Hydroponics: Growing Plants without Soil

You never know what you may find at the Museum. Outside in the Wildlife Center, you will see what looks to be a garden. But if you take a closer look, you will see cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chives, lettuce, and lots of other things growing in planters arranged not just horizontally, but vertically too. It is a real science experiment/exhibit about hydroponics, which refers to the method of growing plants without soil. All you really need to grow plants is a mineral nutrient solution in water. In nature, plants absorb nutrients that have dissolved in water in the soil, but the soil itself is not necessarily needed. This is an important distinction to make, especially for urban environments or other places too cold or remote to sustain plant growth. Using hydroponics, people in cities would be able to have fresh fruit and vegetables. And in crowded places, sometimes the only direction you can build is up, which is why you see things like an EZ Gro Tower or a VIG (vertically integrated greenhouse) in the exhibit. Hydroponics is also used in research bases in Antarctica, and even NASA has been researching hydroponics as a solution to the need for food on long-term space missions. Not to mention the fact that the turtles and other wildlife at the Museum seem to be enjoying their fresh salads.










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