-vs "Grow Box" types: Apples and onions. One of our customers recently bought an Urban Farm 10 to take the place of 10 "Grow Boxes". He got tired of the manual watering, babysitting, and mediocre results. By the time he figured in the cost, plus shipping and handling, that he had paid for these things, he was up to $400. He invested in the UF-10 for a bit more than that and received a truly professional hydroponic container gardening machine: automatic watering, perfect oxygen and nutrient delivery, auto-flushing, top quality parts and materials. Professional production hydroponics for the average Joe, or Jane. And Made in the USA.
-vs countertop appliances: There is no comparison. The size of the unit coupled with the limited rootzone and woefully inadequate artificial lighting disallows a
countertop model from producing more than a few handfuls of herbs and lettuce. It is impossible to grow authentic, full-size vegetables with them.
-vs gravity types: (ebb and flow)
Most consumer hydroponic systems are designed around gravity. That is, nutrient is pumped up and then is returned via gravity. It is dependent on the pots/plants being above the reservoir. The severe drawback here is that the plants begin growing at waist-level or above. This isn't possible when you have an 8 foot tall tomato tower loaded with tomatoes (normal with The Urban Farm). The whole intention behind the Patent-pending Urban Series GroSystems is to bring those pots down to ground level, essentially automated container gardening with the explosive growth of hydroponics.
-vs capillary mat types:
Also called "self-watering". This is nothing but marketing hype. The reason being that salt buildup is inevitable. (read the importance of flushing) This is because it is a closed, one way system....anathema to hydroponics. Healthy, sustainable hydroponics can only be done one of two ways: a one-way, open-to-drain system, or a closed, recirculating system. "Self-watering" is a closed, one-way system. This means the pot is usually hand-watered, the water/fertilizer sits in the bottom of the pot, and the plants take it up as they need it. There is no flushing. TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) build up and become toxic salts....think of a salt flat: water and minerals come in, the water evaporates, and the mineral salts are left behind. Your plants die. "Self-watering" is a marketing gimmick, not a gardening tool.
Large-scale commercial greenhouses (tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, herbs) mostly use a one-way open-to-drain system: nutrient is delivered to the root zone with a 10-20% over-watering to flush out salts and maintain optimum nutrient levels. The excess travels to drain and isn't used again. This is wasteful and environmentally harmful, but it's easier and more precise for the large grower than recirculation. Obviously this is not acceptable for the residential gardener. HydroSystems recognized years ago that four improvements had to be made for the home gardener:
#1-downsize automated commercial technology.
#2-design a system to operate at ground level.
#3-utilize recirculation, and make it user-friendly.
#4-we also thought it had to look good enough to compliment a beautiful cedar deck. The result is The Urban Farm.
Trough based systems (and most others) are just variations of the ebb and flow gravity approach. Plants start growing at waist level. This is OK for lettuce and herbs but not for large vegetable plants. Also, these configurations are clumsy and bulky. They don't fit well in any urban setting. The granitized stone look of the Urban Farm matching planters and reservoir compliment any balcony, patio, porch, rooftop, or atrium. You will be pleased with their elegant, sophisticated appearance.
RIGHT: Yellow squash covered with flowers and fruit. Train it vertically with support and it will hit 7 feet!→
Sounds nice and convenient doesn't it. "Wow, it waters itself!" Not quite by a long shot. This often incorporates a capillary mat or simply an area in the bottom of a container that holds excess liquid, the idea being that the plant will take up nutrient/water as it needs it. Once again, there is no circulation. Salts build up quickly to an imbalance and the plant suffers and eventually dies if not flushed. Until it dies it looks increasingly ill.
Click pictures below to enlarge
Granny Cantrell still green. Our favorite pink heirloom. It produces lots of 12-16oz beefsteak slicers: meaty, juicy, and tons of "old time flavor".
Swiss Chard, cucumber, Granny Cantrell, and Kellogg's Breakfast.
This Pruden's Purple produced around 60 tomatoes in the 8-12oz range. We've had much better results with this variety than Cherokee Purple.
Summer squash, zuccini, crazy heirloom squash....they all produce heavily and easily in The Urban Farm.