Much like a sheepdog with a honeydew on its head, these past months have been somewhat melon collie. No fear, we’re here to shepherd you to a sunlit upland that always radiates with a hydro-horti glow. Where melons spring forth from pots, rather than balancing on dogs heads in puns. Where the only sheepdog is our kindly, not-so-shaggy MD, Jason Ralph-Smith, guiding fruit and veg to ever-greener heights, wagging his tail, and barking at predators – aphids, mites and all. Let us graze awhile in the AutoPot grow room.
You like melons? We have melons. Thriving in a 1Pot XL module and spilling out with ludicrous fruitfulness our current watermelon plant is quite the survivor. It was previously grown up strings from the 8.5 L / 2.2 gal pot of an easy2grow module – that was some eight months ago. Having produced abundant fruit it was subsequently cut down but refused to go quietly and sprang back into life. At the last count it had produced some seven, shining, swelling spheres with more on the way, due in no small part to the Perlagrow Coco in which it is potted and Dutchpro on which it is fed. From the tombs of the Pharaohs to the AutoPot Grow Room watermelon seeds have a proud history of getting into regal and splendid chambers. It seems this plant is intent on thoroughly honouring its ancestors. For more feats of historic endurance we need look no further than our current crop of tomatoes – of which more below.
A whole 12 months on from being potted, our tomato plants are still banging out tasty baubles. The plants are in the 8.5 L / 2.2 gal pots of easy2grow modules. These modules are arranged in a long run to create a wall-like vine and fed by a FlexiTank Pro. 8.5 L is not, comparatively, a big space for each plant, especially over the course of a year. But Jason is a proponent of being able to grow long term in small areas and these plants really do provide an object lesson in what is possible.
You do, however, need to be able to ensure the pots are damn near impregnable from the inside-out. This is important in order to keep roots away from the AQUAvalve5s in the module trays. In what has probably been the greatest test of their longevity that we’ve ever undertaken, the PotSock Squares haven’t allowed the roots a peep. The PotSocks fit snugly around the exterior base of the pots with their copper-coloured sides facing the pot sides and roots. Though naturally a little less vital than in their heyday, the plants are still actively enjoying the Biobizz Soil and we can’t fault the Terra Aquatica 3-Part feed in meeting their nutritional needs.
Fish Sh!t real good? Yes it is! We’ve been well pleased with the improvement brought about in plant health by this organic soil conditioner. Jason doesn’t take piscine in his pots lightly, but this fish-waste-based additive truly has won him over with it’s ability to rejuvenate curling leaves and turbo-charge new growth. As with most indoor growing locations, there can be a lot going on in the grow room and with the best will in the world the preponderance of lights and tech can occasionally affect sensitive plants – if only mildly.
Fish Sh!t seems to be doing a sterling job with the cucumbers in easy2grow modules. It’s economical at just 1ml:100ml and is flowing freely through the AQUAvalve5s – but then we’d expect that with the valve’s big 5mm bore. Very much our pampered pooches, the plants are soaking up the comprehensively nourishing Dutchpro A & B Soil at an EC of 1.9/2.0 delivered via the reservoir and pipework, whilst safely ensconced in glorious Biobizz substrates. Cucumber sandwiches all round! Not punchy enough for you? Read on!
What better way to garnish and add impactful flavour to a refreshing salad than micro herbs? We did a meticulous study of how best to effortlessly cultivate these little delights with AutoPot last year. Never one to rest on his micro-herbaceous laurels Jason was keen to try out a different substrate in the shape of Seramis. Plus points for Seramis? The clay granulate media apparently contains natural silicone which is a big boost where strength, growth, and resistance are concerned. Storing and draining beautifully, the porosity of the granules has also been a revelation. As has its capacity to support roots of micro herbs grown without pots.
Jason has a variety of Seramis-based trials underway growing amaranth, basil, mizuma, Thai sweet basil, mustard, radish, coriander, and sweetcorn. Principal amongst the techniques employed is sowing into a small pile of the substrate which is sat directly on a root control sheet. The root control sheet sits top a CocoMat which is placed within a water-filled garden tray. CocoMat wicks all the moisture the plants need and can be left unattended for up to ten days – longer still if paired with an easy2GO Kit in the tray.
No feed is required in the initial stages as the seeds have all they need within their own husks. It all makes for a perfect little low-cost, natural set-up that anyone can enjoy over the coming holidays – with quick-to-harvest flavours to add to your yuletide culinary flights of fancy. We’ll have updates galore on this and all our grows over the coming weeks – gaze into the AutoPot Insta and Facebook feeds to stay abreast of developments.