Monday, April 13, 2009

Soil-less Garden...

On saturday, Parul and I set off. It was a long weekend and we wanted to do something and go and visit some place, or go and talk to someone. After looking for some alternatives and not being able to decide on anything, in morning we decided that we are going to go and take a look at "hydroponics" garden that has been recently setup.

So "Hydroponics" is soil less cultivation. Under this system you grow plants, in small plastic containers or wooden frames, and use water and nutrients and NO soil. These apparently are very easy to cultivate, and since they don’t require soil, you could put this tubs on your terrace, balcony and everywhere. Since it is more controlled environment they don’t need pesticides and give better yields (as claimed) and many people think this could be solution to world hunger.

Wooden frames made to cultivate vegetables.
(Note the above picture is from pet bharo website, not from the school we visited)

We had got to know about hydroponics through one story on NGOPost, which was about "Pet Bharo" initiative, run by Indian institute of simplified hydroponics in Bangalore. So when we called them Saturday morning they asked us to visit this school, Sandra Rickett public school on Hennur road, which hae successfully implemented this technique and they were using the vegetables grown from there for the school consumption.

And when we reached there the garden did look very impressive. There were plants and plants every where, in plastic tubs, small plastic buckets, wooden frames and everywhere except in soil. Tomatoes, brinjals, cauliflower, chillies, Bhindis and everything. Tomatoes were specially thriving, with so many of them. The lady was running the school said that she did this training course on hydroponics. So in simplified terms, the way it works is that, you put some fiber (coconut outer) along with Perlite (which you get in market, and is kind of volcanic rock), and then you grow plants in them. Use the same seeds that are used for soil. You use nutrient (which again you get in market) dissolved water to water these plants. And then plants would grow.

Tomatoes and tomatoes thriving in these small wooden frames.
(The above picture is from school we visited, did not have camera and it is from my Nokia Phone)

It all looked good, but to me it kind of gave me a feeling of concentration camp for plants. Just like chicken farm, here there were plants and plants all put it small space, they had even put some plastic bags hanging from the wall, in which they had this perlite and fiber and plants coming out of it. Did not give such comfortable feeling, and kind of felt sorry for the plants.

Also I was wondering if there are any health hazards of consuming such vegetables. So then went to google, but then did not find any people who were complaining about the health hazards. People believe that these vegetables are much better than the ones grown with pesticides. There were one or two articles which said, that there was some concern about the long term effects on immunity system, as plants growing in soil, do absorb some fungi and other nutrients which do increase our immune system, but still no detail study reports that I could locate as of now for any issues related to health.

Probably over the coming days, would try to figure out if are there any regulations from Indian government for the same.

As of now I will try to do this course when this happens in Bangalore next, May they had said, and then at least would start of growing flowers and small vegetables on my terrace.

Have a great week ahead.. :)

Related write ups..
Pet Bharo on NGOPost. Solving poverty and Hunger in India.

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