“I have to tell you about our experience with Cipolla’s Pride in our marinara. We made a batch with only Cipolla’s Pride. Then we made a batch with only Amish Paste. Hands down, the Cipolla’s Pride batch is FAR Superior. The flavor and texture is outstanding! I’m telling everyone I know. Next year  we are planting only Cipolla’s Pride. Superior salsa, marinara and even tomato soup!
“I am writing to let you know with out a doubt those are the best tomatoes [Cipolla’s Pride] ever. You know I am a Big Boy fan, all that juice down the front of my shirt in a BLT. Well I still like that, but for everything else your [variety] is 100% perfect. Tomato red, firm, uniform, taste, easy to peel, healthy rigorous plants, good producer….I have given gifts of some and everyone agrees. One heck of a good tomato.”
“Wow, am I ever liking Cipolla’s Pride….It is out producing my other two “regular-sized tomato plants (Celebrity and Chocolate Stripes). The size and the helft of the Pride tomatoes are amazing. And, the taste, too….Very cool. Thank you SO much for introducing me to your great tomato.”
"Hi Larry, Thank you so much for your amazing work with the hydroponic workshop offered to MPS [Minneapolis Public School] educators in partnership with 4-H and the Minneapolis Culinary Wellness team. I truly appreciate your knowledge, commitment, and good sense of humor. There are a good number of attendees that would like follow-up support so perhaps we can discuss potential next steps."
Larry Cipolla's book is amazing. If you are at all interested in hydroponic gardening and want honest down to earth INTERESTING information this is the book. Love it. Thanks, Larry
Just to let you know that our salad greens are growing crazy. We are eating fresh greens and pick what we need for that night. No more waste. Now, my better half wants to me expand our system and add more totes. Thanks for giving me more work to do! Great book. Great concept. Thanks.
Your rebar hangers for vertical gardening intrigued me. At the end of March, we're taking a MIG welding class. Those trellises will be my first project. Thanks.
Un gusto verlo el otro dia. Gracias por regalarme el libro, leia las partes que me interesaban al comienzo y luego los resumenes de capitulo. Voy a comprar un par para regular a unas amigas que estan en este teme porque tienen su quirina durante el verano pero no asi durante la mayoria de los meses de invierno. Su libro es didactico , practico, facil de usar, muy bien disenada. Un brazo oso.
Larry, you are the best. I am actually half way through your book now! So excited. I will do my best to try to get to Mxxx and Mxxx ASAP to buy the supplies you recommended. Thanks.
Ben, as you begin your hydroponic gardening in the high desert of NM, you should buy Larry's book so you'll have a successful outcome. I found it really useful for my initial attempt at hydroponic gardening this winter. I plan to expand what I do next summer and will use this book as a guide. It is on Amazon.com
Hydroponic gardening is something I have always wanted to try!! I have recently been looking into it even more since I purchased your book. I’m going to test this out in our standard soil garden, but really want to see the results in hydroponic. I think the comparison will be fun.
Good book. I enjoyed reading it and will absolutely start getting things set up within the next two weeks.
Thank you very much for demonstrating hydroponics to our early-stage dementia participants. Easy. Simple. Everyone got involved. Thanks for sharing your time and knowledge with us.
My students are really liking planting the seeds, mixing the perlite and peat and putting labels with their names on them so they can see whose plants did the best.
My 5th and 6th graders really enjoyed having you tell them about hydroponics. Your PPT was short and informative and they really could not wait to start the process. Your demonstrations about mixing the perlite and peat and adding seeds to the net pots got them all excited and (yes) it got to be a bit noisy, but they enjoyed the session.
The next time you visit us would you please tell us more about your turtle rescue project in Mexico?
Hydroponics technologies in India are totally new and strange to our traditional farmers who found it difficult in practicing hydroponics at the initial stage. To make aware of hydroponics among our farmers as well as all type of people many agricultural institutes, as well as other organizations, are conducting workshops and training programs to the farmers, in many parts of our country, which can benefit their life.
We are STILL picking peppers!! The variety is "Sweet Heat," a little investigation online suggests the hybrid is perennial rather than annual--so we'll see how long it will keep going. It's not producing new flowers, but is still getting teeny weeny peppers on it. So, Thank you!! With respect to the peppers, the hydroponics are a gift that just keeps on giving.
I know peppers are tricky, because I've never been able to grow them before. (Started them too early, too late...not enough sun, too much sun...too windy...not enough water, too much rain...). The fact that we got beautiful peppers over summer amazes me, and that we're still picking them, in my dining room, is just short of magical. And two more UFO LED plant lights showed up yesterday--clearly my husband is having just as much fun with them, because the dining room now glows purple. Peppery pineapple ham BBQ over rice for dinner, Caribbean style.
Peg D.(Part Two)
I read your book on my flight to Australia. Very well done. Will use your system when I return to the USA.
Read your book and started with lettuces in a 10-gallon tote. We started eating them as micro-greens in late July. Wow! We like it.
Your book is very informative. Lots of pictures and tables. Pretty good. Thanks.
Bought some tomato plants and rinsed the soil as you suggested in your book. They are growing in 5-gallon buckets on my deck. Picked my first tomato last week.
Star Tribune eEdition, 24 May 2020
Growing food in water, at home
Twin Cities gardeners are putting produce on the table with hydroponic gardening.
By KIM PALMER
Hydroponic growing systems can range from elaborate gardens in PVC pipe to tomatoes in buckets on a deck. Here you see a cucumber variety, 'Katrina', growing in a 5-gallon bucket.
When Kate Netwal wants a fresh, crisp salad, she doesn’t have to go to the grocery store. She makes one from the greens growing in her Minnetonka closet.
Yes, her closet. That’s where Netwal has two 10-gallon tubs under grow lights in which she grows lettuces and other veggies hydroponically, in water, even in the dead of winter. “I love it! It’s really easy. This is my fourth year,” said the Master Gardener, who also grows veggies outdoors during Minnesota’s gardening season.
“I’ve always been interested in ways to grow food year-round,” Netwal said. Recent romaine salmonella outbreaks and now grocery shopping in the pandemic era have made her even more interested in growing some of her own produce. And with hydroponic gardening, she can do it even when it’s too cold to garden outside. “It’s so wonderful to have fresh vegetables.”
Netwal learned hydroponic gardening from her mentor in the Hennepin County Master Gardener program, Larry Cipolla, author of “Hydroponic Gardening the Very Easy Way” (available at Amazon, $23.70), who has been teaching the method at schools, garden clubs, senior centers and conferences.
Cipolla, who grew up on a small farm in Connecticut, gardens in soil at his Edina home but also grows herbs, greens and other vegetables in water-filled containers in his basement from Labor Day to May, when he brings many of his plants outside. “I harvest almost every evening,” he said. “Most nights we eat something we grew.”
Hydroponic gardening offers many advantages, especially for those in cold climates, he said. “You can garden year-round. That’s a huge plus up here.” It’s also more sustainable than growing in soil because it requires less water and less fertilizer, he said. “And there’s no runoff in lakes, ponds or drinking water.” Also heavy rains can cause fertilizer to leach out of soil, he noted. “With hydroponics, you don’t have the issue.”
Hydroponic growing is an ancient practice that dates back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built in 600 B.C. Cipolla, a management consultant, first encountered hydroponics during a trip to Singapore in the mid-’90s, and his interest grew during subsequent visits there.
“I became fascinated by it,” he said. He marveled at the sight of tomato plants growing and thriving 4 inches apart. “That’s the thing with water. The roots grow vertically vs. spreading out. The roots don’t have to look for food. It’s there. So they can grow in a small space.”
Hydroponic gardening is ideal for people who don’t have a lot of space for soil-based gardening or who have poor soil quality, as well as for seniors and others who don’t want to deal with bugs or humidity, he added.
Cipolla’s book and his teaching focus on the passive deep-water culture system, which is the easiest to set up, he said. It’s basically a form of container gardening. All that’s required are plastic buckets sold at home-supply stores, baskets or net cups, a growing medium to support the plant structure (Cipolla advocates a mix of peat and perlite), hydroponic fertilizer and grow lights.
His book includes step-by-step DIY instructions, including suggestions for inexpensive supply sources. Startup costs can range from about $100 to $250; Netwal, who already owned grow lights, estimated that she spent about $70 to set up her hydroponic system.
Hydroponic gardeners can start plants from seed or “cheat” with store-bought plants, both of which are addressed in the book. Some crops work better than others for hydroponic growing. Herbs and greens are good candidates. When he works with schools, Cipolla usually starts with quick-germination crops, such as lettuce, he said.
“You can grow so many different kinds of lettuce,” said Netwal. Her favorite is Crispino , an iceberg variety. “It forms little heads, a little bigger than a fist. A perfect amount of lettuce.” She prefers hydroponic lettuce to soil-grown lettuce. “What I like is the greens are so clean. With greens grown in the ground you have to rinse and rinse.”
She’s had mixed success with other crops. “I did try peppers from seeds. But I don’t think it was warm enough” — her growing closet is against an outside wall. “I experimented with some beets, and I actually did get a little beet,” she said. “It’s fun to experiment.”
Many other vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers and beans, also can be grown hydroponically, according to Cipolla, whose book includes detailed directions for various crops, including optimal container size.
Breck School in Golden Valley has been putting hydroponic gardening to the test in a corner of the school’s common area. “Last year they set up a hydroponic system with the help of Larry [Cipolla],” said Kati Kragtorp , a biology teacher who advises the school’s Food Justice service-learning group. The goal was to grow fresh food and donate it to a food shelf.
“I was blown away by how easy it was,” Kragtorp said. “It’s a simple system — Rubbermaid bins with holes cut in the top, nets, water and liquid fertilizer. You get it started, and it’s very low-maintenance. The students had so much fun with it.”
Breck students grew lettuces and herbs, which they harvested and donated to the PRISM food shelf in Golden Valley, Kragtorp said. “It’s a great way to get fresh food in the middle of winter. The food shelf was happy to get something green when all they had was potatoes and root vegetables.”
Kragtorp polled her students on what they wanted to grow next, and they said strawberries. Those required starting with plants rather than seeds, and spider mites came along with them, she said. “We got some fabulous strawberries, but it was not as productive as we hoped.” Breck’s hydroponic garden is dormant now that schools have closed due to the pandemic. But Kragtorp plans to resume growing once the school reopens. “Absolutely, we will do it again,” she said. “Now that we know what we’re doing, we’ll hit the ground running.”
Working with the students has inspired her to think about hydroponic gardening at home. “I was totally converted,” she said. “I absolutely want to have one. I couldn’t get over how easy it is. You don’t have to worry about weeds or about insects or rabbits eating it. It’s fun to weed, but it never ends.”
Netwal converted her son, who recently moved to Rochester. “He’s got a system in his closet, too,” she said. “I’m so sold on the idea. I think everyone should have one.”
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