Trends â…• – Growing Food Indoors
By: Rob Sproule
“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. ”
– Victor Hugo
When I say “hydroponics,” what do you think of? I’m guessing some kind of elaborate set-up that may or may not involve marijuana. The truth is that hydroponics are not complex. It’s a matter of growing plants indoors, without soil–and it’s going mainstream.
There’s a perfect storm happening. The grow-your-own movement is continuing to explode, with record numbers of people concerned about chemicals, wanting hyperlocal alternatives, and needing to save money. In 2016, 37% of Millennials and 28% of Baby Boomers grew food indoors, and it’s rising quickly.
At the same time, our outdoor spaces are getting smaller. We have smaller yards, balconies, or no outdoor spaces at all. When you have to grow more food in less space, indoors is the natural next step.
We’ve grown windowsill herbs for decades. But in 2017, Canadians will grow microgreens, medicinal herbs, herbal teas, and marquis edibles like tomatoes and peppers, in record numbers. Millennials, who excel at making their own rules, will lead the way. Techniques that were once fringe, like aquaponics and vertical gardening, will become mainstream.
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Technology Making It Easier:
In hydroponics, you’re responsible for creating – artificially – everything the plant needs. It’s an intimidating level of complexity, but it’s getting easier.
The internet-of-things is a natural fit for indoor gardening. From smartpots that tell you when it’s time to fertilize to hydroponic systems that you can run entirely with an app, technology is pre-programming the expertise we used to need.
Some systems, available online, need only know what type of plant you’re growing and they handle the rest. Other systems will notify you on your phone when to water and when to feed. You can buy vertical gardens, too, complete with lighting and watering systems, in which you plant in foam plugs.
While internet based hydroponic systems are expensive, their increasing popularity, and competition, is bringing the price down fast. Whether you like “˜em or not, it won’t be long before app-based indoor gardening systems are both economical and mainstream, with people sitting beside you checking their crops and seeing what’s ready to go into that night’s salad.
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Our winter is a four month journey of comfort food, cocooning, and pining for our frost-bitten yards to breathe again. May to September is a sprint to grow as much as we can, in whatever space we have, and it’s never enough.
Indoor gardening cheats winter. It allows us to supplement our typically poor diets with blasts of homegrown vitamins. Plants are also one of the best remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which afflicts millions of Canadians.
There are a few things to remember. With our dramatically lower light levels, you’ll want to invest in a grow light. Costs have come way down for these, and they pay off fairly quickly if you use them. With our dry winter air (especially if you don’t have a humidifier on your furnace), you’ll want to keep the spray bottle handy for a daily spritz.
For ebook / talk :
NIWA STORE – NIWA Home Page
Niwa in a larger size for those with tall gardening dreams. Ideal for taking your gardening up a notch to grow bigger produce like peppers or tomatoes.