Posted by: monsonmadness | January 12, 2012


Hydro what? Yes, I had never heard of this word either, but now I am learning how to garden and grow things without soil! Did you even know that was possible? Don’t plants need soil to grow? Nope. They don’t, and in countries around the world where soil quality is bad, but there is still sun and rain, hydroponics is being taught, enabling people to grow their own healthy food, improving their lifestyles, and taking care of the needs of their families.
Hydroponics is an alternative method of food production. This kind of food production can play such an important role, especially in light of how climate change impacts small island nations like American Samoa. Many countries around the world are in desperate need of drinking water at the moment and are expecting widespread crop failure. Due to a relatively strong La Niña this year, many of the Pacific island countries are experiencing drought, including Samoa, Tuvalu, and Tokelau. In fact, the USA, New Zealand and Australia are all delivering either water or desalination equipment to these countries to try to help them survive. By growing plants using hydroponics, water is conserved while producing protein and vegetables for families. This method saves water, which in turn saves human lives. Isn’t that amazing? It should be a science requirement in schools…hands on experience to learn how to feed themselves.
Our friend Ephraim is an expert on this, and is making a huge difference here on the island teaching these important techniques. He is the source of most of this information and spends hours teaching classes and demonstrations on this. So here’s exactly how it works…
First, why does a plant need soil in the first place? There are several reasons, including giving the plant support, giving the plant the necessary oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, and then adding the minerals nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium through fertilizer. Some plants also need calcium, magnesium and iron as well. Ok, biology lesson over, it sounds way impressive, but really it is SO simple.
Get an empty tub (I used an ice cream tub), drill a couple of holes in it. Fill the tub almost full with water, then add fertilizer (I used two fertilizers that looked like salts, and basically contain all of the minerals that I listed above). Then you put the lid on the tub, and put two “net pots” inside (or you can use Styrofoam cups, or whatever you have that you can put holes in for the roots to grow) which have your plant starts in. It is better to grow the seeds first then transplant, but you can just plant the seeds directly into the net pot if you want.
That’s it! That’s all you do. So you have an empty ice cream tub filled with a fertilised water solution with your seeds in little containers which are soaking up this water. The tub needs to be placed above ground (so that the dogs don’t get it), in the sun, but covered so that the rains don’t dilute the solution. Samoan homes usually have deep overhangs from their roofs because of all the rain, so this is the best place to put your plants.
Here is a photo of my hydroponics experiment. I am growing lettuce and some lemon herb. After planting, you do nothing for about 5-6 weeks, at which point your crop is ready to harvest and eat. Then you rinse out your tubs, and start all over again. Mine has been growing for about 2 weeks in this photo. Pretty amazing huh?


  1. I have heard of this and am hoping to try it out as I fail with in the in ground soil everytime! Very COOL!

  2. if you do another project can you pls post pics step by step? Yep, I am that lazy.

  3. Very cool!

  4. That is really cool!

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