Winter Gardening Updated

Reader Contribution by Ed Essex
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I wrote an article in January (Winter Fresh Vegetables) about winter gardening. Specifically our insulated cold frame attached to the south side of the house, our EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter, our hydroponic experiment called EzGro Garden, and our free range chickens.

Many people have written us asking how the EzGro experiment turned out and also for more detail. We are pleased to say it has been a success. I’m not sure the creator of this hydroponic unit ever intended it to be used the way we have but I know he would be happy with the results.

EzGro Garden – This is a brand new experiment for us and it is going very well. It is a vertical hydroponic garden. It doesn’t take up very much space (14″ x 14″), it uses less than 1 Amp of power for 18 minutes per day and is easy to use and takes very little time to operate.

It comes with everything you need including stackable pots for anywhere from 20 – 80 different plants depending on what type they are.

Once you set it up you fill the pots with the media (made from ground coconut husk) provided.

Next you mix the nutrition supplements provided with water and pour them into the base (reservoir). Add the pump to the water and program your timer. We’ve set our timer to pump the nutritionally supplemented water every hour for two minutes from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Your timer programming may be different depending on what you plant.

The last step is to plant your seeds in the pots. We would recommend just one plant per pot to start out with.

We add water to the reservoir every two weeks and the nutrients every four weeks. You can grow plants even faster by cutting those times in half and a few other tricks users have come up with this past year. Use the Contact form from one of our websites for more information.

Ours plants didn’t start out too well but we aren’t using grow lights. We just set it in front of a window during the coldest and darkest time of the year – December and January. During that time period we went almost two months without sun. Once the sun started showing itself again these plants just took off. As long as you have good light you don’t need growing lights!

You plant a seed for whatever you want and they usually come up in just one or two days! We are still in the process of experimentation but what we have done so far has worked very well. Right now we are growing lettuce, cucumbers, and spinach. Why spinach – I don’t know. We have tons of it in the cold frame! We must have a lot of seed.  Anyway, as soon as we eat this crop we are going to plant something different.  Strawberries are popular with this product and so are flowers.

We have been posting our progress on our Facebook page. Several Facebook friends have been using these gardens for a while and they just love them. Some have them inside like us, some outside on the patio or deck and some on the covered back porch. They seem to be very versatile.

These units don’t fall into the “self sufficient” category. Only our garden and insulated cold frames do that. They require electricity and the routine purchase of special nutrients to be added to the water. That being said however, the amount of power required to run these is about the same amount as our laptop – for 18 minutes per day and the nutrients should last a full year.

 The bottom line is that they allow you to grow your own fresh food, even during winter including the harsher and colder climates like we have. They allow you to grow food no matter how busy you are and no matter where you live, even a condo or apartment and those are all good reasons to share our success with you.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website and

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