The science behind gardening

This past growing season, Tom Bordovsky and Donna Naylor grew enough tomatoes in their backyard hydroponic garden to feed their whole street. With seven-different varieties of plants towering over their heads in 27 repurposed kitty litter buckets, every three days they were bringing in more tomatoes than they could ever eat on their own.

Bordovsky and Naylor retired to Big Pine Key a few years ago after owning a successful garden shop in Fort Lauderdale. “We used to water garden, but we wanted to try true hydroponics when I came across Aaron’s shop,” said Bordovsky. “I think I was his second customer.”

Aaron Patterson opened Keys Organic and Hydroponic Supply three years ago, looking for healthier options to change his eating habits. “The one thing I can control is what I put into my body,” he said.

He has in stock everything needed to start and maintain organic and hydroponic gardens, with more than 100 Keys residents using his systems. Keys Organic and Hydroponic Supply carries a full line of indoor and outdoor gardening supplies for year-round gardening. Two areas in his shop are dedicated to showcasing the water systems.

In the front room, a pond is set up with plants and fish with the cycle: feed fish, fish waste is eaten by microbes, microbe waste feeds the plants, plants clean the water – water that Patterson hasn’t had to change in three years – and then the cycle starts over.

In the back room, the hydroponic system is in full glory. “I never have to do anything in here but harvest the vegetables,” he said. The entire drip to drain system and lighting runs on timers. Small systems start around $200 and costs after that are low. “It’s perfect world gardening, and it’s particularly important during water shortages.”

The nutrient to film technique, which is especially good for seedlings, veggies and herbs, starts around $35 to begin. Bordovsky and Naylor use this system for their lettuce crop, while they look forward to next season’s tomatoes, which they start from heirloom seeds.

“We had the best season this year and we are just getting warmed up,” said Bordovsky. “It’s because of the support and great information we received from Aaron.”


Organic and hydroponic gardening is the way of the future.” – Aaron Patterson, owner of Keys Organic and Hydroponic Supply.

What is hydroponic gardening?

It’s a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution. Soil is not used; instead the root system is supported by perlite, clay pellets or other bases. To learn the basics of hydroponic gardening in the Keys, visit Keys Organic and Hydroponic Supply at 85 Industrial Rd. on Big Pine Key or by calling owner Aaron Patterson at 305-872-7277 or by visiting



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