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Ewell Monastery Growers

Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a technical term that simply means ‘water culture’. This was pioneered during the war but it wasn’t until the late 60s that it was perfected as a commercial growing method. We use a variation of this which is called Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT. That means the plants have a thin film of water almost, but not quite, covering their roots.

Basically it is a closed system with the water being pumped from a tank round the plants, which then flows back into the tank to be re-circulated. Of course all the nutrients the plants require are added into the water in the tank and instruments monitor the strength of the solution to maintain it at the required level. In fact the system replicates, as far as possible, the conditions present in good growing soil. There are obvious advantages in this system of growing. The plants take up what they need at any time and so there is no waste of water. A great deal of labour is cut out as there is virtually no need to check the water supply other than knowing how much is taken up each day and checking there are no serious leaks. For further discussion of this type of growing click the following title - Organic Growing?

Our system is composed of steel troughs laid on the ground which has been previously prepared for slope and covered with chippings to avoid soil borne diseases. White polythene is laid inside the troughs to hold the plants and more white polythene is laid between the rows to reflect the light in winter. From other photographs you will see that the heating pipes between the rows also act as trolley rails!