These are "Reports from the Newsstand," my comments on the publications in our catalogue at We offer sample copies of our publications, not subscriptions. Each sample copy costs $2.59, well below newsstand cover prices (if the publication is available on your newsstand at all). A $2.00 shipping charge is added to each order. Publishers use to get their publications into the hands of potential subscribers.


Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Monday, December 12, 2005

GROWING EDGE INTERNATIONAL: Growing Good Things With Hydroponics

This morning we're learning about new ways to grow things as we welcome Growing Edge International to the newsstand. This bimonthly magazine is about hydroponics, the science and art of growing plants in a water and fertilizer solution―no soil involved. It's written for commercial and hobby operations alike. For a neophyte like myself, reading a sophisticated magazine on a complex subject like Growing Edge International for the first time is like starting War and Peace on page 202: you don't quite know what country you're in, what the rules are, what the acronyms mean. So a big thank-you to the Internet, where I quickly got up to speed on the basics of hydroponics. Work was being done on the subject as far back as the 17th century, but in the 1930s a fellow at the University of California transformed what had been laboratory experiments into commercial-scale operations and coined the term hydroponics (hydro is Greek for water, and ponos for labor, so it means "water working"). War is a great advancer of technology, and it was on rocky Pacific Islands during World War II that hydroponics was first used on a large scale to grow produce for soldiers to eat. With the development of cheap, strong and light plastics to channel the water and nutrients, hydroponics is now commonly used to produce tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables year-round, even in temperate climates. Most of the roses exported from Holland are grown using hydroponics! I'm looking through the November/December issue of Growing Edge International, published in Corvallis, OR. It's Vol. 17, No. 2, so the magazine has been around for a while. You know those hydroponics guys are onto something when you see a picture (right above the table of contents) of a 752-pound pumpkin that was grown with what's called "a hybrid hydroponic/aeroponic system" by a fellow at his home in North Pole, Alaska. What really got me interested was an article early in the issue about kids in an eighth-grade science class in Marblehead, MA, who've been running experiments in aquaponics, which is hydroponics with a fascinating twist: instead of adding fertilizers to the water supply, you put live fish in the system, and the plants are nourished from the nitrates created when the ammonia-laden fish waste is broken down by bacteria. A good introduction into commercial hydroponics is provided by the cover article, which details a startup operation in Loudoun County, VA called Endless Summer Harvest. An operation like this is expensive to create―greenhouses, heating systems, lighting installations, sophisticated computers to control the flow of nutrients, endless piping―but it produces scarce and invaluable products like salad greens for upscale markets, even in mid-winter. And by substituting nutrients in a water system for soil, you wind up with more produce per plant, free of soil-borne diseases, and the vegetables have a much longer shelf life because the clean roots go with the plants to the market. An annual subscription to Growing Edge International (six issues) is $26.95 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.


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