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Getting Started In Hydroponics

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Hydroponics originated in the seventeenth century when scientists discovered that some substances help plants grow. For instance, Belgian physicist Jan van Helmont (1577-1644) identified that plants use substances from water to grow. In 1627, English philosopher Francis Bacon's (1561-1626) book Sylva Syl-varum was published, which is the earliest known book on growing land-based plants without soil. Then, in the eighteenth century, solutions with mineral nutrients were first developed. In the 1860s, German botanists Julius von Sachs (1832-97) and Wilhelm Knop (1817-91) further modified these solutions. Over the next sixty years, additional laboratory experiments were performed to try and grow plants without soil.

Between the late 1920s and early 1930s, plant physiologists began to use their theoretical and experimental work for practical farming applications. American physician William Frederick Gericke, of the University of California, used his earlier work on plant nutrition to develop such crops as carrots, potatoes, radishes, and

Lettuce plants grown by hydroponics in Florida. © Joseph Sohm, ChromoSohm Inc./Corbis.

Eurofresh Farms was founded in 1990 by pounds (45 million kilograms) of tomatoes

Dutch-American greenhouse owners Johan each year. Most importantly, they grow van den Berg and Wil van Heyningen. They tomatoes every month of the year. Because chose Wilcox, Arizona, for their first green- of that fact, Eurofresh Farms is the leading houses because of the location's sunny cli- year-round producer of greenhouse toma-

mate, water supply, and elevation. The two toes in the United States. According to the men introduced their first tomato in 1998, American Culinary Institute, their TOV toma-

the tomatoes on the vine (TOV). Today, their toes were judged the 2006 Chef's Best™

two farms in Arizona sell over 100 million ''America's Best Tasting Tomatoes.''

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