I've been wanting to try this for a while, and Ikea have made it a bit easier by releasing a series of items that allow you to create a DIY indoor hydroponics garden/farm. Last night I picked up a set of items that have allowed to start. The end goal is to have an indoor farm producing strawberries (A bakers favourite fruit...think jam!), though I'm starting a little smaller and more basic.
So...hydroponics. Growing plants without soil. The Ikea sysem uses 2 growing mediums...Starter Plugs (made from stone wool) and pumice stone. Seeds will spend the first 1-2 weeks in the Nursery in a starter plug, and then be transferred to the Cultivation Units where pumice is used. Both growing mediums are suspended in water (with some fertiliser added), and the Cultivation unit has Grow Lights, so they can be placed pretty much anywhere
So, this morning I have started the initial run. I've picked 2 seed types (Pak Choi and White Cabbage) to run through with. Both have similar growing times (approximately 1 week in the Nursery, and then ~6 weeks in the Cultivation Units before harvesting. I've done 15 of each (the projected germination rate for each is 90-92%), and the Nursery (filled with ~5 litres of water) is now sitting on my office window sill, where it will get plenty of light.
1) The grow lights on the Cultivation Units are significantly brighter than I expected. The plan was to have them in my office, however they sort of light the house up...bit of an issue at night. They ned to run for at least 16 hours a day, so I'm going to get a plug timer to turn them off at night (probably 10pm - 6am). The other option is to move them into the garage, or re-arrange the games library and slot them in there, with some type of door.
2) Looking ahead to strawberries, I probably won't be growing from seed, but rather buying rootstock. This is only available in autumn/winter, which gives me some time to tweak the farm. Most commercially grown strawberries are actually done hydroponically already, which is good. I've identified a compact, suitable species (Flamenco, which is whats known as an ever-bearer), which could produce upto 3 crops per plant (from the initial reading I've done, they need to go through a chill period between flowerings, and I'll need to manually pollenate the plants)
Day 1 Photo
They are ready to be moved when there are 2 leaves showing. Expected in 6-7 days for both. I'm hoping that competition for spaces in the Cultivation Unit motivates them go grow well (15 of each type, and only 8 spaces for each in the Cultivator...)