High-Performance Gardening

Steve Kube, November 10, 2021

The technology of growing plants without soil can be applied much more broadly than it currently is, with significant benefits; reducing water use by 90%, and fertilizer use by 60% for example.

However, large commercial operations have limited crop selection that may be bred for appearance rather than flavor or nutrition and harvested early to survive long distribution channels. The result is low-quality food that spoils shortly after being purchased by the consumer.

Small commercial operations are located in or near big cities, so time to market is not an issue, but crop selection is even more limited usually to leafy greens.

Consumer hydroponic systems, pioneered primarily by cannabis growers, tend to be clanky, costly, and confusing. However, this is the segment of the market ready to blossom and bring the promise of the technology to average people in developed and developing countries.

In addition to the benefits above, produce grown in these systems can be hyper-local, harvested at peak ripeness, with peak flavor and peak nutrition.

The selection of crops to be grown locally in the open air can be far greater than the selection in local grocery stores and can include fruits, vegetables, aromatics, medicinals, herbs, flowers, and more.

In prototyping and testing, I was able to eliminate pesticides altogether, or limit them to dilute dishwashing detergent to handle a white-fly infestation. Evidently, feeding plants high quality fertilizers is a good defensive measure.

Eating fresh produce, which is ~95% water, can be an important means of hydrating the body. Particularly in regions where water is not suitable for drinking. There, a pint-sized cucumber would be better than a pint of water.

People could feed themselves for < $.15 per day with hydroponic systems simple enough for a child to set up and use, to grow a wide variety of plants at the same time, and harvest thousands of pounds per season in a typical backyard. The systems scale from smaller than a parking spot to larger than a football field, from personal to community, and commercial operations.

10 ounces of spinach at a nearby grocery store costing $4.00 may cost less than $.10 to grow for yourself and for others in your community.

With simple controls for casual users, easy access to advanced controls, and wireless networking for advanced functionality. Durable components have a 10 to 20-year life expectancy.

A basic system at 250k unit production (- NRE) will cost less than $.05 per day for 10 years. Consumables will be less than $.10 per day (depending on fertilizer prices). For sustainability, you can grow more than enough to cover next seasons’ consumables, business expenses, and expansion plans.

In Japan, some strawberries sell for $50 each or more, and some cantaloupes sell for $300 or more. These are extremely high-quality fruit with intense flavor. This is the direction High-Performance Gardening is going. However, in some regions of the world hunger is a major concern. Seymour HPG addresses quality and abundance, aiming to serve people at every level of the economic pyramid, from the base to the top.

The plan is to introduce a higher-end version of our compact control center for the millions of existing hydroponic hobbyists in the world, to best suit their needs, and then to introduce a simpler base model to reach a wider audience of more casual users.

We anticipate hydroponic hobbyists and other experienced growers will become evangelists for the product line and will educate others on best practices. They could get involved in setting up, monitoring, and helping others in various ways.

The term hydroponic gardening tends to confuse many people, but everyone gets the gist of the term High-Performance Gardening.

The bar was set quite high on these systems being user-friendly, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing. No buckets of rocks or repurposed gutters or PVC pipes, etc.

A basic system requires only 18 Watts from an AC adapter. Since these are life-support systems and may be used where power is unreliable, they have battery backup options. And can run off a small solar panel. However, hundreds of millions of people have very reliable power supplies and won't need battery backup or solar panels, unless they just want to cut the cord.

When we empower people to grow food, we feed them, and others for life.

The Middle East North Africa region, Syria, Yemen, and other areas of the world are running out of water. Mexico City is severely water challenged as is Cape Town South Africa. Sao Paulo Brazil, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere was close to a severe water crisis just a few years ago, and recently the state of California has experienced severe water shortages.

Note: Agriculture is the single largest user of surface water. When abundant rainfall refills depleted reservoirs, it gives a false impression of a return to normal. However, ancient aquifers that took eons to form are lower than ever. It could take eons for them to be replenished, and that would only be true if we stopped drawing from them.

Agriculture is also a significant contributor to climate change. Growing local helps by eliminating the transportation of food long distances, and with the reduced use of fertilizers.

On average, a meal in the US travels 1,500 miles to the table.

Produce is commonly harvested before it gets ripe so it can make it through a long distribution system without going bad. Unfortunately, it means poor quality, low-nutritional value, and lack of flavor. Not to mention food insecurity due to the distance to the source, and the food spoils shortly after the consumer buys it, or even before it reaches the store.

Ballooning healthcare costs are directly related to declining food quality. **

Is There A Home Grown Solution To These Problems?

By the end of WWII 50% of households in the US grew 40% of the nations' produce in Victory Gardens in backyards, vacant lots, and on rooftops. This translates to a potential for something like 50 million Victory Gardens in the US today, and 1 billion worldwide. There's a lot of security and satisfaction in having a vegetable garden, but few of us have a patch of decent soil to work with, or the time for tilling, weeding, watering, fertilizing, etc.

Victory Garden Detailed Crops to Grow

What About Hydroponics?

Commercial hydroponic operations are popping up all over. When will average people be able to use this technology for themselves?

Let's review the timeline of modern hydroponics:

1929 Modern Hydroponics got its start at UC Berkeley.

1940's Hydroponics was used on Pacific islands to help feed troops.

1960's Walt Disney included hydroponics in his plans for EPCOT, which is still a premier showcase of what can be done with hydroponics.

1970's & 80's Hydroponic hobby stores start opening, catering primarily to connoisseurs of cannabis.

1990's Commercial hydroponics grew rapidly, with at least one operation covering hundreds of acres under glass.

2000's Many hundreds of additional hydroponic hobby stores open in the US, but key technology is lacking for this to go mainstream.

2010's Technological advancements in unrelated fields, along with new inventions can be used to create hydroponic systems suitable for average people to grow thousands of pounds of food in a typical backyard.

2020's 3D printing is used to rapidly iterate parts to proof and test designs of the Seymour HPG system that will eventually be injection molded. Other parts are being sourced and trialed for making a long-lasting, cost-effective, mass-market high-performance gardeneing system. PCB & App designs are being refined.

In the near future millions of users could adopt this advanced growing technology in the way personal computers were adopted in the 1980s.

High-Performance Gardening

Semour HPG is simple, sophisticated, and elegant. The systems can grow enough to more than pay for themselves in a single season.

Who Cares?

In the US:

42 million home gardeners

16 million vegetarians

31 million foodies

4 million survivalists

2,349 retail stores selling hydroponics

5 million hydroponic hobbyists

2 million raw food enthusiasts

In some regions, the need for this technology is currently acute. In other regions, we can predict it will become more acute in the near future, and mega-trends indicate demand for this technology will increase exponentially around the world for the foreseeable future. This will be true for commercial and consumer systems.

High-Performance Gardening will be with us for the duration.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said, "Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.

It stands to reason that high quality food would be the best medicine.

~ S