I currently have plenty of room to grow things but it was not always this way. I have spent plenty of time living in apartments and small quarters. The purpose of this method of growing food is to make it possible for anybody, even apartment dwellers, to grow food. How much will this five layer shelf system produce? More than you can eat. Prove me wrong. Once full, this much production can yield produce every day of the year. It take planning and practice but once you get the hang of it, it will be cheaper and more convenient than going to the grocery store.
Storing food is wise but it is only a temporary solution that delays the inevitable. We all need to be food producers. You don’t need to grow everything you eat but grow something. This apartment garden will meet all of your produce needs. By growing microgreens and hydroponics that get harvested many times over before replanting, you can produce food that is far cheaper and more nutrient dense than what you get from the store.
The Grow Rack
The purpose of this grow rack is to grow 1020 size trays of microgreens and hydroponic greens. Using the "cut and come again" method, things like lettuce can be harvested many time before they need to be replanted. Microgreens take around 7-10 days with the first 3 days spent stacked in the dark.
I have not found a source other than Amazon for these shelf units. If you know of any, let me know.
Where to buy
I use 1020 trays with 18 hole covers that hold 2" net pots. I have been getting these from Bootstrap Farmer:
18 Hole Tray Covers
Heavy Duty 1020 Trays
Using these trays and thin LED lights allows me to stack them five layers high with the top shelf only being used to mount lights and for storage.
I cut the light diffusers off to increase the downward light pattern. These shave off quite easily with a sharp knife.
Here is a source for this type of light. They are not grow lights but I feel that due to their much higher production volume, you get more bang for your buck.
Where to buy
These light can be wired in various ways.
I have them wired so that each shelf is on a switch plugged into the first light. The next three lights are daisy-chained in series.
I have tried this on home-made shelves, tables, counter tops and on the ground. I have used pots sitting in water, gutter watering methods, automated pump hydroponics, aquaponics with fish. I have found more ways to fail than I care to admit. This method is for home use and I feel quite sure that it is more time efficient than pump operated hydroponic setups. Large scale operations definitely work better with pumps and automation but at this home scale, when you are harvesting the plants daily, it is so easy to add extra nutrient water to the hydroponic trays every week or so.
Stay tuned for more details on the hydroponic trays and microgreen growing methods.