BC Home + Garden Show: Grow salad greens with Indoor hydroponics

Les Verts Living’s Andrew Vickerson explains the benefits of using a system for growing lettuce and baby greens

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Growing fresh leafy greens for your favourite salad doesn’t depend on the season or having a backyard garden — there are all-inclusive indoor hydroponic systems that will produce lettuce and baby greens no matter the weather outside.

Predictability, production and quality are some advantages of indoor gardening using a hydroponic system, says Andrew Vickerson, CEO of Les Verts Living, one of the more than 300 exhibitors at this year’s BC Home + Garden Show.

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Leafy salad greens such as lettuce, herbs, microgreens and baby greens are among the best crops to grow in a hydroponic system, says Vickerson.

“Leafy greens [grown outdoors] are especially susceptible to bugs and diseases,” he says, adding that for people with backyard gardens, an indoor hydroponic system is also useful to start seedlings that can then be planted into garden beds and borders.

Vickerson combines the benefits of indoor growing and an outdoor garden.

Andrew Vickerson, CEO of Les Verts Living, says that predictability, production and quality are some advantages of indoor gardening using a hydroponic system.
Andrew Vickerson, CEO of Les Verts Living, says that predictability, production and quality are some advantages of indoor gardening using a hydroponic system. Photo by Supplied Les Verts Living

“I’m growing year-round — all my leafy greens indoors, and then plants that take up a lot of space like watermelon and sunflowers I grow outdoors.”

Showgoers will be able to see plenty of leafy greens growing in the Les Verts systems, the Terrace Pro and the smaller 24- by 24-inch Terrace option.

The Terrace Pro and the Terrace are the result of more than six years of research and development, says Vickerson, adding the Les Verts team is split between the company’s innovation centre in Winnipeg, and the Fraser Valley, where the two systems are built and assembled.

Describing how a hydroponic system functions, Vickerson says the nutrients in the water get absorbed into the growing medium, and the plant roots grow into that medium.

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“With our system, the [grow] lights come on automatically, and the pump for the fertilizer and the nutrients comes on automatically — so you can go on vacation for 10 days and come back, and your plants are still alive and thriving,” he says.

To choose the right system, Vickerson says people need to decide what they want to grow and how much they want to harvest. The 24- by 24-inch Terrace system will produce about the equivalent of a salad every two days, while the larger Terrace Pro will produce a salad almost every day, he adds.

He believes the hydroponic system can save money over time, noting many people don’t use all the lettuce and leafy greens they have purchased while they are fresh and then discard the spoiled produce. If they’re picking their own greens, it reduces food waste and produce expenses.

He also says the homegrown greens taste better.

“It’s like tasting wine or olives in Italy, it’s very difficult to go back to the grocery store because the [hydroponic] produce is in a tier of its own in respect to quality,” says Vickerson, adding that people don’t necessarily grow their own greens to save money, they are more attracted to the quality and the nutrition of the produce.

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Vickerson suggests buyers of the Terrace Pro and the Terrace initially purchase the seeds and growing medium from Les Verts because the company has identified varieties that work well in the system. He cautions that varieties that do well in outdoor gardens don’t necessarily thrive indoors using a hydroponic system.

To find out more about Les Verts’ all-inclusive indoor hydroponic systems, visit the company’s booth at this year’s BC Home + Garden Show, BC Place Stadium, Feb. 8 to 11.

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