Tag folks in as well.
Going to post some of my notes that are really copy/pastes from other sites and growers found in my initial research about AP’s
!'ve been using autopots for a while now. I’ll share with you what I have learnt.
Always position the tank outside of the tent, away from the lights. Don’t bother putting an air stone in the tank it does nothing. Do put the smallest water pump you can find in it and set this on a small cheap timer to circulate the water for 15 minutes every hour. This is as not to heat up your tank, but also the circulation helps keep the nutrients mixed in (I’m looking at you silicon) and PH stable.
Never use organic nutrients, they will stick the system up. Always use nice clean nutes.
In the autopots themselves, ALWAYS place an air dome at the bottom. Then almost cover this over with clay pebbles (leave a 1 inch circle showing at the top.) Then add a 60% Coco 40% perlite mix to about an inch from the top. Make sure to keep the air line held against the side of the pot as you fill, you dont want to bury your air line.
Make sure the clay pebbles have been well washed to get all the dust off before they go in to the pots.**[Many are moving away from the layer of inert medium at the base of the pots. I have eliminated it also and use my coco/perlite mix right to the base of my AP]
Once the whole mixture is in the pots, I flush the whole thing with 2 or 3 times the pot volume of plain water PH’d to 5.8 (So for you in 15L pots I would flush with 30L of PH5.8 tap water.) This will lower the coco level a bit so I top it back up to about 1 inch from the top, make sure anything new you put in the pot is soaked in the water as well.
Then I let it dry out for an hour or so before I transplant in the babies. [Personally, I let the pots sit in the tent or in a nice warm spot for 24 hours after drenching to let them drain well.]
The babies are usually 3 to 4 weeks old from seed for me. I like them to be big enough to not worry about the transplant. **[Photo’s yes. Auto’s I recommend sowing into the AP directly after germination]
To actually transplant, once the pots are dried a little, so basically not sopping wet after all that water,
I dig a little hole and bury the whole pot to be transplanted, pot and all, then work the coco/perlite mix around that,
making sure the level in the pot to be transplanted and the pot your transplanting to are the same level then pull out the pots,
leaving a perfect hole in the autopot ready for the babies to be transplanted to.
Finally removing the babies from their pots and slipping them in to the perfect holes you just made.
I hope that last bit makes sense, let me know if not, I’ll find something to transplant and take some pics.
I then give it a little water just to help root it in.
Leave the air domes and autopot system off at this point. the pot is going to have a lot of water in it from all that flushing, so really you can probably get away without watering for a week or so, but make sure you let it dry out a good amount, maybe give one top feeding around the plant, not the edges, this helps gets the roots to go deeper.
After maybe 7 to 10 days (AP recommends 20 days or until your plant is well established) turn on the auto pot system and the air domes, I usually start the tank with a half strength nutrients.
From there its easy sailing, I like to put plain water in for a week before I change to flower nutrients.
When it comes to the flush. DO NOT flush water through the top of the autopots. This is suicide for the plants. This system means that the top inch is full of salts from where the roots didn’t take them, if you flush this through the pots the plants will react very badly. Instead you just change the water in the tanks to plain water for two weeks. You also leave the air domes on during the flush.
Once done give everything a really good clean, I use pretty nasty chemicals to be honest and I flush it all through the pipe work and everything and then make sure I clean it all with fresh water.
After my grows I have noticed that the air dome effectively creates kind of a tiny DWC system within it, and you can kind of tell as well when your growing, its how I judge when the roots at are the bottom of the pot, because all of a sudden everything goes crazy, sometimes its just been over night, I’ve gone in the next morning and it feels like its doubled in size.
Use a decent sized airpump, Personally I’d say minimum 2L/H per pot. But as always more is better, but dont go too crazy, you dont want air blowing through your pots like some kind of crazy roots and coco hurricane.
I’ve loved them, genuinely once they are dialled in I would be happy leaving them alone for a week, not the first time you use them, but after 3 or 4 uses it becomes almost too easy. Just gotta work out what your gonna do with all the coco once your done with it, cleaning it is an option and it has it be cleaned before it can used again, but the compost heap or garden bed loves it.