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Soil-less gardening excites green fingers in Gurgaon

                                                                        The Times of India, Gurgaon, 16th February, 2015


Shilpy Arora


GURGAON: You can now grow fruits and flowers in your balcony without soil. At the two-day Soil-less Gardening Expo & Conference, held at Epicenter on Saturday and Sunday, Gurgaon welcomed spring with a close encounter with soil-less gardening, a novel concept in these parts.


As most flowering plants grow well during spring, 35-year-old telecom engineering Aditya Chaudhary thought of conducting the conference this month. The DLF Phase II resident was surprised when he had gone to Australia for a telecom project and seen a burgeoning culture of hydroponics, where plants are grown without soil in water.


"Although I have no background in agriculture, what I found interesting about hydroponics was that it needs less maintenance and requires only 10% of the water needed for conventional cultivation. Undoubtedly, the technology can help many farmers and individuals in India who like gardening but have little time and space," he told TOI.


In soil-less gardening, sawdust, gravel, groundnut shells and rice husk are used as medium, replacing soil. Seeds can be sown in the material. Instead of fertilizers, supplements are added to the material to reach nutrition to the plant roots. Cultivation is usually done on huge horizontal or vertical trays. This method is suitable for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs.


"I have always wanted to cultivate gardening as a hobby. But I find it difficult to handle soil and I don't have enough knowledge about the kind of soil used for certain types of plants," said Suchita Agarwal, 25, resident of DLF Phase IV.


The expo provided many innovative options such as soil-less pits and automatic water sprinklers that can be operated through a smartphone, supplements that make fruits sweeter and bigger were also on display.