Some call it a plot, others an allotment, but they’re seasonal and soil-based. Why not have indoor hydroponic plots for rent where land-lacking urbanites with limited space in their homes can grow their own year around? It’s not as crazy an idea as you might first suspect. There’s a company in Tokyo who has been successfully doing this for 2 years.

It’s aimed at the casual gardener, that busy professional who though they would love to devote time to growing fresh vegetables at home, do not have the time to take care of a garden on a daily basis. For them, being able to stop in and unwind tending to their hydroponic plot at the end of a busy day is just right, and the harvest a welcome addition to meals. An interesting concept, and one that could be just as popular in many urban centers, regardless of where it sits on the globe.

The brainchild of property management firm Kajima Tatemono Sogo Kanri Co., who found themselves with vacant buildings in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. It seems the company has a number of hydroponic enthusiasts on staff, so perhaps they were instrumental in bringing the Tanabatake Sukusuku to life in 2014. Company representative, Tsuneaki Ihana, who works in their technical information division says,  “A cityscape becomes dark when the number of vacant buildings increases. Lights for gardening can illuminate the city, and I hope the greenery of the vegetables is like a downtown oasis and refreshes passers-by.”

In the current Kajima model, each gardener rents a hydroponic container known as a ‘bed’ on a monthly basis. The unit holds up to 21 plants at a time, and plot-holders have the option of growing as many as 3 different crops at a time in their bed. They start from seed available from Tanabatake Suksuku staff, or they can bring seed from outside sources. The setups use LED and fluorescent grow lights. The garden is supervised at all times with experienced hydroponic growers who monitor environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, and nutrient levels as a service to resident gardeners. An excellent amenity given the long hours and business trips that are common in a professional person’s work life. Everything is being tended to in their absence.

The response and growing popularity surprised the Kajima company, they never expected the idea to be so successful.

What Do Hydroponic Plots for Rent Look Like?

Good question! Unless it’s just an inability to Google using Japanese characters, we don’t have much to go by beyond that peek through the plate glass of the storefront on top of this page, and one other image showing an older gentleman tending some lettuces rising out of white plastic with tweezers. All well-designed hydroponic systems have a white top to reflect as much grow light energy as possible back towards the crop. Some news sources resorted to finding anything that showed an Asian person working with plants growing in hydroponics, but it’s a storefront, and they show pics of someone in a greenhouse?

So, what would such a year-around garden plot entail in the US, Canada, or the UK? Probably deep water culture units with a standard nutrient solution for leafy greens and herbs, which is a great start. These are generally fast developing crops that give the busy professional a harvest not long after getting started, but what about when they also want to grow some peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers? Such a garden would need to be prepared to comply both in providing enough light power and hydro setup to make these wishes possible. So you would have to be able to upgrade from one option to another, which might entail renting 2 separate ‘beds’ one for dutch bucket crops, and one in the deep water culture section of the facility.

An indoor community garden is something totally new to consider, and could be especially valuable in larger cities in northern climates, though it could prove very popular with city dwellers who live in high rise apartments and condos in warmer parts of the country too.

Located where a lot of foot traffic from surrounding offices will see the lush growth of fresh fruits and vegetables happening through storefront windows could be very inspiring. That’s the best kind of building for such a facility – close to work, making it convenient to pop in on lunch break, on the way home, or that stolen hour on a weekend afternoon.

It might be just the thing for an existing hydroponics gardening shop to get into as an expansion of retail sales. Plenty of traditional garden shops are diving into renting raised beds and garden boxes as an expansion.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton