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Hydroponic Garden Centers sells equipment and kits that...
By Alex Davidson
There are only two places in New York City where residents who want to grow plants without soil can go for supplies and advice and one of them is in Flushing, according to the stores manager.
Hydroponic Garden Centers sells equipment and kits that use nutrient-rich water instead of soil to grow everything from tomatoes and pineapples to banana trees and basil. The stores manager, Frank Swensen, said his Queens site is the only one in the city besides a smaller competitors store in Brooklyn.
Anything you grow out of this store will taste better than anything you buy in the supermarket, he said. You will not find 90 percent of our products anywhere else.
Hydroponic Garden Centers has been in its Flushing location, at 146-49 Horace Harding Expressway just off Main Street, for five years, Swensen said. They first opened almost 20 years ago on Staten Island, but when the Queens store opened they consolidated their operations.
Hydroponics is the method used by gardeners to grow plants using water enriched with nutrients instead of soil to feed plants.
The aisles of the store in Flushing are lined with cables, cords, light bulbs and organic supplements and nutrients that help plants grow. Although the garden center focuses on hydroponic technology, Swensen said they also sell materials for people who want to grow greenhouse plants or just use organic materials to foster better, more consistent performance from their plants.
There is no one person we serve here, he said. Swensen said people come from as far as Canada and Maine to shop at the store for materials that help them grow everything from basil for pizza restaurants, bonsai trees and orchids.
Some of the materials people buy to stabilize their plants in place of soil, Swensen said, are balls of nutrient-rich clay, pearlite, vermiculite and peat moss. Swensen said the peat moss is used just like soil, sometimes in combination with coconut fibers to increase a plants oxygen and moisture intake, to provide a plant with optimum growing conditions.
A sample of the organic nutrients and supplements offered at the store include processed fish, seaweed and guano, or bat waste. These, in combination with other products on sale at the store such as nitrogen, phosphorus and live microbes that eat plant-destroying bugs, help customers of the garden store grow healthy, hearty plants, Swensen said.
Plants feel the difference and they react right away, he said of his nutrients and supplements on sale. Swensen, who regularly offers advice to his clients, said his store only sells organic nutrients and liquid solutions and avoids harsh or toxic chemicals and pesticides.
And tucked away on the side of the store is also a section for people who want to home brew beer and wine. Swensen said his store sells hops, malts and yeasts for people who want to cook their own variety of beers.
The store also sells juices that are used to create wine, he said.
All in all, for the conscientious Queens gardener there is much Hydroponic Garden Centers has to offer. And Swensen, a Queens native, has a lot of advice to give both novice and professional gardeners.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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