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Weston Beach Race - 24 August 2018
Welcome to the world of Hydroponics
So, what does HydroGarden do? It’s a question we’ve heard a few times from those learning about the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race, which takes place on October 19-21. To get the answer, we chatted to a man who deals with the development of HydroGarden’s products, is passionate about growing plants, and who can explain all - Richard Jones, HydroGarden’s Product Development Manager. Richard has been on hand to give you an overview and insight into what HydroGarden actually does; welcome to the world of Hydroponics.
HydroGarden is a supplier of Hydroponics products. What is hydroponics you may say..? Well, thanks to Richard, we can arm you with all the information you need. The basic definition of Hydroponics is growing plants without soil, although it’s actually much, much broader than that in real terms. Plants basically need six things to survive and thrive; light, cabon dioxide (CO2), oxygen, water, warmth and food in the form of nutrients. Those six basic needs apply to any plant – whether it’s for huge commercial operations, or the spider plant on your kitchen windowsill. The basis of Hydroponics is providing plants (of any kind) with all of its nutrient requirements in soluble form with water. Easy to digest plant food per se. It also means you can grow a plant in poor quality soil by feeding it as you water.
As the industry has developed, Hydroponics has also become the catch-all phrase for everything to do with controlled and technological growing (this is where it gets a bit more serious), including horticultural lighting, ventilation control, environmental control and so on. So, hydroponics could be used in your basic greenhouse with no power to it, or by having a system to water your tomato plants, to full vertical growing systems under lighting with computer and electronically controlled feeding and watering systems. HydroGarden caters for both ends of the industry – the green fingered dirtbiker who fancies creating a kitchen garden or to grow his or her own courgettes, to massive systems designed to grow plants quickly and efficiently to supply the supermarket and food industry.
“Commercially in greenhouse growing, anything that is not strictly defined as organic is classed as hydroponic. Tomatoes, cucumbers, glass house lettuces, peppers; anything that isn’t grown outside falls under hydroponics. Outside it’s very weather specific, as in places like Israel and Australia it is also possible to utilise Hydroponics, as they have the climate for it. It’s all about providing the nutrient the plant requires in the most efficient manner. Usually, with traditional methods (think shoving a plant into some compost and watering it when you remember) can take a long time for a plant to take in the nutrients it needs, but if you provide it in a soluble form in the watering, it’s instant,” said Jones.
“Hydroponics is not used in traditional farming - fertiliser like muck is a solid means of feed for a plant, or they use chemical mineral fertilisers, which are soluble, but they are released with rainfall, so it’s not the same. When the nutrients are readily provided, we can give the plant a very finely balanced solution for the plant to take in exactly and only what it needs to grow to the best of its capabilities. The environmental control is about optimising the environmental conditions (think six basic needs) to allow the plant to grow to its best.”
For those difficult to grow plants, and in glass house and controlled environments, even total indoor growing in enclosed spaces, it’s possible to speed along the growing process by using artificial light of the right sort, for the right amount of time, with controlled temperature and humidity. Normally a plant would only see these ‘perfect’ conditions for a short time in its growing life, so by manipulating the conditions they can grow bigger, faster, stronger and healthier, which is critical in ensuring we have enough food to feed the world – and is partly why you can now see fruit and vegetables in supermarkets out of season.
HydroGarden as a company is a wholesaler and manufacturer of all of the products that may be needed to grow plants in the best possible way. They have products from substrates such as composts, which are natural yet refined with coco fibre or clay pebbles for example to grow plants in, as well as all the nutrient solutions that are designed to give plants exactly the mineral elements that they need. So those tomato plants or Hydrangeas you’re trying to improve maybe just need a bit of a boost with some soluble solutions from HydroGarden. The company also has products for the more serious grower including plant lighting, environmental control and ventilation products to fully computer controlled systems.
“If you have a basic greenhouse that doesn’t have electricity as a starting point, then we have products that can help automatically water your plants. We can provide the best nutrient solutions and the best growing substrates, and even if you’re growing outdoors we can provide the best nutrient solutions and stimulants available to make the best out of plants that are in a natural environment. If you’re limited for space then we can provide very small scale enclosed growing areas where you have total control over the lighting and everything you might need or want at a range of different budgets, from a basic system to full computer controlled systems with the latest technology LED lighting,” continued Jones.
He’s an expert grower and the envy of his local allotment, but Richard has years of experience and is passionate about developing great products from the novice gardener to the professional grower looking to help the world food crisis.
“I used to be a farmer and spent most of my younger years working on the market garden growing salad and vegetable produce. As I was getting older and that was getting harder I saw an advert and to be honest I didn’t know what Hydroponics meant at that time, but I went along and started working for a Hydroponic growing company. After 10 years there I came over to HydroGarden and I’ve been here eight years. I’m passionate about growing, I love growing plants. I have two allotments, a greenhouse which is full right now with tomatoes, chillies, peppers, cucumbers, melons, watermelons, and I have a banana plant there. The allotment utilises our advanced liquids, so my plants tend to look good.”
“The sweetcorn and squashes, well they may be the envy of the allotment (laughs). I enjoy growing plants. I sometimes bring our surplus food into work to share around, although my primary reason for growing is because I like providing for myself and my family. It’s not difficult to grow, and making yourself better at it is not hard.”
To find out more about HydroGarden and its products, head to www.hydrogarden.com. At the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race, which takes place on 19-21 October in Weston-Super-Mare, HydroGarden will be there with a fantastic set-up and ready to answer your horticultural and hydroponics questions.
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