The Biodome is a giant greenhouse at St Mary's, which has a hydroponic system to grow plants without soil by using mineral nutrients. The hydroponic system is contantly feeding the roots of the plants, which grow in clay pellets, and this accelerates growth and provides the ideal conditions for thriving plants.
We have lots of space in the Biodome (enough for a class to plant and experiment); and we have added 2 trugs (raised planters), which make the plants easier to reach for the children. The plants in the trugs are growing in soil, and we are able to compare their growth with those grown in the allotment (outside) and the hydroponic system.
The Biodome has a solar panel which generates enough power to run a fan inside the Biodome, and this is able to cool the room when the sun is very bright and the temperature is warm. The fan cools the room enough to allow the plants to thrive and grow, and not burn in the hot sun. If you hear the fan turn on, it will mean that the temperature in the Biodome has reached 25 degrees centigrade, and room is starting to cool down.
If you are wondering what we do with all the food we grow...we eat it! We use it in our kitchen, we eat it raw, and the children take it home. A fact you may not know: Biodoem cucumbers are the best!
What about pests? We have had some problems with aphids or small flies in the biodome, because they love the humid environment and the leaves to eat. To solve this problem we have added...can you guess?...live ladybirds. We bought the ladybirds live from Amazon, and they arrived in the post. Afternoon Nursery let them free, and they will eat the flies for us, and save the fruit from pests.
If you are wondering what 'adalia bipunctata' means, it is a two spotted ladybird.