Above all at AutoPot it’s about the plants, not least because the grow room is on the top floor. Our R& D modules may have the penthouse but there’s little in the way of luxuriating for them. Same goes for our test grower and MD, Jason Ralph-Smith, who’s been pushing AutoPot capabilities to the limit over the last few months. That product isn’t going out into the world unless proven teak-tough and ready to rumble with just about any plants you can throw at it (or preferably pot in it, as per our considered guidance).
This time we’re talking figs, we’re talking aubergines, we’re talking herbs, we’re talking ginger. Not merely the exercise of growing these plants, but of testing them in a wild range of substrates and under varied feed regimes. If you’ve found us here there’s a good chance you’re interested in exploring the incredible variety of plant life which can be cultivated in a watering system. Join us on a wordy walk, a talky tour, an outspoken odyssey around our test grows to find out more.
The fig is a fascinating plant to try. Our Brown Turkey bypasses the ghastly but unbelievably nature-affirming process of wasp pollination – a symbiotic process that has been an estimated 60 million years in the making. The plant is spreading far and wide and is already abundant with figs. These inverted flowers can, astoundingly, be grafted on from other fig plants – with members of The Fig Society reportedly having achieved up to 11 different figs on the one plant.
We’ve got our fig plant tucked up in Biobizz soil and coco with a top dressing of Seramis which is working the oracle at keeping fungus gnats at bay. The 1Pot XL in whose 25 L / 6.6 gal pot the fig sits is really the best off-the-peg module we offer for small/medium sized trees. For similar or larger sized plants you could equally break out into a garden tray with 35 L / 9gal or 139 L / 37 gal fabric FlexiPot and an easy2GO Kit to cover the watering and feeding. A note here on our relative unfamiliarity with the plant. Without experience of figs it could be tricky, or at least hard work, to anticipate the necessary feeding regime. The AQUAvalve5 in this, and every AutoPot module tray, gives responsibility for feeding to the plant itself – meaning there’s no need to second-guess requirements and no need for pumps or timers. The plant simply draws what it needs when it needs it. You just bear that in mind as we get on with the tour!
The rampant growing power of AutoPot is equally evident with our aubergines, which continually bush out and require constant trimming from Jason. Two Thai varieties, an English, and a White Knight from Medwyn’s of Anglesey have been producing like crazy in a 4Pot System. Whilst the 4Pot keeps on top of water and feed Jason requires little helpers to keep the plants pest-free. More insect gore here in the shape of parasitic wasps to counter aphid infestations. Yep, it’s everybody’s favourite means of reproduction; injecting eggs in other species and allowing the larvae to hatch from within and cut their way out, still aphids suck so what are you going to do? On a more tasteful note – lemongrass.
Propagated from seed at the turn of the year, our lemongrass plant is now around 2 metres in diameter, lemon-dieu! Looking for all the world like a Goblin King’s hairpiece, this bad boy is in a 15 L / 3.9 gal 1Pot module, suppin’ on Dutchpro A & B for Soil from a 25 L FlexiTank. EC is about 1.9, pH 5.8 and it ain’t stopping but for the barber. In his recent video posts on the lemongrass Jason actually seems a little unsure of the plant towards the end. He starts insinuating he might trim it but then it’s as though the pant gives him vibes, he may well back off – that’s plant control guys. There’s a million ways to grow flavoursome, high-yielding ingredients in AutoPot and crops needn’t be as physically dominant as our lemongrass. If you prefer to keep things trimmed, aromatic, short, and curly then walk this way.
easy2grow is the ideal home for such tasties as the black mint, watercress, parsley, marjoram, Thai sweet, and English basil that we’re currently pumping out in the grow room. Not only are herbs handy and incredibly productive crops in AutoPot, they’re also proving highly efficient in reused substrates. The simple addition of beneficial bacteria to a medium that had previously sustained two cucumber crops has been enough to stimulate some incredible growth. Nothing so robust though that it’s trying to outmuscle the pots. That’d be the ginger.
It’s clear our ginger stems are never going to bust out of the 25 L / 6.6 gal XL modules in which they’re housed – but they don’t seem to have got the memo and it’s amusing to watch them try. Buckling against the upper reaches of the pot, they’ve little more than a month to go before harvest time now after a six month run – a perfect match for the module.
Lord knows why they’re trying to escape given the luxurious Biobizz Perlite and GrowZorb Grind substrates in which our two plants are ensconced. Not to mention the fine dining on offer courtesy of Dutchpro feed – diamond shoes too tight for you ginger?! Truth be told they’re worth it, these are really beautiful plants that produce something that just makes you feel better about the whole world – bloody love ginger! That which grows – it’s marvellous! We hope you’ve enjoyed the tour and are as excited and delighted as we are by the new possibilities we’ve explored – see you again soon. Follow ongoing developments, chip in, and even win prizes in our Insta and Facebook Grow Room posts.