Gardening is rewarding. Gardeners, are crazy. Yet...crazy in a way that plants seem to understand.
Just when you begin to think gardening techniques have reached their highest level, along comes another new and innovative way of growing healthy, organic plants, herbs and vegetables within a limited space. I am always struck by the creativity of those with both a bright mind and green thumb. From my own experience, the two do not always go hand in hand.
Before we get into this latest method however, let's do a quick recap of some of the ways that growing indoors has evolved over the years. These aren't necessarily in chronological order but more my memory of their evolution.
Hydroponics was one of the first steps taken in the direction of earth-less growing. Hydro, from the Latin meaning water and Ponos or labor. The water does the work. With hydroponics, your plants are grown in a liquid nutrient solution without need of an inert medium such as soil.
Aeroponics was next. With Aeroponics, the roots of a given plant are suspended in the air and sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution, sans the soil.
Aquaponics was the next exciting advancement for the indoor gardener. With this method, your plants are grown in an upper chamber while fish are grown in an aquarium sitting below.
For the sake of time and space I'll give the Reader's Digest version. A small aquarium motor pumps the water from the fish tank up into the plant chamber through a series of PVC pipes where the water is cleaned by the plants as they extract the nutrients before returning it to the fish tank in a continuous cycle.
In this classic symbiotic relationship, the fish super-fertilize the plants or vegetables while they in turn, provide the fish with clean water. Both fish and vegetables can be grown for hobby or consumption.
If you bake your own bread, you can practically grow your own fish sandwich.
What could they possibly think of next?
This latest method of growing organically in a controlled environment is aptly called, Fogponics. The name sounds like a 50's horror flick. “Fogponics...they came from the fog”.
Although this method has been around a few years, there are still many gardeners unfamiliar with this nouveau style of growing indoors. If you are the type that loves gardening and discovering cool new ways to grow, then you're in for a treat.
Fogponics in a Nutshell
I think of Fogponics as sort of Aeroponics 2.0. The next step. With this method, the roots of the plant are suspended in a fog-chamber and are hydrated and fed nutrients by a seemingly magical process created by an electric fog maker. And not to mention when properly set up, the size and yield of your plants is appreciable.
Before we get too far, it is not my intention to give super specific instructions on how to construct your fog-chamber but merely introduce you to the concept and impart a general understanding about what it is and how it works. Particular specifications may vary with individual needs.
Additionally, there are many styles and types from which to choose and plenty of specific information available online. You can even find instructional videos on YouTube to help you construct your own Fogponics chamber.
First, you'll need a few items.
DIY Fogponics - The Basic Items You Will Need
- A common plastic crate with a sturdy lid
- An electric fogger or mist-maker
- Net cups to hold the plants/veggies
- A power outlet
You'll Need a Plastic Crate
It all begins with the chamber. You'll need a dark plastic crate with a sturdy lid. If you don't have or can't find a dark crate, you can always paint it black. The reasoning behind painting it is you don't want any light seeping in. This crate will serve as the growing chamber. Next, you'll need to cut out enough circles in the lid of the crate and of the proper size, to hold the net-cups in which your plants will be growing.
For arguments sake we'll cut 6 holes in this lid and insert 6 cups with plants in them. An additional hole is required to insert the small electric fogger.
The Magical Fog Maker
Electric foggers or mist makers, as they are also known, can be purchased online. They make a single node, 3 node and a 5 node fogger to my knowledge.
What they do is, by vibrating at an unimaginable 2 MHz or 2 million times per second, they transform water into 100% humidity or fog, thus, continually watering and feeding the plant's roots in a nutrient rich cloud of mist. You add the nutrients. Pretty cool huh?
While you can purchase electric foggers made expressly for a fogponics set-up they can come with a hefty price tag. Or you can buy regular foggers with LEDs for a third of that cost. Those lower cost models come with LED lights. All you have to do is paint over the lights with some black paint; the type used for painting model cars or airplanes works well.
One pitfall to be mindful of is these fogponics foggers can suddenly quit working when left on constantly. This can be hazardous and even life threatening to some plants if turned off for even half a day. The danger is severe root damage through dehydration.
It is highly recommended that you incorporate an electronic timer that allows you to regulate the amount of time the fogger is on and off. Doing this will nearly double the lifespan of the mister while reducing the risk of a fogger malfunction.
Something to think about if you plan on being gone for a few days.
As you can see below, the box shown here consumes only about $1 of electricity per month, running 24/7.
- Naturally healthier plants with bigger & better yields
- Reduced energy costs
- Controlled indoor environment
- Easy and fun to construct fog chamber
- A mesmerizing and cool new growing toy
When done correctly, you can expect greater yields, to use less energy, and enjoy a growing system that will make you the envy of traditional growers everywhere...even your hydro friends!
So if you're looking for something fun, productive and cool in the gardening world, give Fogponics a try.
Then, when your friends ask where those monster plants came from you can always tell them,
“They came from the fog”.