Crop King offers controlled environment growing systems and technology for specialty crops including hydroponic vegetables, aquaculture, and exotic mushrooms. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only, or in an inert medium such as perlite, gravel, or mineral wool. This method of growing crops will become more and more valued as the cost of food rises and as the weather around the world becomes more erratic.
Researchers discovered in the 19th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, the plant no longer requires soil to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics.
We invited Marilyn Brentlinger and her son Paul, the owners of Crop King, a company that has been in business for 27 years, to explain both the wonders and myths of this growing process.