Jincy Samuel’s terrace in Bengaluru is dotted with a rainbow of colours, from purple and burgundy to green.
If you look closely, you may notice it is not a typical garden lined with flower beds. It has prawns and tilapia fish that mingle with vegetable and herb plants.
Jincy is growing her plants using novel methods like hydroponics and aquaponics that are a shift away from the typical soil-based methods.
Jincy, who holds an MBA and has also worked in the food sector, had no prior training in growing her own produce but began studying methods of it.
She was drawn to the methods of hydroponics and aquaponics due to two reasons — limited space available and the rate of growth.
“The hydroponic system can easily be set up in an urban household. I have compared growing plants using soil versus hydroponics. I have found that the growth in the latter is faster since the environment is more controlled,” says Jincy.
She adds that no pests come and attack the plants, and one can control what nutrients the plant receives.
In hydroponics, a nutrient-charged, aquatic solution is flushed through the roots of the plant to provide the necessary resources for optimal growth.
Aquaponics, on the other hand, is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponic systems.
“You grow edible fish in the system, so you get your meat if you want to harvest it. The water then passes through a mineralisation tank and gets treated. This treated water is then used to grow the vegetables. This is a recirculating system.”
Today, Jincy grows about 200 to 230 varieties of plants on her 500-sq-ft terrace.
Vegetables — such as brinjals, cherry tomatoes, spinach, kale, radish, mint, and okra, and exotics — like red lettuce, iceberg lettuce and broccoli are a few of the plants Jincy grows.
Jincy makes around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per month by selling excess produce.
Jincy also helps set up a similar system in people’s homes and makes hobby kits for beginners to guide them through the journey of setting up their own hydroponic and aquaponic systems.
“It’s such a different experience when you first plant the seeds, and watch them grow and mature. It brings me immense joy,” says Jincy.