Resort at Squaw Creek grows its own produce and herbs in a garden right here at the resort. Our full time gardener, Smitty Smith, tends to Rooftop Roots (our new garden’s name) full time. Rooftop Roots is a hydroponic garden and is located on the resort roof, with other smaller locations around the resort, like the hydroponic towers growing butter lettuce and arugula right outside Cascades, our breakfast restaurant.
We are adding strawberry and tomato plants to the garden this summer, plus we are quadrupling the size of the current crops, which include chard, peppers, many types of lettuce, thyme, basil, rosemary, and a number of micro greens like Mizuna. Smitty Smith, the resort’s gardener, gives us the scoop on what’s new with Rooftop Roots this summer:
Explain hydroponic gardening?
“The process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.”
What are several ways you have been successful with Tahoe gardening?
“No soil, just water and nutrients. Those are the two things all plants need to grow. Hydroponic is just a different style of growing/planting. A timer is set to drip water more frequently in the summer.”
What crops do best in the Rooftop Roots?
“They all do well, but the Basil and Rainbow Chard are flourishing.”
What new crops do you want to try?
“I just tried (and succeeded) with rainbow chard and the colors are very pretty! We discovered they need a lot of light, which they were not getting inside, so we installed light fixtures around the plant tower. The lights can be turned on or off, depending on the needs of the plant in that tower.”
Can you tell us more about the micro green area? What are the most popular plans and what's the best way to grow micro greens in your own home?
"Pick food and spices that you like to eat, then put them in your garden. There are a lot of online videos that you can watch to learn. It's important to grow healthy food for your own home. The food is fresh off the plant. You know where it's coming from. Grow your own tomatoes right off the vine. They taste better! At Squaw Creek, the micro greens are starters for the hydroponic gardens. We plant the seeds and grow the plants until they are ready to be transferred to the hydroponic towers or roof garden racks.”
What else can you tell us about the hydroponic garden at Resort at Squaw Creek?
“We grow food for Six Peaks Grille’s kitchen. In the winter there are nine towers indoors, plus micro greens, like pea shoots, Mizuna, and other greens that the kitchen wants. The purpose of the hydroponic towers is to provide fresh produce and a garden demonstration center. This way, guests can see how to create fresh food in their own garden – or they can just watch while we do it for them! Plans for this summer include bringing the garden up to 4,200 plants plus 96 tomato plants, which is up from 1,400 plants last summer.”
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