PLATTSBURGH — A local hydroponics supply store started as a way for a stone mason to keep busy during the winter months and a means to show others the value of home-grown produce.
Grow Buddies Hydroponic Supplies owner Derrick Hackett, who also owns Hackett’s Masonry, said that business slows in winter.
He and his wife, Sarah, are avid growers, so this was a chance to share that passion with others.
“We saw this as a niche that hadn’t been filled in this area,” Hackett said. “We decided to invest and see where it takes us.”
They have involved their children in that, to the point where they tell their classmates and teachers about growing their own food.
“We eventually want to get involved in sixth- and seventh-grade science classes,” Hackett said.
He would also like to show area restaurants and anyone else who might be interested how easy it can be to grow their own produce.
“It’s all 100 percent organic,” Hackett said.
He demonstrated a General Hydroponics Aero Flow system that goes for about $400. Hackett said it is very simple to install and can be up and running within minutes.
Water with nutrients is pumped from a reservoir into a manifold from where it passes through tubes that run the length of a tray that holds multiple plant pots. The tubes have holes that spray the roots that hang below the pots.
He said the system provides a harvest about every 20 to 25 days.
“It pays for itself over and over again,” Hackett said.
The excess water collects and runs back into the reservoir to be re-used. Hackett said he tops off the water level at the end of the week and cleans the reservoir every two weeks.
He also has an EZ-Clone system on display, used to prepare seedlings for spring planting. Seedlings are placed in neoprene pucks that let the roots hang into the tray, where a series of sprayers circulate water 360 degrees.