Unconventional Agriculture: Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Vertical Farming
America has some serious food supply and agriculture issues. The ongoing supply chain issues, geopolitics, and inflation prices are enough to make anyone want to grow their own food.
When you add in “random” factory fires and government legislation putting hard-working American farmers out of business, there is even more reason to start growing your own food.
But most Americans don’t have acres of farmland to produce what’s needed to feed the family.
There is good news – you don’t have to have acres to grow your own food.
There are several unconventional agricultural methods that have made it possible for Americans to grow their own food – even those living in urban apartments!
And even smaller spaces. According to Future Planet, “Astronauts on the International Space Station, for example, are growing their own food in soilless systems under LED lights – with cabbage, mizuna mustard, lettuce, and kale among the crops on the menu.”
Unconventional agriculture methods allow individuals to farm indoors without soil and achieve great results.
Hydroponic gardening is a means of growing plants without soil using nutrient-rich water.
With this system, you place plants in a net pot (a plastic container with a perforated bottom) that contains a growing medium, such as pebbles or fiber. The roots of the plants go through the perforated holes and are exposed to nutrient-rich water.
With hydroponic gardening, you can grow greens, herbs, and fruiting plants indoors year-round.
Hydroponic gardening takes up much less space than traditional gardening, but the plants grow faster and have better yields.
[Related Read: 72 Hours from Chaos – Why You Need Seeds]
Aquaponics is an agricultural method that combines aquaculture and hydroponics.
Aquaculture is raising fish in a controlled environment. Hydroponics is growing in water without soil.
So, the two combined mean gardening using fish.
The water where the plant roots reach is filled with fish. Fish waste makes a perfect fertilizer for plants.
The Aquaponic Source explains, “Aquaponics is putting fish to work. It just so happens that the work those fish do (eating and producing waste), is the perfect fertilizer for growing plants. And man, fish can grow a lot of plants when they get to work! One of the coolest things about Aquaponics is that it mimics a natural ecosystem.”
While you may think you have to use aquaponics outdoors, that isn’t the case.
You can do aquaponic gardening virtually anywhere – kitchen countertops, basements, backyard gardens, etc.
One of the reasons preppers are looking to aquaponics is because it leads to true self-sufficiency. It enables you to harvest both fish and plants from your garden.
There has been a lot of talk about vertical farming in recent years because it is proving to be very effective.
Essentially, vertical farming is when crops are grown on top of each other vertically, as opposed to growing in horizontal rows.
As a result, vertical farming takes up much less space but produces even higher crop yields.
Another bonus to vertical gardening is that it makes it possible to grow indoors, year-round.
The key is a combination of hydroponics and controlled environmental agriculture (i.e., where the light, temperature, water, and carbon dioxide are controlled).
The combination of hydroponics, controlled environmental agriculture, and virtual crops enables people to build lush gardens anywhere.
As Future Planet explains, “There is no strict definition of what a vertical farm is, but they typically consist of shallow trays stacked within a building, lit with LED lighting at each level. Many vertical farms have no windows, and some are even built underground.”
Getting Started with Hydroponics and Unconventional Agriculture
As you may have noticed, each of these unconventional gardening techniques begins with hydroponics (or gardening without soil).
You can start hydroponic gardening at home with a DIY system.
Here’s an easy-to-follow guide for building a hydroponic gardening system from The Spruce.
- Opaque bucket or basin for water reservoir
- Hydroponic fertilizer (dry or liquid)
- Air stone and pump
- Styrofoam sheet
- Seedlings in net pots with a growing medium
- Grow light (optional)
- Set Up the Water Reservoir – Fill the reservoir container with water and fertilizer based on your plant's requirements.
- Aerate the Water – Place the aeration system (such as an aquarium bubbler) in the water and connect to an air pump outside the reservoir. The pump pushes air through the stone, which blows out tiny bubbles to distribute oxygen through the water.
- Set Up Your Growing Raft – Cut a floating Styrofoam platform to fit inside the top of the reservoir. Cut holes to insert net pots. The roots will need to be in contact with the reservoir water.
- Set Up a Light Fixture – If you are not using natural light, you need a light fixture.
You can make it even easier to get started with hydroponic gardening by investing in My Patriot Supply’s 4-Tray Seed Sprouter. This sprouting tray is uniquely designed with hydroponic irrigation. It also allows for vertical gardening with its easy-to-stack trays. You can stack up to ten trays per drain base.
To add variety and grow an entire countertop garden, consider the 4-Tray Seed Sprouter Set & Sprouting Seeds Starter Kit. Along with the uniquely designed hydroponic sprouting tray, you also get 5 full-size packages of sprouting seeds, including organic protein powerhouse sprouting seeds, 4-part salad mix sprouting seeds, alfalfa sprouting seeds, broccoli sprouting seeds, and bean salad mix sprouting seeds.
[Related Read: Sprouting 101: From Benefits to Growing Tips]
When you are ready to take your hydroponic gardening to the next level and ensure you keep your garden growing year after year, add Patriot Seeds’ Survival Heirloom Seed Vault to your gardening supplies.
As you begin your journey into unconventional agriculture, remember that it is also important to keep supplemental long-term emergency food on hand.
While these new types of gardening aren’t impacted by the weather, there still may be disasters (such as earthquakes) that leave you without access to your gardening systems for some time.
Start soil-free growing, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply
- Tags: Emergency Meal Prep, Food Preparedness, Food Shortages, Self-Reliance, Survival Skills, Water Preparedness
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