How Does Your Garden Grow?

John Paul, Co-Owner Gardinside, Home Horticulture Technician

Once summer starts to fade, I miss my garden and the amazing produce I’m able to harvest most of all. So I was inspired recently when I discovered a hydroponic garden center that just might extend my gardening options.

Gardinside in Naperville is all about keeping a garden alive and well all year long. Whoever thought gardening was seasonal — like me — might realize gardening 365 days a year!

Co-owners John Paul and Tony Novelli decided to create their hydroponic garden center after a visit to Milwaukee.

“Last summer John and I toured Will Allen’s Growing Power Urban Garden facility in Milwaukee, Wis.,” Novelli said. “We came away totally inspired to get involved in the local food production revolution.”

Novelli, a Naperville resident since 1965, always has had an interest in helping others discover natural options for optimal health.

“Gardinside was started to raise awareness about nutritional wellness with an emphasis on education, methodology and hands-on experience,” he said. “A key aspect of our mission is to expose our customers to alternative methods of sustainable indoor horticulture and vermiculture.”

John Paul, a home horticulture technician, grew up on a 10-acre farm in Maple Park. His knowledge and passion of hydroponic gardening is expansive.

“The biggest difference of an outdoor garden versus indoors is the typical Midwestern growing cycle of about 20 weeks — indoor gardening extends that cycle to a year-round scenario,” Paul said. “The other distinction between indoor and outdoor gardening is that indoor gardeners are primarily interested in the health and economic benefits of food (vegetables, herbs and fruit) production for personal consumption.”

When I walked in to the store, I was surprised to find such a large variety of plants growing indoors. They had a gorgeous basil plant, a fig tree, lemon tree, tangelo tree and the most amazing arugula I’ve ever tasted. They had jalapeño’s, many herbs and lettuce. These were just a few of the plants growing. What was fascinating was the small amount of space necessary to house all of them. All of the plants are completely organic, and how they’re grown means their flavor and nutritional punch is very different from store bought, or even what I’ve grown outdoors.

Setting up a hydroponic garden is actually quite easy and surprisingly inexpensive.

“We consult with each client to determine the correct design approach for their specific grow project,” Paul said. “We offer pure organic, pharmaceutical-grade synthetic fertilizers, and a large variety of nutrients, additives, soils and soil-less growing media. We feature several hydroponic food production systems as well.”

For someone like me, I get the outdoor gardening, but indoor gardening seemed like a whole new way of thinking. But Paul reminded me that they supply the knowledge and expertise and assist in setting up a practical garden for each person’s needs.

“It’s sort of like a turn-key business,” Paul said. “We give each person knowledge, hardware, nutrients and organically raised plants to create their indoor garden. We can get people growing organic vegetables and herbs for less than they would spend in their typical weekly visit to the local grocery store.”

And the produce you’ll get at home will be better for you, and you’ll know exactly where it came from.

“Hydroponics allows plants to conserve energy and focus on growing and producing large nutritious fruit. By using alternative growing media, hydroponic plants avoid much of the disease and pests found in soil,” Novelli said.

He also noted that hydroponic gardening has numerous environmental and health benefits because hydroponic gardens need less water because it is constantly recycled.

Given that our country is at a point where we need to find more ways to preserve our environment as well as improve the quality of the foods we eat, hydroponic gardening may just be the way to go. Hydroponics offers fresh, organic, tasty and nutritious vegetable produce year round!

Now that I know my delicious garden doesn’t have to end, come October I’ve got to figure out what to start planting for holiday dinners!

(From Naperville Sun, August 24th edition)

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