Larry Cipolla is a well-known Twin Cities University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener and garden speaker, who tends a wonderful garden in Edina. It combines a Japanese garden with an abundance of water features with innovative vegetable-growing strategies. He’s taken one of his special interests—hydroponic gardening—and provided a detailed discussion of how home gardeners can adopt this technique in his first book.
Hydroponic Gardening: The Very Easy Way (CCI Gardening Connections, 2018) offers a “proven indoor and outdoor system for year-round gardening.” Cipolla focuses on the deep-water culture system of hydroponic gardening. In this system, some of the plant’s roots are in water, while others are in air. The system uses food-safe containers (buckets, PVC pipes, styrofoam containers), net pots, and a media for the plants to be anchored in. It is the easiest of hydroponic techniques to set up, and Cipolla provides detailed instructions for both setting the system up and using it over time.
The book is organized in “modules,” which cover start-to-finish steps for setting up and expanding your system. Cipolla starts with an outdoor hydroponic garden but also offers instructions for establishing an indoor garden with lights, which allows hydroponic growers to harvest vegetables and herbs all year long.
The book covers all the bases: grow media, a variety of set up options, what to grow, how hydroponic food may taste slightly different from food grown in soil, fertilizers, potential pest problems and diseases. Hydroponic Gardening also includes several appendices, including a helpful chapter on “Mistakes I Made (and Make).” The book is illustrated with black-and-white photos and many instructive drawings and charts.
For those who like to try new gardening techniques or are interested in hydroponics because of a lack of space or poor soil, Hydroponic Gardening is a complete introduction to the benefits and challenges of growing food in water.