The hottest trend in food production is under conditions such as indoor farming: do it yourself. All year round, just grow your own vegetables at home! The chain of producers and traders is fundamentally shortened, which protects the environment and saves water and money. The following explains what options are available and how to implement them.
1. Where can you grow?
On the windowsill
Indoor farms can range from herb gardens on the windowsill to vertical farms in the basement. Of course, the space on the windowsill is limited. However, even here, a vertical garden can be set up so that the space above can also be used. This type is called a window garden, where empty plastic bottles are usually converted into flower pots and hung in front of the windows. Or put several shelves on top of each other on the window. It should be noted here that the window can then be opened without any problems. Therefore, lettuce and other plants can grow in the sun.
- Make the most of the space on the windows!
In the growing cabinet
The cabinet can be easily converted into a planting box. With artificial lighting, plants can be grown and harvested here all year round. In order to make the inner wall of the cabinet absorb as little light as possible, it is recommended to paint it white or line it with heat-resistant silver foil. Small cabinets or higher drawers are suitable for vegetable salads, spinach and cabbage. You should only ensure that the plant light does not overheat and burn the plants. LED grow lights are most suitable for use here because they produce almost no waste heat and save energy. In the future, the kitchen cabinet can be used as a growing cabinet for your own vegetables. There are also ready-made growth cabinets to buy now. These are usually very low maintenance and can be easily integrated into the kitchen unit.
- Ensure the best light reflection and diffusion in the growth cabinet!
In the finished tent
The ready-made growing tents are practical and easy to store and transport. Since they are designed for plant cultivation, any technical improvements such as ventilation and activated carbon filters can be made without additional work.
- Make sure the device fits the opening provided!
In closed facilities, such as growth cabinets and tents, the temperature must be checked regularly
On the kitchen shelf
The plants on the wall shelves can be luxuriantly decorated and easily accessible. Therefore, you will soon have your own space-saving vertical server farm. If artificial light is needed, the light can simply be connected to the underside of the next higher shelf. Obtained off-the-shelf Shelves can also be purchased now; including plant lights and hydraulic systems.
- Use the height of the wall to create more growth space!
2. On the soil or hydroponic?
Most indoor farms do not grow on the soil in a conventional way, but use hydroponics. That is, plants usually grow in inorganic media. The culture medium is usually placed in a cage where the plants are grown. The roots can grow into the nutrient solution at the bottom of the pot through the mesh to provide nutrients for the plants.
Hydroponic growth has several advantages. Among other things, these plants are much less likely to be infested by pests because they often drag and multiply with the ground. This means that pesticides and herbicides can be omitted.
The nutrient solution can best meet the needs of plants, and no microorganisms can “breath” oxygen from plant roots. This kind of plant grows faster than it grows in the soil. In addition, most of the water has actually been absorbed by plants and will not seep into unused soil. This saves valuable resource water.
Disadvantages of hydroponics:
- pH and nutrients must be checked regularly
- Mistakes affect plants faster
Advantages of hydroponics:
- Save resources
- No pesticides, herbicides or fungicides are used
- More control
If you want to build an indoor farm or garden in a dark place or operate year-round, you must purchase plant lights. For this reason, LED planting lights are the most practical because they can save electricity bills and produce almost no waste heat. Passive cooling with fins means that no electricity is needed for cooling, and every watt flows into the lights of the plants.
Light scattering and photon number
It is important that the plant light illuminates the entire planting area as evenly as possible. A properly designed bulb should roughly correspond to the shape of the installation area, which can help. In addition, the photon flux density (PPFD) and beam angle are important criteria for whether the lamp meets your needs. Powerful LED growth lights are especially important for completely dark rooms, closed cabinets or growth boxes. The plant should hit at least 350μmol/m²*s photons on average. Every well-known manufacturer will provide photon flux density on its website, and in the best case, provide a graphical mapping of the photon flux density of their products.
In our LED growth lamp test, the mapping of the photon flux density and the representation of the spectrum can be found.
We also tested the absolutely cheap LED grow lights, which are also suitable for indoor planting.
4. Flower pots, substrates, fertilizers, and of course: seeds
Of course, other accessories are needed for indoor planting. It is recommended to use net flower pots cultivated by hydroponics, or it can be easily made from old plastic flower pots. In some systems, basins made of plastic bottles can also be used. The substrate that stabilizes the plant should be added to the pot. There are many options: either soil or inorganic substrate. Similarly, the nutrient requirements vary from plant to plant and vary with the growth period. Therefore, fertilizers should be selected according to their needs. Here, information is also essential.
Draught enhancing plants
For factories, the use of fans is an advantage. This simulates the wind that accompanies plant growth in nature. Then, these plants will become strong and sturdy, because they must “grow against the wind” and harden as a result.
Finally, you still need the right seeds to grow the desired plants.