Hydroponic means growing plants without soil. Fertilizers dissolved in water are used to feed the plants. With the development of plastics, hydroponics has taken a giant step forward, becoming the method of choice for producing certain speciality crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.
Environmently friendly practices:
In January 2004 SunTech changed their growing system to coconut coir slabs on raised trough. The coconut coir is a biodegradable natural product that has a multitude of uses post greenhouse.
Some uses are, soil amendment for flower beds, improving drainage, moisture retention and organic matter. A drip irrigation system provides plants with water and nutrients directly where the plants need it – at their roots!
In our greenhouses, this has improved the climate with better air circulation thus eliminating high humidity dead spots around the plants. Our plants are also able to keep producing despite high temperatures which increases our harvest time from 7 to 10 months a year.
When the time comes to pollinate the plants, we use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system which consists of bumblebees kept in balance with the number of open flowers. This results in improved fruit quality, labour efficiency and it also eliminates the need for pesticides or fungicides.
All work involved in tomato production is done manually. Our plants are clipped onto a string, suspended from overhead supports on a weekly basis.
Plants are watched closely, and pruned on a weekly basis as needed to ensure the proper growth of each individual plant. During harvesting, the produce is hand-picked 3 times a week, machine sorted by weight, and then hand packed for delivery to the retailer.