Updated: Feb 25
So you bought yourself a vertical garden and you have it up and running. Now you have a few questions about the system and things you're seeing. NO PROBLEM - we are here for you.
The rock wool seems really wet:
Every environment varies. Some homes are damp, others are dry. Some have a lot of air flow, others are quite still. We give you our best guess as a starting point but there may be some adjustments required. When the plants are small they don't need a lot of water. The rock wool should be damp, not soppy wet. If you think it's too wet spread your watering cycles out more, water less. Then watch the plants and see how they are doing. If they seem dry - increase watering. You will quickly get used to this process and find the right balance for your environment.
The rock wool has turned dark green:
This is not a problem. Wet rock wool may develop some algae due to the exposure to light. It poses no threat to the plants. If you find it unsightly you can by neoprene plugs which slip around the plant stem and block out the light.
There's "Mould" on my rock wool:
In most cases if you see growth on your rock wool it is likely mildew and can be easily removed by gently scraping with a q-tip, tweezers or other small instrument. It poses no threat to your plants as long as you take it off. Check the watering cycle - mildew may indicate that your rock wool is too wet, or may it just have been a seed that didn't germinate.
My plants are spindly and droopy:
If the plants look healthy but weak try placing a small fan in the area. Stimulating the stems with gentle breeze helps strengthen them.
If the plants seem "unhappy" check your regular maintenance. If water level, pH and ppm are all good the issue is likely either too much or too little light. Check the plant preferences for what you are growing and experiment. In most cases more light is better than less.
There's white gritty stuff on my plugs or net pots:
When the nutrients dry there is a crystallisation that occurs it is often mistaken as calcium or salt. It is not uncommon for some crystallisation around the rim of the net pots and this should not be a problem for your plants. If you find it unsightly you can wipe it away with a warm wet cloth.
If there is a lot of crystallisation it may indicate your ppm has gotten too high. Check your water levels and regular maintenance.
I have little bugs on my plants:
Insects are not as common in aeroponics as in standard gardening but it does happen from time to time. In most cases they are aphids and can be dealt with in a number of ways:
1) Hand pick them off
2) Gently rinse your plants in a sink full of room temperature water (careful not to break their structure) to knock off the pests.
3) Spray with a soapy water solution and wipe with a cloth
Some plant varieties seem more prone to aphids. Inside tip - in our experience peppers and cilantro are a favourite of these little guys.
My seedlings failed after I transplanted them:
If your seedlings sprouted well and went into the tower healthy there are only a limited number of possible issues.
1) Your plants were too wet for too long and the seedlings rotted
2) They didn't get enough light to thrive
3) The water was not properly balanced (review the maintenance directions)
4) You used softened water which caused nutrients to be locked out and the plants could not feed.
I can't get my seeds to sprout:
In most cases the best way to sprout your seeds is to follow the directions on the Grodan (rock wool) packaging. We selected this product because it is reliable and offers good directions.
*Be sure to lightly cover your seeded cubes and place them in a dark place for a few days to germinate. Once the sprouts begin you can uncover them and expose them to light.
*Also keep the seedlings damp by watering from below. Spritzing from the top will encourage mildew and algae.
Sometimes it takes a few tries and some experimentation to get the hang of it. You CAN do this!
My lights aren't coming on according to schedule:
Check your timer. Sometimes this gets kicked or unplugged and it throws your system off.
If lights aren't coming on at all:
1) Check the connection at the wall and at the body of the light where the chord meets the socket. Give this a firm push - it's a tight connection and sometimes needs to be coaxed.
2) Remove the bulb from your fixture and clean the connectors with a clean cloth. Sometimes a little bit of water spatter creates residue and interferes with the connection. It takes only a moment or two to fix the problem.
* NEVER WORK WITH LIGHTS THAT ARE PLUGGED IN
Before performing maintenance unplug your system for safety.