Since going to Chelsea flower show a few years ago with my Mum and Granny, I have been fascinated with hydroponics. There was an installation to show what an underground plant farm looks like. Amazing. Everything grows under pink/purple LED lights to simulate sunlight. They are sprayed with nutrient rich mists and have their roots in water without soil. It is an effective way to grow leafy greens without pesticides or chemicals. They even had tomatoes growing. It’s pretty exciting how farming can develop to grow crop without soil which means less land being cut down for agriculture. Plus there is absolutely no need for harsh pesticides…because underground and without soil you don’t have any pests!
Obviously as amazing as hydroponics are, the slight issue is that you can’t sustain a societies food demand just by producing herbs, leafy greens and tomatoes. It is apparently a very high tech process to grown grains and legumes, which few people do. And secondly, the LED lights that indoor or underground farms use (some are outdoor and use natural light) consume a very high amount of energy. This demand makes it hard for small companies growing hydroponically to make money. For example one small start up only made a profit within their 8th year of business… which must hurt.
BUT… to grow your own little hydropons at home you do not need to buy a water filtration system or LEDs. You can mimic the water filter by changing it out yourself once a week (or when it looks a bit murky.) And for small individual plants, placing them on a windowsill with sunlight seems to be working fine for me. Nutrient wise, I am using a completely organic seaweed fertiliser which you can make from collecting and drying out seaweed. Then you grind it to a fine dust before you submerge it in water for 7 weeks to brew. It is plant tea!
About three weeks ago I collected the base from a Choi Sum. Since then it has grown 5cm and produced two big leaves and 3 smaller ones are sprouting from the base! Lettuce grows much much quicker, with new leaves coming through in three days. Garlic is a whole different beast… I have a clove submerged in water with a 3cm sprout shooting out from the side, which is quite alien like. The smell of the garlic is not for the faint hearted. My basil of cut is from an outdoor plant which was dying due to the drop in air temp. It has grown new roots and the leaves are looking bigger and more green than before. So far so good.
I feed them all four small drops of seaweed tea about every four days before I have my breakfast. It is a lovely feeling watching something grow from nothing. I have my mum to thank for getting me into her love for taking care of plants. It took a while for me to get interest, but now I am fully invested in my little babies.