Oxygenating, Detoxifying, Mosquito-Repelling Plants Grown Aeroponically!

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Here is an Aeroponics greenhouse .zip file that I've compiled.  This could be an installation business to radically improve people's indoor air quality, naturally!   Not only could a household thrive off of the organic vegetables grown, this could also become a business installing an oxygenating plant tower in sunny waiting rooms of office buildings, and near south-facing bedroom windows. 

These are turn-key systems that could be shipped to any location, to then be installed.

Whether it is just one indoor 8' tower with 30 plants, or 10 towers in a full-size greenhouse, an automatic growing system can be assembled to specifications. 

A solar panel and battery bank would run a low-wattage pump.


 


With the potential dangers of heavy metals & acid rain from industrial pollution, or even the possibility of radioactive rainfall, this system offers the assurance of having an abundant source of pristine, organically-grown food year-round.  

 

Here are some informative and pertinent articles about why good indoor air quality is important:

 

*Seven-ways-to-reduce-exposure-to-formaldehyde/

*Prenatal-pesticide-exposure-linked-to-lower-IQs-in-children/

 
What are the advantages to Aeroponics and how does it work?
 
Dangling Plants  Aeroponics uses the medium of air and the system is based on the plants literally dangling their roots into a grow chamber. They are regularly  subjected to a fine spray from misting nozzles, which keeps the grow chamber at 100 percent humidity. These misting nozzles spray a misted nutrient solution at periodic intervals, allowing the plants to absorb only the moisture and nutrients they need. The process is very efficient and there is very little waste involved.

 

Advantages of Aeroponics

There is no visible growth medium as the system uses air. This saves immensely on the labor, which is associated with conventional Hydroponic systems. It is also cleaner, with very little, if any, waste to dispose of, making it more environmentally friendly. This has the added benefit of a very low risk of bacterial problems that are usually associated with other growing mediums.

Secondly, the plants are always in contact with the air or their growing medium and will always receive sufficient oxygen for maximum growth. This, however, is not always the case with other types of growing medium, which may need changing frequently etc to grow properly.

Lastly, the growth cycle, if implemented properly can be much quicker and this in turn allows for the speedy production of a very fruitful harvest for  plants or vegetables.

When indoors Aeroponics is clean, efficient, with fewer chances of bacterial problems, less labor intensive and most importantly, and over time could save you money. 

There are three particular plants are chosen for their high oxygen content, the Areca Palm, Snake plant, and the Money plant.

After one greenhouse system is installed and producing, it becomes a showcase on the web, where potential customers could go and get a cyber tour.  The greenhouse structures could be part of a pre-fab 'Aeroponics greenhouse kit' container which gets shipped over direct from the company.  

The advantage that it has over the Aquaponics system is that it does not need fish in the system to be organically grown.  The nutrients come from a filtered 'compost tea' which gets sprayed on the roots every 20 minutes.   No fishy smells and tanks to clean every week this way. aeroponics-beyond-hydroponics-in-high-tech-gardening and this Aeroponics chat forum page has some good nutrient info from experienced growers.  


And now, here is my new twist added to this theme:  Combine the top three oxygenating plants into a retail Aeroponics system!   A space-saving VERTICAL method that could be placed in business waiting rooms, and other areas with a sunny, south-facing window. 
 


Video from Kamal Meattle, designer of the oxygenating plant system:  http://greenspaces.in/blog/ted09/
 
http://www.julioradesca.com/ shows one way that is being done to have the plants around you at the desk, though it is using soil as a medium.
  

The three indoor plants that Kamal mentions in his TED talk include:

1. Areca Palm - You need at least four shoulder-height plants per person in the building and, if you are living in a polluted city, make sure you wipe the Palm leaves every single day for the plant to effectively convert Carbon dioxide into Oxygen.

You should in fact grow two sets of Areca Palm's - keep the other set outdoors and rotate that set with the indoor one every 3-4 months.

2. Snake Plant - Unlike most plants which release Carbon-dioxide at night, Snake Plant (also known as Mother-in-law's Tongue) does the reverse as it converts CO2 into Oxygen at night so you can safely keep it inside the bedroom.

You need at least 6 to 8 waist height plants per person to improve the indoor air quality to a healthy level.

3. Money Plant - Other than releasing oxygen in the air, money plant can also eliminate formaldehyde from the air that is commonly released by cigarette smoke and adhesives (used with wood furnishings).

Money Plant is therefore especially useful in office buildings as they generally have lot of wooden furniture.

If there's space in the home or office premises, it makes lots of sense to grow these plants, because research says that there is a 42% probability of increasing blood oxygen by 1% if one stays inside a building housing these plants for 10 hours.

The Best Indoor Plants for "Cleaning" the Air.  NASA's Study on Indoor Plants

Top ten plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:

Kamal isn't the only person saying this. Earlier, a study conducted by NASA also suggested that certain houseplants (including Bamboo Palm and Snake Plant) can remove as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.

The Top Ten Plants for Removing Indoor ToxinsCommon indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution. NASA scientists are finding them to be surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside homes, indoor public spaces and office buildings.


The indoor pollutants that affect health are formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds (benzene and trichloroethylene or TCE), airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, pesticides and disinfectants (phenols), and radon. These pollutants contribute to ‘sick building syndrome’, which causes symptoms ranging from allergies, headaches and fatigue through to nervous-system disorders, cancer and death.


Through studies conducted by NASA, scientists have identified 50 houseplants that remove many of the pollutants and gases mentioned.


More information on this study as well as references and details on specific chemicals can be found on Dr. Wolverton’s website.


1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.

 

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Also called the “Lady Palm”, this durable palm species adapts well to most interiors. The Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements. The “Lady Palm” grows slowly, but can grow to more than 14′ in height with broad clumps often having a diameter as wide as their height.

 

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Also called the “reed palm”, this palm prefers bright indirect light. New plants will lose of some interior foliage as they acclimate to indoor settings. This plant likes to stay uniformly moist, but does not like to be over-watered or to sit in standing water. Indoor palms may attract spider mites which can be controlled by spraying with a soapy solution.

 

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

Grows very well indoors, preferring semi-sun lighting. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer. Young plants may need to be supported by a stake. The Ficus grows to 8’ with a spread of 5’. Wear gloves when pruning, as the milky sap may irritate the skin. Water thoroughly when in active growth, then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. In winter keep slightly moist.

 

5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

The Dracaena grows to 10’ with a spread of 3’. Easy to grow, these plants do best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the east/west. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist frequently with warm water. Remove any dead leaves. Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.

 

6. Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)

One of the most durable of all house plants. Philodendrons prefer medium intensity light but will tolerate low light. Direct sun will burn the leaves and stunt plant growth. This plant is available in climbing and non-climbing varieties. When grown indoors, they need to be misted regularly and the leaves kept free of dust. Soil should be evenly moist, but allowed to dry between watering.

 

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

A hardy, drought-tolerant and long-lived plant, the Dwarf Date Palm needs a bright spot which is free of drafts. It grows slowly, reaching heights of 8-10’. The Dwarf Date Palm should not be placed near children’s play areas because it has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin and even protective clothing.

 

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

The Ficus Alii grows easily indoors, and resists insects. It prefers a humid environment and low to medium light when grown indoors. The Ficus Aliii should not be placed near heating or air conditioning vents, or near drafts because this could cause leaf loss. Soil should be kept moist but allowed to dry between watering.

 

9. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

The Boston fern grows to 4’ in height with a spread up to 5’. It has feathery ferns which are best displayed as a hanging plant. It prefers bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil barely moist and mist frequently with warm water. This plant is prone to spider mites and whitefly which can be controlled using a soapy water spray. Inspect new plants for bugs before bringing them home.

 

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”)

The Peace Lily is a compact plant which grows to a height of 3’ with a 2’ spread. This hardy plant tolerates neglect. It prefers indirect sunlight and high humidity, but needs to be placed out of drafts. For best results, the Peace Lily should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to go moderately dry between waterings. The leaves should be misted frequently with warm water.


Here is a further use for Aeroponics, grow certain plants that repel mosquitos!  


Before reaching for the chemical sprays,  here are easy-to-grow plants which have natural mosquito-repelling properties…

1. Citronella

CitronellaCitronella is the most common natural ingredient used in formulating mosquito repellents. The distinctive citronella aroma is a strong smell which masks other attractants to mosquitoes, making it harder for them to find you. Although citronella is used in many forms, such as scented candles, torches and citronella ‘scented’ plants, the living plant is more effective because it has a stronger smell.


Citronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted in the ‘background’, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. In northern climate zones citronella can be grown in a large pot or planter, ideally with casters, so it can be rolled indoors during winter.


Gardening centers usually sell citronella as small plants in pots, ready to transplant to a larger pot or into ground beds. Once established, new plants can be propagated in early spring by splitting large clumps into smaller sections and replanting the new ‘starts’ in pots or other areas of the garden. Citronella plants are considered low maintenance, like most grasses, and they do best in full sun and well-drained locations. Periodic applications of nitrogen-rich fertilizers will ensure vigorous growth, but this treatment only needs to be applied once a year, preferably in early spring.


When purchasing citronella, look for the true varieties, Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Other plants may be sold as ‘citronella scented’, but these do not have the mosquito repelling qualities of true citronella.

2. Horsemint

HorsemintAlso known as Beebalm, Horsemint is an adaptable perennial plant which repels mosquitoes much the same as citronella. It gives off a strong incense-like odor which confuses mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts.


Horsemint is a fast growing, shade-tolerant and drought-resistant plant which reaches a height and width of 2 – 3 feet. It does well in dry, sandy soil and can tolerate salty conditions, which is why it is often found in coastal and beach areas. Horsemint seeds can be sown indoors in trays for later transplanting, or sown directly into the ground in late summer in colder climate zones. Midwest and Eastern growing zones are favoured for growing horsemint.


Mature horsemint plants can be divided in spring and fall by dividing into small sections and transplanting into permanent locations. Horsemint can also be planted in pots for moving indoors in cold climate zones.

Horsemint leaves can be dried and used to make herbal tea. Its flowers will also attract bees and butterflies to your garden.

3. Marigolds

MarigoldsCommonly grown as ornamental border plants, marigolds are hardy annual plants which have a distinctive smell which mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find particularly offensive. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents.

Marigolds prefer full sunlight and reasonably fertile soil. Although marigolds can be planted from seed, starter plants are inexpensive and readily available at most garden centers. 


Although an annual, marigold will often reseed itself in favourable conditions, or the gardener can easily collect seeds for future germination. Established plants will need to be thinned, and flowers should be dead-headed to promote additional blooms.


Potted marigolds can be positioned near entrances to your home and any common mosquito entry points, such as open windows. The smell may deter mosquitoes from going past this barrier. While marigolds can be used as border plants around the patio, we do not advise putting marigolds on the patio table since the bright blooms may attract wasps.


Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds repel insects which prey on tomato plants, so you may want to plant a few marigolds in your tomato bed for added protection.

4. Ageratum

AgeratumAlso known as Flossflowers, Ageratum emits a smell which mosquitos find particularly offensive. Ageratum secretes coumarin, which is widely used in commercial mosquito repellents.


Ageratum is a low-lying annual ornamental plant which reaches heights of 8 – 18”, and is easily recognized by its blue flowers, although there are varieties with pink, white and violet blooms. This plant will thrive in full or partial sun and does not require rich soil. It is often displayed in rock gardens where low-lying plants are favoured.

Although the leaves of Ageratum can be crushed to increase the emitted odor, it is not advisable to rub the crushed leaves directly on the skin.

5. Catnip

CatnipCatnip is a natural mosquito repellent. In August 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents. According to Iowa State researcher Chris Peterson, the reason for its effectiveness is still unknown. “It might simply be acting as an irritant or they don’t like the smell. But nobody really knows why insect repellents work.”


In the laboratory, Peterson put groups of 20 mosquitoes in a two-foot glass tube, half of which was treated with nepetalactone, a biologically active characteristic constituent of catnip. After 10 minutes, only an average of 20 percent – about four mosquitoes – remained on the side of the tube treated with a high dose (1.0%) of the oil. In the low dose test (0.1%) an average of 25% – five mosquitoes – stayed on the treated side. When the same tests were conducted using DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide), approximately 40 to 45% – eight to nine mosquitoes – remained on the treated side. A ten-fold higher concentration of DEET was required to obtain results similar to those of the Catnip.


Catnip, Nepeta cateria, is very easy to grow. This perennial herb is related to mint, and grows readily both as a weed and a commercially cultivated plant in most areas of the US.


While catnip will repel mosquitoes in close proximity to the plant, some people apply crushed catnip leaves or catnip oil for more robust protection. Bear in mind, however, that cats will respond to you similarly as they would respond to the plant itself.  Cat owners may want to choose an alternative plant for repelling mosquitoes.