• Students in Mrs. Ives’ agriculture class recently started growing plants in their own classroom with a hydroponic system provided by the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES.

    Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil in a water based, nutrient rich solution. Hydroponics allows the plants’ roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while also having access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth. Plants grown in a hydroponic system will generally grow larger and faster than with traditional planting because they do not have to work as hard to expand their root systems and obtain nutrients.

    The class’ new hydroponic system includes a flood table, a nutrient solution reservoir and grow lights. The ebb and flow hydroponics system, also known as a flood and drain system, functions by flooding the table with the nutrient solution at specific intervals and then slowly draining it back into the reservoir.

    Students started growing all of their plants from seeds and then transplanted them into the hydroponic system once they started growing. Students are currently growing butter lettuce, okra and green beans in the hydroponic system using small pots and clay pellets. The class also has small basil and green bean plants that they plan to transplant into smaller scale soda bottle hydroponic systems soon.

    During the hydroponics lessons, students have been responsible for watering plants that are not in the system yet, flooding the table at regular intervals and monitoring the pH of the nutrient solution. The lessons are also giving students an opportunity to learn about different growing methods and the advantages and disadvantages of each.