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Sunday February 01, 2015
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A pair of hydroponic stores

 

continued

Joe Collins, who owns a similar business in Toledo, swears his decision to open Hot Hydro has nothing to do with Michigan's legalizing medical marijuana. Collins has been an enthusiastic hydroponic gardener for over a decade. African violets and vegetables are his specialty-but, he says, "people grow orchids, bonsai. Root crops are a little harder, but I'm going to try to do some potatoes and carrots here." He's already growing lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs.

Hydroponic gardens are closed ecosystems where plants are grown under artificial light without soil. Collins sells all the components, including lights, timers, and growing media. The classic medium-lightweight clay pellets sold under the brand name Hydroton-serves "more to make the plants stand up than anything else," says Collins' son, a robust, outdoorsy-looking eighteen-year-old also named Joe. The plants get their nutrients from water circulating through the medium.

The Collinses don't necessarily recommend organic fertilizers. "In organic gardening, you're feeding the soil, and the soil is feeding the plant," says Collins. "For hydroponics I recommend something nonorganic like General Hydroponics." Nevertheless he carries organic fertilizers like Earth Juice and bat guano (several varieties of it, in fact-Mexican, Jamaican, and Indonesian).

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