Growing your own food at home is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But it can easily start to take up so much space. Thus, vertical farming alongside hydroponics becomes a great option to turn into an urban farmer. So, what is vertical farming? Vertical farming is the practice of food production that takes the form of vertically stacked layers and vertically inclined surfaces. The method is executed inside a controlled environment building, without soil or natural light.
Not sure if vertical farming at home is the right option for you? Or you simply want to learn more? Then here’s a helpful guide that walks you through everything you need to know about it.
The method of growing the crops in a vertical farm involves the following elements:
Planning to pick the right crop
When undertaking vertical farming, planning is essential. You need to ensure that your production costs are not too high. The first step to ensuring this, therefore, is picking the right crops. The aspiring vertical farmer needs to conduct a feasibility study and come up with a profitable and sustainable plan. This is because each species you plan to grow will have a growing method tailored to its needs. Determining the daily nutrient and light uptake each crop requires is crucial.
Lighting is the most important aspect of creating a perfect indoor farming environment. It can be a “make or break” decision for your indoor farm. So, it’s highly recommended that you spend enough time planning and designing the layout of your plants and lights. The design should be optimized so that no light will be wasted.
A grow light is an artificial source of light, commonly an electric light, which is designed to stimulate the growth of plants by emitting an electromagnetic spectrum perfect for photosynthesis. It helps grow vegetables and fruits grow indoors all-round the year.
The objective of indoor farming is to maximize volume. This is achieved by maximizing the output efficiency per square meter, which is where the vertical tower structure comes from.
Temperature & Humidity control
The crucial thing in vertical farming is figuring out how much cooling, dehumidification and heating is required to manage the temperature and humidity of the grow space. Dehumidification is also constantly required to remove the moisture added to the air via evapotranspiration (Et) from the plants and irrigation system.
Control and monitoring of nutrients and fertilizer
The nutrient solution is the sole source of nutrients to the plant. Therefore, it is imperative to apply a balanced solution, that contains all plant nutrients, at the right balance. Nutrient enriched water should be closely monitored to ensure that nutrient levels are not too low (inhibiting growth) or too high (potentially toxic).
There are three different models for the indoor farming system.
Hydroponics is the most common method for home vertical farms. It’s usually cheaper than the other two and is much easier to setup for beginners. The plants usually sit in a nutrient rich pool of water that is circulated to stay fresh. Scaling this up is pretty easy and it’s ideal for beginners.
Aeroponic farming involves frequently spraying crops with a nutrient-based mist, using a periodic timer (no soil, sunlight, or water). Aeroponics delivers nutrients directly to the plant roots to conserve water and reduce intensive labor. Scalability is another massive benefit with this method, and crops are easily harvested without soil.
Aquaponic involves using fish to create a natural mini ecosystem. Fish in the water fertilize the water, this is very beneficial for the plant’s health. In return, the plants filter the water for the fish, creating a balanced ecosystem.
Timing and liability
All good things take time – patience is a necessary element of indoor agriculture. This truth is embodied in what is called in farming as a ‘turn.’ A turn is the total amount of time it takes to introduce a seed or seedling into the farm system, grow it, and harvest it as a mature plant for serving on your plate.
There are two types of crops you can choose to grow: fast turn crops and slow turn crops. Dependent on your growing reason, needs, and requirements, you can pick either one or both for your vertical farm.
Fast turn crops include lettuce, cabbage, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, basil, and various microgreens. They usually take up to six weeks to produce.
Slow turn crops are typically harder to grow, but have a higher revenue margin compared to leafy greens. This includes ‘woody’ herbs like oregano and rosemary, and fruiting crops like strawberry and tomato. A good guide to follow for a beginner grower is to plant 80 percent greens, and 20 percent herbs.
By keeping the above tips in mind and using our products, everyone can be an urban farmer – you neither need a balcony nor bulk water to grow your vertical farm at home. You can put it anywhere you want and within a few weeks you can see great results. And the best thing is: you always know what’s in it, since you have it under your own control!
Little Farm: Indoor Vertical Farm
Little Farm is a complete, automated vertical farming hydroponic solution providing safe, fresh and consistent farm to table produce at maximum yield with minimum costs. The key of the system is the LED lighting we have developed. The spectrums and intensity have been developed over years to accelerate and maximize plant growth. Hence whatever you can grow in outdoors you can grow indoors in a controlled environment. Its modular design lets you create custom growth options for a variety of plant types efficiently, without the need for intense user intervention. The recirculating irrigation system not only saves water, but also provides a cleaner and hygienically safer growth environment that minimizes the chances of contamination or unwanted algae growth.
Safe, simple and tasty – Little Farm brings freshness to your table.
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