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Once a hydroponic system is up-and running, it is fairly cheap to maintain as fewer inputs are needed compared with conventional, soil-based cultivation. For a start, it is less labour-intensive.
As water is recycled, hydroponic systems conserve water by as much as 90% compared to field growing conditions. And because it's a closed system, with no nutrients leaching into soils, there are good environmental arguments for going down this route.
Nutrient-rich water is pumped, sprayed or dripped onto plant roots in a controlled environment. At Cae Gwyn, the water is pumped along troughs, like guttering, which are raised waist-high on benches- this is called an NFT system (nutrient film technique).
We also grow in containers containing perlite or clay balls - using a drip system.
Now for some photos of some of the plants we have grown hydroponically
Cabbage greyhound Okra
Sage,chives,runner beans Some flowers
Pakchoi Lasso rosso lettuce
Helychrysum hanging to dry Wombok (chinese cabbage)
Mizuma has proved very popular
American Cress with a strong peppery bite to it.
Strong growing Rosemary Stevia -or sweet herb of Paraguay-
As lettuces are harvested Now thats what you call a Marigold !
young seedlings take their place.
Sylvesta a butterhead type lettuce
Lettuces seem to like the cooler environment!
Feverfew producing strong aromatic leaves.
A bumble bee tucking into a late calendula feast !
Mizuma flower Pink flower
Roquet flower Wombok flowers
Echinacea growing hydroponically
All parts of the Echinacea purpurae are used medicinally - not just the root - and so we are experimenting to see how it does!
This is our first flower- July 2007
Also growing well - green basil - can you smell it?
and Thai basil -which is very strong
The flat green beans have done very well and it looks like a case of pick and come again and again!
and celery grew extremely well - either eaten raw when young or used in stews, casseroles and soups.
Winter Density Cos
Choisum hon tsai tai
Pak choi just waiting to be cut and stir fried!
Purple Russian Tomatoes
Unusual colouring - but very tasty!