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Aloe Vera

Since 2009 in our greenhouse we are growing Aloe Vera that is comfortably installed in one of our Dutch Pot, connected to a timer and feed with BioSevia.

The rate of irrigation is very specific: 15 minutes every two hours like cactus !

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant with evergreen leaves and shallow roots.
It is well known and used as an ornamental, but it is increasingly used for the several properties of its pulp.

Indeed aloe vera pulp, better known as aloe vera’sgel, is used in numerous formulations:
- Cosmetics through its influence on the production of collagen and thus its action against skin aging.
- Medicinal, thanks to its calming properties on the inflammatory process and healing action great to help curing burns.
- Culinary, thanks to its high content of protein and vitamins.

Here are some pictures of our plants and the pulp of a sheet.

See you soon!

Tomatoes and Peppers

Harvest time is running at GHE greenhouse ! Come with me to harvest some beautiful tomatoes and peppers.

For tomatoes we have grown one crop (sweet million)  but in two different ways :

  • Bioponics with Biosevia for the first onein AeroFlos
  • Hydroponics with Flora Series for the second one also in AeroFlos

Let’s point out the differences between these two growing methods.

Bioponics :
We can notice that there are less leaves and that they are clearer
There are also less fruits than the hydro but there are sweeter.
We harvested 2,935Kg

Hydroponics :
There are a lot more leaves and they are deeply green.
There are more fruits than bioponics but there are less tasty.
We harvested 2,638Kg

Regarding the peppers we harvested 1,648Kg today !

It is really amazing to harvest some food ! Try it !

Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes Peppers Peppers Peppers

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Among all the plants we grow in our greenhouse, there is one very useful in everyday life: arnica.

Arnica Montana, is a European plant that grows mainly in the mountains. There is less and less wild Arnica due to the increasing demand of pharmaceutical companies that use it to manufacture remedies mainly against hematoma.

Our arnica grows in a Dutch Pot Aero with our BioThrive nutient.

In fall or winter small plants are duplicated and placed in culture. Roots are harvested all along the year, pay attention to not cut too much especially during blooming, the flowers are   harvested between spring and summer.

To make the tincture of arnica which is the basis to manufacture remedies, we must collect and dry flowers and roots.

The roots were rinsed, arranged on a plate and placed for about 20 hours in an electric dryer at 30 ° C.
Flowers are placed directly on the plate well apart from each other and then dry for about 60 to 70 hours.

Here are pictures of our crops!

Arnica Montana Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana

Sweet Mexican Chili’s harvest at GHE

Les Sourciers

Serre hydroponique GHE

Urban Farm : Food Lab www.urbanfarm.ie

Urban Farm’s indoor growing area, this is where the soil-less growing happens, a 356 day a year growing room with aquaponics & hydroponics, produce such as hot chillies, micro-greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, edible flowers, mushrooms, oriental greens and much more will flourish in here, we will record our inputs & outputs as see what’s viable to scale up towards commercial production in our urban location & environment..

We have partnered with Belfast Indoor Gardening, Ireland’s best Indoor Grow Shop http://www.thebigshop.com/ for all our various needs from pumps to pipes to hydroponic systems & nutrients, it makes life a lot easier having BIG support the project, thanks guys your true visionaries.!!
Check out the Urban Farm project & more http://www.urbanfarm.ie/ www.urbanfarm.ie

Hydroponics for the home

Hydroponics for the home – By Noucetta Kehdi – GHE

Why would anyone use hydroponics ? What are its applications in real life ? And what about home hydroponics ? How could it be useful in the household ?

Arnica roots in hydroponcsHydroponics continues to trigger doubt, questions, or enthusiasm, depending on the public you are addressing. Fortunately we are far from the total skepticism and disapproval we used to face only 15 years ago. Indeed our technology has gained a lot of press during the last few years, especially in response to the economical and ecological issues that have been appearing worldwide. But in times of crises new perspectives arise, and hydroponics is one of them, bringing answers and solutions in more fields than one might suspect. Commercial large and small scale food production, decorative plant propagation and production, vegetal walls and roofs for decoration, insulation, or food production, studies and scientific research at the highest levels, science classes at school, and of course, plants at home.

Yes, hydroponics at home. This might sound strange but there are many applications for hydroponics at home, all of them instructive and productive at once. Let’s concentrate on the 3 most popular – and useful ones – the herb gardens, home food production, and aquaponics.

At home, you can grow any kind of hydroponic garden. Small one-pot units to larger multi-pot ones, depending on your project and the space you have at your disposal. What’s important to know, is that if you grow indoors, especially in the smallest spaces, this is your most efficient way to grow a plant. And when you grow at home, you control the quality of your production.2-Vanilla pods at home in a WaterFarm 2012

Also, hydroponics at home offers people a new relationship with plants. The first reflex is usually of happy surprise when you see the plant growing so fast, and so healthy. There is a definitive difference compared to soil grown plants! And then surprise converts into total passion when you taste your first tomato or smell the excellent aroma of your basil when cooking your pesto. Not to talk about the yields you get.

With hydroponics at home, children learn about plants and the way they live. The rapidity with which plants grow brings a new dynamics to the process, creating active interaction and understanding of the plant’s world. Depending on the growing system you choose (“hydro” when the roots are covered with clay pebbles, or “aero” when the plants are hanging bare roots in the pots), they can watch the root-zone and follow the plant growing from day to day. (But please, if you did hydroponics, do not expose the roots too often to light, this would be harmful to them). In times of flowering, you can show them how to pollinate a strawberry flower or a vanilla orchid. And of course, the best part is when you pick and taste the family’s first crops with them!

3-Parsley, chives an basil in an AquaFarmIf you have a small space and would like to grow your own kitchen herbs, there is nothing as dependable as a small one-pot hydroponics unit. They usually come in different models, for 1 to 5 plants, depending on the size of the plant you’d like to grow. We have grown a large variety of herbs in our AquaFarms over the years, modifying their composition along with the different cuisines we discovered during our trips abroad. And you can also grow your own herb tea garden, pick your herbs when you want, and use them fresh or dry at your convenience. In those same systems you can grow small trees or climbing vines for years. We do so at home with a vanilla from Madagascar, and pick our own pods each year for our vanilla home production.

You can also choose systems that are a little bigger to grow some of your own greens and vegetable. If you have a spare space at home or on your balcony in season, you can grow a few lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries, maybe parsley, basil, or a mint, just for the pleasure of producing your own food.

For children and adults alike, I love aquaponics for homes. This is a way to grow plants and fish in complete synergy, the plants feeding on the fish dejections, and the fish filtering the water for the plants. Here also you can grow a large variety of plants, herbs, or decorative plants. Aquaponics, to my opinion, is a great way to do hydroponics at home in the most playful and instructive way, while being productive if you want to add food production to it.

How does it work and how to star?

Hydroponics is a way to grow plants out of soil, most often in a plastic container, feeding them with an exhaustive, high quality mix of mineral salts, closely adapted to their life-cycle and their needs. It is a closed circuit, highly dynamic irrigation system, with a high level of dissolved oxygen in the nutritive solution.

Plants are grown within a chamber filled with clay pebbles. The growing chamber is suspended above a reservoir filled with nutrient-enriched water. An air pump drives the nutrient solution up through the “pumping column”, to the drip-ring, where it then drips down through clay pebbles. This infuses the nutrient with oxygen and constantly bathes the roots, stimulating the plant to grow like you have never seen before. (http://gb.eurohydro.com/waterfarm.html)

To start hydroponics, keep it simple and economical. Usually 4-Hon Tsai Tai in AeroFlobegin with a small module, for example in the AquaFarm line. These pots are designed to grow between 1 and 5 plants depending on the plant’s size of course. The roots are surrounded with clay pebbles, which serve as a support and a root protector. These systems can tolerate a few mistakes from beginners without too much stressing the plants. Generally they include simple assembly instructions and an information leaflet to guide you through your first steps.

There also are beginner’s hydroponics kits with enough nutrients to last at least one crop, and a detailed feeding chart for an entire life cycle. Choose the best quality nutrition, it is a condition for vigorous and healthy plants. If you have a well-exposed window where your plant gets lots of light, you are fine. But you may need a growing lamp if your growing area is too dark, or your warm season too short. Urban garden stores will be happy to help you.

Yes, but is it difficult, you might ask? Hydroponics may sound difficult. It is new and indeed sounds strange: no soil, only water, special plant foods, checking pH and EC levels, etc. But it is not. There are a few simple parameters to keep in mind. For more in-depth information read page 44-49 in our catalog (download from our website www.eurohydro.com), and the most recent and complete book on the subject “Hydroponics for Everybody” by William Texier. Published by Mama Editions. It is available in French, English, German, Spanish, Check, Russian, and will be soon available in Dutch and Italian. (http://www.mamaeditions.net/catalogue.html)

5-Ginger in a DPS before harvestToday the interest for hydroponics is increasing, and the information about its applications is spreading at high speed.  As large and small commercial hydroponics projects are multiplying in cities and countries all over the world, they are also being introduced in the most modern home architectures. Very soon it will become common to see small hydroponic units in our apartments, herb gardens in our kitchens and veggies growing in our living rooms.

In the meantime, if you need more information on hydroponics for your home, please do not hesitate to contact us directly or open our website at www.eurohydro.com.6-Thyme rosemary and lemon verbena in an AquaFarm

Bioponics is a strange hybrid

Wild Strawberries PandaBioponics is a strange hybrid; it is the encounter of hydroponics with organics, two ways of growing plants that are at the opposite of one another. As most of you probably know, hydroponics is the practice of growing plants on a neutral substrate, or just with the roots bathing in a nutrient solution. Conversely, organic farming relays on soil as the primary source of nutrients for the plant; the whole idea is to keep the ground rich and healthy, with new organic matter being decomposed at all times to bring a renewed food source to plants. At the root level, the environement is very different from one situation to another. I managed to bridge that gap in 2005, when I patented bioponics, the use of a certifiable organic nutrient, BioSevia, in a hydroponics solution, with a substrate, but even with bare roots. Since then, it is possible to grow organic produce using hydroponics technologies.

Now, for those of you who do not have a clear notion on the subject, let me briefly explain what is the main difference between an organic nutrient and a mineral one:
Biosevia and BM
Let’s say first that the mineral, the food source, absorbed by the plant is the exact same in both cases, but the form in which it is present in the soil or in that case in the nutrient solution is very different. When a mineral salt is dissolved in water, it dissolves in the form of an ion (an element with an electrical charge) that is directly assimilable by the plant. In an organic nutrient, the same mineral is « complexed » i.e. it is enclosed inside an organic molecule. For the mineral to be released and available to the plant, the organic molecule needs to be broken down by the action of bacteria or fungi: they break it down into its smaller components, freeing its minerals in the form of ions that the plant can intake. This process of decomposition is performed in soil by the numerous micro organisms always present. Plants complete their diet by absorbing also minerals coming from the decomposition of rocks, also dissolved in water in the form of ions. So to reproduce nature, one has to use only these 2 sources of plant food, natural rock powder and organic matters that were not submitted to chemical treatment. When one adds organic matter, even liquid, in the nutrient solution as a source for plant food, one must reproduce the same process than in soil, the breaking down of the molecules. In other words you have to introduce living organisms into the systems; more life meaning another level of complexity for you, the creator of that little “biosphere”. Indeed, micro organisms can not be controlled as easily and precisely than all the other parameters.

So now you need allies, micro organisms. How to achieve that? One way is to let nature take its course. It will work with time because microorganisms are always present in the environment (even on and in us). They are in the air, in the water, everywhere; this “life” in the nutrient solution is nothing new. The decomposition will be slow and the plants may suffer until a reserve of nutrients build up in solution. It is best to speed up the process by introducing trichoderma. They are a variety of beneficial fungi that colonize plant roots, in a mutually beneficial relationship. One finds them in all healthy soils, but they are also well adapted to live in an inert substrate. They do the job very well, they are easy to source and they are not expensive.

Strawberries roots in bioponyTrichoderma are fungi, and they need to cling to something in order to get established. If you use a substrate with a certain amount of coco fiber in it (or any other organic material), no problem, they will colonize it; but in case of using clay pebbles, rockwool or any other mineral substrate, you need a so called “biofilter”. It is nothing mysterious, just a well-oxygenated space containing substrates on which the micro organisms can grow and reproduce. You find biofilters in every size and shape in aquarium shops and web sites. They are usually placed on the tank. A small pump draws the solution from the tank. The solution circulates in the biofilter and cascades back into the tank. This added circulation (on top of the main pump), will be a source of extra oxygen, well needed to feed the organisms in the filter. In time, attracted by food and oxygen, other beneficial organisms will colonize also your bio filter and the root zone, making the break down of the nutrient even more efficient.
- pH:
Even if the pH level is less critical than in a mineral nutrient solution, you have to keep it in a range at which roots as well as micro organisms can thrive. This is roughly from 5 to 7. The pH will tend to rise, it is a natural process. Bring it down slowly; avoid shocks that damage the micro flora. Plants like stability, especially in the root zone: soils are usually very stable in pH. To lower the pH, you can use citric cid if you want to stay strictly organic, however a little phosphoric acid does not alter the taste or quality of the final crop. Avoid hydrochloric acid and acetic acid (vinegar), both toxic to plants. A significant drop in pH is an alarm bell that indicates the death of a large quantity of micro-organisms. In this case it is important to find the cause, treat it and start over with a new solution and a new stock of trichoderma.

- Electro conductivity:AeroFlo and Bioponic's strawberries
You need to keep the conductivity at a much lower level than in mineral solution. This is because as long as the mineral is not realized from the organic molecule, it does not register on your EC meter: you have more food in solution than the meter shows. Do not put too much fertilizer in your tank, a little goes a long way since it continue releasing nutrients to the plants for quite some time. Unfortunately for the manufacturer, not much nutrient is needed to achieve a nice crop. Start with an EC of 0.6 to 0.7 mS, which corresponds to around 2mL per liter of the nutrient. Raise it slowly, in the course of a week to E.C 1mS. Add more only if the conductivity drops below 0.8mS. But don’t raise it over 1mS.

A large amount of organic matter in the system might have a counter productive effect, for instance by blocking roots intake. It seems easy, but you have also to be careful to give your plants all they need. One finds the optimum moment to add more nutrient also by visual examination, by looking carefully at your plants, their roots, the color and transparency of your nutrient solution, etc… Bioponics is managed by eye as much as with pH and EC parameters, although these do still remain important references. A little experience is useful to find the right dosage, but most people succeed from the first trial.

Temperature, humidity, CO2 level, light, all the other parameters of the grow room are similar to those for plants grown in hydro or in soil: the basic requirements are the same. Your bioponics system and nutrient are only one piece in the complex puzzle that you have to assemble to recreate a favorable environment for your plants. Bioponics accounts only in part for the final result. It plays a vital role in the quality of the harvest, but the quantity is controlled by many other parameters. For instance, bioponics does not compensate for a lack of illumination, a depletion of CO2 or bad genetics. Humidity, a factor often overlooked, plays also a crucial role in plant health. By influencing the rate at which a plant can transpire, the relative humidity level modifies the rate at which it can intake water.

Micro OrganismThe major enemy of bioponics is heat, one that it shares in common with hydroponics; but in the case of bioponics, the consequences are different. When the nutrient solution warms up, the microbial life increases tremendously in population and voracity because their metabolism is accelerated by heat. The amount of nutrient released increases tremendously. As a consequence, the electro conductivity can go off the roof in no time, within 24 hours even, and this will kill the roots. This is why it is wise to keep a low EC when you grow in bioponics.

Bioponics is a very economical way of cultivation since the consumption of water and nutrients is a fraction of the one needed by any other type of growing technique: Organic looses water in the ground, hydroponics grows an unnecessary green mass. Bioponics production is based on the idea of sustainable agriculture. The goal is to give less nitrogen to the plant, and shift the balance in favor of the flowering and fruiting stages, rather than the vegetative growth, which may be bountiful but end up being just another addition on the compost pile. Also, you do not need to change the nutrient solution often during the crop, once every 3 weeks or even a month is enough. Your nutrient solution should not be discarded, if used to water plants in soil, be it in pots or in the garden, they will greatly benefit from it. You can let the solution drop to a low level, minimizing the volume of solution to be renewed; beware however not to accumulate too much organic matter in that little volume.

In terms of quality, the product harvested has the same taste, and nutritional value, than the best organically soil grown produce; they are impossible to differentiate. It might taste even better since bioponics removes a few of the barriers that limit plant growth. In bioponics the plant can express its full genetic potential. The choice of the varieties you grow has a major influence on your final result. In terms of quantity, the yield is lower than when using minerals, as it also happens in soil; but one of the advantages is that your turn over is much faster than in soil, so you can make more crops per year in a bioponics system than you could in even the best organic soil.6-Roots hanging in bioponic solution

Bioponics has the added benefit that its large microbial population becomes a formidable barrier against pathogens. Roots are protected effectively by a huge army of beneficial organisms; no pathogen can develop. If you keep them well oxygenated, the roots stay healthy, immune to fungal attack! But oxygen is really the key word, more even than in traditional hydroponics because everything in your systems consumes it: the roots as well as the micro organisms. Often you have to add a powerful air stone in the main tank to keep the solution well aerated. In hydroponics, the root morphology is different than it is in soil. In hydroponics, the plants develop what we call “water roots”, usually thinner and more tender than soil roots. Bioponic plants grow roots that are sturdier, a true hybrid root between soil and hydro. Performing comparison tests between plants grown in classic hydro versus bioponics, I often witnessed that root disease develops in the mineral fed plants, almost never in the bio fed ones, even in systems side by side, growing the same plants. Bioponic plants are slightly smaller than traditional hydroponics ones, but they are definitely stronger when it comes to resist root pathogens.
Since 2005, bioponics has been experienced by many growers, hobbyist as well as professionals, in the vast majority of cases with continuous success, and I learn about that new technology also through their feed back. In our research greenhouse, we are still using minerals for a certain number of tests, but we always have something running in bioponics, and we are shifting more and more to it. It is such pleasure to witness the plants grow so healthy and so fast! Try it, I am not sure that you will think of hydro (or soil!) in the same way after that.

7-L & W tasting BioSevia tomatoes

Aqua & WaterFarm : Green line

GREEN-WATERFARM-plantes-2014NEW! To celebrate manufacturing our 150.000th Waterfarm, we are happy to announce the availability of our special “green birthday line”.

Our WaterFarm is an excellent introduction to hydroponics : Top performances, reliable, easy-to-use and inexpensive. You can use them wherever you want : in a sitting room, an office, a veranda or a greenhouse; for any project : nurseries or indoor gardens for mother plants and collectibles, in the house for decorative or culinary plants of all sizes.

WaterFarm : limited edition
30.5 x 30.5 x 37 cm
Volume 15L
Still available in grey.
Also available : Special green AquaFarm