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.
Hackett said he sees a 100-percent result in about five to seven days. The system goes for about $310, he said.
Among the intriguing displays is a combination fish tank and hydroponic growing system. The water from the aquarium is pumped up into plants growing in hydroton clay pellets.
The nutrients from the fish tank feed the plants and the plants provide filtration for the fish tank, Hackett said.
“If you already have a fish tank, it is very easy to convert,” he said.
Hackett said he has an appointment next year to meet with the owners of the Hungry Trout restaurant in Wilmington to demonstrate how the two-stage system works.
In these days of frequent produce recalls, it can provide peace of mind to know exactly what is going into the food you eat, he said. People will see those benefits, but also how much money can be saved.
Hackett said the sound made by the slowly flowing water also provides a relaxing atmosphere.
Among the lines available at Grow Buddies are General Organics, General Hydroponics, Fox Farm, Humboldt, Happy Frog and Sunshine Advanced. Hackett also sells all of the accessories and testing equipment needed for a successful operation.
Grow Buddies is located at 2 Matt Ave., directly across Route 22 from the north end of Arizona Avenue. Hackett said it used to be a radiator shop.
He said the building was gutted and renovated. Hackett said he did a lot of the work himself, with help from Stan Spooner on the cedar shakes on the interior walls.
He would like to add a greenhouse on the south end of the building, where he could sell clippings to his customers.
The business features an Adirondack-themed decor, with handmade hardwood furnishings by area crafters. Several are available for purchase, Hackett said.
He was born in Plattsburgh and raised in Keeseville. Hackett attended AuSable Valley Central School and then Paul Smiths College.
He began work as a mason after college and started Hackett’s Masonry in 1997. His wife, Sarah, is a professor at Plattsburgh State.
They met in Dec. 1998 and were married in February 1999. He said you can just tell when you’ve met the right one.
Grow Buddies is open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Cash, checks, Visa and MasterCard are accepted.
“With every purchase comes a green thumb. It’s that easy,” Hackett said.
For more information, call 324-GROW (4769).
Email Dan Heath: firstname.lastname@example.org