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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Changing the mindset.
Cola Life: Using coca cola distribution network to distribute medicines.


PritS said...

Nice post dude.

Malali said...

Nice post man.

Lakshmi Krishnamurthy said...

This is something like Mouse, Tank, Trinity, Neo, Morpheus and others eating a paste of amino acids and carbohydrates to survive. I too feel uncomfortable about the whole idea; anything that's not natural is generally not good.

The Wandering Minstrel said...

i am interested! i have been meaning to grow my own coriander, tomatoes and some basic fruits. let me know more about it and i will follow up on my own too :) i love ur blog!

Anonymous said...

hey, keep me posted when u plan such outings.. I might tag along if there arent other plans :-)

Udayan Care said...

really nice articles..a very nice initiative..keep it up!!

Dodo said...

I was just talking to a friend about how some NGOs are not able to manage their requirements well and are sinks for contributions. One such place is IGIA - Indira Gandhi International Academy. It is a home for the Srilankan refugees. I visited them long back and I saw this dire need for food for the 300 kids. Was wondering if some such solution could help them. Will check! :)

Neat post as always!!! I wish I had come but cudn't think of the use - now that there is I just might go there sometime! :)

Dodo said...

I see that this was a school - a regular school or a school for training in such gardens. Kindly clarify? From the website it appeared to be latter. It wud be great help if it was a regular residential school doing the same! :)

Hydroponics said...

Hello everyone, ever since Peters visit to the Sandra Ricketts school to see India's first Hydroponics Veggie garden much has happened in India.
You would do well to contact Ms Sangeeta Bojappa, the Chief Operations Officer at the Pet Bharo Project at Bangalore.
She can be contacted on 0-94806-14645 or at and you may like to browse through as well for more information. ISH Bangalore has trained more than 500 students in India in 11 months.


Anonymous said...

Bravo, this excellent phrase is necessary just by the way

bhat said...

Things to note in bold:
"You use nutrient (which again you get in market) dissolved water to water these plants."

"Since it is more controlled environment they don’t need pesticides"

Has anyone read about Sir Alfred Howard, Masanobu_Fukuoka and our very own Subhash Palekar?

Goli said...

For some reasons I had stopped getting emails for the new comments, so reply to all the comments after a long time..
@prits, malali thanks.
@Lakshmi I had actually been doing quite a bit of researcch on this, and apparently most people consider hydrophonics as much better than the regular farm which uses pesticides.
@Reema, Yes you can have your own vegetable garden but as I have realized it is really difficult to maintain this.

Goli said...

@Sejal Now you have moved to different place..

@udyan Thanks.

@ Mayank: Mayank hydrophonics is a godo solutiona and as a first step IGAI has to do some training with this people then I guess they can grow on their own.

@Anynymous: Thanks

@ Bhat: Hi bhat, I have realized that hydrophonics is not as simple as it seems, and it does require lot of care.
I know subhash palekar and I am a big fan of him. Hydrophonics and Pet Bharo institute still has a long way to go.

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soilless grow said...

I agree with yu PritS and Malali! It is indeed a nice post. I wish they could post more interesting topics. I'll be following this blog from time to time. Thank you so much.