Maximum Yield USA December 2019 / January 2020 | Page 46

A GROWING MULTIPLE CROPS in a Growroom As we know through nature, plants are stronger and healthier in a permaculture environment. As technology becomes better, a multi-crop growroom is now attainable for the hobby grower, though patience is required. by Kent Gruetzmacher 46 Maximum Yield s indoor gardening continues to progress as both a science and artform, it borrows ideas from a variety of sources. For sustainably minded cultivators, the natural world provides an excellent blueprint to mimic for indoor agriculture. There are some interesting ways in which indoor growers can benefit from imitating Mother Nature — foremost of these is the practice of planting multiple crops in a growroom. The benefits primarily have to do with optimizing grow conditions and developing resistance to pathogens. The process of poly-cropping an indoor garden stands in stark contradiction to most commercial agriculture practices where industrial farms plant massive swaths of monocrop fields. As we are beginning to understand, this popular form of industrial agriculture is inefficient, unnatural, and unsustainable. Monocrop fields simply do not exist in nature. Planting massive swaths of monocrop fields presents risks to the environment as well as the crops. Of these risks, it is well known that planting a singular species of plant in the same area year-after-year will leach the soil of nutrients, consequently stifling food production. Likewise, single crop fields are far more at risk from pathogen attacks than more biodiverse operations. Permaculture gardening is the concept of using the most natural and suitable plant species for a specific environment in order to grow crops. This forward- looking school of thought has some fascinating implications in modern crop production, including controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Like in nature, permaculture gardening also seeks to create entire ecosystems by establishing diverse plant species in a garden. According to, “Permaculture gardening promotes biodiversity. It seeks to maximize the number of productive species of plant within a plot, not only to offer the gardener a diverse and vibrant number of crops to harvest for the kitchen, but also so that the ecosystem itself is strong, with different plants performing different functions so that all can thrive.”