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Posted at: Feb 4, 2018, 1:23 AM; last updated: Feb 4, 2018, 1:23 AM (IST)

‘Hydroponics can grow rooftop gardens’

Gurvinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3

Urban space continues to reduce with the passage of time, but there are many, who want a kitchen garden. Presently, people can just dream of it as they have no place to grow the garden.

However, experts suggest that hydroponics — a technique for growing plants just through water without the use of soil — is a viable solution for a rooftop kitchen garden.

In this method soil is replaced with a substrate system of cocopeat, vermiculite and perlite. Plants are just provided water and nutrients in a controlled environment.

Speaking about the method, Dr VP Sethi, Prof and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Punjab Agricultural University, said, “Through hydroponics, it is possible to get much better yield in terms of quality and quantity, besides saving water and nutrients by as much as 70 per cent.”

“Nutrients and water are recovered and re-circulated in plants through automated system, which is also more or less automated and maintenance free. One just has to ensure that the pH range of water is within desirable limits as plants absorb nutrients at a certain pH,” he added.

“The yield is in fact three times that of growing plants in soil. Only 100 sq metre rooftop can easily accommodate as many as 250 plants for growing any seasonal vegetables. Off season plants can also be grown in controlled environment if one goes for a green house,” he said.

“The concept is quite popular abroad, as even restaurants there bring freshly grown vegetables from rooftops,” he added.

“Another technique of aeroponics in which nutrients are sprayed and absorbed by roots of plants suspended in the air is effective for growing potatoes that have fruit growing on roots. In such cases, the yield is 10 times as much as normal use of soil,” he said.

“Another process of nutrients film technique (NFT), which has been developed through pyramids of tubes, and doesn’t require much space, is good for growing green leafy vegetables that don’t have deep roots. In this method nutrients dissolved in water are just re-circulated along roots of plants for short durations,” he added.

“It is easily possible to use all these methods in urban household rooftop gardens,” said Dr Sethi.

Hydroponics: A technique for growing plants just through water without the use of soil. It is a viable solution for rooftop kitchen gardens in cities where there is shortage of space.

Aeroponics: Another method of growing plants in which nutrients are sprayed and absorbed by roots suspended in the air.

NFT: The nutrients film technique (NFT) has been developed through pyramids of tubes. In this method, nutrients dissolved in water are re-circulated along roots of plants in kitchen garden. 

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