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Heated Propagator: An emersed growing experiment . . .

Wookii

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Interesting looking at the tray as a whole, the areas affected by algae looks like it is circular in shape and emanates from the mister in the centre. If this is the case ( hard to tell from a phot viewed on a phone), would an adjustment to the mister be needed, be it position/ height or frequency of misting? Just a thought, anyway.

Yes, good observation - I think this suggests the mister is on too much, and wetting those substrates immediately around it too much.

Hi
I used to get similar slime in my setup.
Best course of action is to dry the substrate in order to keep it check.
Tbh I never had any standing water at all in my setup.I rarely misted and any water in the undertray was discarded after misting. Think in the lines of damp house plant pot consistency. Even if the top dries out a little is not a biggie ,as long there is moisture in lower levels it will keep the humidity high enough .

Thanks @Konsa - I think you're right, the substrate is too wet, probably because of the mister, and the fact that the bases of the pots are essentially submerged by 10mm or so.

In your set-up, if you had no standing water, how did you keep the humidity high enough? Did the leaves mainly remain dry most of the time - I've been trying to maintain humidity to the level that there are actual water droplets on the leaves, as per Darrel's advice here:


How often did you manually mist yours?

Also why not try granulated fertilizer in the medium as nutrient rich spray is probably helping the algae development.
Can't comment on the rock wool as I always used potting compost in my setups.
Regards Konstantin

The water in the base of the propagator is loaded with the most nutrients, so I've not been adding much with manual misting - I'm just using pure RO with a small amount of micros and Rhizotonic in. I might change that down to pure RO though, and just have the nutrient solution in the base.

I could do away with the mister entirely, I'm just paranoid of the plant leaves drying out too much? But then I look at the Tropica/Dennerle videos, and they don't look at all wet 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

Wookii

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As light can be a cause of algae, does the mist intensify the light? If so, would only misting when lights are out help?

Probably worth trying some form of adjustment to see if it has an impact before spending money on alternatives, just a thought.

I'm not sure the mister intensifies the light, but the area you identified with the most algae, is also the central overlap of both lighting tubes, so that could be a factor along with being wetter.
 

Konsa

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Hi
I don't have much going atm but following my earlier post.Below is a small 8oz pot with Monte carlo I am keeping.It is started 4 ish weeks ago with 3 small stems with 3-4 leaves on them.
Anyway Monte carlo is a weed emersed but the pics will give you idea about moisture levels.As seen there is condensation not standing water all the way down.I have 6 needle holes on the lid for air exchange and I have opened the pot once since it was started to mop up some condensation from the sides and the lid and didn't mist at all since initial setup,no ferts too.
20220215_092657.jpg

20220215_092714.jpg
20220215_092723.jpg
20220215_092741.jpg


Edit:
The moistture in the substrate substrate will maintain the humidity in the enclosure. As long as you have condensation going it should be fine and sufficient. You will get some droplets on leaves but it doesn't have to be constantly.
Most plants will adapt to the lower level humidity in time.Its a slow process and takes time especially if you start with cuttings from your tank.Its up to you to find the sweet spot where algae mold and other nasties are in check but the leaves don't wilt .
Its easy to start damp and let it dry out slowly Mopping condensation of the sides/lid is my way of taking water out as I don't ventilate often(if ever)
Regards Konstantin

Regards Konstantin
 
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Ehcosbie

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I am starting to see why the big boys (Tropica et al) use a flood and drain system now (not that I realised they did that until @dw1305 pointed it out).

I have had a cunning plan about how I could implement that using the current propagator and the USB pump! 🧐

View attachment 182746
I can’t wait. Keep us updated with progress, I am finding this to be a really interesting project.
 

Wookii

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So at the 2 minute mark in this video I posted previously, you can see the flood system working (never spotted this before!) - looks to me like the system only floods to about half the height of the posts. Would everyone concur?



I see in the video that there is an extensive sprinkler system in there also - can we assume they pump some rain water through that every so often too and shower the plants?
 

arcturus

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So at the 2 minute mark in this video I posted previously, you can see the flood system working (never spotted this before!) - looks to me like the system only floods to about half the height of the posts. Would everyone concur?
Yep.
I see in the video that there is an extensive sprinkler system in there also - can we assume they pump some rain water through that every so often too and shower the plants?
There is another of these videos (not sure if from Tropica or Dennerle) where they show the sprinklers in full action.

Regarding the algae, you can try adding an opaque plastic square to cover the substrate with a small cutout to let the plant stem out. This would block most of the light. I got a few of those on a planter I had. Something like this (top view).
1644923523326.png
 

Ehcosbie

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This video shows a homemade aquaponics set up with a fill and drain system. About 2.30 into the video he explains how it works. Also at 7.0 mins he shares an in house fish tank version. You might be able to scale down a solution (or get some ideas) from this, to use in your very interesting experiment.
Note: I struggle with the idea of keeping fish in a waterbutt.
 

Courtneybst

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In my experience @Wookii the humidity will be maintained as long as it's fairly well sealed. The droplets on the leaves aren't necessary and in fact are probably contributing to any algae/mold development.

The leaves in my buce box are pretty much dry, at most moist to the touch. I also feed from the bottom using opened up root tabs and liquid ferts into the water (only a few drops). I've never changed the water out since it was setup and there's no algae.
 

Ehcosbie

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So the next step has been to get the ultrasonic mister working properly. I figured this was going to be important to maintain a high level of humidity. This meant losing another planting cube, but even with two gone it still leaves 75 planting sites!!


View attachment 180006


The water level over the ultra sonic plate is a little lower than ideal, so I’ll have to keep an eye on the water level, but it still works.

However i encountered a problem straight away in that it caused a fountain effect which would spray adjacent plants:





So I modified the opening in the tray with a spare measuring cap off an old bottle, and the off-cut from a zip tie to hold it in place:





Here is it operating with the cover and lights on. I still want to modify it slightly, as more vapour is coming out on the right than the left, but that should be an easy fix.





So essentially now ready for planting. It takes about an hour to get up to upper 80’s to lower 90’s percent humidity, and I’m running the heater at 25 degrees C. I’m not sure if that’s the best temperature or not, but I want to promote growth as much as possible without risking cooking everything.

View attachment 180008

Looking at the 2nd to last video, this shows the spread of the mist and it seems to concentrate on the central areas as discussed above.

Would it be worth the effort making another video of the mister in action now withe the plants and the cover on?
 
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Konsa

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Hi
they are using misters as they operate on large scale(whole greenhouses).The small propagators(aka plastic box with lid) we use does not require such manipulation as they maintain high humidity when closed due to the volume of saturated with water growing media.
I prefer light permanent ventilation in place (small holes in the lid)rather than airing the propagator by removing the lid as that way it maintain its humidity and is virtually impossible to dry the leaves too much as opposed to fully removing the lid frequently
Regards Konstantin
 

foxfish

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I agree with Konsa, I have grown hundreds of emersed set ups and prefer not to remove the top or spray.
My very best results come in the summer when my set ups go outside and receive loads of indirect sunlight.
A lose fitting glass lid resting on a single match stick or cling film with a couple of tiny holes.
This method causes lots of condensation and natural drips from the lid making the inside very humid.
For growing inside in the winter I use a reptile heat mat under the tank and 14 hours of bright light.
 

Wookii

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I prefer light permanent ventilation in place (small holes in the lid)rather than airing the propagator by removing the lid as that way it maintain its humidity and is virtually impossible to dry the leaves too much as opposed to fully removing the lid frequently

Thanks @Konsa - the propagator lid has adjustable vents on the top, so I have always have these with a small 5mm gap open - would be sufficient?
 

Wookii

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I agree with Konsa, I have grown hundreds of emersed set ups and prefer not to remove the top or spray.
My very best results come in the summer when my set ups go outside and receive loads of indirect sunlight.
A lose fitting glass lid resting on a single match stick or cling film with a couple of tiny holes.
This method causes lots of condensation and natural drips from the lid making the inside very humid.
For growing inside in the winter I use a reptile heat mat under the tank and 14 hours of bright light.

Thanks @foxfish - this might be a daft question, but for the outside ones, how do you ensure the indirect sunlight? Literally by placing them in a spot that is constantly shaded, or using something over them to diffuse the light? Are the tropical plants able to withstand the night time temperatures then?
 

Konsa

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Thanks @Konsa - the propagator lid has adjustable vents on the top, so I have always have these with a small 5mm gap open - would be sufficient?
Hi
it should be ok.
Just monitor the plants below it.If for some reason you get brown edges(wilt)close it a bit more.The thing with gasses is they always find their way in and out.
You have chosen a little more challenging plants for propagation but tbh growing things emersed its really easy and you seem to complicate your setup way too much.
For me is always been the cheapest seed tray from B&Q , granulated fertilizer, dirt, a little water and nothing else.Pop plants in and let them do their thing
Edit:
Sth else to consider in regards of Cryptocoryne sp.
When planting those you may want to plant them straight into the bottom tray without the cube insert tray.Those cubes are rather small and we all know what happens when you pot Cryptocoryne in tank(root restriction equals smaller plant)
I have done that and it works well as roots have more space to spread but is a bit more difficult with the water as it has nowhere to drain off and when you take plants out is a bit messy as multiple individual plant roots tangle together.
Regards Konstantin
 
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foxfish

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For the outside tanks it is important to avoid bright overhead sun but early morning or evening sun is perfect.
It seems most aquarium plants are good outside from May until October but I even have one going now with hair grass, it is a little brown in places but still alive!
So my tanks sit below a stand of trees facing West, that means they dont get direct sun until around 4pm in mid summer.
 
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