Unexpected benefits of indoor hydroponics
Indoor hydroponics has some well known benefits like insecticide and pesticide free vegetables, and the ability to grow all year round, but there are some unexpected benefits, too! Read on to see what we found.
It's well known that indoor hydroponics gives you fresh vegetables all year round. But there is more to this benefit than you would think at first. How many vegetables from the supermarket or farmers market have you needed to throw out because they wilted or were just not used quickly enough? This is a waste both environmentally and financially.
With indoor hydroponics, you have vegetables that are fresh and ready for harvest, sometimes for multiple weeks. A head of lettuce, for example, usually lasts about a week in the fridge. But hydroponically grown, it could be harvested as early as week 3, or as late as week 5. This gives you a shelf life of over two weeks, much longer than what you would buy at the supermarket and subsequently store in your fridge. And, regardless of whether you harvest at week 3 or week 5, your lettuce will taste just as fresh, and it will not require a trip to the store!
Trying out new dishes
Have you ever made a dish using bok choy? Neither had I, until I started hydroponics! You will inevitably want to try different breeds of different plants, and will sometimes be left with a bountiful harvest without any ideas of what to make with it.
The great thing about this situation is that you are, in a way, forced outside of your comfort zone. That's where you can summon the power of the internet to look for dishes that you can make with X, Y and/or Z. You will be surprised at how easy it is to be complacent with your daily routine and menu when you are "forced" to expand your horizons.
What's even more powerful about this is that you are reversing the typical process of coming up with a new dish to cook. When you feel inspired to make a new dish, you might look up a particular recipe for something new, then venture out to a specialized supermarket or farmers' market and seek all of the ingredients that the recipe calls for. On the other hand, if you have already grown something and have the new ingredient ready to go, you can simply look up a new recipe quickly and get cooking right away. And when you do, you will oftentimes open up a whole new type of cuisine. With bok choy, for example, you might be inspired to consider up to 10 different dishes, just from this one list!
Because store-bought vegetables usually have a short shelf life in the fridge, it can be challenging to ensure that your fridge is well stocked with a healthy balance that includes fresh produce. With hydroponics, however, you will always have a fresh supply of vegetables ready for you to include in any dish, no matter how last minute.
This dish, for example, was a last minute addition of mizuna on top of ramen noodles. I hadn't gone grocery shopping in a while and suddenly became hungry. I found the ramen noodles and soup, but wanted to balance this out with something healthy - luckily I had some always-ready hydroponic mizuna ready for harvest! I snipped a few leaves, rinsed them and just placed them on top of my noodles probably within 60 seconds. Not bad for a last minute healthy addition.
Self-challenge & patience
Indoor hydroponics has also taught me the importance of always challenging yourself and how patience is more than a virtue - almost a necessity when growing.
Many things in life do not come easy and only come after investing lots of time and effort. Indoor hydroponics requires lots of perseverance. There will be frustrating situations where you will not know why your lettuce are suffering from tip-burn, or where the powdery mildew came from. One day you'll need to be an expert at chemistry so that you can understand nutrient uptake at the molecular level, and another day you'll need to know the physics of light and how plants react to light of different wavelengths (and why they have different amounts of energy).
Indoor hydroponics is something you literally cannot be successful overnight in, because it takes so long for a single plant to grow! It might take weeks before you find out if your new nutrient solution was mixed properly. And when something goes wrong, you will not know with certainty what caused it - consequently it could be weeks, if not months, before you can come to a conclusion.
To be successful at indoor hydroponics, you must constantly challenge yourself, and at the same time be willing to be patient.
Whether it's saving money for retirement or coworker/client relationships, many of the same skills developed from indoor hydroponics are very much transferable. Just like growing plants, you must be attentive and patient when managing your finances, and continuously ask yourself how you can improve by possible shifting your investment mix or savings rate. And even if you make a change to your financial arrangements (e.g increasing your monthly 401(k) contributions) you'll need to give it time before you know if it's working or not. Interestingly, there are many overlaps with the quantitative aspect as well.