Climate change, soil degradation, water table contamination, transport congestion. These are only a few of the many reasons why it is becoming more important to look for sustainable alternatives to farming.
Ridge View Secondary College with be focusing on setting up several hydroponic gardens starting with a simple indoor herb garden and then progressing to more advance forms including Recirculating Deep Water Culture and Nutrient Film Technique setups.
We aim to keep these configurations as simple as possible, and provide DIY instructions, so that these gardens can be replicated at home and in the community by anyone that is interested.
Stage One – Indoor seeding starter/ herb garden
An indoor seed starter/herb garden provides a number of benefits to the college including;
- The ability to grow our own herbs and starter fruit& veg plants all year round for use in home economics classes.
- All organic, provided organic fertilises are used.
- No pesticides or unnecessary chemicals.
- No wasted water or fertilisers, as they will not be discarded into the ground and can be utilised for the following batch.
- No transportation costs from the shop to the college.
- Increased plant yield and decreased time to grow as a result of controlled optimal conditions.
Some of the negatives in this system:
- Power used for lighting, which will be offset by the large solar array on the colleges roof top.
- Initial cost and resources used for the project, which will lead to a positive return in the long term.
- Rockwool cubes, while being environmentally friendly, do become damaged over time and will require replacement after several uses. Other mediums have been considered for future use, however, due to ease of use we have decided to use it to keep the project simple during the initial implementation.
We have purchased the following:
We have chosen the Rack IT 400 kg system from Bunnings, these shelves come in a variety of sizes, are adjustable, can sustain an adequate amount of weight, are rust resistant and can be added to length wise should we choose to expand the system in the future. https://rack-it.com.au/rack-it-400kg-wall/
We have started with a cheap and basic digital power timer from Bunnings. This will co-ordinate the time the lighting system will turn on in the mornings and turn off at the end of the day to ensure they seedlings are always under the optimal lighting conditions. More advanced timers can also track power consumption, which can help to understand power requirements if you plan on utilising a solar array, which is outside the scope of our current project.
We have chosen a green house seedling tray from Bunnings. These will allow adequate spacing between plants and improved humidity conditions for optimal seedling growth. https://www.bunnings.com.au/saxon-mini-green-house-with-seed-tray_p2960182
Rockwool cubes can be purchased from bunnings also, however we have chosen to purchase in bulk online to reduce costs on a disposable item. https://www.aquagardening.com.au/grodan-rockwool-98-cube-slab