There are two kinds of emergencies: short-term emergencies and long-term emergencies. More and more people are starting to think about preparing for long-term emergencies and creating a life-style Plan B that would allow them to carry on in a ‘new normal.’ Dehydrated food plays a big role in short-term emergencies and bridging the gap for a very long time in a “new normal” – however, nobody’s going to argue that fresh vegetables and herbs aren’t going to be an important part of that plan.
We’ve talked about Urban Gardening and farming in its may forms, but hydroponic gardening is an interesting skill you might be interested in learning because it can be done inside – as in, inside a personal shelter if necessary. Hydroponic gardening uses very little water and doesn’t rely on soil, so there are no problems carrying on with your garden if soil becomes contaminated and you’ll be able to use your clean water supply judiciously. Since your hydroponic garden is safely inside, your growing produce is safe from opportunists (both the animal, insect and human varieties).
Hydroponic gardening is a way to grow plants without soil, which means you can use often-wasted vertical space to grow food. Plants are grown with their roots in a mineral nutrient solution or an inert medium, such gravel or coconut husk. Soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir, but the soil itself isn’t necessary to grow a plant. Plants absorb what they need through ions dissolved in water. Interestingly, you can grow almost any plant hydroponically.
You’ll need to make a semi-significant investment in a set up (about $800 should get you started), but once everything is in place, you’ll find that your investment quickly pays for itself.
First, you’ll need to establish a grow room. You’ll want 40 – 60% humidity with good air circulation and a temperature of around 68 – 75 degrees F. Then, you’ll need water with the right pH, so invest in a pH meter and the right nutrients to balance the pH for what your plants need. You might consider starting with a small kit (around $100) and trying your hand at lettuce or herbs before expanding. There are many different growing mediums, types of lighting and irrigation systems so give yourself time to experiment before expanding your operation to a full-blow vegetable farm in the guest bathroom.
Some helpful resources for getting started:
Urban Sunshine (supplies and advice):
Vertigro (expert advice and supplies)
Instructables (good photos and how-to for beginners)