The Environmental Benefits of Indoor Gardening and Hydroponics
When you grow your own food indoors using hydroponics, you’re not only doing good for yourself and your loved ones; you’re benefiting the environment as well. Below is a description of the many ways in which growing our own food with products like the iHarvest® and uHarvest® has a terrific benefit on the world around us as well.
Hydroponics uses approximately 95% less water and 60% less fertilizer than traditional gardening and farming methods. That’s because rather than losing water and fertilizer to runoff or evaporation, these valuable elements are kept in an enclosed system, where 100% of them will be used to grow produce as efficiently as possible
Healthier Growing Practices:
When we grow with hydroponics, we reduce and potentially eliminate the need for harmful herbicides and pesticides. Herbicides are often avoided completely with the avoidance of soil. When growing indoors, harmful pesticides can be avoided as well, so that they will never hurt you or your family, or impact vulnerable bee, insect, and bird populations either.
Hydroponic garden growing systems like the iHarvest® are capable of growing 30 or more plants in only ~2.5 square feet of floor space. Growing 30 similar plants outdoors would take ~ 13 square feet of space. The uHarvest® is even more compact, and grows 12 or more plants in less than a square foot. This saves precious farmland and eliminates the use of farming practices that cause soil erosion.
More Efficient Growth:
Growing with hydroponics can help plants grow a great deal faster than typical gardening and farming methods. This also means that less farmland is needed to grow the same amount of food. For instance, a NASA study demonstrated that tomato plants grown similarly to those in an iHarvest® indoor garden, grew nearly 3x faster over their first month. In general, we estimate that hydroponic gardening will grow many plants 30 – 50% faster than soil-based gardening.
There are probably a number of reasons why hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables grow more efficiently. For example, well designed hydroponic gardening systems like the iHarvest® and uHarvest® ensure that plant roots get a lot of oxygen. Oxygen isn’t something that we think of plant roots needing much of, but in fact it is very important to a plant’s health and is part of the reason why compact soil does not grow plants as effectively.
When growing with hydroponics, we are also able to manage the pH and nutrient conditions for our plants more precisely, ensuring that our plants are getting exactly what they need for optimum growth potential.
Reducing Food Waste:
Food waste is a big problem, and growing our own food is a big help. It’s estimated that approximately one third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted every year. That’s around 1.3 billion tons of food lost every year. In fact, if food loss was a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. And food waste also ends up wasting about a quarter of our water supply in the form of uneaten food.
When we grow our own, we can harvest only the food we are ready to eat rather than stocking up on a week’s worth of supplies from the local supermarket. This means that when growing our food indoors, what we don’t eat continues to grow and stay fresh. That’s a whole lot better than having healthy greens slowly decompose in your fridge. Eating fresh, living food is healthiest for you and your family.
Additional Benefits of Gardening Indoors, at Home:
As stated earlier, growing indoors can eliminate the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides in your garden. This is great for your health, and the health of our planet as well.
When growing indoors with hydroponics, we manage temperature and light conditions of our produce 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That means our produce isn’t susceptible to seasonality or unpredictable storms and drought. And this means that we grow more of our food locally, reducing the CO2 intensive practices required to ship produce half-way across the world.
Growing indoors can save even more water as well, by reducing water evaporation from plants on particularly warm or sunny days.
A Note on Power Consumption:
It’s certainly important to recognize that when growing indoors, we are usually using indoor lighting. These lights require power, but fortunately LED technology has a lot to offer in terms of energy savings. The lights that come with the iHarvest® indoor garden, for example only use 36W each when in use. That means that your entire indoor garden is being powered by about as much energy as a traditional, 70W light bulb. That has to be balanced against the fact that we are reducing emissions associated with food waste and transportation of produce halfway across the world, eliminating the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides, reducing water and nutrient consumption and reducing soil erosion.
IGWorks® is excited to watch personal food production grow in popularity, and to be a significant part of that growth. The environmental benefits of growing local, hydroponic food at home are significant, and what is healthy for our environment is also healthy for us.
Let’s Grow Together!