1. Success Story

This Madurai-Based Couple Has a Hydroponic Terrace Garden that Grows 20 Fruits and Vegetables

Nikita Arya
Nikita Arya
Image Source: thebetterindia.com

Imagine preparing some amazingly delicious food from the fresh fruits and vegetables plucked from your very own garden. The feeling is amazing, isn’t it? While there are many of us who are surviving in the cities and cannot even think of having this feeling, a couple in Madurai has managed to live this, thanks to the concept of ‘urban farming’.  

In the year 2016, DD Rajeshvaran, with his wife Grace Rajesh, started with the journey of growing vegetables and fruits in their terrace. But they didn’t use soil as the medium, rather they decided to do it through hydroponics.  Today, the couple has grown a terrace garden that bears 20 varieties of fruits and vegetables through hydroponics.  

The concept of Hydroponics is widely used for urban farming. 

It uses mineral nutrient solutions in the water solvent. DD Rajeshvaram was one of the first few in their city to experiment with this concept. Rajeshvaram, in an interview with thebetterindia.com, says, “Hydroponics is truly a blessing for areas that do not have either enough water or fertile soil for cultivation.”  

The Project Called “Southern Springs Hydroponics” 

In the year 2010, while Rajesvaran tried experimenting with his career by opening a restaurant chain, his interest in the process of food preparation drew him closer towards the concept of urban gardening. “During a borewell project at home, I realised the quality of water here was quite bad, along with the shortage. This situation prompted me to find a way of cultivating crops with limited use of water, and that’s when I came across several interesting techniques of automated soil-less growing such as hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics. I zeroed in on hydroponics—it is already quite common in the US and Israel, and began my research to contribute to the positive trend in India,” told Rajeshvaran. Inspired by the concept of hydroponics, he proceeded to install the setup for hydroponics greenhouse in his terrace that stretched to a wide area of 800 sq ft, and he named it ‘Project Southern Springs Hydroponics’. 

While they were quite unsure about the first yield, Rajeshvaran and his wife dedicatedly took care of their plants for next few months. And finally, the plants bore fruit, and the couple welcomed the first riot of red and green in just four months. 

After getting such good results, Rajeshvaran decided to grow local and foreign varieties of vegetables. Some of them include spinach, mint, asparagus, celery, red and green lettuce, parsley, bok choy, ladies finger, brinjal, tomato, beans, watermelon and cucumbers. In his garden, he has more than four varieties of tomatoes, which includes cherry tomatoes, the San Marzano, and Big Boy.  

The Challenges 

While their hydroponic terrace garden gave a very high yield, the couple also experienced many challenges. According to Rajeshvaran, “In a place as hot as Madurai, temperature control is a big challenge we had to overcome by installing a thermal insulation system and temperature control in the greenhouse.” 

Another issue that they faced was the maintenance of water circulation at all times. In hydroponics, if the pump fails to deliver water to the crop due to any issue such as power outage or any other issue, then the entire crop might die within a few hours. However, this issue was avoided with an advanced technology that allowed them to set an alarm system monitor connected to their smartphones. Apart from it, the couple run the entire system on off-grid solar power, which made the arrangements well and good.  

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