Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winter gardening-A new approach in Finland

Urban gardening has been and still a hot topic in many western countries where farmer population is showing a declining trend. Even in a country like China there are suburban gardens created on a cooperative principles where urbanites can invest on a small plot, few kilometers from the city and such cooperatives are offering its urban members an opportunity to visit during the week ends to do some gardening operations themselves to feel the thrill of being a "part time farmer"! Added to this the members have the luxury to have freshly harvested produce raised without using any chemicals. While such options can be understandable what will an urbanite in a country like Finland do when most of the time the weather is hostile being too cold to raise any crops. Here comes a new initiative from an entrepreneurial pioneer for growing a few crops with no soil needed at all. This is a welcome news worth pursuing for people in tropical countries who are novices in cold climate gardening. Here is a source from which further information can be gleaned. 

"Harsh, cold winters and scarce arable land make growing crops a challenge in Finland. A team of entrepreneurs hailing from the icy nordic nation believe this gives them a certain authority when it comes to growing crops indoors. Launched on Indiegogo yesterday, the team's Plantui Plantation hydroponic smart garden is aimed at giving urban green thumbs the capability to raise almost any kind of plant indoors, up two meters (6.6 ft) in height. Smart gardens and automated growing are not a new concept. Back in May we reviewed the Click and Grow Smart Herb Garden, while other efforts include the MEG Greenhouse and the Edyn monitoring system for the outdoors. Even Plantui itself is not new to the blossoming world of in-house agriculture, with its Smart Garden, the Plantation's predecessor, hitting the market in parts of Europe last year. The original Plantui Smart Gardens are soil-free capsules that use intelligent lighting and watering systems to raise plants through the germination, seedling and harvesting stages. Depending on the progress of the plant, 18 LED lights adjust in intensity and the irrigation feeds various amounts of water to the roots. The company says these methods replicate those used in professional Finnish greenhouses. The latest iteration, the Plantui Plantation, takes this concept and scales it up to accommodate a wider range of plants. The new version measures 45 cm (17.7 in) in diameter with an adjustable height of 28 to 200 cm (11 to 78 in), and can host crops including tomatoes, chillies, peppers and cucumbers. Also improved is the level of control over the maturation of the plants. While the device can automatically adjust water and light according to the plant's growth, it allows the user to manipulate these settings to shape the final product. The company points to the ability of different parts of the light spectrum to affect the taste and height of the harvested plants. Favoring a red spectrum over blue, for example, might induce mild, intense or peppery flavors, while red will give rise to taller plants. The Plantui Plantation is powered by a wall outlet and is said to use around 120 kWh of energy per year. Twelve plants can be grown in each of the capsules, with the estimated time to harvest ranging from 35 days for a crop of bok choy to 150 days for four chilli plants. Early pledges of US$250 will see a Plantui Plantation shipped your way in March 2015, along with 16 types of seedlings including pok choy, thai basil, coriander and tomato. For this to eventuate, the team will need to reach its somewhat lofty fundraising goal of $500,000 and have the rest of its campaign go as planned."

Though limited in its scale of operation the new technology requiring limited space is based on hydroponics and green house facilities with temperature and light control provisions to raise different crops. Its convenience and ease of operation can be gauged from the fact that ready capsules are available with designs suiting different crops. All one has to do is order for these capsules along with the seeds depending on what is to be grown. Low requirement of energy, hardly 120 units of electricity from a wall outlet for the entire year is indeed remarkable. Imagine one's ability to raise a bok choy crop in 35 days and the ease with which the crop can be harvested as when needed in the kitchen! Such novel ways of crop raising must be introduced in India also where temperature drop is phenomenal between November and February each year across most of northern India..    


No comments: