Growing your own food at home is one of lifes greatest pleasures. But it can easily start to take up so much space. It quickly started to take over my kitchen so I had to find a solution, that’s when I stumbled upon vertical farming.
So, what is vertical farming? Vertical farming is growing food, stacked vertically to save space. You could say it’s a plant skyscraper. The primary purpose of this method of farming is to produce the maximum amount of crops in the smallest amount of space. Thanks to this, it’s thought to be a solution to the worlds food shortage issue and is often used alongside hydroponics.
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 the benefits of vertical farming and everything else associated with it.
Vertical Farming Benefits
There’s plenty of reasons you should start vertical farming. Ranging from simple things such as saving space, down to environmental factors like saving lots of water. Plus there are so many different foods you can grow. If you’re looking to grow organic foods, then Seeds Now has a fantastic range of seed options for you. But there’s others too, so let’s break down exactly what the the benefits are and why.
- Saves Space – Vertical farmings primary benefits is that it saves space. If you live in an urban area then this is one of the mains reasons you should start. You can use any corner of your home, for example you could have a stack of herbs growing in your kitchen. This is also the main reason behind the claims that it has the potential to solve the world hunger problem.
- Saves Water – Not only does it save space, but it also saves a huge amount of water. In fact, it’s known to save up to 95% of water in comparison to regular farming methods. This is mainly due to it using recycled water, so any excess drips down to the plants below. Also, it’s quite common for vertical farms to incorporate aeroponics or hydroponics which assist massively in the water saving benefit.
- Controlled Environment – Having full control over the environment allows you to give your plants exactly what they need. Your plants will not be exposed to the usual fluctuations in the weather and thus you’ll have less plants dying off. It’s easy to make adjustments to cater for any issues such as a lack of humidity.
- Increased Food Output – As it saves space and it’s in a controlled environment, that makes it perfect for producing more plants, quicker. Making use of unused space by stacking plants means you’ll be able to create much more than you originally thought. Also, controlling the environment means you will have your plants ready for consumption in no time. Which leads onto a hot topic regarding vertical farming, the world hunger problem.
Can Vertical Farming Solve World Hunger?
With one of the primary benefits being that it has the potential to solve the world hunger problem, how exactly can it do this?
Vertical farming can solve world hunger problems and there’s a multitude of reasons for that. First, the fact that it takes up much less space than traditional farming methods. Meaning that there could potentially be “skyscraper” farms. Also, as the plants are grown in a controlled environment there’s much less chance of the crops dying from disease or unpredictable weather. Finally, it uses 95% less water than traditional farming methods so it could even be done in some of the most arid locations. To summarize it, more food will be produced with much less resources.
Now we’ve gone through all the benefits of what vertical farming can bring. You’re probably thinking what the cost associated is with this, keep reading to find out.
Vertical Farming At Home CostsNow this is something that can vary massively depending on your goals. Obviously for industrial scale setups you could end up spending millions. However, as we’re just focusing on vertical farming at home, let’s break the costs down for that. Obviously when having a setup like this, there’s two main costs. The equipment cost, and the cost of maintaining it.
Equipment CostsThe initial outlay can be quite substantial for a home vertical farming setup. It can be as low as $50 or all the way up to $599 if you’re wanting the best equipment to get started. You could potentially spend more depending on your ambitions but these are the typical costs for a beginners setup. But the Garden Tower 2 is one of the best vertical farms available at the moment, with room for 50 plants. It’s also got a built in compost container.
Running CostsNow, the running costs again vary depending on the initial setup you went for. There are some options, usually on the lower end of the scale that have no ongoing running costs except the water/fertilizer for your plants. If you’re really want to keep the costs down, and provide better water for your plants, then there are rain barrel’s such as this one by the Garden Tower Project team. However, if you’re opting for a fully automatic setup then there will be the 24/7 electricity running costs. On the flipside though, it will work out much cheaper in the long run than buying vegetables from your local store. Plus it’ll provide you with much more nutritious produce.
What Can You Grow With Vertical Farming?
There’s plenty of variety when it comes to growing plants vertically. You can grow anything from vegetables right down to succulents, there’s no limitations. Some plants that do exceptionally well are ones that thrive in humidity such as the spider plant as it’s easier to create a humid environment in a vertical farm.
But the main intention with vertical farms generally is to grow edible food. It gives you the space and environment to be able to bring crops that are usually only suitable for outdoors, indoors. A great example of this is broccoli, it’s notoriously difficult to grow indoors as they love light. But that’s not the case with an indoor vertical farm setup. The indoor lighting the higher end setups provide is more than enough than the minimum brocolli needs.
Here’s some great examples of some vegetables/fruit you could grow if you vertically farm in your home:
How Does Vertical Farming At Home Work?
There’s a few different things that are make a vertical farm work. To start with the basics, there has to be a tiered element to the farm otherwise it’s not “vertical farming”. This is where the premise of vertical farming begins. The notion of this method requires there to be these tiered layers in order to save space. By building up rather than across, this allows you to save space in your home and create much more surface area to grow plants on.
So that’s the basic layout. Now let’s get into the details on how it actually works. Each tier will have a set of lights to simulate daylight. These are usually on a timer system to help simulate the natural circadian cycle. A common thing people mistakenly think is that it’s fine to have 24/7 light on your plants, this will cause your plants to quickly die without periods of darkness.
Next comes the watering system. This can come in various forms depending on how much you’ve spent on your equipment.
On the top end of the scale you’ll find an aquaponic setup. This involves using fish to create a natural mini ecosystem. Fish in the water fertilize the water, this is very beneficial for the plants health. In return, the plants filter the water for the fish, creating a balanced ecosystem.
Next on the list is aeroponics, it’s also next in terms of price. Like in the photo below, these setups usually consist of pipes under the plants. These pipes then spray fine mists, packed full of nutritents, directly onto the roots of the plants. One of the major benefits to this growing system is that there is no soil involved. This gives it much more room for scalability, especially considering the weight that soil usually adds.
Hydroponics is the most common method for home vertical farms. It’s usually cheaper than the other 2 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.
Finally, standard watering, this method is only typical with the cheapest of setups but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. You can simply use a watering can and water the top plants. The excess water will then seep down and feed the below plants, but you need to ensure that they’re getting sufficient water on the lower levels.
Vertical Farming & The Environment
There’s so much hope around vertical farming and the impact it could have on our environment. One of the main concerns at the moment is how quickly we are losing agricultural land due to climate change. At the rate we are going, there isn’t a great deal of time left to sort it out. That’s where vertical farming might be able to save us.
How does vertical farming help the environment? Vertical farming helps the environment in multiple ways. First of all it saves approximately 249 litres of water to grow a crop like lettuce in comparison to being grown in an open field. Also, it allows to increase our yield massively by using much less land area than traditional methods.
So, you now know it saves a huge amount of water. How exactly does it save so much water? Vertical farming saves water by reusing a lot of the water involved in the growing process. There’s much less water lost to evaporation than traditional growing methods. Also, some vertical farms spray nutrient dense mists of water directly onto the crops roots. This saves a huge amount of water.
There’s quite a few common questions that we get asked when it comes to vertical farms, see if yours is answered here. If not, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.
Are Home Vertical Farms Profitable?
Any home vertical farm setup can be profitable. You can sell your produce to neighbours, family or friends. They’ll love the fresh, organic taste of your crops. Remember when trying to make something profitable, you need to factor in all the costs involved.
Is It Easy To Setup A Vertical Farm At Home?
Setting a vertical farm up at home couldn’t be easier. Of course, it depends on which type you go for but the most basic setups can be ready to go within 20 minutes.