In the summer of 2011, Pine Island Botanicals was invited to visit a local organic horizontal hydroponic system that originated in Costa Rica. To test it himself, 'farmer Michael' built a multi-tiered, static system that allowed him to grow lettuce greens without the fear of excessive rains, drought, or cold temperatures that plague Pine Island at different times of the year. It did so well that in the fall, the first the House of Greens (pictured above) was erected. By January 2012, the house was doubled and totally enclosed in anti-viral screening to protect the 4,000 pots of greens from pests and critters.
Since the house was built in 2 stages, there are 2 separate hydroponic systems each with 2,000 pots. To reduce the cost and use of organic hydroponic solutions, Michael began to research and test the use of alternative solutions. With the help of a local worm castings business, the use of worm tea as the main solution was tested in one half. The tea was created and circulated throughout the system by submerging a sock of worm castings in a barrel filled with water and a small fountain pump.
The greens grew beautifully, did not have a chemical taste, were pest free, and could be harvested 7-10 days sooner than those planted in the ground. Unfortunately as time went by, it was discovered that the worm tea produced more root than leaf growth and kept the pH much higher than greens like. So as to not have to go back to the expensive hydroponic solutions, our Costa Rican friend Ted let us know how they mixed their own solution back home. Michael sourced all the necessary natural minerals and other elements to create the balanced solution used in Costa Rica and now circulates it throughout all the sections every few days.