By Julie Fidler
If you’ve ever dreamed of having a hydroponic garden right in your very own home, IKEA wants to help make that happen. The company might be notorious for its assemble-it-yourself furniture, but now its new indoor gardening kit allows you to grow fresh produce at home without any soil or gardening experience. Your plants should grow with the assistance of adequate light and water alone.
The kits are part of the KRYDDA/VÄXER series, and were developed with the help of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
The process is remarkably simple. You place the seeds into absorbent plugs that come with the system. These keep the seeds moist without over-watering them. Once the seeds begin to sprout, you transfer each entire plug into its own individual pot and fill the pot with pumice stones to hold water.
Next, move the pots to a growing tray, where a solar lamp nourishes the plants year-round – no actual sunlight needed! If you live in a particularly sunny home, you can skip the tray and solar lamp and place the tiny plants on a windowsill.
The growing tray, however, comes with a built-in water sensor, which helps you make sure that your plants get the right amount of water. The kit is essentially designed so that even people with zero gardening skills can be successful (and so that you don’t need to rely on the outside elements).
The kits also allow you to grow large amounts of produce in a very small space, which makes it an excellent choice for urbanites and people who lack the outdoor space to plant a traditional vegetable garden. Advocates of hydroponic growing will tell you it saves water, too.
IKEA has been working to become a more sustainable company in recent years. In 2012, the company vowed to power all of its stores exclusively with solar energy, and it confirmed this month that it’s working on plans to significantly expand its residential solar into a host of new markets.
IKEA also said last month that it was considering phasing out the use of Styrofoam and replacing it with mycelium, a compostable, and biodegradable substance made from the root structure of mushrooms and agricultural waste, like corn husks and stalks.
Styrofoam, which is made from likely-carcinogenic polystyrene, does not biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until it is mistakenly eaten by marine animals. Mycelium, on the other hand, can be broken apart and placed in gardens, where it will biodegrade completely within a month.
Hydroponic gardening kits are off the beaten path for IKEA, but they’re just a small part of the retailer’s reportedly grander plan to create a greener company and a greener world.