Keldyn talks Hydroponics

This week at Mawson: 19 April 2013

Every two weeks most people on station are rostered to do their duties in the Hydroponics Building. For me it is a chance to get into my shorts, enjoy some humidity, artificial lighting, check on the plants and see how they have progressed. Darron our Met Tech is the head of the show and since volunteering he has done a wonderful job with the role and I can personally say it’s really nice to get some fresh vegetables, herbs and lettuces coming through. I caught up with him this week and this is what he had to say.

Have you done Hydroponics before?
This is my first time as manager, but I have helped out previously at Macca and Davis.

What will you be harvesting this week?
Lettuces, Radishes, Silver beet, Pak Choi (they have taken approximately the same time as the packet said).

Have you enjoyed it?
It has been time consuming but down here in Antarctica it has been a good hobby. When you walk in the door it’s like being in Cairns (with the day we went in at 60% humidity and 21° Celsius).

What is the most challenging things you have faced?
The flooding is a reoccurring issue with a few different causes. The constant planting, transplanting and pruning has also been time consuming.

On the subject of planting how do you go about it?
The lettuces and rocket tend to do best in the seeding tray, while larger seeds such as snap peas tend to grow alright being put straight into the vermiculite (the growing medium we use).

How often are they watered?
Again lettuces and rocket have nutrients fed to them with the water running 24/7. All other plants are watered 5 or 6 times a day for roughly about an hour each time. In addition to that the lights are turned on for 16 hours per day. All the timers are automatic.

What is a list of things we are currently growing?
Cucumbers, tomatoes ( 5 varieties), lettuces ( 5 varieties), pak choi, silver beet, radishes (2 varieties), sugar snap peas, spring onions, capsicums, chillies, strawberries and we have a really nice herb garden going.

Is there anything I have missed or you would like to tell me that would be of interest to the reader?
Seeing as we have no bees down here to pollinate the flowering plants, we have to use a paintbrush.

Until Next time

Darron Lehmann in hydroponics
Darron in his garden
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Hydroponic herbs
The herb garden
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Lettuce in hydroponics
The lettuce patch
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Swiss chard in hydroponics
Swiss Chard anyone?
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Bok Choi in hydroponics
Perhaps Bok choi then?
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
Darron Lehmann in hydroponics
Darron cleans up another water hazaed
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)