I’m sure many of you have heard of or are familiar with hydroponics as the new alternative to soil-free gardening. But getting off the phone with Founder, Richard Campbell has left me absolutely mind-blown. To Soil Less has discovered a way of growing plants on rocks by simply adding water! Bring on the skeptics and the confused – you’re all probably thinking, that’s just throwing gravel on top of fertilized soil to make things look neat.
No, this process is absolutely dirt-free.
“Gravel gardening” as To Soil Less has termed it, utilizes river or sedimentary rock, which unlike land rock, is rich in nutrients and minerals formed from eons of fossilized marine animals, plants and other organic material. When you add water, plant food emerges – a cocktail of potassium, silica and copper – the gift of all natural, dirt-free and odorless fertilizer. For the last two years, Richard and his family have spent time refining this gravel gardening process, condensing all of their knowledge into an affordable and highly recommended book:
Richard was kind enough to share with us some key tips covered in the book, and warned first time gravel gardeners that the rules of gardening are drastically different when it comes to growing your garden in gravel:
“The rules of gardening are drastically different and it’s not intuitive. But once you know it your whole gardening outlook will change. Your cost will almost disappear.”
If you’re looking to dip your toes in and get your first taste of gravel gardening, To Soil Less have created a Gravel Grow Cup:
“The Gravel Grow Concept concept really came out of a classroom environment, where each kid could grow their own crops in a cup – a pea shoot that they could have in the winter so that they could snack on something nutritious all winter long.”
Giving the gift of sustainability, is how it’s described – all you need to do, is add water. However, the feature we are most excited about, would be the fact that the gravel system does not lose its value over time, on the contrary it gains value as you harvest and grow new plants. The residue of your harvested plants would contribute to the success of your new seeds without needing new gravel!
The applications are absolutely limitless. Your urban home, balconies, kitchen benches, window sills – but our favorite aspect of gravel science would be its opportunity to solve food security, and tackle starvation of the homeless. Richard envisions organizations purchasing 6 gravel grow cups and 6 packs of seeds in an easy carrycase that would provide a homeless person the ability to grow a serving size of produce every day for a year. He recommends pea shoots, which not only grow rapidly in gravel but are a highly coveted superfood.
Interested in learning more? Head over to ToSoilLess.com for more information!