Let’s face it, we all need fresh vegetables in our diets for healthy bodies. The food we harvest from our own outdoor summer gardens is cheaper, tastes better, and is less likely to be genetically modified than the food we buy at the store. Then the winter sets in, and our beautiful garden dies off. We are forced to by our produce in the grocery store. These edibles have probably been shipped halfway across the country or even imported. This produce may have been picked several days ago, may have been picked too early to taste good, or may have even been genetically modified to stay fresher while being shipped. Maybe this is you standing in the produce isle wishing for spring planting season, or maybe, you don’t even have the luxury of a summer garden in your urban dwelling and you just wish you had an opportunity to grow your own fresh produce. Why not grow your garden indoors?
It’s not as impossible or as expensive as you think to create an indoor garden. Some people don’t grow a garden because it’s just too time consuming. With all that watering, and care who has the time. Some don’t try because it’s too messy. With all that dirt, what if Fluffy jumps on the counter and knocks over the plant? Who has to clean that up? You don’t need a ton of time, space or a bunch of noisy equipment. You don’t even need dirt. Growing your edibles in your home year round provides you the benefit of a cheaper grocery budget, fresher food, cleaner air, and even fewer trips to the store. All you need are the seeds, a container to hold water, a growing medium for your plants, and a strong light source. Consider hydroponic indoor gardening.
The Kratky hydroponics is easy to set up and maintain. The idea is that plants only need water, nutrients, and light to grow. By filling a reservoir with water, making sure the bottom half of your growing media is in the water, and providing adequate light a plant will grow. As the plant uses water and evaporation occurs, the water level will drop in the reservoir. The plant will root down into the water as the level drops, and it will still get plenty of air through the roots above the water. Some of the most suitable and low maintenance as Kratky indoor plants are leafy plants like herbs, lettuce, spinach, and arugula.
Let me explain how it to build a simple setup using mostly re-purposed or recycled materials. You will need to purchase growing medium such as rockwool, and seeds. A simple internet search for growing medium will yield a wide variety of results. Personally, I prefer to purchase one or two inch rock wool cubes. From there, all you need is a recycled container that will hold water until you’re plants are big enough to move to their own space. Ever wonder if you can recycle those plastic fast food containers? They work very well as seedling nurseries. I used an old floor mop pad container for my latest nursery, and you can even use storage containers.
As long as your chosen container has a clear lid to allow light, it should be fine. Look around the house before you go out and buy a commercial seed starter, I bet you have something you can re-purpose. Once you have chosen a container as a nursery, just soak down the medium and plant your seeds directly into the cubes. Leave about half inch of water standing in the container. Be sure to choose a medium that will not fall through the mouth of the bottle.
While the plants grow big enough to transplant, collect bottles. Two litter bottles and one liter bottles work best. When the plants start to root through the bottom of the rock wool, they are ready for a new home. Cut the tops off your bottles just about an inch from where the bottle begins to curve into the neck. Paint your bottles any opaque color you like to prevent algae. Fill the bottles with water and invert the top you cut off so the mouth of the bottle is in the water. Place your rock wool planted cubes in the mouth of the bottle where roots of the plant can touch the water, and you are all set. Put your plants in a well-lit area, preferably where there is natural sunlight rather than florescent overhead lighting. You don’t need to buy grow lights unless you have no natural light available.
You can pretty much leave them to grow now that they are in the container. They will not need much love and support and will grow on their own. Occasionally check the water level and ensure that the roots are still touching water. As the plant grows, it will continue to reach for the water as the water level drops. You can add some nutrients to the water if the plant just doesn’t seem to be producing good foliage, but that is not always necessary. You can also add clay balls to the top of the container for stem stability if you feel that plant needs it. If you add clay, be sure to rinse it well before you add it. In a few weeks, you will be ready to harvest your edibles, and enjoy your home grown food.