Ikea Hydroponics Indoor Gardening – First Thoughts

In Food and Drink, Gardening, Ikea Live Lagom, simple living by Lisa asd

In a nutshell – as part of the Ikea Live LAGOM project I am aiming to grow all my salad indoors, all year round. Ikea gave me £300 to spend on Ikea products to make my life more sustainable.

I’ve been coveting an indoor growing kit for some time but I didn’t have the money to spend on one, nor did I want to risk Ikea withdrawing theirs. I’m reassured that Ikea have spent shed loads on research and the consumables needed to run it will be on the shelves for some time.

I have a dark corner in my office/workroom which has a wide shelf that was just waiting for something like the larger Ikea indoor growing kit.

What’s involved

There is quite a lot to it; a cultivation unit for starting seeds, a larger tray with baskets for growing medium and plants, fertiliser, a light and I chose to get the coated steel casing to cover up all the plastic. The casing isn’t totally necessary, we could have got a much cheaper holder for the light but I wanted to hide the plastic shame!

All of this picture (apart from the Freet shoebox) was in our shopping basket.

Ikea VAXER indoor growing unit before unboxing

Ikea VAXER indoor growing unit before unboxing

Setting the kit up and stage 1

The unit went together pretty easily and fitted into the shelf perfectly. The first step is to start the seeds off in a seedling unit, this has lots of little holes that fit the growing plugs perfectly. This is so easy I got a child to do it. We have a timer for the light (£6 ish from Wilkos) that comes on at 10 at night and goes off at 2 in the afternoon. The light is incredibly bright so we no longer need to keep the hall light on at night.

Day 3 seedlings under the Ikea cultivation light

Day 3 seedlings under the Ikea cultivation light

The seedling unit is quite large and has loads more holes for plugs than I needed. This will be fine in the summer as I can put seedings outside, but in December, it means I have to find a storage place for all this.

Ikea seeding nursery

Ikea seeding nursery after use, I’m not sure where I’ll store this

Stage 2, moving the seedlings

When the seedings have a couple of leaves (day 5 for us) it’s time to move them into baskets that are housed in the main unit.

Scumspawn thinks that everything is cat food

Scumspawn thinks that everything is cat food. He is disappointed in me

Ikea growing

You can use the holes in the basket to judge where to fill the first layer of growing media.

It’s a bit of a messy process getting the seedlings moved on so I will do it over paper next time. The cat sticking his whiskers in and the growing medium bag splitting did not help.

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One cap of fertiliser goes into 6 litres of lukewarm water. Fill the unit using the funnel, not by pouring it in because if it gets outside the plastic it leaks for a long time.  This is the voice of experience talking, it takes longer to fill through the funnel but less time than it takes to catch leaks.

Ikea Hydroponics water level

The funnel for adding water and the water level

Ikea hydroponics leaking

Leaking because I didn’t use the funnel to fill it.

Seedling at stage 2, day 5

Seedling at stage 2, day 5

Day 5, stage 2, seedlings in the larger cultivation unit under the light

Day 5, stage 2, seedlings in the larger cultivation unit under the light

Niggles

I’m really excited about growing salad all year round. I can eat spinach for every meal of the day and it’s much nicer fresh, cheaper too hopefully. I do have a few niggles about the Ikea growing kit though.

Nursery unit

  • The fill lines in the plastic base of the nursery unit are hard to find and close to the top.
  • The plastic base is not strong enough to hold its shape when it’s full of water.
  • If you try to move the nursery unit when it is full of water it is very easy to spill it. As it needs to be under the light I don’t see any options here other than siphoning the water off. If the plastic was just a little stronger this wouldn’t be an issue.
  • If the nursery unit is not on a flat surface it will flex and the section containing the plugs won’t fit.
  • It’s huge and has more holes for growing plugs than the main unit can take.
  • I’ve used it for 5 days to start the seedlings off and now I won’t need to use it for at least another 8 weeks so I need to find a place to store it.
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Main unit

  • Again, the plastic could be stronger. I balanced the nursery unit on top of the set up empty baskets so it would be nearer the light and the weight of the nursery unit has pushed the plastic of the main unit in. I think it’s going to flex back because it was only a few days so it’s ok.
  • The funnel is small and fiddly, it takes a long time to fill with it and filling from the top resulted in splashes and leaks.

Light

  • It has an off switch but it doesn’t work. This isn’t bothering me though because the light is on a timer.

Consumables

  • The fertiliser leaked so reading the label wasn’t easy at all.
  • The growing medium bag split, oh joy.
I think this says one capful to 6 litres of water.

I think this says one capful to 6 litres of water.

Summing up

The Ikea VAXAR growing kit is fun and easy to set up bar a few irritations.

It’s so close to being a really lovely bit of kit but let down by the thin flexible plastic.

I wouldn’t have bought the nursery unit if I knew more about the way the growing kit works. Next time I’ll try the plugs in a Tupperware container instead, if I catch them early enough the roots shouldn’t entwine.

We have got really quick results with the seedlings, they were sprouting on day 1 and I am pretty confident that we will be eating the first little leaves in a few weeks. I’ll keep you updated.

 

Disclosure – Ikea have given me £300 worth of goodies to become more sustainable and in return I need to blog about the process. I have no affiliate links with Freet shoes, though I love them because they let my toes wriggle, nor Wilkos, although I seem to be in there almost daily.

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