To understand hydroponics it is necessary to understand that the roots of a plant are principally
involved in its nutrient and water uptake. In the soil, plant roots extract the moisture from an area
immediately surrounding the individual root axes. Once the water is depleted the plant must either
search further using its root stem or wait for its immediate supply to be replenished through rain or
irrigation. This imperfect arrangement means that, at one time or another, water is in short supply or is
oversupplied. The former problem results in under nourished plants, as only soluble nutrients can be
taken up by the root. The later results in a plant drowning, as oxygen is also absorbed through the root
While it is therefore evident that submerging a plant’s roots in water could provide the correct
environment for nutrient uptake, clearly just setting a plant in water would result in a plant suffocating.
How then does hydroponics work? By only partially placing the root stem in a flow of nutrient rich water
we can both provide the ideal conditions for nutrient uptake and adequate exposure to oxygenated air.
Indeed, it follows that if we can improve nutrient and water uptake we stand a good chance of
improving yields and quality. Hydroponics is simply the term applied to growing plants using mineral
nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.
While there are outdoor hydroponic growers, most hydroponic growers choose to use some type of a
greenhouse. Hydroponic growing in a greenhouse allows greater control over many of the traditional
problems associated with crop production. Pests can be kept at bay without the use of pesticides,
diseases more easily eradicated, and inclement weather no longer has a catastrophic impact on crops.
In fact, using a wet wall in the summer and heating techniques in the winter allows us to have a year
round growing season.
Our particular hydroponic greenhouse employs a NFT (nutrient film technique) system to gently flow
nutrient rich water over the roots of our chosen crop. The basic principles of the NFT system are:
1) A nutrient solution is circulated past the root systems of the plants.
2) No solid root zone material is necessary for the system (no soil).
3) The plants are grown on a slope.
The circulated water is monitored by a computerized fertilizer system that can replenish the different
nutrients the plants absorb. This enclosed system also allows us to use one tenth the amount of water of
traditional farming. Because our crop isn’t rooted in the soil, the NFT system allows us to be minimally
destructive when harvesting by keeping the root stem fully intact. This gentle harvest gives our plants a
remarkable shelf life—much longer than traditional agriculture.
So while hydroponic growing is more complicated than traditional methods, it allows for consistent, year
round growing environment for our crops. We will be able to provide our customers with an ideally
grown product that we know you will enjoy. The next time you see the Craine Creek Farm logo give
hydroponic growing a try and let us know what you think!