Published: 11 October 2013
Hydroponics
The availability of land to grow plants is being reduced dramatically as bricks and mortar, tarmac and necessary infrastructure swallow up an ever increasing number of hectares.
Artificial lighting with the correct light wavelengths is essential for all indoor growing
From agricultural land to allotments and private gardens, the areas of soil for the cultivation of crops are diminishing.

The cumulative effect of this should be cause for concern especially when it comes to the growing and supply of edible crops to an increasing global population. Improved and increased crop growing methods should therefore become a higher priority for everyone.
 
On both commercial and domestic scales there are established methods for growing a wide range of plants both outside and inside without the need for planting them in the soil. The growing of plants without the need for soil is known as Hydroponics.

Dan Hurst in front of the Homebox grow tent
This method of growing plants is increasing dramatically, as are the number of products and materials now available.

At first glance it may appear over complicated and expensive and without some careful research this could turn out to be true. However, there is a lot of information and help available plus some specialist retailers who can supply all the necessary equipment and materials for a home start setup. 
 
One such is the Northwest Growshop Hydroponic Centre based at Tree Tops Nursery, Over Peover near Knutsford in Cheshire.  In charge of the centre is Dan Hurst who has many years experience in horticulture and studied commercial horticulture at Reaseheath College, he has the plant growing knowledge plus an in depth understanding and experience of the hydroponic systems he now sells from the centre.

He stocks starter kits for beginners at approximately one hundred pounds and additional lighting sets that will allow all year round growing indoors right up to the large insulated growing tents with built-in lighting and ventilation systems for more serious amateurs or commercial growers.

A chilli plant growing well in the nutrient rich filled growing container using a hydroponic system

Examples of hand held monitoring meters, essential to maintain correct nutrient levels within the water flowing around the growing system.

The key components within any hydroponic system are the water tight growing container and growing medium for the plants to grow in. A small pump is required to circulate the water and nutrients around the roots within the containers; because the plants are totally dependant on this water and nutrient supply a monitoring device is essential, on a small scale these are hand held devices used on a routine bases, for larger installations automated equipment may be required to ensure accurate dose rates are maintained at all times.

Dan Hurst commented that maintaining the correct nutrient dose rate within the system is key to successful growing, ”Things can go wrong very quickly if the balance is not maintained, especially when growing plants under lights.” he continued “ That is why we offer first class customer service and support, we are a vital link and provide backup advice over the phone for our customers.” 
 
Cubes of sterile rock wool or clay granules are the most popular growing materials used in a hydroponic system.

This level of support is proving popular, existing customers travel from as far away as the home counties and Liverpool to see the extensive stock at the centre. Dan is keen to show customers the full product range available so he can offer advice on the most suitable for each customer’s requirements based on their existing level of knowledge and experience, to help with this important aspect of the business a new undercover display area is being planned for opening in early 2014.

Plants grow whilst the water and nutrients circulate around continuously.

For more information about the Hydroponic Centre visit their website: www.northwestgrowshop.co.uk

Reported by Chris Allen  
   
 

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