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Smart Farm Hydroponic Tower Garden FAQ
This simple form of hydroponics solves under & over watering. Modular stacking planters are filled with coco coir & perlite, than connected vertically through a center pole connected to an electric or solar pump which sits inside a 60 litre reservoir. Nutrient is added to the water reservoir which is automaticaly pumped to the top layer and filtered down through each layer (instructions provided). Because the coco coir is so porous you basically cannot over water your garden (assuming it’s getting good sun).
Plants don’t need soil to grow, they need the nutrients contained in the soil! With hydroponics, we simply add nutrients to the water with the plant growing in an inert growing medium such as coco coir & perlite.
When nutrients are delivered straight to the root system the plant spends less time in search of nutrition, and more time producing foilage and fruit.
There are many different hydroponic methods. Mr Stacky tower gardens use a simple drip method and coco coir making it perfect for beginner growers. Coco coir is like soil, only way better! See why
No. Aeroponic towers have a hollow center where the roots are suspended in air and water is continously misted on the roots internally.
Aeroponic towers are great, but they’re very expensive (like 3 x the price!) and they are fraught with danger. If your pump dies, your plants are dead in about 3 hours flat. The micro drippers can clog easily and the tower is very susceptable to temperature issues. (ie. spraying hot water on plants roots is not a good idea). That’s why you tend to see aeroponics grown mostly indoors.
Comparitvely, the Smart Farm is simpler and more forgiving. The coco coir retains the right amount of moisture and provides many buffers against temperature variances, hydration variances, PH, water quality & related factors. Because it works very similar to soil, it’s more accessible for the everyday home user. You don’t need to be an expert to get incredible results.
EC stands for Electrical Conductivty and is the measure of salt in a solution. Because hydroponic nutrient is derived from mineral salts, it’s an accurate way to measure the exact quantity of nutrient. If you follow the recommended dose rates that come with your system, you don’t necessarily need an EC tester, however most will purchase one so they can be assured they are providing adquate nutrient levels.
The electric kits come with a 24 hour timer in 15 minute increments. Remember, so long as you’re getting good sun, you can’t really over water the tower garden. Falling water creates oxygen in the reservoir, which the plants love. So configure your timer to ON for about 4 hours per day for best results. Most will configure the timer in 30 min on / 30 min off from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, then off at night.
For the solar option, no timer is needed as the system will simply turn on when it’s sunny.
The pump comes with a 5 meter cord so you can maximize sun exposure to the panel. The pump is strong enough to push the water above 2 meters high and as the system stands only 1.5m high, there is sufficient power remaining to circulate the water even in low light conditions therefore no backup battery is needed.
During rainy periods, the rain will keep the garden wet for you! If your system is under-cover and won’t get rained on, you may be better off to go with electric. (Battery back-ups are being tested now, but won’t be ready until late 2020).
The rain will dilute the nutrient levels, but this is usually not a big deal, in fact the plants love the rain. Some customers decide to purhase a heavy duty plant trolley to wheel the garden where desired.
Algae forms when water and sunlight meet. Don’t worry too much about a small amount of Algae, but if you want to stop it just put some pebbles or mulch on the top layer… Once the top of the layers are dark, the Algae will be reduced.
Grow anything from herbs, lettuce, strawberries & greens to full blown fruiting crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini even tubers such as potatoes, carrots and beet root!
You get the picture right! 🙂 You can pretty much grow anything. Just ensure you’re providing enough sun…
Watch the above video for a detailed guide:
1) Expand the coco and then fill each planter with coco
2) Connect the solar or electric pump
3) Slide lid over center pole & stack up the planters
4) Open drain, and flush the coco with water
5) Close the drain, and fill with 60 litres of water
6) Configure timer (electric), or put panel in the sun (solar)
7) Add nutrient to the water every 2 weeks
*Step by step instructions come with the system
The Smart Farm comes with quality hydroponic nutrient that is in 2 parts (A & B). This nutrient is designed to grow various plants in all stages of growth. So you don’t need to mess around with different ‘grow’ vs ‘bloom’ blends and complicated additives like some other systems.
To use, simply fill the 1.25 litre bottles that come with the system with water, shake well, then once dissolved, add it to the reservoir at a rate of 5ml nutrient per litre of water for both parts A & B. As the reservoir is 60 litres, you therefore can add 300ml of each. This will last 2 weeks before you need to replace it in the tank.
*Note: Less is more with this stuff as it’s powerful! So half this dosage for seedlings
See this short video on how to use it.
Coco Coir is organic & made from the husk of the coconut. Coco has exceptional water retention, oxygen holding and anti-fungal properties. The compressed blocks expand 7 to 8 times in water and even when fully saturated, hold 22% air. Coco has a PH range between 6 – 6.8 making it simply THE BEST hydroponic growing medium available.
Yes! You’d be surprised what percentage of store bought produce is now grown hydroponically.
Hydroponic nutrients are made form mineral salts. These are the same 17 nutrients & elements found in the soil you buy from a nursery, the difference is they’re in a highly available form which plants utilize much faster.
Instead of the plants roots spreading out in search of nutrition, they are provided just the right amounts directly, which means smaller root systems and faster, more robust, nutrient dense growth allowing the plant to reach it’s full enetic potential.
If you have your system in full sun and the temperature is 20 degrees celcius or more during the day, then let the pump run a good 4 hours p/day! You may think you’re over-watering, but the coco/perlite mix retains plenty oxygen even when fully saturated. If it’s cold or your not giving it full sun, then yes dial back the watering regime to approx 15-30 min per day.
Under low light conditions, you’ll want to add an inexpensive air pump in the reservoir to ensure the water is oxyginated as it’s flowing less. This safeguards against issues relating to still water.
In actual fact the tower only truly needs about 2 minutes per day to hydrate fully, but you can’t really over water it (unless it’s very cold and/or very low sunlight).
No, with Mr Stacky it’s really simple! To make it easy, we’re really just adding nutrient to the water and then watering your plants with it. The coco coir is very ‘forgiving’ and is an excellent buffer against under or over watering. As everything is automated, it takes all the guessing out and saves your plants from your unintentional neglect!
Perlite is mined volcanic glass that is inert and has excellent airation qualities. It’s commonly added to soil to asssit with absorption and aeration. While it’s not 100% necessary (ie. the coco coir does a great job on it’s on), we do provide it at an 80/20 ratio (coco / perlite) as we find this ensures optimal results.
Flushing the system every 2 weeks is a standard practice in hydroponic growing. Over time, a build up of nutrient can increase PH and EC in the water which is detrimental to plants. Basically, clean fresh water is clean water, so flushing a system every 2 weeks is standard. In the case of the smart farm, once the plants are established, it’s likely they’ll actually suck up 30 to 40 litres p/week anyway, in which case you’d simply top up with water mid-way before flushing and adding clean nutrient every 2 weeks
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If you get good sun, you’ll surprise yourself with the results. It’s easier than you think.
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- Coco coir is simple to use
- Can be used in various climates
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- Comes with everything in 1 kit
- 60 large plants in a small space
- Soooo cost effective, it’s crazy
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