As my mobility has decreased, I have looked for ways to keep gardening at some level. I think vegetable gardening in particular is both enjoyable and therapeutic in a number of ways. I shifted to mostly container gardening a few years back and now I have started experimenting with hydroponic gardening. One of our local Master Gardeners started a hydroponic demonstration at the North Alabama Agriplex last summer, which inspired me along with my co-worker, Raydonna Sims, to set up a couple small systems at our homes.
Hydroponics is a growing system that does not use any soil and provides all the nutrients in a liquid form through a number of possible medium choices and delivery systems. In our project, we chose to grow the vegetables in ground pine bark, in a system commonly called a recirculating Dutch bucket system. It basically involves using plastic buckets filled with bark and a complete special hydroponic nutrient mix that is pumped to the plants and drains back to a reservoir to be recycled.
There was a learning curve with this system, but our first try was fairly successful, and we plan to conduct a class for beginners to allow you to learn what we learned over a whole season in a two-hour class. The class will be at the North Alabama Agriplex Feb. 6 from 6-8 p.m. The Agriplex is at 1714 Tally Ho St. SW, Cullman, across from the Cullman Bowling Center.
I will do a presentation covering the basics of hydroponic gardening and then we will show you how to set up a small system. You will be provided a flier with steps to walk you through setup, along with a materials list of everything you will need for a seven-container system. The cost to attend the class will be $10 per person, and the funds are used for refreshments and materials for the class.
You may register at the Cullman County Extension office any time before the class. Our office is located at 402 Arnold St. NE, Suite G1, Cullman. Either come by and pay in person or mail to that address with the check made out to Cullman County Extension. If you mail it just put in a note that it is for the hydroponic class and the name of who is coming with an email if available.