Can Hydroponic Growing be Called Organic or Not?

Hydroponic garden

You remember my post from last Wednesday about my little “BLT” garden–all that was missing was the bacon, of course.

Interestingly enough, the New York Times published this article on the same day about hydroponic growers. It stated that there were several new and large hydroponic growers that had emerged during the pandemic, but that organic gardeners and chefs were scoffing at them because a true definition of “organic” began with soil and thus hydroponic gardening didn’t qualify.

Since I was reading this article at 5:00 a.m., that whole notion made my head hurt! First, to me, organic gardening might involve good soil health, but it does not begin there. It begins with an absence, so to speak–the absence of chemical or synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

While those products might be applied to soil, they are often applied solely to plants–and thus could also be used in hydroponic gardening as well. So hydroponic gardening could be done by avoiding these products–or not.

So I think that those that are insisting that organic gardening is all about the soil are over-simplifying the matter. One of the tenets of organic gardening is ‘”feed the soil and you feed the plant,” (and by that, they mean with things like compost and other organic elements, not with synthetic things).

But the beauty of the hydroponic system–at least in my brief experience–is that it’s quick and easy and therefore no “feeding” is necessary to get the plants up and grown. My lettuce is fully grown in about a month–and then I start over, if I want more. We’ll see about the tomatoes–they seem to be a longer producing crop. We’ll see if they’re going to need an organic fertilizer at some point.

This is the second time in a little more than a week I have written about divisiveness in the gardening world. It saddens me. Life is divisive enough. Surely, as gardeners, we should make more of an effort to get along.

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