Growing Your Own Food
One great way of knowing exactly what we’re putting into our bodies is to grow our own vegetables. For some of us who have never tended to a garden before, the idea of starting our own kitchen garden can seem daunting. Plus, being in a city can bring to mind the question of space constraint. This is why we’re here to help you organize a small yet efficient kitchen garden that can cater to some of your immediate needs for fresh vegetables. For starters, look at how much space you have - do you have a small patio, a balcony or a flat roof? If you have a veranda or a porch, you can use that space too. You can even grow a few plants on a windowsill. As opposed to a traditional garden, which requires a large field to grow vegetable patches and a lot of time and effort, small square foot garden is suitable for limited spaces. You can easily manage crops, it’s extremely easy to water each plant using a simple watering can. No waste, no weed and almost no to less problem of pests. Try not to fill up the containers or your squares with a lot of plants. Be aware that some vegetables need to be grown alone as they need more space for root development like peppers and chilies. Same goes with tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers. Carrots, radishes, lettuce, beets are easy to grow, and remember to fertilise your plants regularly with an organic fertiliser. The added advantages of having a kitchen garden is that it not only gives us fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, but also provides shade and some of the plants such as snake plant, aloe vera, golden pothos, warneck dracaena and weeping fig, among others, can act as natural air purifiers for our homes and immediate environments. Moreover, you can even direct your wastewater (both black and grey water) to grow plants in your kitchen garden. As a result, reusing wastewater not only prevents environmental pollution but also helps conserve water for arid and water-scarce communities.
Few techniques for growing residual free fruits/vegetables at home or outside:
For this type of planting to be successful, three things are required:
Light: Without light, plants will not be able to produce the energy it needs to grow through a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy which can be later released to fuel the energy needed by plants. Light is therefore essential to the growth of the plant. A typical hydroponics system setup (vertical farming or indoor farming) will come with its own grow light (lamp) since it may not have access to direct sunlight.
Water: This is the growth medium and this is where you also apply the nutrient-solution that the plant needs to grow. Asides some other micro-nutrients, the main requirements of the nutrient solution is Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).
Nitrogen (N) – is a significant component in amino-acids, the basis of protein and also aids in the compounds that aid storage and use of energy.
Phosphorus (P) – encourages root growth, contributes to structural strength and crop quality.
Potassium (K) – contributes to crop quality, shape, size, colour, and yield. Also to get the correct proportions of this mix, the PH level (test for acidity/alkalinity) and Electrical conductivity (test of the strength of the nutrient solution) needs to be carried out on a regular basis.
Air Since plants need carbon dioxide (CO2) present in air to convert the energy it gets from sunlight into sugar and water (the photosynthesis process), air is also an essential component in the hydroponics system and is provided by the fan and filter system.
The different types of hydroponics system include:
- Wicks system
- Water Culture
- Ebb and Flow system
- Drip system
- N.F.T system: which is the most common type of the hydroponics system
Here is a simple breakdown of the Aeroponics Process
Plants grown aeroponically are suspended in a reservoir or apparatus that can support the plant but there is minimal contact between the device and the plant which makes this 100% grown in air. The plants dangling root can then be sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution. Nearly any plant can be grown using the aeroponics process, however, herbs like ginger and vegetables like lettuce, basil, and tomatoes have been especially successful using this process.
Some of the benefits of using the aeroponics system include:
- Ease of working with your plants
- Cost effective since you won’t have to spend money on irrigation channels
- Aids disease-free cultivation as plant-to-plant contact is limited and if a plant does become infected, it can be easily removed from the support structure without disrupting the other plants.
Benefits of aquaponics:
1. Fish waste is the source of fertilization.
2. Efficient, sustainable and extremely productive.
3. Eliminating soil, eliminates soil borne diseases.
4. Integrated method is both sustainable and earth-friendly.
5. Fish are free from growth hormones and antibiotics
This way for growing crops is very organic in nature and doesn’t involve usage of any chemical product, hence produces very healthy & residual free output. But as this cropping technique also have an objective of growing fishery for commercial selling, hence we don’t recommend this way of farming.