Par­adise in Bel­lville

go! Platteland - - HYDROPONICS -

In the dusty back yard of Pro­con­trol, their com­pany in Bel­lville, Cape Town, Pi­eter de Jager and Dirkie Bauer­meis­ter have cre­ated an un­ex­pected utopia. Walk­ing into the yard, it’s hard to imag­ine any­thing would grow there, but you’ll find a jun­gle full of veg­eta­bles un­der shade cloth in their NFT sys­tem: cu­cum­bers, pump­kins, toma­toes, let­tuce, kale… and the sides of the tun­nel are lined with Dutch buck­ets con­tain­ing straw­ber­ries and toma­toes.

“We ini­tially had a veg­etable gar­den here and added a lot of soil and ma­nure, but those would never last long. We just could not get ahead, es­pe­cially with the drought,” says Pi­eter. Lice, fruit flies and birds were a con­stant prob­lem. But now their sys­tem pro­vides enough let­tuce for about four fam­i­lies ev­ery week, and any­thing else they har­vest is dis­trib­uted among the staff. They say they couldn’t be­lieve how quickly the plants grow and how healthy they are. Pi­eter points to a large, healthy cu­cum­ber on one of the huge plants in the back of the tun­nel. “That plant was added to the sys­tem only 40 days ago.” >

Dirkie (left) and Pi­eter with their sys­tem. The plants at the back have been grow­ing for 40 days and the ones in the fore­ground are a week old. The but­ter­nut and cu­cum­ber (be­low, from left) are from the batch grow­ing be­hind them.

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