There are heaps of environmental benefits to growing your own veggies.
Growing hydroponic veggies is easy and to be honest there’s no better time to get started on a family veggie garden than right now.
If you’re lacking backyard space, don’t despair. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without using soil, so it’s perfect for introducing children to the joys of gardening without actually needing a garden.
The benefits of home farming are enormous. You know exactly where your greens have come from, they’re always fresh, and what’s more, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint by filling your fridge with food that hasn’t needed transportation. Hydroponic farming also uses less water and no nasty pesticides.
Avani Pattaya Resort in Thailand has been reaping the benefits of homegrown veggies and microgreens for years. The property’s Green Farm features over 22,000 plants (and a free-range chicken coop) and it supplies both hotel restaurants and the local community. Around 60% of the lettuces, rocket, microgreens, Swiss chard and Chinese kale go to local restaurants and the Pattaya community, while the remaining 40% supplies Avani Pattaya restaurants. We reached out to ask them for their top tips.
Through trial and error, the gardening team admitted that they’d found the easiest plants to grow in a hydroponic system are Chinese kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, rocket and microgreens.
The team has also found that it’s really easy to repurpose everyday items rather than buying new kit from a gardening store.
To get started, you will need:
A plastic or metal (waterproof) tray (you could even use a kitchen baking tray).
A rectangular piece of rockwool or sponge foam, about an inch in depth, that fits into the bottom of the tray.
A piece of light cotton cloth slightly larger than the sponge foam (an old pillowcase or tee-shirt cut into a rectangle would be ideal).
Several small, plastic water bottles.
A spray bottle for watering.
In just a few weeks you should be harvesting your first greens.
Begin by cutting tiny slots about 2cms apart in rows across the piece of sponge. Carefully place a seed in each slot.
Place the foam containing the seeds into the tray.
Cover the foam with the cotton cloth.
Place the tray outside in the garden, or inside on a sunny windowsill. Plants need about six hours of sunlight a day, but not direct sunlight.
After two or three days the seeds should germinate. When shoots begin to show, remove the cloth but keep the foam damp by spraying regularly.
After two to three weeks, the plants will be strong enough to transfer to the next stage.
Mix 250mls water with 5mls of liquid fertilizer and pour into a water bottle. You will need one water bottle filled with the water and fertilizer mix for each plant.
Cut the foam around the seeds and feed the foam and roots through the nozzle of the water bottles so that the roots are submerged in the liquid and the leaves remain outside of the bottle.
Keep the plants in sunlight and in five to six weeks they should be fully grown.
When the plant is ready to harvest, pick the leaves only. You should be able to harvest each plant several times.