The current trend of urban gardening is a great step forward in terms of taking responsibility for our own health. Moving from centralized food systems that are big Ag based to a decentralized food system is one way of improving the quality and safety of our food system. In addition, it’s much more sustainable since there are many less oil-based inputs being used for farm machinery or transportation. Instead of having food grown in far away places on nutritionally- depleted soils, high quality foods could be grown close to home. Unless growers have access to land within the city environment, some creative thinking is needed to find places to grow instead. From balconies to indoor hydroponic systems, many solutions are available.

What’s cool is that you can actually grow a fair amount of food indoors!  From herbs to fruits and vegetables, check out the following:
  • If you have the space, and your home environment supports the high-tech look of these things, you can try some high density vertical gardens like the ones grown at Chicago O’Hare’s Urban Garden.  <add photo from site>.  Alternatively, to accomplish the same thing on a dime over one of your windows, you may want to check out the site where they will show you how to
  • You can grow cherry tomatoes inside on a hanging planter (courtesy of the Suburban Self Sustanment blog).

Hanging cherry tomatoes
  • Next, here’s an example of indoor gardening using the windowfarms method

Windowfarm open-source indoor agriculture

  • Or, you can just vegetables in pots on the floor, like these tomatoes (image courtesy of Organic Gardening & Farming)

Container-based Tomatoes

When growing indoors, there are a large number of options available, especially if you’re creative. But due to limited growing area in terms of surface area, the yields can be quite limiting.  So how can this be improved?


While one way would be to try to find more space to grow things, like joining a community garden, what I’d like to share with you today are my thoughts on how you can use electricity to help you increase your yields from 20% to 400%!  By being able to grow much more food in less space there are obviously a huge number of benefits.

Being able to grow more of your own food, you’re also not only saving money, but you’re also:

  • Improving your health by spending more time around plants which is relaxing.
  • Exposing yourself to more oxygen straight from the source.
  • Growing safe food that’s a lot less likely to be contaminated by e coli or other pathogens.
Looking back at some of the research in this area: back in 1971, a scientist known as J.D. Black grew electrically-stimulated tomato plants that experienced a growth rate that varied between 5% and 30%. [Reference:  Canadian Journal of Botany, 49, 1809-1815 (1971)] Also, a researcher named Kinney in 1896 found that electrically-stimulated lettuce, radish and other crops had an increased growth rate averaging 34%-37% over the control group.  [Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, Vol II – Crops, 3rd edition, Edited by L.H. Bailey, NY, The Macmillan Company, 1911].  Working with the best-case numbers, the following improvements were realized:
Normal Time-to-Harvest Potential Increase in Growth Rate Improved Time-to-Harvest
Lettuce 6-8 weeks 30% 4.2 – 5.6 weeks
Radish 22-70 days 37% 14 – 44 days
Tomato 85 days 37% 53 days
So by being able to accelerate the growth of some of your crops by approximately 4 weeks in some cases, you may be able to not only plant 1-2 successive crops of plants in a single season, but possibly 2-4 or even more crops, depending upon your growing environment.
Another effect on the production of food crops through the years has been an enormous increase in the size of the vegetables.  For example, in 1886, M. Spechnew, a Russian agriculturalist working in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, London, grew radishes that were 17 inches long and 5 inches in diameter – quite an improvement over the typical radish that grows short and squat.  He also claimed being able to grow a carrot that was 11 inches in diameter that weighed 5 pounds.
Taking it all together, if you can have both an increase in yield and an increase in the size & weight of the harvested crop all while growing at an increased rate of nearly 40%, then this method of growing food can make a huge difference for people with limited space to grow their own food.   In a limited space with the right growing conditions which include using compatible seeds, the correct electric field configuration, and a suitable soil mix with available nutrients and microbial balance, success can be gained.
So how do you get started?  Come to the website to learn more.  Join the email list and stay up to date on the latest in electro-horticulture!