While surges in funding for indoor farm operations has led to truly innovative technology, low-tech farming systems are still easily accessible to the common grower.
From spare room operations to shipping container farms, there’s plenty of options for aspiring farmers to get started.
But if you’re just getting started, you’re probably not ready to pour your savings into a high-tech operation.
If you’re interested in growing your own food at home, you might be wondering what inexpensive, low-tech farming options are available. Luckily, there are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) options.
In this article, we’ll look at some low-tech farming options to start your indoor farm.
Low-Tech Farming Materials
Basic materials you’ll need for your low-tech farming system include a sprouted plant, a growing medium, nutrient solution, and net cups.
Growing mediums include materials like clay pebbles and perlite and act as support for your plants in place of soil.
Nutrient solutions are mixes of nutrients that get combined with water to be fed to plants, providing all the minerals they need to grow.
Purchase net cups online or construct some by cutting slits in the bottom of a plastic, disposable cup.
Wick Hydroponic System
Hydroponic farming uses water and a growing medium rather than soil to grow plants.
A wick system grows plants above a reservoir of water. The wick connects the two and delivers water to the plant.
To create your own, you need a 12-inch cotton string and a clean, empty liter soda bottle.
Cut off the top of the bottle about 8 inches from the bottom.
Drill or puncture a hole in the center of the bottle cap. Then, screw it on tightly.
Place the top of the soda bottle inside the other half so that the cap is pointing down.
Thread the string through the hole in the cap. Half of the string should be in the bottom container and the other half should be in the top container.
Pour enough nutrient water into the bottom container to cover the string.
Fill the top container with the growing medium and transplant a sprouted plant into the top container.
The wick will draw up the water into the growing medium and the plants will absorb its nutrients. This system keeps plants watered without drowning them.
Thirstier plants like tomatoes aren’t well suited to this type of system, and it’s more prone to growing mold. But leafy greens like lettuce and herbs will thrive.
The Kratky Method
The Kratky method is a low-tech farming system that submerges plant roots in water.
In this system, plants receive oxygen from the little space between their netting and the surface of the water. As their roots grow longer and suck up more water, the water levels decrease, and oxygen is released.
Large mason jars, buckets, and tubs are all possible options for creating a Kratky hydroponic system.
When using a bucket or tub, drill holes big enough for the nets in the lids. For mason jars, simply be sure to pick nets that fit snuggly in the opening.
Place the net in the container’s opening. Fill it with growing medium and transplant the sprouted plant into the net.
Combine the nutrient solution and water. Fill the container until the water level is just touching the bottom of the net cup.
Don’t refill until your plants absorb all the water or are ready for harvest. Be sure to leave room at the top for oxygen when refilling.
The stagnant water may attract pests and algae, so use an opaque container or cover and be sure to keep the lid secure.
Leafy greens like lettuce and herbs will grow the best in a Kratky system.
Aquaponics creates a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish. Typically, fish fertilize water, which is pumped to a reservoir that the plants drink from.
As the plants drink, they purify the water, which is then pumped back into the fish tank.
You can make a low-tech system at home without pumps.
You’ll need an aquarium tank, a bubbler, aquarium rocks, fish, and a floating platform. No nutrient solution is needed.
This system requires a delicate balance between fish and plants, so it’s best to start small.
Set up the aquarium as needed for your chosen fish species. Use one fish with a high waste output (like goldfish) and an algae eater. Be sure to use species that can live together harmoniously.
Use a light material like Styrofoam for the platform. The platform should fit lying flat in the aquarium tank.
Cut holes in the platform that will snugly fit the net cups. Fill the cups with the growing medium and a sprouted plant and place them in the platform holes.
Place the platform on the surface of the water.
Aquaponic systems can be tricky to make work. Closely monitor the pH levels of the water to ensure both your plants’ and fish’s survival.
Once you’ve gotten a taste of home-grown food, you won’t be able to stop!
Indoor farming can be a great way to improve your own health, but also to start a business.
If you’re ready for high-tech, better farming systems, visit our website or call us at 602-753-9469 to learn more about how you can start container farming.