Hydro-Overload! Learning To Grow Kale is Hard!


I have been planning a modest hydroponic system. My goal was to feed a family of five using found objects about for $75 ; less than the average trip to the supermarket. Simple, right? That is, until you try to build the thing.


These plans are from Ourwindowfarm.org

These are the plans for the window garden; something like the system you will find at the very bottom of the page.  They seemed very rational when I first saw them. I can put together Ikea furniture with no directions. I have a ratchet set with metric and standard sockets. How hard could it be to string some bottles together?

I can’t tell you. I can tell you that something strange happened when I sat down and tried to make a shopping list. I became dumb. After studying it for a few moments, taking little notes; x bottles… x copper pipes, I got confused. . Everything was there. I was sure of it. But, how would the water stay in each reservoir, or would it? How would the plants remain standing with no dirt to keep them in place?

When plants are grown using hydroponics, their roots extend directly into nutrient rich water instead of having to push through Georgia soil. The benefits are numerous.

  • Less space. The roots don’t have spread out in search for nutrients and water. It’s all right there. So it’s ideal for cramped quarters, such as a Philadelphia apartment.
  • You have dictatorial control over the nutrient intake of your garden. Create your own tribe of super-kale.
  • Higher yields, better tastes, greater nutrition. See above.
  • You don’t need a yard.
  • It’s all year round.
  • It actually uses 2/3rds less water than a traditional garden.
  • It’s cheap and easy. That’s what they say, anyway.

The only conceivable drawback is, after spending a lifetime watching plants grow out of soil, part of me just doesn’t quite get it.

Just so you know, this is not a thinly veiled attempt to grow marijuana. I know hydroponics have become synonymous with sticky icky, but it is actually used to grow other things, too. I KNOW!


This one dude grew 20,000 pounds of fish and 70,000 of vegetables in a quarter acre, using aquaponics. (Think of hydroponics suspended above fishtanks. The plants provide the fish with nutrients, the fish do likewise. It’s definitely not hydroponics 101, but it is attainable.) I don’t have a quarter acre, but I always don’t need 70,000 pounds of vegetables. What I can do is make my trips to the supermarket produce department a thing of the past. Most of it is genetically modified, bizarro veggies, anyway.

Who cares? Well, look at it this way. As we march into an uncertain future, there are those who are becoming marksmen in order to fend off the zombie hoards. Others are learning exotic martial arts from the Far East, in hopes that katana skills will keep them alive. But in between gunning things down and cutting them up, you have to eat. Now, what if you could carry almost everything that you needed to grow all of your food, in one compartment of your backpack?

That’s what I’m talking about. What if one added seeds and a small pump to his or her bug out bag? Everything else could quickly be sourced. Once you get your water filtration out of the way, how much longer would it be before you had a sustainable food source? Not long.


This is a hydroponic window garden.

I’m serious. This is a real thing, and once I figure it all out you are going to want to follow my lead. Kale is dope. And being able to feed your family no matter what happens is totally awesome.