Indoor Microgreens Landscaping

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Indoor Microgreens Landscaping

Growing Microgreens for Nutrition, Food Security and as a Design Element in Indoor Landscaping

M. Kamakshi Kanchana,

Asst. Professor Architect, B.Design (I.D)

Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, SPA Hyderabad, India

Abstract Microgreens are high in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. They are simple to grow and provide a quick reward to the grower, with a harvest period of one to two weeks. Sprouts and microgreens are an important part of the Indian diet and have long been used to help strengthen weak and sick children and adults. Growing microgreens can act as a buffer to alleviate the scarcity of fresh food caused by natural disasters, pandemic-related lockdowns, and war-like situations. With severe space constraints and urbanisation, as well as a lack of arable land near cities, there is serious concern for sustainable supply and affordable prices. When grown in urban households, it can supplement the food basket and reduce the overall food cost and food miles that normal food takes to reach the dining table. In this paper, very cost-effective techniques to grow microgreens with readymade hardware available in the markets and also use of recycled paper are presented. Indoor landscape design ideas incorporating microgreens are proposed not only as an aesthetic component but also as a functional design to produce food and offer a viable food source alternative to lower income families. Working prototypes and experimental results are reported alongside design ideas.

Keywords Food Miles, Interior Landscape, Growing Microgreens, Nutritional value of Microgreens, Sprouts, Urban Food Security.

1 INTRODUCTION

Microgreens are recent addition to our food basket as an exotic ingredient is salads and other recipes. Sprouts were traditional used in India and China as food supplement for children, sick and aged adults. Extensive multi-disciplinary research is being carried out in this area to understand overall benefits. Angelica Galieni and co-authors in their research (Galieni, Falcinelli, Stagnari, Datti, & Benincasa, 2020/09/21) found that Sprouts and Microgreens can be safely grown at home for human consumption without any fear of pathogenic bacterial contamination by taking simple precautions. Simon Okomo Aloo et al in their research paper enunciated the health benefits of sprouts (Aloo, Ofosu, Kilonzi, Shabbir, & Oh, 2021).

In India fruits and vegetables travel anywhere between 100 KM to 2000KM before they reach the consumer (Paulrajan, 2010). Consumer pays heavy price towards the transportation costs. Natural calamities, pandemic like situations, war and political unrest can cause severe disruption to movement of goods and can lead to serious price escalation and food scarcity.

Urbanization and lack of arable land near cities has drastically increased the food miles impacting lower income families. Nutritional considerations and economic considerations have given impetus to grow food in cities to increase the food safety. Food Share Toronto a non-profit organization has published a manual to grow sprouts and microgreens for the benefit of urban communities (Foodshare, 2002). Food and Drug Administration Government of US has issued guidelines for the human consumption safety of sprouts (FDA, 2017). This paper discusses the techniques of growing microgreens at home with standard components and hardware available in the market. It also proposes the designs to use microgreens as part of interior landscape not only for the functional purpose of growing food but also as an element of aesthetics and recreation. Prototypes are designed and experimental results are reported. Design are simple and assembled through components locally available. The idea is to inculcate DIY-do it yourself spirit and encourage households to grow microgreens.

2 DESIGN OF CONTAINERS TO GROW MICROGREENS

In this section, design of the containers to grow microgreens is presented. The design philosophy is to use readily available market, low cost, recycling of material and cost effectiveness. Emphasis is placed on the fact to make it simple so that anyone without prior experience can build these components.

    1. Double tray system

      Commonly available plastic trays and small tubs are the basic components in building a simple double tray system. Stainless steel mesh that is available in the market is purchased and cut to size. In this design, the bottom side of the tray is cut using a knife and steel mesh is glues to the top tray using epoxy resin-based adhesive. The top tray is for placing the sprouting seeds and the bottom tray is to hold the water. Double tray system is a dry and clean system without any water spillage outside the unit as bottom tray collects the excess water. Double tray system becomes natural choice to place on table tops and kitchen counters without creating wet surfaces around. On the top germination tray experiments were conducted using a thin layer of

      cocopeat, wood saw dust, kitchen paper towel and just without any base. All combinations have worked and there was no change in the growth or harvest time.

      Figure 1 Double tray system

    2. Recycled plastic containers

      Plastic containers are extensively used for take away food from restaurants and to pack ready to eat food items like instant noodles. As these containers are not bio degradable, they cause environmental pollution issues. Re-use of them to grow microgreens and using hem for several years will reduce the burden of disposing them.

      Commonly available plastic containers are taken and with a sharp big size needle few perforations for drain holes are made and these containers can be placed on a plastic tray to grow microgreens.

    3. Small bucket system

      Figure 2 Recycling waste plastic cups

      In this arrangement, common size plastic bucket (13 litre) is taken and steel mesh is cut to size and carefully pushed into the bucket as upper compartment to grow microgreens. Used plastic paint cans, plastic grocery containers can also be used to grow microgreens.

    4. Coconut shell system

      Figure 3 Using Plastic buckets as containers for growing Microgreens

      Coconut shell is taken the kernel is removed. Coconut shell has three black spots. The three "holes" are the result of the 3 carpels in coconut flowers, and three carpels is typical of the family Arecaceae (Palms). The "holes" are actually germination pores, where one is usually functional and the other two are plugged. The new coconut shoot will emerge from the functional, open, germination pore. Carpel is poked with a sharp knife and make a drain hole . Coconut shell is placed on a plastic tray or bucket designed in section 2.3 to grow microgreens.

      Figure 4 Coconut Shell potters

    5. Recycled paper pot containes

      Waste papers and newspapers are soaked and water and made into paper pulp. Common wheat flour is boiled in water to make a gluing paste and mixed with paper pulp. Old earthenware or plastic pots are used as a mould and paper pulp is used to sculpt paper containers for growing microgreens.

      Figure 5 Waste newspaper converted into Paper cup containers for Microgreens harvesting

    6. Automated fountain system

      As microgreens need frequent watering, for households that want to grow without manual watering a fountain system is proposed. Integrating it with a seven-day programmable timer switch watering can be automated.

      Figure 6 Microgreens Fountain As an Aesthetic element in Landscaping

    7. Earthenware Lamp-Clay- Diyas (terracotta) Containers

      Even though clay diyas are made from clay they are not biodegradable and take several thousand years to decompose.

      In India during Diwali every household buys clay diyas. They can be used as microgreen containers (Is Pottery Biodegradable? How Long Does It Take Pottery To Decompose?, 2021).

    8. Microgreen Terrariums

      Figure 7 Diya pots reused as potters

      Terrariums are plants grown in glass containers. The first terrarium was developed by botanist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1842. Microgreens can be easily grown in terrariums both for ornamental use and food production. Commonly available glass jars are taken and soaked saw dust is used as base to retain moisture and a layer of seeds is spread over the saw dust base

    9. Microgreen Walls- vertical gardens

Figure 8 Microgreen Terrarium

In urban balconies where there is shortage of space, Microgreen walls can be grown on parapet wall or balcony steel grills. Plastic food containers are used with few holes pierced in the bottom for drainage and placed on vertical hanging garden plots.

Figure 9 Microgreen Vertical wall using Plastic containers

3 TECHNIQUE OF GROWING MICROGREENS Basic technique in the following steps:

  1. Soak the seeds 4- 10 hours. In the experiment seeds are taken from normal grocery store purchased mustard, moong, chana, peas and methi are used only radish seeds are purchased from seed manufacturer!

  2. Spread the seed on seeding container evenly as a single layer. Seeds can be directly placed on the container or you can use growing mediums like cocopeat, wood dust or paper towel to retain moisture.

  3. Water the microgreen every hour. Keep them is shade and do not expose to direct sun!

  4. Harvest the microgreen in 7-10 days

  5. Clean the seeding containers thoroughly with water and reuse them for the next cycle.

4 MICROGREENS AS INTERIOR LANDSCAPE DESIGN ELEMENT

Microgreens in different containers can be aesthetically placed as elements in indoor landscaping. The following are easy options in any household or office

  • Table top Microgreen Terrariums/Diyas/Double Trays

  • Kitchen top Microgreen Racks

  • Livingroom Microgreen Corner Racks

  • Balcony/Veranda Grill Microgreen Vertical Walls

Figure 10 Microgreen Indoor landscaping ideas

Microgreen are typically lush green however by experimenting with other seeds for example-red amaranthus (Amaranthus cruentus, 2021) very colourful microgreen can be grown to achieve eye pleasing aesthetics.

5. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

Prototypes of all containers proposed in this paper are prepared and microgreen were grown and harvested. The following Table gives the details of the result:

Microgreen

Soaking Period (Hours)

Harvest Time (Days)

Moong

10

7 Days

Peas

12

8 Days

Chana/Chickpea

12

8 Days

Fenugreek

6

7 Days

Radish

4

8 Days

Mustard

4

8 Days

Edible seeds from grocery store are used for growing microgreens. Thorough soaking and rinsing with water were followed to ensure food safety.

  1. CONCLUSION

    Growing Microgreens is easy and is the need of the hour to offer food security and low-cost nutritional food alternative to households. Use of recycled material will go long way to address environmental issues. Simple design with readily available material in the market will encourage households to use it in kitchen, balcony/ rooftop gardens and also in their interior landscape meeting food and aesthetic requirements.

  2. REFERENCES

[1] Aloo, S. O., Ofosu, F. K., Kilonzi, S. M., Shabbir, U., & Oh, D. H. (2021, August 21). Edible Plant Sprouts: Health Benefits, Trends, and Opportunities for Novel Exploration. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082882

[2] Amaranthus cruentus. (2021, November). Retrieved from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranthus_cruentus

[3] FDA. (2017, January). Draft Guidance for Industry: Compliance with and Recommendations for Implementation of the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption for Sprout Operations. Retrieved from U.S Food & Drug Association: https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/draft-guidance-industry-compliance-and-recommendations- implementation-standards-growing-harvesting

[4] Foodshare. (2002). Retrieved from Foodshare website: https://foodshare.net/custom/uploads/2015/11/Growing_Sprouts_and_Seedlings_2nd_ed_2002.pdf

[5] Galieni, A., Falcinelli, B., Stagnari, F., Datti, A., & Benincasa, P. (2020/09/21). Sprouts and Microgreens: Trends, Opportunities, and Horizons for Novel Research. JOUR.

[6] Is Pottery Biodegradable? How Long Does It Take Pottery To Decompose? (2021, March 17). Retrieved from Craftshero Website: https://craftshero.com/is-pottery-biodegradable/

[7] Paulrajan, R. (2010, 08 01). Food Mileage: An Indicator of Evolution of Agricultural Outsourcing. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation (Chile) Num.2 Vol.5.

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