HYDROPONICS, WHERE DID IT ORIGINATE?
The history of hydroponics can date back to 1600 B.C., the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon”, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In those days, farmers planted plants in clay bowls filled with pebbles and water and hung them from baskets. They also figured out how to channel water from the Euphrates River and move it uphill through a series of water wheels. The water then found its way back to down into the surrounding fields. Egyptians used the same type of water-delivery systems to water their vast gardens. Working the fertile flood plains, they were able to channel water to various fields at various times. They relied on the yearly flood waters to bring not only water to the plains but the nutrient rich top soil to their crops.
We can’t discuss hydroponics and it’s beginnings without mentioning aquaponics. In about 1100 A.D. aquaponics made its way to the Aztecs the same way hydroponics made its way to the Babylon Gardens. In Babylon, people moved the water to the crops, whereas the Aztecs moved the crops to the water. The Aztecs were forced out of their homes by other nomadic tribes and retreated into swamps and lake-filled areas. They were quick to realize you can’t grow crops in a swamp. Using the jungle to their benefit, they lashed large logs and other materials together and formed floating rafts. The rafts were then covered in soil, dredged from the bottom of the swamp and their crops were planted on top. The fish and other aquatic life thrived in and under these large rafts. They provided not only nutrient-rich water for the plants but food for the growing population of aquatics.
ADVANCING TO TODAY
Some of the earliest written information on hydroponics was written by Englishman Francis Bacon in 1627. He discussed the benefits of growing plants in nothing but water and a soil-less medium such as pebbles. He suggested that plants only need a ‘base for roots to hang onto.’
Fast forward to today and the advancements in chemicals, botany and other related sciences have led to some major breakthroughs in both hydroponics and aquaponics. Luckily starting out in hydroponics is easy because there are so many ways to grow vegetables and herbs in just water. The Lettuce Ladder system is one of those easy, re-usable systems to provide everyone an education in growing without soil.
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