KOCHI: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life and enjoy the pleasure of gardening. Tending the plants can be a stress-buster and you can have fresh vegetables grown in your own backyard.
Ela Sustainable Solutions, an agriculture startup groomed by Ernst and Young under the Kerala Startup Mission, helps urban families grow vegetables for daily use in their backyard, rooftop, or even inside the house by installing polyhouse and hydroponic system.
“The hydroponic system is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution without soil. The vegetables will be planted in net pots fixed in holes made in a food grade PVC pipe. Clay balls will be used to plant vegetables instead of soil. The plants will be floating and water will be circulated from a reservoir using a 30-watt motor at regular intervals and NPK solution will be added to the water to provide adequate quantity of nutrients. It is convenient as there is no need to water the plants or pluck the weeds,” said Ela Sustainable Solutions Director of Operations and Business Amal Mathew.
Ela Solutions has introduced Smart Garden, a modern concept of growing vegetables at home by providing water, light and nutrients automatically. The unit includes both polyhouse farming and hydroponic farming. The polyhouse with 40 to 120 growbags will have a fertigation unit that ensure regular supply of nutrients to the plants, timer-controlled irrigation system and temperature sensor with cooling system. The fan of the system will automatically start working once the temperature exceeds 30 degree Celsius.
A 100-sqft polyhouse with 40 plants can be installed at an expense of Rs 36,000. While the cost for setting up a 200-sqft polyhouse is around Rs 55,000, a 300-sqft polyhouse with 120 plants costs Rs 76,000.
“We have set up three hydroponic units and six polyhouse units in Ernakulam district. Vijayan Pillai, a winner of Karshaka Shree award in Kollam, has installed the unit at his farm. You can grow spinach in 15 days and tomato in 30 days. People have cultivated capsicum, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, and many other varieties on their rooftops using our technology,” said Amal. The startup has been founded by Amal Mathew, an engineering graduate from AISAT Kalamassery, along with Shijin V S, a former lecturer of College of Engineering, Chengannur. Shijin is the CEO of Ela Solutions.
Gift a garden
Ela Solutions has introduced a novel concept of gifting package garden units on special occasions. According to Amal Mathew, the idea has clicked and the startup is getting many queries regarding the concept. Ela offers a hydroponic unit of 25 plants at a cost of Rs 10,000 for people interested in farming. All leafy plants can be grown inside the house with the hydroponic unit which provides artificial light to the plants using spectrum grow lights. Ela will provide the seedlings and NPK solution for the units.
There is no need to water the plants as the unit has a reservoir and motor pump that irrigates the plants automatically.