Q: What is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a type of agriculture where plants grow in a nutrient solution, without soil.  There are several different types of hydroponic techniques.  Boston Greens grows leafy greens and herbs using a hydroponic technique called Nutrient Film Technique (NFT).  The plants grow in non-leaching PVC channels that look very similar to the gutters on houses, and a nutrient solution flows underneath.  The plant roots are supported by an ultra-sanitary soil-like medium that helps to stabilize the plant as it grows.

Q: What are the advantages of hydroponics versus traditional, soil-grown plants?

Growing plants without soil means the plants are free from contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and pathogens.  Plants maintain optimum nutrient and moisture levels, which means they are healthy and packed with good-for-you nutrients and plant compounds.  The root systems are smaller on hydroponically grown leafy greens and herbs, so the plants can concentrate their growth energy on producing plant mass, rather than roots. Hydroponic produce also has a longer shelf life than soil-grown produce, which means it stays fresher longer.

Q: Why is hydroponic produce healthier than organic produce?  

Organic farmers pledge not to use prohibited pesticides in the growing of their crops.  However, the source of an organic farm’s fertilizer could be from less safe sources such as leaf litter (which could be contaminated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) or fish emulsion (which could contain high levels of mercury). Additionally, soil-based forms of agriculture can still expose the plants to pollutants in the air, water, or soil or bacterial contamination.  Hydroponic produce is grown in a pure nutrient solution and in an enclosed environment, thus protecting the plants from contamination. Additionally Boston Greens’ hydroponic produce is packed with nutrition because of the perfectly calibrated nutrient solution and short delivery distance.

Q: What types of plants can be grown hydroponically?

In addition to leafy greens such as lettuce, kale and herbs, other popular items include tomatoes, beans, snow peas, sweet peppers, hot chilies, chard, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, flowers, and house plants.  For now, Boston Greens specializes in many types of greens and herbs but will expand into fruiting vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries.

Q: Does hydroponically grown produce taste as good as local farm produce?

The answer is YES, perhaps better!  This is simply due to the fact that the hydroponically grown plants are getting everything they need, when they need it. Don't be fooled by "hot house" produce grown commercially. The growers' primary concern is ship-ability and storage, not flavor. When you grow your own vegetables at home, you can expect nothing less than excellent results. Hydroponically grown produce has a controlled system of nutrients and climate, so the flavor of the produce will be in the purest and tastiest form.