handed a bucket of chicken feed and directed toward the chicken coop. My grandfather, Hilding, had a strange smile and merely said, "go feed 'em, kid...".

So I walked in and the smell hit me like a physical blow. It took a second to recover, in which time what seemed like a hundred chickens dove for me and the food bucket. I quickly dumped the feed where I stood and ran to the other end of the coop almost colliding with this mean-looking rooster. Apparently the rooster did not like my looks much either because he immediately attacked. rooster

This was more than I had bargained for so I turned and ran back outside, crying, as fast as I could. Of course Hilding thought this was the funniest thing he had ever seen - he had a strange sense of humor.

The next day I was handed the bucket of chicken feed along with a shovel and sent off with the encouraging words, "show 'em who's boss, kid...". And once again the smell hit, the chickens dove and the rooster attacked - only this time, instead of running, I swung the shovel and smacked the rooster with a solid 'thunk'. He wasn't hurt at all but after that the rooster never bothered me again.

The next farm chore was 'picking rocks out of the field'. Hilding always planted an acre of potatoes in his field and to start the process, he would drag a tiller from his tractor over the field to turn over the soil. Living in the northeast United States, all this served to do was bring up rocks. And these rocks had to be removed - this is where I came in.

rooster I would walk the fields and Hilding would follow me perched on his tractor with a beer. Every time I saw a rock, it had to be picked up and thrown into the bucket or scoop of the tractor and I got to do this all day for several days in a row. Apparently Hilding's job was to drink beer and move the tractor forward 20 feet or so every 10 to 15 minutes...

After this Hilding would plow the fields leaving furrows in which to plant and I got to plant the potatoes. How? Same deal; I would walk the field planting potato pieces with Hilding close behind perched on his trusty tractor drinking a beer with a scoopful of dismembered potatoes to plant.

And it was the same deal at harvest time; I harvest while Hilding rides and drinks beer. I was fast associating farms with gardens and developing an aversion to gardening. have a beer

To top it all off, the last farm task I had was watering the tomatoes. Hilding loved his tomatoes and probably would have done fine with 4 or 5 plants but instead, planted 75 beefsteak tomato plants which I had to water daily.

Each plant had to get one full bucket of a cow manure and water mixture which had simmered and fermented in a 55 gallon metal drum in the full summer sun and there were at least 25 drums available at any one time.

cow I can honestly say that you have not lived until you scoop out 75 buckets a day of this evil smelling brew which always managed to slop all over your clothes...

The 'farm chore' days are now long gone and it took me 40 years to even begin thinking about having a garden again. So one year, out of the blue, I decided to plant some tomatoes in my back yard. I planted, tended and watered (plain water) and waited patiently for the first tomato to appear.

One day they did and I was beside myself with anticipation. That afternoon I came home from work to see my wife, Karen, motioning me to the window. I walked over and spotted a family of deer just after eating my tomato plants down to a nub. I was a broken man and admitted defeat for the year.

Next season I was not to be deterred so I planted more tomatoes and surrounded them with a fence. Everything was going just fine until one day after work, when I discovered that a storm had knocked down a tree on the edge of my property.

The tree had fallen square on my garden squashing every one of my tomato plants! I was beginning to feel predestined never to have a garden.

That winter I thought long and hard about what to do and discovered hydroponics. Not only were the plants protected from animals, whether in a greenhouse or outdoors, they could be grown in a hydroponics system in places far from trees where it would be impossible to have a dirt garden.

I was sold and bought a pre-made unit as soon as possible. And you know what? I finally got to harvest those tomatoes after all...

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