Many thanks for your enthusiastic review of our just-released book, The Survival Greenhouse, in the Access section of MOTHER NO. 39 … and thanks also for your nice presentation of my article on organic hydroponics in the same issue. (Your color reproductions look better than the Kodachrome slides you took them from!)

I’d like, however, to point out a couple of errors in the article that could cause a budding organic hydroponic gardener some needless frustration. As printed, my organic nutrient formula reads (pp. 34–35) “one small-size Quaker Oats box full of a mixture containing equal parts rabbit manure, chicken manure, earthworm castings (manure), and wood ashes” to 20 gallons of well water or fish tank effluent. The correct ratio is one small oatmeal box full of each of the ingredients listed– i.e., four measures, one of each component–in the same 20 gallons of liquid. Putting only one measure of the combined ingredients into that much water would result in a very weak solution.

The second error is in the paragraph (p. 35) dealing with the wilting phenomenon we observed with plants raised in the non-organic solution: “Within five minutes of being fed the organic nutrient solution, however, all wilt symptoms disappeared.” The fact of the matter is, the non-organic plants were kept “pure”– that is, they received no organic nutrients–in order to make the experiment valid. The roots of the wilted plants were flushed with the commercial formula, and perked up–as stated–immediately. The organically fed plants needed no extra feeding at this time of day.

(We explain the wilting phenomenon with the commercial solution in the chapter on organic hydroponics in our book. Briefly, the problem has to do with an excess nutrient salt concentration around the plant roots. The organic liquid is significantly weaker than the commercial nutrient solution and doesn’t cause wilting … though conceivably it could do so if made too strong.)

I hope the article encourages MOTHER’s readers to give hydroponics a try. For my money, it’s the only way to go in a greenhouse vegetable garden. Meanwhile, our experiments continue … and, as usual, we’ll keep you posted on the results.

James B. DeKorne
El Rito, N.M.