- [Narrator] What is it about hostas that so many gardeners love? It's likely the variety available in foliage, color, texture, size, and shape. Tammy Algood is in Knoxville to tour a display garden of the American Hosta Society. Phillipe Chadwick introduces us to raft hydroponics at Greener Roots Farm in Franklin. Here a typical lettuce yield is 800 pounds per week. Wow. And April Moore touts the beauty and reliability of daffodils as she shares her collection of historic and modern varieties. Join us. More than 500 varieties of hosta and the accent plantings that make this garden a delightful place to stroll. - This is a torii gate and we are here at the entrance to a typical Japanese garden here on UT campus in Knoxville. It is the entrance to the Hosta Tranquility Garden in honor of Cornelia Holland. My friend James Newburn is the interim director here at the UT Gardens of this beautiful shady garden. James, welcome to the show. - Hey, thank you Tammy. On a hot summer day, this is the place to be, let me tell you. It's about 20 degrees cooler right here than it was out in the sun. But, yes, welcome to our Tranquility Hosta Garden. - [Tammy] It's beautiful. - Well, thank you. As a hosta garden, you would know that we have over 500 varieties of hosta within this garden. But as with any hosta or monoculture display you want to accentuate it by using companion planting. So that's really what we've tried to accomplish here in this garden with many of our companion plants, our Japanese maples, our ginkgos, our conifers, to kind of enhance what some people might think are a very similar plant. Hostas themselves provide, if you get to looking at them, provide a wide variety of color and texture, size and shape to the garden. And of course, we're often looking for those elements when we're doing shade gardening. - [Tammy] What I like that you've done is you've also used these hostas that aren't ordinary. Because I see a lot of the same hostas over and over and over again, you've got some unique specimens. - We really do. And, you know, hosta lovers are a unique breed. They call themselves hostaholics, you know, 'cause they just have to have another hosta. But that interest through the breeders and the collectors have really made for some interesting shapes and colors and textures of hosta and they're awfully fun to garden with. - [Tammy] This is a perfect example of what you were just talking about. I don't know that I would even notice these plants around the base of this tree if it weren't for the hostas here in front of them. - [James] You know, that's really the case with companion planting, taking maybe two, I don't wanna use the word uninspired, but, you know, two plants that individually are all right but when you pair them together, then it makes both of them really come to life. We have a prostrate yew here, which is a wonderful evergreen plant. You know, yews provide us winter interest and the prostrate variety stays really nice and low so you don't have to fight with trying to keep it in check. - [Tammy] Right. - [James] It is rather dark green though, and by itself, what I would think would somewhat fade away especially against dark mulch and in the shade. - [Tammy] Right. - But we put these variety of hosta in front of it with the blue green of the foliage, the variegated, and then they both pop because then the yew becomes like a river and the hosta becomes the bank. And so it really creates a unique aspect of good garden design where you have that feeling of movement and also being static at the same time. But it makes both plants stand out and be of interest. - That is something that all of us gardeners can learn from is that looking at something alone versus looking at something with a good companion makes 'em both better. - You know, and the best way to do this, and I know nursery people don't mind at all, is when you're buying your plants, take a little piece, a bloom off a petunia and walk around and see how it looks with this plant or that plant and be sure to cross the aisles and go from annuals to perennials to ornamental grasses, to water plants, to shrubs, to trees. And then you're creating a multi-layer effect that can provide really an interesting vignette in the garden that can be all season long, all year long. - It's quite dramatic and it really also is tranquil. It is a beautiful example of how to use hostas, and Cornelia Holland ought to be very happy with the result of this. It's gorgeous. - [James] Well, thank you. We've put a lot of work into it and we certainly appreciate her gift of the garden and sharing her collection with us. She is the hosta expert. - [Tammy] Yes. - Worldwide probably. - Yes. - [James] And so we're just happy that the UT Gardens can be a part of it. And the garden is open 365 days a year. Of course, hostas go dormant in the winter, but there's a lot of winter interest plants in this garden as well, and it's free and open to the public. - And so worth the effort to come here. It is really beautiful. You've done a gorgeous job with it and you're to be commended for having really, a beautiful spot in the middle of Knoxville. - Well, thank you very much and it's cool and shady. - Yes. - Yeah, in the middle of summer. - It's late February and you see them everywhere, blooming in empty fields, around old homesteads. Of course, what I'm talking about are our beautiful and undemanding daffodils. Daffodils are all members of the genus Narcissus and there are about 13 different types of them, over 26,000 varieties, 10,000 of which were put out before 1940 in our historic daffodils. This messy beauty, is a variety called Van Sion. And you'll see it in old catalogs looking much neater but it actually always kind of reverts to this messy bloom. But it's interesting in many ways. For one thing, it's been around since at least 1620 and it's spread all over the place because it was brought here by settlers. You'll often see this one in old homesteads. The other cool thing about it is you can always tell if it's Van Sion 'cause of the green in the petals. Very unusual. This one here is a variety called Amadeus Mozart and it's actually considered a large cup variety and they call it that because it's not got a long trumpet or corona, it has a cup that's about a third the height of these petals. And this one blooms right after another one I grow. But the great thing about this one is it has this beautiful orange cup. Another large cup daffodil that blooms a little bit before Amadeus Mozart is this one, Ice Follies. And Ice Follies actually starts blooming quite early. It's one of the earliest to bloom for me and then it persists for weeks and weeks. One of the great things about it is, is this cup, this large cup. 'cause it is a large cup variety, actually opens out bright, bright yellow and then over time it fades to paler yellow and then eventually kind of to an ivory white. It's a very long lasting bloom. Really good. Another one I love to grow is this one. This is Kedron or Kedron, and it's actually a Jonquilla type. And by that it means it has a Jonquils as a parent. And Jonquils are the species of daffodils that actually can have multiple blooms on the stalk. And this one will usually have one but sometimes it will have two because it is a Jonquil. And then finally we have this guy, Jetfire. And jet fire is a cyclamineus daffodil and it has a cyclamineus parent. What that means though is it'll have a short little trumpet on it, but it's, you know, in proportion to the petals, the same size. But those petals are reflexed back. This one is beautiful, comes out bright orange on the trumpet, then pale yellow, definitely lives up to its name, Jetfire. This variety is Tete-a-Tete and it was introduced in 1947. It's an early to mid bloomer. In fact, it blooms quite early here in my garden and blooms quite a long time, like Ice Follies. The good thing about this little miniature daffodil is that it's ideal for forcing indoors, I've done that, and also containers. A lot of people put this one in window boxes and pots, and I do all of that, as well as have it in the ground here in the garden. Another early to mid-spring bloomer is this small cup variety, Barrett Browning. It was introduced in 1943 and it's called a small cup variety because the cup is, in proportion to the petals, less than one third the size of the petals. It's a beautiful one, as you can see, again, white and orange. Very simple. But that bright eye makes it a winner in my garden. Remember when you plant daffodils, to be on the lookout for interesting things that might happen spontaneously. These Barrett Browning daffodils, normally a single have spontaneously decided to produce a double sport. So I'll be flagging this and digging it up separately and trying to propagate it. This is a large trumpet variety, called Mount Hood. And like Ice Follies, it plays a color changing trick, it opens out yellow and then fades to a pale white. This one blooms in mid-spring and it was introduced in 1938. A beautiful trumpet, especially if you like something that changes color over the season. And this will bloom for at least another three weeks. This is the Campernelle daffodil and it's actually a botanical cross between two species. It's the child of the Lent lily, a British native daffodil, and the Jonquil species daffodil, and it's called Narcissus odorus. And it is odorous, but in a very pleasant way. It has a beautiful fragrance and I love these kind of little, almost grass-like leaves. This variety here is called Erlicheer and it's aptly named, it blooms very, very early. In fact, some years it gets damaged by our frost and unpredictable weather. You can see here it had already started coming up during our cold weather this year and it got tip burned a little bit but it's still very reliable. The only problem you ever have with this is that sometimes it gets so tall it flops but this time it's come up just perfectly and it's a double. And also, as you see, multiple blooms presume which is very interesting that they classify it just as a double and not a Jonquil. Very fragrant as well. If you don't have daffodils already of your own, you can buy bulbs from many different places and plant those out in the fall. Plant three to five and they'll propagate very quickly. If you do have daffodils, they're very easy to divide and spread around. All you have to do is after they finish blooming, just dig up the clump, divide them out and put 'em wherever you want. That'll give them lots of time to establish roots over the warm weather months and then you should have blooms the next year. Just make sure you leave the foliage on so that they will nourish the bulb over those intervening months. Whether you call them Jonquils, buttercups, Narcissus or daffodils, there's absolutely no reason for you to not have daffodils in your own garden and in your own life. There's no flower less demanding. - So before we go in, we gotta get some hand sanitizer, clean our hands, really important to clean our feet too, 'cause they don't want to bring in any external parasites or anything like that. So this hydroponic garden clearly makes a really great use of space as far as packing density and what you can grow in this small space. How many different varieties of lettuce are you growing here? - Currently we have 13 different types of lettuce that we grow, and that's all harvested twice a week and then packed here, put in a walk-in cooler, and then put in our delivery truck that we drive around Nashville twice a week. - Awesome, yeah, I'm here with Jeffrey Orkin he's with Greener Roots Farm. This is one of his newest projects. I think it's second location. - Correct. - We're here at Southhall Farm. Yeah, this is a beautiful greenhouse that we're in. And so you kind of corrected me a little earlier and said this is kind of hydroponic. So explain to me about your process. - Yeah, so both of our locations we exclusively grow hydroponically. So that means that there's no soil involved at any step of the process. So, in this specific type of hydroponics, it's called raft hydroponics. So what that means is these are styrofoam rafts that are floating on the water. - Wow. - And so you can see there's no soil anywhere. The roots are coming out of the bottom and they're floating in a nutrient solution and the plants take up the nutrients that they need. And what they don't need is just recirculated in the system. So for that reason, hydroponics is often touted as a really efficient use of water. - Right. - We actually use about 90% less water than conventional agriculture because of the fact that it's being recirculated. - Right. - The plants use what they need. There's very little evaporation in this system. So mostly transpiration occurs. - [Phillipe] Right, yeah, there's not a lot of exposed water to the sunlight. - Correct, yeah. Exactly. - Which helps a lot with that. - Yeah. There's 10 rows of rafts here and this entire mix goes into our most popular Nashville blend, which has all 10 of these lettuces. That's like a just- - Wow. - To your point, it's a really pretty mix of lettuces. - Yeah, very colorful. - Yeah. - So how long has this been growing in this solution? Like what's your timeframe? - Yeah, so from seed to harvest on most of these varieties is about 40 to 50 days. However, the first two weeks of its life is not in this big finishing pond. - Okay. - So we start the lettuce in these 10 by 20 trays in our vertical farm, and then they're grown there for two weeks and then they come here and were transplanted into the higher density spacing that you see at the other end of the pond. - [Phillipe] Yeah. - [Jeffrey] And then this is our finished spacing. So we've got 18 heads in a two by four raft. - Wow, talk about square foot gardening. - Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and we're pulling almost 2,000 heads a week and just over 800 pounds a week. So between the two facilities, last year we did 14 tons of produce from the previous facility. And with this facility and the other facility, we'll probably do over 30 tons of lettuce in a year. - Wow. - So it's a very efficient process. - Yes. - Yeah. I do have to ask, having grown lettuce myself at home in the ground. - Yeah? - How do you keep these from bolting? - So a lot of that is just climate control. - Okay. - Controlling the water temperature. - Okay. - We have artificial lighting in here. We have a sensor that you can see that's hanging out just at the plant canopy. - Uh-huh. - So the whole greenhouse is controlled by a fancy computer system. - Gotcha. - And we say, "Hey, we want this much light every day," and if we're not getting enough light, the lights come on. - Right. - And that's a great way, if it's hotter temperatures we can dial back the amount of light that we want the crop to get and that'll slow down the growth rate and decrease the chance of bolting. - [Phillipe] So what's the causes of bolting, I guess? - [Jeffrey] I mean, normally it's stress. So it's the plant trying to produce seed so that it can survive as a species. - Okay. - And so if you can reduce stress factors, oftentimes for lettuce in the soil, that has to do with heat. - [Phillipe] Right. - [Jeffrey] It could have to do with nutrient deficiencies and other things. So again, this is controlled environment agriculture oftentimes called CEA, and that's the whole shtick with CEA is that you're manipulating all the factors in order to produce the best product year-round. - [Phillipe] Right, it shows. - [Jeffrey] Yeah, I mean, it's 100 degrees outside right now and we've got beautiful lettuce growing, so. - Right, right. - Yeah. - [Phillipe] So this is kind of how they start? - [Jeffrey] Yeah, correct, so we start the seeds in something called Rockwool, it's like cotton candy of rock, spun rock, that's heated up and then shaped into this shape. - Methodical process, yeah. - Oh, yeah. Yeah. - Yeah, I mean, it is... - Very uniform process as well. - So were these put in today? - [Jeffrey] Yes, so this whole section was put in today and then the section on the other side was put in two weeks ago. So that's kind of the comparison. - Wow. - From here to there is two weeks of growth and then from there to full size is another two weeks. - And you said something about kind of a moving them. Will they actually- - Yeah, this is- - Will they raft down? - Yeah, it's like a big conveyor belt. So there's a pipe here that's connected to a rope and when we're harvesting we pull the rope and it literally slides everything down to where we are. - So as they mature they move that way. - Exactly, yeah. - Cool. - Yeah. - Wow. - Yeah, you've really thought of everything. - Like a conveyor belt. - Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. So you have like a really advanced computer system that controls the lighting and the temperature, is that the same for the water and the ponds? - That system doesn't control that, but we do have this blue lab system that monitors water temperature, pH and the nutrient salt levels. It's called electrical conductivity. - Okay. - And so it's literally just measuring a salt level and we know ranges that are appropriate. And then in addition to that, we do monthly water test. And so we'll send them to a lab and that will give us a full panel of all the micro and macronutrients. - Wow. - That's another one of the really cool aspects of hydroponic farming is we're able to do that on a regular basis. And that means that literally every month we can say, "Hey, we need more calcium," or we need more potassium or more nitrogen. And we have the ability to adjust for specific nutrients instead of just some kind of a blanket treatment. - Right, right. - Yeah. - What is the main source of fertilizer for these that you put in the water? - We use a more conventional bagged fertilizer. They're all designed for hydroponics. - Okay. - However, you know, a very common, if we need magnesium, we use magnesium sulfate. - Sure. - Also known as Epsom salt. - Sure, yeah. - It's not like we're pouring crazy stuff in here. - Right. - But they're designed for hydroponics and they come in a powder form in a bag and then we mix them with water. So we have a kind of a custom solution that we've perfected over the past five years of being in business. - Cool, yeah. - Yeah. One of my favorite questions to ask gardeners is I see the yellow pads out there, obviously to catch flies and whatnot. What are some major issues that you've run into that you've found good solutions for? - Yeah, we use sticky traps primarily for insect identification. However, thrips are one of the largest issues in a lettuce farm. - Right, right. - And they love yellow sticky traps. We don't spray any pesticides or herbicides. And so we have to do other control methods and that's one of our go-tos. We do also introduce beneficial insects. - Oh, cool. - And so there are, for example, if we do see aphid populations that are outside of our comfort zone or thrip populations that are outside of our comfort zone, we can introduce either a parasitic wasp or a mite that will then go after the problem insect. - Oh, wow. - And it's really, it's quite fascinating. They're so small that you can't see them at all, but you'll just notice the insect population's dropping dow So it's - That's very cool. - Yeah, very cool. - Yeah. So it's still staying in the natural processes. - Yeah, yeah, exactly. - But in a controlled environment at the same time. - For sure. - So it's really understanding how nature works to be able to control it. So we're here at these fish ponds, is that what you call them? - [Jeffrey] It's a aquaculture system. - [Phillipe] Okay, aquaculture system. And what do you use this for? - So we are a growing hybrid striped bass for the purpose of selling the fish for consumption. - Oh, wow, okay. - So this system is not being used to create fertilizer. This is not an aquaponics greenhouse it's a hydroponic greenhouse that also raises fish. We've spent nearly six years perfecting hydroponics and this is our first time growing fish. And so we didn't want to complicate trying to connect those two things. This is two different living systems and connecting them together is a little bit difficult, so. - So do we get to feed them? - Yeah, absolutely. - Okay. They're hungry. - Yeah, oh, yeah. - That's really cool. So you get these in, I guess as like little tiny fish? - Yeah. They come in as fingerlings. When we got them in January, they were like a 10 to 12 gram fish and we've actually been working through getting the system working correctly but they're already up to about 55 or 60 grams. - Wow. - And we're gonna harvest them to almost a two pound fish. So one and a half to two pound fish. - So what's the turnover for that now, that you're wanting at least? - The ideal would be like 8 to 10 months. - Okay. - Because we were working through getting the biofilter set up and some of that, it's probably a little slower our first go around but we're still learning on it. - Yeah, yeah, that's very cool. What are some of the other fun things that you would say about hydroponic gardening? - It's a really rewarding way to see things grow quickly. And especially if you have your nutrient recipe dialed in. I know for a lot of people that want to get into gardening and you're in the backyard and things aren't working out well because you don't have enough sun or you didn't actually pay attention to your soil quality. - Right. - This is a much easier way to, like, have a successful first go around. Now granted, there's plenty of errors that can happen along the way, but it is nice coming in on 100 degree day and seeing, you know, several thousand heads of ready-to-eat lettuce that are just perfect in the summer. - [Phillipe] Yeah, yeah. - [Jeffrey] I didn't go to school for this, landscape architect, as you know, so a lot of my knowledge was just gained from watching YouTube videos, trying things, experimenting. I know the very first "Volunteer Gardener" in 2013 was in my little experimental lab, so- - [Phillipe] Yeah, it was in a closet space that you had packed full of stuff - [Jeffrey] At the top of a building in downtown is where we started in 2013. So it's come a long way. - [Phillipe] Yeah, so lots of trial and error- - Exactly, yes, absolutely. - to get here. - [Jeffrey] Yeah. - [Phillipe] Thank you for doing this and showing us the farm. - Absolutely. - It's beautiful. - Thanks. - [Phillipe] It's comfortable and it looks enjoyable. - [Jeffrey] Come back anytime. - [Phillipe] Yeah, thank you so much. - [Jeffrey] Yeah. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardener.org and find us on these platforms.
May 11, 2023
Season 31 | Episode 18
Shady gardens can be a respite from the harsh sun rays, and also an opportunity for a pleasant plant palette. Tammy Algood is at the UT Gardens in Knoxville to tour the Tranquility Garden filled with hostas, and the many plants that accentuate them. Phillipe Chadwick introduces us to raft hydroponics in a large greenhouse operation. April Moore touts the beauty and reliability of daffodils.