Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Indoor Growing | The Organic Garden Center

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Growing an Octopus’s Garden: Hydroponics and the Beatles

I was listening to a radio show reminiscing about the “British Invasion, 50 years ago”.  The talk turned to the first time Bob Dylan met The Beatles in 1964; it took place in their hotel room in New York City.  Dylan asked them if they would like to smoke some pot with him and they said they had never tried it. Dylan said he was sure they smoked because of their lyric in “I want to hold your hand”   “I get high, I get high, I get high”.  John Lennon corrected him, the lyric was really” I can’t hide”.  They smoked.

“Rubber Soul” followed. You can find a longer, more detailed version of this meeting on beatleswiki.org or beatlesbible.com

Sometimes I, along with the many others who can remember the British Invasion, reminisce the lawlessness and rebellion and for that matter the innocence of those times.  With new laws across this country regarding cannabis, what do we hope for?  Do we want the Phillip Morris Co. to start manufacturing products with names something like Kush or 420? rolled into packs of 10?  Do we want to see again the old “Head Shops” with heavy curtained back rooms of yore?  And while I do believe in very important medical applications, do I want to disrespect those who truly are sick, by pretending I am, just for recreational purposes?  Do I want to pull up to a stop light next to a car full of “20 somethings” with a cloud of smoke coming out their sunroof?

50 Years of Beatles - A Tribute

I guess what I want is a culture were you can grow a little for yourself, share some with your friends, give or even sell some to your elderly next door neighbor for an ailing loved one.  While I want cannabis to be legal, I would prefer it to remain behind closed doors, somewhat private.  I want the slight lawlessness and innocence and naturalness (if that is a word) of the past.  Let local government agencies offer a yearly permit or license to grow a limited amount.   OK, they can collect some fees for these licenses and leave us alone in our own homes. Think of the advances that could be made across the whole line of indoor growing; if you are already set up to grow weed, why not grow tomatoes,  cucumbers, and peppers…healthy stuff… at home?  Why not grow, even in the winter?

Let the dispensaries and cultivation sites exist, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for medical quality purity,  but let average folks farm at home.  The government can work out the limits and the fine print.  I don’t want the guy living upstairs from me growing 200 plants, but if we could grow a little for ourselves, the guy upstairs wouldn’t have the motivation.  For that matter, he could set up a proper business for himself in an appropriate commercial space, with safeguards concerning such things as overflowing water tanks and fire suppression.  Not everyone has the time or interest to grow their own garden.

It’s been 50 years, old Beatles and Dylan songs are still  being played.  What could be better than taking out a little of your harvest and enjoy listening to some old vinyl without a care in the world?  Support the grow at home movement!

Groovy Grower

Illinois Goes Green for the New Year


Paul here,

I wanted to talk about a more sensitive subject involving indoor growing, it’s about the proverbial elephant in the room when customers walk into our store. In my effort to be well informed, I paid to attend a meeting/instructional seminar presented by NORML, the Illinois’ branch. The presentation, very professionally produced, was about new laws going into effect in Illinois on January 1, 2014. In essence, the new laws only pertain to people with specific medical needs, and the establishment of a mechanism to fulfill those needs.

Illinois Goes GreenEverything in this new law is an attempt to be so well regulated that the federal government would have little cause to intervene in its implementation. This law has been passed on a four year trial basis, I suppose to alleviate the lawmaker’s fear of problems or unintended consequences, however it would only take the modification of one sentence in the law to make it permanent. Since there are no provisions in Illinois to adopt ballot initiatives directly into law, the lawmakers such as Lou Lang (D) Illinois 16th Dist Representative, who introduced this law, and all those who voted for the law should, in my mind, be applauded. In some other states that allow direct ballot initiatives, laws may not have been so carefully drawn, thus inviting the scrutiny of the federal government. In Illinois, there will be a set amount of dispensaries, a set amount of cultivation centers, and a tightly controlled, regulated list of medical needs in order to receive a prescription. The Illinois State Police will be conducting background checks on owners and employees, as well as 24/7 video monitoring of cultivation sites; all of these additional duties for law enforcement will incur extra expense, so owners can expect fees that must all be paid for within the business and not by taxing ordinary citizens.

You can read up on this upcoming law at the Illinois General Assembly website, and enter HB1 in their search box.

What do these new laws have to do with you and me? Nothing really ; what was legal and what was illegal to grow in or at your home before and after January 1, 2014 will not change, at least for now. What may change is the general public’s attitude towards home cultivation, that in turn can relax both government and law enforcement agencies. I can foresee, once Illinois discovers that the sky is not falling on January 1st, modifications to these laws that would allow caregivers the right to grow enough plants to supply the medical needs of their patients.

There is more and more research being brought to light on the benefits of cannabinoids on human health and well being. I am reading an independently published book “The Cannabis Papers” which is a collection of articles and papers on the subject. You can find this book or even a free download on the publisher’s web site. It seems to me that a day doesn’t go by without someone in the mainstream media mentioning cannabis, whether it’s a joke, a news story or a serious comment.

I am looking forward to 2014 in Illinois, while the new laws will not change what my customers can legally grow in their homes, I believe that a step in the right direction has been taken that will lead to more openness and freedom in this growing hobby.

Thanks for reading,

Groovy Grower

Welcome to our new blog!

My name is Paul, I’m only telling you this because I want to start sharing with you some of my experiences working a Organic Garden Center in Skokie Illinois.While there are other people you may encounter here at 9223 Skokie Blvd, I’m the one you’ll most probably see.
A little background is in order; I had been working for many years at Old Orchard Aquarium when the ownership of  that, well known, tropical fish store decided to open an attached store as Organic Garden Center. How hard could that be? We knew so much about lighting indoor coral reefs, lighting fresh water, live planted fish tanks, how to pump and move water, and so much about adding supplements and minerals to keep those systems healthy and thriving. Even some of our wholesale suppliers could be the same. It should be a snap. Right? But there was, and is, a lot to learn, not as easy as we thought.
The one thing about indoor growing is that if you are a hobbyist, or a professional grower, it’s a lot of fun, and you get a reward when you harvest your crop, whether it’s peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, or whatever. Even here in Chicago you can grow and harvest year round.
There are many ways to learn and grow, to learn I’ve read books, some publications (online and print published), got my hands-on experience, and learned a lot from my customers through helping them solve their problems and asking them questions (what have you tried? How did that work?) etc. To grow, just to name a few methods, there is hydroponics or soiless media, HID lighting, T-5 HO Fluorescents, or LED. As might be expected from an aquarium store, we have a nice aquaponics system, we let our fish do the work.
In the future, I won’t go on and on like this, I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, telling you which system I’m working on in the store, what kind of nutrients I’m using etc.
Well, that’s it for now, I’ll try to tell you more on a regular, on going basis.
– Paul