In Charleston, "Farmer Rudd" is a hydroponic farmer and also a Garden/Hydro Consultant for home gardeners and small plot farmers. He grows cucumbers and tomatoes hydroponically for a living, but that's not all he's growing. Check out his feed, @farmer_rudd over on Instagram!
What are some of the other things you would like to have other people understand about living a healthier and self-sufficient life style? The main thing is that it feels great! My mind and my body have never felt better since I started taking care of myself and eating healthy. I do yoga and run almost every day, which helps a lot as well. I'm glad I realized this pretty early in life, but it's never too late to start. The longer you do it, the easier it gets!
What tips and tricks could you share with other people? My biggest tip is to start your seedlings as early as possible. I've missed valuable growing time by starting mine too late. If you have the equipment and space inside, utilize it. Also, if your plant LOOKS dead, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is. I've seen people (myself included) try to toss plants that look wimpy, but aren't dead. Give it some time and love! My best "trick" is to make sure you give your plants time to grow. If you notice that your plant is putting off fruit/flowers while the plant is still small, pluck the fruit/flowers so that the plant puts more energy into its vegetative growth. This lets the plant to get bigger and stronger, thus producing more/bigger fruit. Also, harvest your herbs often. This stops the plant from flowering and it allows it to get stronger and bushier.
Have you ever made mistakes or failed doing something? Almost everyday! I'm a full time hydroponic tomato and cucumber farmer. Hydroponics can get very involved because you aren't only dealing with the plants, but the nutrient levels, the plumbing, and other greenhouse issues. There is something I screw up almost everyday, but I try to learn from my mistakes and not make the same one twice.
How did you overcome any obstacles? Finding proper land to grow on is a huge obstacle. Access to land isn't something everyone has, unfortunately. Until I was finally able to use a decent plot of land, I did a lot of container gardening. This allowed me to hone in on my techniques and get to know what specific plants liked and didn't like. Ask friends and family if you can use some of their land...you never know!
Have you ever dealt with a person who disregards your life style? Luckily I haven't had to deal with that. I've had the occasional person try to crack jokes because I don't eat meat, but it hasn't been often. Most people I've encountered that haven't understood my lifestyle, are open to hearing my point of view.
What are some of your greatest rewards with a lifestyle such as the one you live? I'd say the greatest reward is knowing what I'm putting inside my body. Too often, people pull things off the grocery store shelf, vegetables and fruit included, without knowing what is in the product. I like knowing what I'm eating. I also get the freshest of the fresh! To be able to go outside or inside the greenhouse and pick what I'm eating that night is a wonderful feeling.
What's your favorite variety of crop to grow and why? I'm definitely a pepper guy, but my favorite thing to grow is the herb, Spilanthes or "Toothache Plant". When eaten, Spilanthes causes your mouth to salivate almost uncontrollably. The sensation is hard to explain, so I suggest trying some if you have the opportunity. I like to make a tincture out of the plant and use it to make mouthwash and toothpaste. You can also mix the herb with lemon balm and echinacea to make a cold/flu tincture. It's also pretty funny to see your friends eat one.