Instead of soil it uses hydroponics, a technique to grow plants in water which uses around a twentieth the amount of liquid as conventional watering. Picture: YouTube.com

London - It is the sort of set-up you might expect to find in an illegal cannabis factory.

But growing plants indoors without natural light or soil could be the future of gardening for city dwellers with little or no access to outdoor space, according to Ikea.

The flatpack chain presented a futuristic show garden, entitled Gardening Will Save The World, at the Chelsea Flower Show.

It features red LED lights, which consume little electricity and deliver the wavelength of light most useful to help plants grow.

Instead of soil it uses hydroponics, a technique to grow plants in water which uses around a twentieth the amount of liquid as conventional watering.

Its designers say it also has the advantage of allowing fruit and vegetables to be grown all year round. And because plants can be stacked, more can be harvested per square foot than in a normal garden.

Plants being grown at the Chelsea Flower Show garden include cress, lettuce, pak choi, red-veined sorrel, mizuna, strawberries, sweet peppers and curly kale.

Visitors to the garden – created with leading designer Tom Dixon, and awarded a silver medal by the Royal Horticultural Society – had mixed feelings about the high-tech display.

Amanda Kiely, 58, from Luton, said: "We found it a bit freaky, because it’s so sterile and it doesn’t look like gardening. It is almost hospital-like, growing food like this. I would not have it in my house.

"I have a garden and I don’t grow vegetables. We have seen pictures of marijuana factories that look like this."

Her friend Amy Castleman, 40, also from Luton, added: "I don’t like it.

"It’s not what you would normally think of as growing. It might be in the future how we grow food because of pollution, but at the moment there’s not a need for it."

However, Hannah Van Beveren, 37, a support worker for adults with learning difficulties from Norwich, was more positive.

She said: "I thought it was really impressive. I particularly liked the device which grows fungus with a robotic misting arm. I would certainly be interested in a unit if it was affordable enough."

Ikea’s James Futcher said the concept garden shows "the future of what homes could look like".

He added: "You could create an entire market garden in a spare room if you wanted. If you are into it, you could become self-sufficient."

Daily Mail