Made To Measure – The Bluelab Truncheon

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AutoPot may well be the greatest watering system since rain began, but Before AutoPot (BAP) there WAS horticultural innovation – yes, really. We enjoyed these innovations ourselves and drew important lessons from their build quality, reliability, and ease of use. A case-in-point? Along with noted growers the world over our AutoPot M.D., Jason Ralph-Smith, has been toting his Bluelab Truncheon for decades. It’s a love that’s made to last. 

Above: Whether you’re using one reservoir or many, the Bluelab Truncheon is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re growing in the right direction

By Jason’s reckoning he’s only had three of these grow room warhorses in the past thirty or more years. Warhorses? Absolutely, as redoubtable water monitoring equipment is a everyday, battlefield essential when it comes to getting correct EC, CF, and PPM levels. For the uninitiated, those portentous initialisms relate to the salt concentrations in water that, in turn, allude to your nutrient content. Yes, you put a tiger in your tank but is it still biting? Are your plants getting what they need from the solution in your reservoir? There’s only one way to find out.

Above: Conducting conductivity tests with dirty conductivity probes is disreputable conduct. Let’s clean!

A regular dip with a nutrient meter such as the Bluelab EC Truncheon makes your feed content clearer and helps you avoid disastrous and costly mistakes with your plants. Worth the outlay? Think of it this way; would you buy a plane without a fuel gauge? In specifically horticultural terms, flying blind with the water and nutrients that you use in your irrigation system means you never quite know where you’re going, or where you might be going wrong. Instruments help you read the warning signs before your plants are affected by fluctuations, illuminate the causes of changes in growth and ultimately ensure you get the most from your grow. All it takes to get years of happiness from your Truncheon (ooh-err-missus!) is a little basic maintenance to keep its sainted probes pure and its accuracy tippy-toppy. How? Here’s how.

Above: Twist off the shroud (L) and drip a few drops of probe cleaner onto the probes (R)

The white shroud on the probe end is a doddle to remove – just gently twist! That will reveal the holy probes themselves. As with all sacred nodules you’re best not finger them for fear of contamination. We’re not saying your digits are dirty, there’s just an intrinsic amount of oil on skin that can reduce probe life and accuracy. A few drops of Bluelab conductivity probe cleaner will suffice to cleanse. Massage using a little chamois to remove build-up and then rinse under running water. 

Above: Chamois massage the cleaner in (L), rinse and check the bead, then calibrate (R)

Got a nice film of water sitting on the probe face? Well, then you’re nearly all squared off. Flick off any excess water and test by dipping into a small pot of EC Standard. This is to check the check calibration – you’ll be looking for EC of 2.6-2.8. The shroud twists into place and you are back on the beat, Truncheon in hand. Happily we’ve got all the Bluelab kit you need to maintain their range of devices – plus the devices themselves, check them out now here – and follow our Insta feed for video updates on typical use with AutoPot.

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