The Kiowa County Health Fair held Saturday featured many interesting booths, but Kristol King's aeroponics offered a tangible look at advanced hydroponics.
Kristol King of Ness City (mother of Julie Keeton from the Kiowa County Pharmacy) brought her Juice Plus display Saturday to the Kiowa County Health Fair. Her lighted tower garden, which uses aeroponics (NASA technology) was a high point of interest for many visitors.
“I can grow plants with only water and nutrients rather than dirt in the tower garden,” King said. “Plants can grow up to 30 percent more healthy food, 3x faster.”
An advanced form of hydroponics, aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment rather than soil. Aeroponic systems use water, liquid nutrients and a soil-less growing medium to quickly and efficiently grow more colorful, tastier, better smelling and incredibly nutritious produce.
King said that instead of soil, tower garden plants grow in a medium called rockwool, which provides plant roots with oxygen and consistent moisture, encouraging rapid, healthy growth. A mineral blend of pure earth minerals essential to healthy plant development provides an all-natural “shortcut” for plants, which typically must source nutrients from decomposing organic matter in soil. The result is greater nutrient uptake and superior growth for a range of plants. Gardeners will fill the 20-gallon reservoir at the base of the tower garden with a mixture of mineral blend and water.
A low-wattage, submersible pump in the reservoir pushes the nutrient solution to the top of the tower garden through a small central pipe. The nutrient solution then drips down the inside of the tower garden, evenly cascading over the exposed plant roots. A timer ensures this process repeats continuously, usually in 15-minute increments, to deliver the ideal amount of oxygen, water and nutrients to plants at the perfect time.
Aside from checking water levels and cleaning the pump filter, King said the tower garden will take care of itself. She was just one of more than 20 vendors who took part in the health fair.
Kiowa County 4-Hers served biscuits and gravy along with a fruit cup.