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Growing Produce at Home With Limited Space: Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted on January 27, 2023

Vertical Farming MFG TrayBetween recent inflation and ongoing news of harmful herbicides, many people have gravitated toward the idea of gardening and growing produce at home. It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s rewarding.

But few people have the space to grow a substantial amount of produce at home—at least in the traditional way.

On an industrial scale, the concept of vertical farming appeared around the turn of the millennium thanks to Dr. Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University. But more recently, this eco-friendly agriculture solution has caught the eye of sustainably-minded people looking to gain more control over their sources of food.

If you’re interested in learning more about gardening at home and saving space, MFG Tray can help. In this post, we’ll explore what vertical farming is exactly, learn about its benefits, and provide the best sources for adapting the concept to your home garden.

What is Vertical Farming?

Vertical farming is a farming practice wherein farmers stack plants vertically on shelves or inside tall pillars. The plants are kept in enclosed, controlled environments, allowing for optimal growth regardless of the surrounding conditions.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) replace sunlight, and a hydroponic, aquaponic, or aeroponic system replaces rainwater and soil nutrients. Through a controlled-environment, growers can optimize plant growth, eliminate the use of pesticides, and grow foods not native to the area.

While it may sound futuristic, you can adapt the idea of vertical farming to your home garden.

Getting Started with Vertical Gardening

Getting started with vertical gardening can be simple. With a modest investment in equipment, you can have plants sprouting in no time. To get started:

  1. Consider What You’d Like to Grow

Our recommendation: Start with three to six varieties of plants. Beyond that, it may be overwhelming to remember their individual growing requirements. Considering your plant section first will also help you determine if you have enough space to make it worthwhile.

  1. Consider Your Trays, Flats, and Planters

Next, you’ll need to look into purchasing trays, flats, and planters. Look for high-strength, dimensionally stable, and stackable options to ensure your containers don’t sag or warp from the weight of your crops. We highly recommend investing in a glass fiber-reinforced plastic composite option for your trays, flats, planters, and seed trays.

  1. Shelving and Organization

Third, you’ll want to consider how to organize your plants. There are a variety of multi-tiered garden shelves with a light system built in. However, if you already have a shelving system you like, you may be able to hang lights from each shelf and create your own lighting setup. We recommend looking at fluorescent and LED grow light options.

The Benefits of Vertical Gardening at Home

The benefits of vertical gardening and farming at home are extensive. From our reduced impact on the environment to our improved mental health, stacking up some vegetation indoors can do a lot of good.

  1. Enhance Your Diet

Vertical gardening can provide you with a healthy supply of herbs, microgreens, and lefty greens. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. With a steady supply of greenery in your diet, you can reduce inflammation, lessen the risk of obesity, and combat high blood pressure.

  1. Lower Your Stress

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that gardening can reduce stress. While much of this research was conducted in outdoor settings, many of the benefits should roll over to vertical gardening. For instance, seeing and eating something you grew yourself can boost your self-esteem. Moreover, learning new skills and having hobbies are good for your memory.

  1. Save/Make Some Money

The beauty of a vertical garden is that it takes up very little space. Whether you set it up in a closet or the corner of your basement, you can grow a substantial amount of grub.

Growing your own food can save you a lot of money at the grocery store. For instance, inflation and increased demand sent romaine lettuce prices up 61 percent at the beginning of 2022! Beyond saving at the store, you can sell your produce to friends and family or get yourself a booth at a local farmers market.

  1. Conserve Water

Water consumption is a big problem in the U.S. Each day, Americans use between 80 to 100 gallons of water. What’s more concerning is that 70 percent of the world’s water currently goes to agriculture. But vertical farming uses 95 percent less water than traditional farming!

  1. Reduced Chemicals

With a perfectly controlled environment, you can reduce (or eliminate) the use of nitrate-filled fertilizers and “plant food.” More importantly, you won’t need to use herbicides or pesticides. And, let’s face it, fewer chemicals in and around your food is healthier for you and the environment.

Best Plants to Grow with a Vertical Garden

Some people are getting really creative with the plants they’re growing in their vertical gardens. However, there are a few standbys that grow exceptionally well indoors. If you’re just getting started, consider planting:

  • Basil
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Chard
  • Chives
  • Cilantro/Coriander
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (e.g., arugula, butterhead, red leaf lettuce, etc.)
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Spinach

If you have a substantial amount of space, you can experiment with other crops beyond leafy greens, herbs, and microgreens. Depending on how much space you have, you may also want to experiment with tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggplant.

Further, for vertical farmers in states such as Colorado, Oregon, or Washington, marijuana has also become a popular home crop. Lastly, many gardeners get their landscaping plants started indoors to ensure they’re hearty enough to make it in the elements once transplanted.

Your Source for Vertical Gardening Products

MFG Tray’s vertical farming products deliver exceptional durability and performance for your indoor gardening needs. Unlike plastic trays, flats and planters, our glass-reinforced composite products won’t corrode, bend, or contaminate your produce. They’re also easy to clean and sanitize, are resistant to odors, and can be used for years of growing. Of course, they’re also easy to stack, making them perfect for gardening at home with limited space.

Please visit our vertical farming page to see where you can purchase MFG Tray’s products. Should you need a vertical gardening solution that is completely customized for your setup, you can always reach out!

 

THE MATERIAL MATTERS

Leading manufacturer of high-strength, glass-reinforced composite containers, trays, boxes, flats and totes for material handling in the metal working, plastics and electronics assembly industries, as well as in food service, confectionery and pharmaceutical processing.

MFG Tray continually develops customized solutions for specific material-handling challenges and applications. Customers are encouraged to contact MFG Tray to discuss any unique handling and design requirements.

 

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