One of my fondest memories of my grandparents is of their gardens. My grandparents, who lived in Oklahoma, mainly grew fruits and vegetables — blackberries were my favorite.
My grandmother made the best blackberry cobbler I have ever had. She froze the blackberries so we were able to enjoy her cobbler all year long. But I loved summer when I would see her coming to the house after picking her pan of blackberries, knowing that we were having blackberry cobbler that night!
My grandfather in Minnesota loved his flower garden. He had a fairly good-sized area in the front yard that he squared off and planted his flowers. I can still envision him out there in his T-shirt planting and weeding. He died in August and that had to be the most beautiful year ever for his garden, at least that I remember. He had Morning Glories that seemed to go all the way up to the clouds as they grew along the string in the shape of a teepee.
My husband and I have always wanted to have a beautiful garden and have attempted it both in our yard and at the garden plots in Naperville. Our success has been limited. I mainly attributed our failure to believing that neither Mark nor I had inherited our grandparents’ green thumbs. My gut tells me it’s just harder work than I realized.
Last fall I went to the house of Naperville physician Dr. John Saran and his wife, Janet, to see their Aeroponic garden. I was intrigued, because the garden is aeroponic, which means the plants grow in the air. There is no soil.
I went to their home in October, and their garden was still producing a variety of lettuce and tomatoes. The Sarans usually take their garden down Thanksgiving weekend when they begin decorating for the holidays. They are still picking lettuce until then!
Many tower-garden users choose to bring their gardens in the house for the winter months, and by adding lights, they can continue to have fresh vegetables and grow flowers all year long.
According to NASA, who developed the technology in the ’90s, aeroponic systems can reduce water usage by 98 percent, fertilizer usage by 60 percent, and pesticide usage by 100 percent, all while maximizing crop yields. Plants grown in the aeroponic systems also have been shown to uptake more minerals and vitamins, making the plants healthier and potentially more nutritious.
NASA research has show that traditionally, tomato growers start their plants in pots, waiting at least 28 days before transplanting them into the ground. Using an aeroponic system, growers can start the plants in the growing chamber, then transplant them just 10 days later. This advanced technology produces six tomato-crop cycles per year, instead of the traditional one- to two-crop cycles.
I am confident this will be the year that Mark and I will have a flourishing weed- and pesticide-free garden. We purchased a Aeroponic garden for our business and home. I am hoping that our grandchildren will have memories of our “garden” and the fresh produce we picked together for our meals. It will be different from my grandparents’ gardens, but I am excited to share with them the miracle of watching our seeds grow into food for our table.
If you are interested in learning more about the Aeroponic garden, I will show off mine and answer any questions about aeroponic gardening at Reality Fitness at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14. We also will be “selling” our 28 holes in the Aeroponic garden to clients for $10 a hole. When clients come in to train, they can check on their plant and take home the produce. The money will be donated to the American Diabetes Foundation. If you would like to attend, call Reality Fitness at 630-357-7087 to register.
Carla Linder-Mayer grew up in Naperville. She and her husband, Mark, have been married since 1977 and raised their three children here. She owns Reality Fitness, 39 ½ W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville. Contact her at 630-357-7087.