Seniors Learn About Hydroponics

BY AMANDA MOSES

The bitter cold, and the recent nor’easter snowstorm, drew the Spring Creek Senior Partners’ (SCSP) Gardening Club indoors for their meeting with Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman. The Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC), also known as the community center, played host to the SCSP gardening group this month. During the icy and inclement weather days, SCSP gardening club will meet indoors to learn about hydroponics, herbs, flowers and botanical art.  

Last week, Roytman showed the seniors how to use a hydroponic unit. Hydroponics involves growing plants without soil, but rather a combination of mineral nutrient solutions and an inert medium, such as lightweight Hydroton clay pebbles or Rockwool (which is molten mineral or rock materials). This method of gardening allows vegetation to be grown in a controlled environment and with artificial light (Roytman uses Grow Lights to help the plants perform photosynthesis).

The seniors learned that there are a variety of hydroponic systems available for use, but they usually all function in a similar fashion. The unit uses an aeration system, which is connected to a small power source, to pump air into a water pot. The water is then pushed through another pipe that filters into each plant section, the liquid drips from the plant and back into the water pot repeatedly. Roytman uses a vertical hydroponic unit, which contains four plant holders. Each plant holder has a funnel at the bottom of its container so that water that drips from the top will continue to go through each of the four sections. In a sense it is like a cycle, water comes from the bottom of the unit, air is pumped from the power source into a hook shaped pipe, and then the water drips into each cup holder and so on and so forth.

The SCSP Gardening Club was astounded by the science and mechanics involved in this environmental friendly, gardening technique. In addition to being able to garden indoors, the seniors are helping to sow seeds throughout the winter and then transplant them into the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC).

.
“I feel like a scientist,” exclaimed Ruth Horowitz as she, along with other members of the gardening club, put together their hydroponic units. Once everything was in place, the seniors placed cilantro, parsley, spinach, and snow pea seeds into the four pot holders. Roytman flipped on the power source for the water to start pump-ing and seniors clapped for joy stating, “Here comes the rain! How beautiful!”

Roytman provided notebooks for all of the seniors to write journal entries on what they learned and what they planted. She also encouraged them to continuously stop by the lower level of the BSC to chart their plants growth. So far, the seniors noted that just after one week the seeds are beginning to sprout!

Photo by Amanda Moses