Plants can grow without soil. This fact comes as a surprise to most but is true. In our experiments, we have grown plants in varied mediums including strange ones like old newspapers, cotton, sponge. The image below shows a coriander sapling that we have germinated in common household cleaning sponge. Notice the growth of multiple healthy roots.
To understand how it is possible to grow plants without soil, let us look at the role that soil plays in plant’s growth. The three most important functions that soil play in plant growth are:
- Providing stability to plants. The roots tie themselves to the soil. This helps a plant stay upright and endure adverse environmental conditions like heavy wind and rains.
- Acting as a store house of nutrients. The soil itself does not contain any nutrients. Yet, it acts as a storehouse of nutrients that get added to it naturally – through the atmosphere, weathering of rocks, bacterial conversion, decomposed animal waste etc or artificially – by adding of fertilizers, manures, compost etc.
- Acting as a storehouse of Oxygen. Plant’s roots need oxygen for healthy growth. Soil has many microscopic pores that contain trapped air and assist plants in meeting their Oxygen demand. For the same reason, regular tilling of soil is a good practice that results in healthy plant growth.
In case one can figure out a way of providing stability, Oxygen and nutrients to plants without soil, they can very well grow outside of it. In fact, the growth of plants grown outside soil will be much faster than plants grown in soil because of
- Increased Nutritional Availability: In traditional farming, a major chunk of nutrients or fertilizers added to soil leeches their way into ground water or nearby streams (thus entering into our food chain) rather than being available to plant for its growth. While growing outside of soil, the nutrients are added to plant’s water supply. By recycling this solution, the problem of nutrient loss can be completely eliminated.
- Precise Nutrient Mix: One can measure and add a specific quantity and mix of nutrients to crops grown outside of soil. This results in a greater control over the nutritional value of harvested crops. Also, it can assist in improved color, shape, size, texture, crispness and taste of produce which is not easy to control in traditional farming.
- Oxygen supply: Growing plants outside of soil ensures that roots have a large surface area exposed to air/water at all time. If one makes provision for proper aeration in the root zone, roots receive much more oxygen than what they have received in soil. This further results in improving growth.
Soil is a dense medium and not very soft. Roots end up spending a lot of energy in finding their way through soil. Try pressing your fingers or fist down a few inches inside soil and you will know what I mean. If we eliminate soil, all that energy gets conserved and become available for the plant to use towards its growth there by further reducing the harvest time.
Yet, all these benefits will seem inconsequential when compared to the smile these results will bring on your little ones face.? So, don’t wait, take out your farming gloves and start having fun growing with CG Kitchen Garden.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.