This is the article translated from TSUCHIKAU blog. You can find the original post (in Japanese) here: 日光の代わりにLEDで! 新しい栽培の形 | 農業メディア TSUCHIKAU（ツチカウ）
Do you know the term "LED cultivation"? As the name suggests, it is a method of growing vegetables using LEDs. In the past, the most common way to grow vegetables was to plow a field, sow seeds, and grow them with the power of sunlight. In recent years, however, growing vegetables with the power of LEDs has become more accessible. In this article, we will tell you about the benefits of LED cultivation and how to implement it at home.
What is LED cultivation?
LED cultivation is a method of cultivating indoors by selectively irradiating only the light necessary for photosynthesis. Red and blue light are sufficient for vegetables to photosynthesize, but sunlight contains other types of light as well. However, since some LEDs emit a single color, it is possible to grow vegetables by focusing on the colors of light that are really necessary for photosynthesis.
LED growing can be done at home!
You may be thinking, "I've heard of growing vegetables with LEDs, but isn't that something companies do? Some of you may be thinking, "I've heard of growing vegetables with LEDs, but isn't that what companies do? It is true that until about 10 years ago, this was the method used by the government and corporate plant factories. However, with the widespread use of LED lighting and the popularity of home vegetable gardens, more and more people are starting to use LED cultivation at home.
Advantages of LED cultivation
Let's take a look at the five advantages of LED cultivation.
1. Vegetables grow faster
Because it is grown indoors, vegetables can be grown without being affected by weather or sunlight. Even if the sun goes down, the LEDs can still illuminate the vegetables, so they grow faster and can be harvested sooner compared to outdoor cultivation.
2. Vegetables tend to have higher nutritional value
LED cultivation has been shown to increase the nutritional value of vegetables. With LEDs, we can control the adjustment of flavor and nutritional content by changing the color and intensity of the light.
3. Low risk of pests and diseases
When growing vegetables outdoors, they are more susceptible to aphids and diseases. But if you grow them indoors, you don't have to worry about that. Another advantage is that you can grow vegetables without using pesticides or insecticides.
4. Low running costs
When growing plants under artificial light, incandescent bulbs can also be used. However, they generally consume more power than LEDs, and the electricity bill can be expensive. LEDs, on the other hand, consume less power and have a longer lifespan compared to incandescent bulbs, which has the advantage of lower running costs.
LED Hydroponics Kit: No Soil Required!
The most recommended way to practice LED cultivation at home is to use hydroponics. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants by immersing their roots in a nutrient solution (a mixture of water and liquid fertilizer) without using soil. And if you are going to do hydroponics, it is recommended to use a hydroponics kit with LED lights. Here are some of the features of hydroponics and points to keep in mind.
The procedure for hydroponics is very simple.
- Fill the growing case with nutrient solution, set the sponge, and sprinkle the seeds.
- Cover the growing case with a lid. This is to create the same environment as in the soil.
- When the seeds germinate, remove the cover and turn on the LED light.
- Continue to irradiate the LED while adding the appropriate amount of nutrient solution, and wait for the harvest.
- The above procedure is just an example, please follow the instructions of each cultivation kit for details.
Advantages of LED hydroponics kits
In this section, we will explain the advantages of LED hydroponics kits.
1. Ease of use
Some LED hydroponics kits come with the necessary equipment for hydroponics as well as trial seeds, liquid fertilizer, and a pump to circulate the nutrient solution. If you are new to hydroponics, we recommend purchasing a hydroponics kit.
You don't need to take the trouble to prepare a space for installation, and you can place it in any available space in your house. First, look for a flat, free space such as a desk or counter top.
3. Excellent as interior decoration
Recently, hydroponics kits with excellent design are also available, and can be expected to be used as indoor interiors. You can set them up in your entryway or bedroom to enhance the atmosphere and accent the room. It is recommended for those who want to enjoy both the harvest of vegetables and interior design.
Vegetables that can be grown with hydroponics kits
If you want to start hydroponics, the first thing you need to do is choose the plants you want to grow. Below is a list of vegetables that can be grown with any type of kit.
- Regina tomatoes:
These are ornamental small tomatoes, but they can also be eaten and are famous for being easy to grow hydroponically. They are also popular for their cute appearance.
- Sunny lettuce:
The amount of lettuce that can be harvested at one time is relatively large, so it is recommended for those who want to feel a sense of accomplishment when harvesting and for those who often eat salads.
- Salad greens:
These vegetables are brighter green than lettuce and are easy to grow even for beginners. It absorbs oxygen through its roots, so avoid soaking the entire root in the solution to prevent oxygen deprivation.
This fragrant plant is recommended for those who want to enjoy it as an interior decoration in addition to being edible.
- Broccoli sprouts:
These are the sprouts of broccoli. They are perfect for snacks and toppings, and also beautiful for interior decoration. The optimum temperature is about 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, so grow them in a place where the temperature can be easily controlled.
How to choose a hydroponics kit
Once you have decided which vegetables you want to grow, it is time to purchase a hydroponics kit. There are many different models of hydroponics kits. Some of them are well-designed and can be used to accent your interior. If you want to buy a hydroponics kit, but don't know how to choose one, here are some tips on how to choose one.
1. Size of the hydroponics kit
Hydroponics kits come in a variety of sizes. The larger the size, the higher the yield, but on the other hand, the more limited the installation space. Also, you will need to make sure that the LED light can be applied evenly.
2. Functionality of hydroponics kits
There are various models of cultivation kits with different functions. There are "models with circulating pumps" that circulate the nutrient solution without unevenness, and "fully automatic models" that automatically switch the LEDs on and off and notify you when the amount of water in the nutrient solution drops below a certain level.
I bought a hydroponics kit, but what should I be careful about? I'm sure there are some people who are wondering. In this section, we will explain the points that you should pay attention to when doing hydroponics.
1. Eliminate unevenness in the irradiation area
Make sure that the LED light is evenly irradiated. Many LED lights have a narrow beam range, so it is best to adjust the number of lights and the way they are placed so that the entire vegetable can be illuminated.
2. Good ventilation
We recommend that you place your plants in a well-ventilated area and out of direct sunlight. Poor ventilation can lead to high humidity in the room, which can cause mold to grow. Also, direct sunlight and high water temperature may cause bacteria to form. Molds and bacteria can inhibit the growth of vegetables, so be careful.
Recommended hydroponic kits
We have looked at hydroponics from various perspectives, but if you still can't decide, here is a hydroponics kit that we recommend.
The name of the kit is "Akarina 01". The Akarina 01 is a hydroponics kit sold by Olympia Lighting, a famous designer lighting manufacturer. Not only does it look cute, but it also allows you to grow up to three types of plants at a time. It also comes with salad greens seeds and liquid fertilizer for trial use, making it perfect for beginners. Although it is a bit pricey, it is recommended for those who want to grow hydroponics in style.
Reference: Akarina 01
Hydroponics Kit Q&A
So far, we have discussed hydroponics kits. In this section, we will explain the most frequently asked questions about hydroponics kits.
1. How much light do I need per day?
Generally speaking, 16 hours. The description of the hydroponics kit often includes the estimated irradiation time and electricity cost. It is a good idea to turn on the LED when you wake up and turn it off when you go to bed. This will make it easier to calculate your electricity bill.
2. Is it okay to leave the LED on?
As it turns out, there is no problem. LED lights have the PSE mark, which certifies the safety of the electrical goods, meaning that they are designed to prevent accidents such as fires. Therefore, it is safe to leave the lights on while you are away.
Summary of LED cultivation
LED cultivation is a way to grow vegetables without worrying about the weather or sunlight. If you are interested in starting this method, we recommend purchasing a hydroponics kit that comes with LED lights. Also, by doing everything from sowing seeds to harvesting with your own hands, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and will be able to enjoy the taste of your food even more. It's a great way to start a new hobby.