With Rs 1,000, You Can Grow Soil-less Veggies At Home
Sarthak Darolia can’t stop raving about his ‘soil-less’ tulsi. The Chennai-based restaurateur who discovered hydroponics a month ago says he is still in awe of how it works — it’s the art of growing plants using just nutrients and water. “It’s mess-free so I keep the pot right in my kitchen,” he says. And that inspired his home-brewed tulsi tea, which is now a ‘hot seller’ at his Kickstart Cafe on the IIT campus.
If you thought this niche growing method could only be afforded by the uber rich, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sriram Gopal, CEO of Future Farms in Chennai says, “We charge as little as `1,000 for a basic two-plant hydroponics growing unit today.” He adds, “With so many inquiries coming in from students and families wanting to grow their vegetables at home, we decided to manufacture our own growing units locally as opposed to importing them.” A handful of other companies in this niche market like Radongrow, the online store and Mayuresh Industries, based out of Kolhapur in Maharashtra also cater the same at a slightly higher base price of `2,500-5,000. This is in stark contrast to the options available to urban gardeners in India a few years ago, when importing hydroponics growing systems was the only way.
Sangeetha Bojappa Moorthy, the co-founder of Pet Bharo, a Bengaluru-based company that helps urban farmers develop their own hydroponic set-ups recalls, “We imported an entire climate-controlled green house from South Korea for a crore-and-a-half when we got started six years ago.”
As for how it works, it’s fairly simple. Hydroponics uses water containing a balanced formula of nutrients required for growth that is re-circulated past the bare roots of plants in a growing unit. The latter could be a pot, a hydrovertical or a watertight gulley depending on the size of the plant. Sangeetha explains, “Water is a uniform medium so these nutrients get evenly distributed and as a result, the quality of the produce is better, the vegetables and fruits are tastier and the number of crop cycles can be increased.” With several IT professionals turning gardeners to de-stress their lifestyles, the biggest advantage of this soil-free process is that it requires little space to pursue.
Vimla Dorairaju, who lives in a high rise in Anna Nagar says her new ‘leaf station’ covering everything from pudina to palak fits perfectly in her tiny balcony. “Instead of pots, I’ve got a unit that is vertical and stacked up in racks,” she explains, adding “So I have close to 20 plants in a space that would normally only fit about seven.”
If that hasn’t gotten you sold on the idea already, it gets even better. Thanks to the water pump attached that re-circulates the water, you not only save water, but can also go for a month-long holiday and still come home to healthy plants!