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Hydromag caught up with Jeff Winterborne, proprietor of Esoteric Hydroponics and author of ‘Hydroponics – Indoor Horticulture’ to discuss his new Proactive Nutrient range and the industry at large.

Esoteric Hydroponics has stood the test of time for twenty years. Where the building at Number 8 Martyr Road in Guildford has long since started to show its age, the business itself continues to not only thrive, but also lead the way in many regards.

There’s an old school charm to the store that you would be a fool to mistake for a sign of apathy. In fact it stands as a testament to Jeff Winterborne that, where so much of business today is focused on image, Esoteric Hydroponics puts substance first and foremost.

Nowhere is this clearer to see than in Jeff’s video series ‘Hydroponics Systems Instructions’; Looking like it was shot in a barn on a camcorder from the nineties, it remains one of the best hydroponics learning tools that exist today. Jeff’s straightforward approach and sound confidence makes the whole process accessible and exciting.

Jeff’s book, ‘Hydroponics – Indoor Horticulture’ further typifies his style; conversational and unassuming, it’s his passion for the subject that propels the reader through the often weighty material. Interspersed with sacred geometrical maxims and esoteric techniques, it never feels laboured.

In 1997 Jeff founded Esoteric Hydroponics with a simple aim;

To bring nature and technology together for the benefit of anyone that was interested’.

It’s a succinct, honest and inherently good natured philosophy that shines through in Jeff’s work. Here’s hoping the rest of us can hold onto the same principal for another twenty years.

What made you want to bring out your own range of nutrients?

The opportunity was there so I took it. Plus, I was getting fed up with the inability of other nutrient manufacturers to supply their wares.


What sets your range apart from the competition?

The Proactive Range is a simple six pack solution; everything you need to grow, bloom, boost, and defend your plants from pest and disease. It’s the only range to include a water conditioner and an intensive foliar regime.

It is also an all-in- one soil/coco/hydro solution; run to waste and recirculating, hard and soft water, basically the six bottles does the lot. So there’s no need to carry repeated lines of nutrients for all the differing growing styles. These six bottles will suit all your customers’ needs.


Why did you choose to go for an all-in-one, rather than a two part base?

Technology has improved over time and now the science is there to make it so! Basically it makes it easy for the end user to use and to best of my knowledge this is the only combined grow and bloom single pack nutrient on the market making this, again, a truly unique range of nutrients.

“The longer you can hang on for dear life the more change you will create and the more wealth and health you will bring.”

What do you find is the most common misconception people have when it comes to nutrients?

Customers seem to believe that the nutrients are the be all and end all of growing plants. They obviously play an important role but by no means are they the philosopher’s stone of growing.

I’ve witnessed customers buy a £50 CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) lighting kit, and this is the only light they intend on using, then spend £350 on nutrients. I’ve explained that it’s the wrong way around and the £350 would be better spent on a decent light and on the environment rather than on the nutrients. But some customers just won’t listen, so off they go with their pony little light.


We’re seeing more cross over from the commercial side of the industry to the domestic side; do you think it’s a two way street? Is there something the commercial market can take from the domestic?

Yes and yes. Our industry is a bit like the birth of the internet being directly connected to porn; we are the innovators and creators of new techniques, inventions, applications and ideas that gain momentum then become an established norm in this market place; which the industrial commercial food and veg market then embraces.


How have you seen the industry change over 20 years? What have been the positive changes, and have there been any negative changes?

Yes! It has exploded; a slow volcano erupting, but it has only just begun to spurt lava; if you take the evolving US market as a new working model, then if Europe and the UK follow suit (which they will be forced to do), basically it will be a white knuckle roller-coaster of a ride to come! The longer you can hang on for dear life the more change you will create and the more wealth and health you will bring.

Let’s get a bit deeper on a negative note; if the world descends into World War Three and we torch the surface of our planet, we will be left with only one choice to survive and that will be to grow plants underground hydroponically with lights. On the other side of the coin, if we evolve and don’t descend into World War Three then we will be forced to colonise space and other planets, also employing hydroponics and grow lights; either way the survival of our species will depend upon this technology. So the future will to be bright in any case!

“We are all reflections of one another and the sooner we all realise this the sooner our industry and our country and our planet will grow up!”

What hasn’t changed in the industry that you’d like to see change?

Peoples’ egos! For fuck’s sake, when are we going to learn that no man or woman is in fact above or below you? We are all reflections of one another and the sooner we all realise this the sooner our industry and our country and our planet will grow up!  Once you know that it is not for me or you to judge one another, because all we are really doing is judging ourselves, once you know that he or she or it is not below you or above you then this life will be a much better life!


Big topic at the moment; LEDs- are they the future or a bit of a white elephant?

They are both! They have been and still can be a bit of a white elephant, but equally they are the future too! To be brutally honest the 315 watt CDM (Ceramic Discharge Metal-halide) is the light of the moment! In my humble opinion, which has remained the same since they hit the market approximately five years ago, there is no light that can compare to the CDM for wattage used to output produced from plants. These are the Plasma and the LED killers!


What’s the best way to bring hydroponics to the wider public?

“Taking it out of the closet”.


If you could give one piece of advice to people, what would it be?

To Grow! Grow mentally, Grow physically, Grow emotionally, and to Grow spiritually!  Anything else you need to know buy my books!


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