During this time of year, while delicious, organic produce grows in my vegetable greenhouse, more vegetable and flower seedlings are developing in my Urban Cultivators.
My Urban Cultivators allow me to sprout greens in appliance-sized devices right inside my main greenhouse. Urban Cultivator is a hydroponics company in Canada that creates indoor gardening machines. There’s no need to use any pesticides or chemicals of any kind, so we know we’re growing the highest quality plants. I have three Urban Cultivators at my Bedford, New York farm that I have been using for many years – and they continue to help me germinate strong, healthy seedlings for every growing season.
Enjoy these photos.
This is my commercial-sized Urban Cultivator. It weighs 545-pounds and can hold up to 16-flats. The automated system provides a self-contained growing environment with everything the plants need to thrive.
The large Cultivator has four grow drawers for the seed trays – well spaced so there is plenty of room for seedling growth. There are also 16 specially designed grow lights – four on each level.
The Cultivator provides the proper aeration and circulation for its plants. There is a fan on the inside wall of every shelf.
And the seed trays sit over these reservoirs and are automatically watered from the back of the unit. The Urban Cultivator Commercial model uses only about 32-gallons of water a week to refill and clean the reservoir.
Each of the 16 trays measures 10-inches by 20-inches. Seed starting trays are available in a variety of sizes and can be saved and used over and over again.
Seed starting mixes are also available at garden supply stores. It’s best to use a pre-made seed starting mix that contains the proper amounts of vermiculite, perlite and peat moss. We keep our soil mixes in these large commercial grade ingredients bins often used by bakers to hold flour.
Once a tray is filled with seeds, it is placed into the Urban Cultivator.
Each tray is then covered with a humidity dome. The humidity dome remains positioned over the seed tray until germination begins. Each tray receives about 18-hours of light a day.
Here, one can see where the water comes out from the back of the Urban Cultivator. Each spout also has a water sensor, so the machine does not overflow.
The water is absorbed through the holes at the bottom of each tray.
Some trays are different, but all seed trays have holes at the bottom for water intake.
Here it is all filled. The entire unit covers the space of a double-door refrigerator. We keep ours in a small alcove between the head house and the greenhouse where it can be accessed easily.
The liquid crystal touch screen enables one to control the functions and monitor watering, lighting, temperature, relative humidity, and nutrient data.
The machine has pre-set growing conditions, but users can also custom program the cultivator to fit specific needs and then reset them at any time.
Here is the sreen for setting the unit’s temperature – just press the desired setting and save.
All the settings are then clearly listed on the main menu screen for quick reference and monitoring.
It is fascinating to see how much the plants develop from day to day. These seed trays were just filled earlier this week.
This is a tray after two weeks in the Urban Cultivator. Taller dome covers are also available for the growing plants.
Once the seeds germinate, the domes are removed.
I also have two smaller Urban Cultivator residential units in the head house. These units each take up the same footprint as a dishwasher and are plumbed to water and electrical sources in the same way.
Each residential machine has two grow shelves for the seed trays. The units also have pre-set control centers to ensure plants get exactly the right amount of water, light, and humidity for what is growing inside.
And, once they’re big enough, they are transplanted into bigger celled trays or individual pots and moved into the greenhouse until they’re ready to plant outdoors. It’s a wonderful process. In coming weeks, I will also share our tips for seeding these trays and growing many plants from seed.