Since grade 1 we were taught that a plant needs soil, water, and sunlight to grow. But never did we ask if one of these elements was exchanged. The pH value of water keeps changing, whereas the sunlight remains constant. But what if we change or remove the element of Soil completely? Can we still grow the plants without Soil? Especially when doing Rooftop Farming? One of the most important factors to consider when planting your Rooftop garden in a grow bag or container is when to plant and in what type of Growing Medium. This helps the plants flourish with the right Growing Medium, Water, and Sunlight.
The answer is YES. but how? The Living Greens Organics Pvt. Ltd. helps you to explore the unexplored. This article emphasizes on the benefits Soil-less Rooftop Farming over Soil-Based Farming. The article also talks about the essential components and parameters for growing plants without Soil.
Weight on Rooftop
The roof of the house is strong enough to hold a certain amount of weight and hence when a constant load of more than 20 kgs per sqr. ft., the strength of the rooftop decreases drastically. Therefore, when pursuing Rooftop Farming, the factor of weight plays a very important role. A soil-based medium can weigh more than 20 kgs/sqr ft. whereas, the soil-less medium offered by The Living Greens weighs less than 12 kgs/sqr ft. This not only meeting the criteria of weight but also helping in harvesting large quantities of organic produce.
Porosity of Growing Medium
The better the water seeps, the better the plant would reap. The criteria of porosity plays an important role in the growth of the plants. If the growing medium is porous then not only will it allow greater Circulation of Air in the Root Zone but will also allow Faster Drainage of extra water. A soil-based medium has a low porosity and drainage level, due to the small particle size of soil. The Soil-less medium offered by The Living Greens, holds higher porosity and excellent drainage levels.
Drainage System of Growing Medium
Keeping a check of the porosity, the drainage system also needs to be on point to help the plant grow. If the drainage of the medium and the container is not efficient, extra water will collect in the Root Zone of the Vegetable plants causing Root and Stem Rot Diseases. Bad drainage is a problem with the soil-based medium as it causes Water-Retention in the Root Zone. This leads to the plant’s death due to root/stem rot. On the other hand, The Living Greens soil-less medium holds excellent drainage capacity, thus causing the roots to develop faster.
Formation of Hard Crust on Top Layer
The top layer of the soil is the nutrient rich layer, and serves as the gate keeper to let the water seep-in. The hard crust formed on the top layer obstructs the passage of air and water to the roots, and ultimately affects the plant. The hard crust formation is very frequent on a soil-based medium, hence hoeing must be done frequently. The soil-less medium of The Living Greens restricts the formation of hard crust thus ensuring easier passage of air and water to the roots.
Need for Re-Potting
Compactness of the Soil at the bottom of the plant leads to emptying of the pot/grow bag for re-plantation. This process is called Re-potting as it obstructs the growth of the roots. When growing a plant in a soil-based material, Re-potting is done at least twice a year because compaction happens due to small particle size. In the soil-less medium offered by The Living Greens, no replacement or re-potting needs to be done at anytime.
Ease of Deep Hoeing
Hoeing not only ensures losing of the growing medium to ensure easy passage of air and water to the roots, but it also helps faster evaporation in case of over-irrigation. As the soil at the bottom of the plant forms hard crust, it is difficult to do deep hoeing in soil-based medium . Whereas, in a soil-less medium, it is very easy to do deep hoeing. So easy, that one can do it with hands also.
Presence of Microbial Cultures along with Organic Carbon
Apart from the already present nutrients in the soil, the microbial bacteria too play an important role in the growth of the plant. But the quantity in which they are present differ in the soil-based and soil-less mediums. In the soil-based mediums, macro nutrients are high whereas, the microbial cultures are completely absent. The Living Greens offers Abundant population of microbial cultures, along with high Organic Carbon Content. The microbial cultures keep increasing due to the ideal aerobic conditions in the soil-less medium. Plants do not “directly” absorb nutrients that are applied to the growing medium. They need microbial cultures to “solubilize” these nutrients and convert them into “available” form.
Presence of pH stabilizers
Like it is important to maintain the acidic/basic or the pH level of the water, it is equally important that the pH of the Soil is also maintained such that it supports better growth of the plant. As the medium grows old, its pH gets dis-balanced. Having a balanced pH is extremely crucial for faster absorption of the nutrients by the roots. A soil-based medium does not use any pH stabilizers. The Living Greens offers Soil-Less Medium that contain two types of pH stabilizers which ensures that the pH continues to stay balanced as the medium grows older.
Presence of chelates
These are Micro-Nutrient Fertilizers that supply Iron, Manganese, Copper, and Zinc to the plants. A soil-based medium does not use Chelates whereas, Soil-less Medium uses EDTA as a Chelate.
Presence of Organic Nematicides and Termiticides
Nematodes are tiny worms that enter the roots, create “knots” and cut off the oxygen supply to the roots. For the Termiticides, if the termite eggs are present in the growing medium, then they will hatch and the whole container will be full of termites. A soil-less medium uses Bio-Nematicides and Termiticides as BCA (Bio Control Agents) whereas the soil-based medium of The Living Greens has no traces of Organic Nematicides or Termiticides.
Besides being Free of Disease and other Contaminants, The Living Greens has blended ingredients for preferred drainage, Water Retention, and airspace. As it is important to take care of all the members of the family, it is equally important that to take care of the growing Medium for the plants.