Paul Millar Grows with His Plants


Russell Glass, Co-Web Editor

“I like to say that raising plants is a lot like raising babies, but they’re quieter, and you can’t eat babies,” senior Paul Millar said.

Millar has a passion for plants that started his freshman year while taking part in the horticulture program.

“I like gardening. So I’m very into horticulture,” Millar said. “I’ve taken it for four years here at Wando, I really enjoyed the program. They’ve got a fantastic program, Ms. [Katie] Donahoe — she kills it. I gotta credit the horticulture program here, Ms. Donahoe, Mr.[Alex] Pennecamp … they’re good people, they know how to present it to you in a way that you can understand. You know, spark the interest.”

Since taking Donahoe’s course, Millar has started growing plants in his home in a unique way.

“I’ve been doing it for two and a half years now, I find it very rewarding. It’s nice to have something growing in your house,” he said. “I have hydroponic gardening systems in my house where I grow tomatoes and basil and lettuce. So that’s growing plants without soil, growing them in water with like full spectrum LED lights and simulating the environment that you want the plants to be in. Getting the optimum temperature and nutrient system and pH level, it’s crucial.”

Millar finds solace in his caretaking of all things growing, and said it’s important to him to connect with nature.

“I find a lot of peace in plants, you gotta have some connection to nature,” Millar said. “I mean, God’s in nature, you know, nature is where we all come from, where we’ll all go back to so you gotta have a personal relationship with it. I like to put as much of it in my day as possible.”

He also plans to deepen his connection with nature while attending college this fall.

“I’m going to Clemson for horticulture actually,” he said. “They have a pretty good agriculture program up there. I like it, it’s nice and secluded up in the sticks. Lots of nature.”

Millar said after college, he wants to continue to foster his love for plants and start his own business.

“I’d like to start my own business involving plants. Some kind of commercial greenhouse or farm, work on my own, be in the nature all day long, be my own boss- I don’t like authority much. I like to set my own path.”

Even though he loves all plants, Millar said he likes one in particular.

“You know I can’t really…the loquat tree. The loquat. It’s a tree and you know it grows, there’s quite a lot of it around here, but you don’t really hear of loquat trees,” Millar said. “You can actually eat their fruit, it’s ripe right this instant, if you see a loquat tree make sure you get some nice ripe loquats…but I also like tomatos and lettuce — lettuce is really easy to grow and so are a lot of herbs. I’d say that flowers are my least…I love looking at flowers and everything smelling flowers, but they’re hard to grow, man”

But as far as growing anything goes, Millar said that he thinks hydroponics are the way of the future.

“The good thing about hydroponics is because you can dial in everything like the pH level and the nutrient system, you can grow plants more efficiently. So you can produce a higher yield and get them to flower and fruit faster so you can have a high capacity grow,” Millar said. “That’s why in a lot of cities, you know how there’s like a trend for new organic fresh produce, you know. The fresher it gets, the more people are gonna be stoked on it, especially in cities.

“The price just goes up for organics and fresh produce, so they’ll grow them in skyscrapers and have a vertical farm,” he continued. “It’s awesome man, I think it’s the way of the future. Hydroponics could change the world.”