It all starts with a seed and some rockwool.
Whether tomato, cucumber, lettuce, or other vegetables, seeds are “planted” in ice cube-size rock wool cubes, placed in plastic trays, watered and kept warm under lights until the seeds begin to sprout.
Rockwool: The rockwool cubes replace traditional soil and allow the plants to take root in the soft, porous fibers. Rockwool is made by melting a combination of rock and sand and then spinning the mixture to make fibers which are formed into different shapes and sizes. The process is very similar to making cotton candy.
Coconut Husk: Coconut fiber is rapidly becoming one of the most popular growing media in the world. Essentially a waste product of the coconut industry, it is the powdered husks of the coconut itself. This totally “organic” growing medium offers top performance in hydroponic systems, maintaining a very large oxygen capacity yet also has superior water holding ability. Coconut fiber is also high in root stimulating hormones.
Perlite: Perlite has been around for years, mainly for use as a soil additive to increase aeration and draining of the soil. Perlite is a mined material, a form of volcanic glass that when rapidly heated to more than 1600 degrees pops much like popcorn as the water vaporizes and makes countless tiny bubbles. Perlite is commonly used in conjunction with other media.
Pollination: In keeping with our all-natural growing practices, bumble bees pollinate the plants.
Beneficial Insects: Nature’s Pest Control
Anyone who’s grown a garden has likely experienced the frustration of finding a prized vegetable crop being devoured by insect pests. Fortunately, every pest has a predator, and at Water Fresh Farm, we use that natural food chain to our advantage.
To protect our tomato crop, we use Encarsia Formosa, tiny wasps that work by laying eggs in the immature whitefly. The wasps’ larvae hatch from the eggs and slowly weaken and kill the developing whiteflies from within. And, each female wasp (they’re all females by the way) can do this to up to 200 immature whiteflies! Another beneficial insect we use for both our tomato and cucumber plants is Amblyseius Cucmeris, a very small mite that controls thrips by feeding on the thrips’ larvae. Adult cucumeris are hungry little warriors and can eat 1-5 thrips larvae per day. Female cucumeris can lay 20-30 eggs at the rate of 1-3 a day, and these are laid mainly on the underside of leaves.