Helery Harend is a senior botanist at Natufia Labs. She has accepted to share with you her precious knowledge in botanics, her practical experience of what can be done and what cannot be done in hydroponics, her many 'tips' to have plants growing better, healthier and tastier and the many properties and good use of those plants that grow in the Natufia Kitchen Garden. Swell gardening and Bon Appetit!
William Frederick Gericke introduced the modern term, hydroponics, to the world in 1937. Growing plants in nutrient and water solution was disputable to his colleagues. He quickly proved their doubts wrong by growing a 7.5 meters high tomato plant using only water and nutrients.
When I started to work at Natufia Labs as a botanist in the beginning of September, I was intrigued by the idea of growing different plants in beautifully lit water cascades. This fully automated kitchen garden is a reliable way of having fresh produce of organic herbs and leafy vegetables within the comfort of your own kitchen throughout the year.
The simplicity and care-free growing of plants that Natufia kitchen garden offers is wonderful. The first step is placing the seeds to a nursery for germination. After the plants and their roots are strong enough, the next step is to transfer the seedlings to the main growing chamber. From there on you can simply enjoy the growing process of plants and wait for the harvest. Machine regulates the amount of light, nutrients, and water, mimicking the natural conditions for optimising the plant growth. This allows you to have fresh produce all year round in your own kitchen.
Hydroponic gardening has many environmental benefits. Hydroponic systems are based on water-nutrient solutions; however, these kinds of systems use only a fraction of the amount of water used in traditional farming. This is because in most hydroponic systems the water is reused. Growing your own leafy vegetables and herbs inside your kitchen allows you to eat the food, which is always fresh and at the peak of its ripeness. This in turn guarantees the best taste, the maximum amount of healthy nutrients, and less food waste. Growing your own food reduces fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emission because no transportation is needed. Hydroponic gardening in general helps to lower deforestation since it uses 50% less land to grow the same amount of crops. Natufia kitchen gardens help to promote urban gardening which does not require additional land use at all. Plants are grown in controlled environment, which allows you to avoid infestation of soil-borne diseases, pests, and fungi. This in turn eliminates the need for chemical sprays and pesticides.
In my opinion having something fresh and organic in so little effort as a part of your kitchen design is an excellent opportunity to explore. Within the last month I have been able to test different seeds and learn a lot about plants’ needs from a different point of view, which is another positive aspect for eager beginners or even experienced traditional plant growers to consider. People (e.g. some of our engineers) who have never witnessed how e.g. lettuce grows can be quite surprised to see it has flowers as well. I have found out that there is an enormous variety of herbs and leafy vegetables you cannot find from your local supermarket; however, are able to grow yourself regardless of the season.
Symbiosis between communication, different occupations, various nations, and one goal is the secret of the Natufia team on the journey to bring you the best, easy to use, environmentally beneficial, and esthetically designed home garden.
HELERY HAREND, MSc
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