Mumbai: Developing a new method of growing vegetables and plants on rooftops, students of Ramnarain Ruia College, Dadar have opted to use the technique of growing plants without using soil. This technique known as Hydroponics uses only water and nutrients to grow the plants without the need for any soil.
Different types of green leafy vegetables, medicinal, aromatic and ornamental plants are grown in the 1000-square feet area at the rooftop of the college. These plants are kept in a Polyhouse, a semi-circular structure made out of polythene (plastic) which reduces the heat and filters the radiation of the sun. Only water and nutrients that are dissolved in the water are given to the plants like Lettuce, Basil, Mint and Spinach which are kept in a coco peat made out of coconut fibres.
With this technique, the shelf life of vegetables increases and the plants bear fruit faster. Shrutika Kumthekar, a faculty member monitoring this project, said, “A plant which takes over a month to grow, grows in a period of 20 days with this technique. The fruiting of various plants is also faster as compared to the usual process of growing plants in soil. The fact that the nutrient content is in control in this method helps to increase the shelf life of these plants.”
These plants are being managed by students of this college who have taken up this course as part of the Skill India Campaign. Sneha Gaikwad, a student said, “This technique can be used in urban areas where there is scarcity of good quality soil. Also, it can be used for commercial purposes as the results are faster. Maintenance of the plants in this technique is the major issue as the plants need to be constantly checked so that they grow properly.”
This technique can also be used to grow plants at domestic levels like in various households, rooftops and backyards. Another student added, “Though the cost of nutrients is high, this method is being adopted across different places as more people have started to know about this technique.”