Lizard Leaf Hydro: Eco-Friendly Gardening

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By Rebecca Barnes

Lizard Leaf Hydro is a veteran-owned retailer of hydroponic equipment. With Earth Day coming up next Monday, April 22, Prince William Living talked to Amanda Thomson, the owner of Lizard Leaf Hydro in Manassas, to learn more about her business and eco-friendly gardening practices.

How it Started

Thomson said she grew up with vegetable gardens and later found that she also really enjoyed growing plants.  “Two winters ago, I really wanted to start growing tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs, but it was way too early to start, so I started looking at indoor growing methods.  I started with a small countertop device and then moved on to a larger vertical system.  My partner, Perry Ball, and I saw a hydroponics store available for sale and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring our love of year-round gardening to Manassas and surrounding communities.”

Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship

Hydroponics reduces the need for extensive land use, as it conserves valuable resources and prevents habitat destruction.  It also significantly reduces water usage when compared to traditional soil-based gardening.  Thomson said, “Another green fact about hydroponics is that it also eliminates the need for harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and the ability to grow food at home greatly reduces transportation emissions associated with conventional agricultural supply chains.”

Starting Your Own Home Hydroponic Garden

Thomson recommends starting small to get the hang of a hydroponic garden before expanding to larger systems and investing in quality equipment, such as grow lights and nutrients to ensure optimal growth and minimize issues.  “Choose a location that has access to electricity and is close to a water source.  You will eventually want to invest in handheld electronic meters/testers to monitor pH and nutrient levels in your system to maintain a healthy growing environment for your plants, Thomson advises.

“This is not everyone’s favorite, but make sure you keep your hydroponic system clean and well-maintained to prevent algae growth or other issues that could affect plant health.  You will also want to choose the right plants that thrive in a hydroponic environment, like lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers.  Lastly, have fun with it, and if you have questions or problems, most hydro stores are more than happy to help you troubleshoot.”

Promoting Sustainable Living Practices

As a newly established business, Lizard Leaf Hydro is looking to partner with local gardening groups, schools, or other organizations to help bring awareness to hydroponics “because we want people to know that gardening is accessible to you, even if you think you don’t have the room to grow anything,” said Thomson.  “While we are conducting outreach, we are getting new packages of gardening seeds together so that we can donate them to a group or two in need.”

Popular Plants or Crops Grown with Hydroponics

Thomson said that the “same plants that you love to grow in your garden can also be grown hydroponically, so we’ve found that leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries are well-suited for hydroponic growing.  They all offer high yields, fast growth, and excellent flavor – and they can be grown year-round!”

How Home Hydroponics Might Evolve

“Hydroponics can greatly expand urban agriculture; with much of the population concentrated in urban areas, there will be a growing demand for locally sourced food production,” said Thomson.  “Hydroponics enables you to grow fresh produce in small spaces, balconies, or rooftops, so you’re making use of the space you already have that you may not ordinarily use.  The field of hydroponics holds immense potential to contribute to environmental sustainability by enabling individuals to grow fresh, nutritious food in a resource-efficient manner.”

How to Adopt More Eco-Friendly Gardening Practices

As we celebrate Earth Day, Thomson gives the following advice about eco-friendly gardening practices: “Start small by conserving water and reducing chemical use.  Look into water-saving techniques like mulching.  A lot of materials you have already can be used for mulching, like leaves and layers of cardboard.  You can also reduce your reliance on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers by opting for natural and/or organic methods, practicing integrated pest management, and building healthy soil.  Another easy practice that folks can adopt is composting – this is a free and easy way to build healthy soil and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.”

Rebecca Barnes is Publisher of Prince William Living.

 

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