Hydroponics growing methods

Cucumber plant in expanded clay growing medium
Cucumber plant in expanded clay growing medium (Photo: Eve)
Lettuce and tomatoes are planted every few weeksHand pollinating the tomatoes in hydroponics

The facilities at each station are designed to maximise the available space to ensure a constant supply of fresh crops. They generally contain:

  • three drip irrigation systems with 20 growing containers
  • nutrient film technique systems for 33 plants
  • a propagating area.

The room temperature is maintained at 25 degrees C, with humidity levels between 60-70%.

As soil is prohibited as a growing medium, seeds are propagated in Rockwool propagating cubes. Once germinated, the seedlings are transferred into perlite or expanded clay, where they are drip fed with nutrients.

As there are no insects in Antarctica, pollination is done manually by tickling the flowers with a soft pollinating brush – without pollination there would be no vegetables.

Non-fruit bearing plants are not allowed to go to seed. Instead the flowers are removed and incinerated to reduce the risk of seeds accidentally becoming attached to clothing and then being carried out into the local environment.

This page was last modified on 12 August 2010.