When I received a request from Eden Grow-Rooms to run a small story about their product on Self Sufficient Me, I thought, yeah why not? I've been considering writting about grow rooms for awhile now because from a food growers perspective, I'm always looking for methods, tools, and ideas on how to improve my harvest and a grow-room is worth investigating.
Of course, I’m NOT being paid to promote Eden Grow-Rooms or anything like that; and personally, the chances of me purchasing a grow room is zilch (at the moment anyway). However, I do find grow-rooms fascinating and the thought of growing food inside in a completely controlled environment without the threat of pests and climate ruining the crop is certainly appealing, especially after some of the epic failures I’ve had with growing crops outdoors.
But, grow-rooms are not new. For example, marijuana growers have been using the concept for decades with great success! Out of sheer necessity, weed growers have grown crops of “whacky tobaccy” indoors to escape authorities and refine their valuable product.
Nevertheless, those of us who get their "high" from growing legal crops of fruit and vegetables are also able to benefit from the principles of growing traditional outdoor plants indoors and there can be many reasons for why a person would want to.
I believe the presenter and TV star Martha Stewart has a huge grow-room where she even grows large fruit trees – so my wife tells me anyway. The fact is, not everyone lives in an ideal climate where they can grow some sort of produce all year round. In extreme climates, it can be very difficult to grow fruit and vegetables and even if timed exactly right, the window of opportunity to get the produce in ground and matured enough for harvest can be hit and miss.
Climate is just one aspect, location and urbanisation is another. More and more people are living in the cities in small estates or apartments and there’s only so much one can grow on a balcony before it become a little…hazardous. I could easily picture an inner city block with a grow-room positioned on a rear deck similar to how a spa or outdoor kitchen would be incorporated in a contemporary build.
How about accessibility, not everyone’s fully able to tend a garden outdoors but the quality of life gardening can have on people is enormous, so if we can’t go to the garden, we can bring the garden to us.
This is where the grow room comes in handy, no worries about a long cold winter, or a relentless hot, steamy, summer, the grow room has the one climate all year! Where ground space is an issue, surrender a room or build an extension and container grow in a grow-room. If a person’s disabled or has limited mobility, getting to the vegetable patch can be made as easy as going to the kitchen.
Are grow-rooms an effective way to grow plants?
Are grow-rooms effective? I guess this is an open question and I can’t say I have ever had the experience of using one myself. If the set-up is correct with precise nutrient and water delivery, my inclination is effectiveness (for growing an edible crop from start to finish) would depend on a few important variables, being: size of the room, and type of plant.
Size matters because many vegetables are quite large and a small grow-room would quickly run out of space if the wrong crops were sown. Therefore, for standard sized grow-rooms careful consideration would need to be taken to plan for the best use of space.
Hand-in-hand with size would go type of plant and not just for how big or small but whether they require artificial pollination. Some vegetable/fruit crops rely on animals (like bees) to pollinate the flowers for a successful crop; however, just as bad pests are excluded from a grow-room the good insects required for pollination are too. For these particular crops, it may be wise to work out an artificial way to pollinate (like by hand) or not to grow them at all and stick with plants that don’t require flowering and polination to produce an edible crop (like salad vegetables or self-pollinating tomatoes).
If using the grow-room as a seedling raiser then a grow-room does have some glaring advantages over a greenhouse or hot frame. A greenhouse or hot-frame are usually still reliant on the sun for heating or shade cloth for reducing the heat and by the nature of the build are typically full of gaps. Whereas, a grow-room is sealed and not reliant on environmental factors or a 24 hour sun cycle.
Therefore, seedlings can be started in a grow-room very early before even the season is actually near starting, given perfect growing conditions 24/7 and then planted out when the natural climate is right with the plants getting a massive head start. I can understand how this method of starting seedlings on its own would be advantageous for the serious gardener and a good reason to install a grow-room.
How do grow rooms work?
Essentially, grow-rooms work by artificially emulating what plants need through reconstructing the natural ad hoc environment into a controlled one utilising four main elements:
· Food – Nutrients are required for plants to grow and they get most of the food they require through the root system. Usually, it’s a medium like soil, which enable the plants roots to access these nutrients but hydroponic systems using clean gravel or man-made mediums can be just as effective if the right mix is administered.
· Water – Some hydroponic systems just rely on water alone (without a solid medium); thereby, the plants get fed and watered concurrently. Typically, a drip fed watering system is employed in grow-rooms to water crops with excess run off/through recycled back (usually filtered and returned to a holding tank). Having said that, watering can easily be conducted manually but I'd probably automate it myself if the grow-room unit didn't already come with the capability.
· Light – Of course, light is required to generate the energy for the plants to process the food and water to successfully grow. Special UV lights are used to mimic the sun’s rays and give the plants the perfect amount of energy giving light in every 24 hour period.
· Climate – The air and humidity is controlled much like a home air-conditioning system that keeps us comfortable, so to, does the climate controller keep the plants happy in a grow-room.
All these elements emulating nature inside four walls can’t run themselves though, and this means pumps, bulbs, compressors, and power, are required to make the whole system work. Add a computer for the brains and programming, it’s soon clear taking the best of nature and enclosing it into a purpose built room isn’t free.
I couldn’t image running costs for a standard grow-room would be overly excessive; however, all costs should be taken into consideration when planning – that’s just sensible.
Then again, growing plants “el natural” isn’t cost free either and it comes down to what people are prepared to spend for the convenience a grow-room can bring. Suffice to say, everyone’s situation and budget is different but if the requirement is there and funds available then a grow-room could be an excellent way to solve a need.
How much does an Eden Grow-Room unit cost to buy?
I don’t know how much an Eden Grow-Room is to buy, I haven’t actually asked and the purchase information for their three currently available sizes is not freely available. Eden Grow-Rooms do have a sales email address where enquiries to purchase can be made so if you are curious about the overall outlay then just visit their site and send them an enquiry.
As I mentioned, in the short or medium term I doubt I will be needing a grow-room because I have enough space and I’m physically able to grow my own produce. However, in the long term when I’ve downsized to a smaller property and my mobility has degraded my love of gardening and eating freshly home-grown produce will still be with me so I could see the benefits a grow-room offers for the future.
For those living in extreme climates or unsatisfactory conditions, a grow-room gives an opportunity to grow a range of produce risk free and almost as accessible as going to the fridge or pantry to collect healthy ingredients for a meal or snack. No transportation of produce is required, no pesticides or fungicides are required, and no worries about unexpected climatic events destroying a good crop. All this means convenient, healthy food for people who may otherwise have had to eat a less desirable product.
The fact that the Eden Grow-Room comes as a flat-pack all inclusive module, which can be easily assembled is a clever idea. To have a grow-room purpose built would be much more expensive, in my opinion, and to have three size options for ready assembly should satisfy most people.
The Eden Grow-Room website also has much more specific information about their grow-rooms and even a set-up video showing the step-by-step assembly of a grow-room. I guess I should also mention Eden is an Americian based company.
Be sure to visit Eden Grow-Room’s website if you are at all interested in further investigating the feasibility of a grow-room for your (or a loved one’s) situation – just follow this link to Eden Grow Rooms.
Feel free to use the comment section below and have your say (no email is required). Also, visit and join our forum to discuss more about grow rooms and other topics. I have started a new topic thread here.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Mark Valencia retired from the Australian Army in 2008 after 21 years of service and is married with two children (boys). He has always been passionate about self-sufficiency (even as a child) and he is now enjoying the opportunity to communicate this passion through his Blog and YouTube Channel.
Self Sufficient Me is a blog about self-sustainment by growing our own produce (plant/animal), and self-fulfilment by looking after our health (physical/mental) through exercise and slowing life down a little.