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Author Topic: Home-made pods...with dollar-store sponges :)  (Read 6525 times)
Pouce_Vert
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« on: February 05, 2009, 03:53:29 PM »

DreaminGreen  asked me how I was making my home-made pods., so here it goes:

I saved the plastic baskets from the previous garden (which it seems you have to save anyway if you use sponge refills) and added a piece of ordinary sponge I bought at the dollar store. I cut the sponge and slit it down the middle with my kitchen shears, popped seeds in and bada-boom, bada-bing instant seed pod!
 
I didn’t bother making paper or cardboard lids, because my AG had mold on the sponges in the last garden. I wonder if the AG light will be too bright for germination?

The sponge is really cheap, but this material does not wick water the same way the grey sponge does, as I found out after about 1 hour of running the AG. To remedy that, I wetted the sponge by pouring about 1 tsp of water on top of the pod and gently squishing the liquid in (taking care not to disturb the seeds too much. Just to check, I poured another tsp of water on top and it did percolate through right away Smiley Next time, I would probably pre-wet the sponge plugs before inserting the seeds and loading the plug into the basket. I Also read somewhere that somebody had some success using paper towels as a replacement for the sponges! I definitely have to look into that  Grin

I still have trouble inserting pictures into my entries, for some reason. I'll try attaching them and see if that works.

I hope this is helpful!

Happy growing everyone!
 Wink


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« on: February 05, 2009, 03:53:29 PM »

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msopinionated
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2009, 04:59:41 PM »

So you purchased everyday kitchen type sponges?

Cynthia
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Pouce_Vert
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2009, 05:13:30 PM »

 Yup! The kind you buy in a nice rainbow pack at the five & dime  Grin

I still gotta test the paper towel idea, though. Maybe in the next AG Smiley

Happy growing,

Annie
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2009, 05:16:43 PM »

Hi Annie:

Do I understand that you are just starting to test the dollar-store sponges or you are actually growing successfully using them?

If this is working for you, this has real $$$ saving potential.

Thanks,
Debra
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2009, 11:39:14 AM »

Hi Debra,

This is my first try. I will be as trorough as possible in documenting my finds. I just planted my seeds on 2009/02/04 Smiley

Annie
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2009, 05:19:20 PM »

Thanks, Annie.  Do keep us posted and I am hopeful that this will be the solution we're looking for.
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2009, 03:49:07 PM »

yes please keep us updated on this, very interesting.
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Namaste,

Shane
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2009, 07:41:21 AM »

As of this morning, the score is 3-2 in favor of my dollar-store sponges!! I got basil & dill sprouting in kit pods, and in my home-made ones, savoury (doing really well) oregano and swiss chard.

The LEDs were flashing this morning, so I changed the water and switched to liquid nutes (I was running out of tablets anyway Wink) from a local hydroponics shop. This is a simple 1-component grow mix (since all the stuff I have, I'm growing for the leaves). For those of us going metric, the AG7 reservoir volume is about 3L, or 6 pints, if you don't go metric Cheesy

The basil, savoury & oregano have started to show tiny "true" leaves. I'm so excited, I check the progress several times a day Grin I'll report back when new stuff happens!


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shane arthur
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2009, 08:03:20 AM »

Awesome, great to hear and see they are doing well. I am watching with interest for sure!
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Namaste,

Shane
John J
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2009, 08:15:12 AM »

Many of the early Hydroponic people used "Open-Cell" Foam and still use it today. That is most likely what the AeroGrow sponges are and the sponges from AreoFalls. You can not use "Closed-Cell" Foam, so I would assume the store bought sponges that Pouce_Vert found are an open-cell foam. You will find out shortly if the roots can grow through it? As a last note, there are different cell sizes in "Open-Cell" and "Closed-Cell" foam, and I'm sure that makes a big difference and they can be made out of different materials with polyethylene (PE) or polyurethane (PUR) being the most common from what I know. 

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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2009, 01:50:55 PM »

Hi John,

From what I can tell, my sponges are indeed open-cell, because closed cell ones are usually more stiff/rubbery, from what I can tell. The ones I used are your garden variety Cheesy synthetic cleaning sponges, very soft & pliable. Plus, the roots seem to be doing okay, although it is early at this point to check if they can go through.  I checked the package, but I don't see whether those are PET , PP or PUR...
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2009, 03:11:29 PM »

I'm rooting for you. cleaning sponges are so cost effective!! I'll be following your progress!
 Grin
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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2009, 08:24:23 PM »

I am going to jump in here too. I am very curious to see how this goes! Thanks for posting your progress!
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2009, 01:29:21 PM »

Here's an update:

Since I noticed a bit of drying on the leaf edges in my oregano & basil, I figured the nutrient solution might be too strong (I read somewhere that seedlings need a more dilute concentration that larger plants). In order to remedy that, I replaced 1/3 of the solution with water, leaving the tank contents at 2/3 the original concentration. I'm hoping this will help Smiley

Also, the dollar store sponges retain way less moisture on the surface that the grey kit stuff. I even observed some pinkish mold on the top of the basil sponge! Hope this will not affect the plants adversely. So far, no mold on the other sponges (including my other kit ones). The rosemary germinated, but the seedlings seem to have rotted before they could push out of the sponge (some of the oregano seeds that were deeper had that problem too). As for the parsley, zilch after 23 days... I figured, let's try something different: I re-seeded 2 new pods to replace the parsley and rosemary. In the "parsley" slot, I seeded some more oreagneo and I made a new rosemary pod for the other slot. This time, however, instead of cutting a slit in the sponge, I just placed the seeds on top of the sponge, in the little asperities. I figure this is not so wet that the plants will rot, and the tinier seedlings will easlily push up.

I suppose this is a bit like dirt gardening in that different size seeds may require different planting depths.

In the meantime, my swiss chard looks happy! Wink
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2009, 08:53:45 PM »

so what is the outcome? I am dying to know!
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In my 4 Aero Gardens 3s right now ~ Romaine, Mini Jalapeņo, Green Beans, Basil, Oregano, Dill

Also growing Strawberries, Chives, Cilantro, Parsley, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Rosemary, Thyme, Thai Basil, Pepperoncini, Sweet Peppers and Salad Greens in my NYC apt in my homemade grow tent!
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2009, 06:45:15 AM »

Hi folks,

Here's an update:

both of the surface-seeded pods have sprouted, but the sponges need to be surface-watered daily, because it seems that this kind of substrate doesn't wick moisture efficiently. The chard and savoury, my plants that were most happy, have roots that extend onto the tank down below :-) they are still a bit pale, though, and the chard is having a bit of a heard time, so I really gotta sit & think about what 2 do next The main problem, from a scientific POV is that I've been altering several variables at once, so this makes it tougher to pinpoint which one is wrong Embarrassed As a scientist and a gardener, I should know better!!

Also, I've been thinking about other low-cost homemade substrate ideas. I know this looks like some kind of hare-brained scheme, but the other day, as I was watching the birds pad their nest with what looked like lint, I thought: what a nifty idea! there's a substrate that is cheap, clean (it went thru the washer & dryer lol!),and easy to acquire!! I also figure that whatever I don't use, I could put outside 4 my feathered friends 2 use, you know, just 2 thank then 4 the suggestion hehe Wink

I will post more news on what I decide to do. Also, if and when I get around to trying to make the lint pods, I'll post a detailed how-to Grin

I wanna thank everyone 4 their interest and if U have some idea about what could cause my plants to look a bit pale (i.e. leaves are on the yellowish side), I'd really appreciate your input.

Keep on growin'
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2009, 09:54:16 AM »

PV,

Thinking about your experienment, I think the sponges would have too many holes and and being synthetic would have trouble wick and retaining water since since their purpose is so different.  If you hold a soaked sponge upright, the water drips out rather quickly and only retains a minimal portion of the water so it would likely have difficulty travelling up with very open pores.

I think some had luck with the Air condition weather stripping material. 

Interesting feedback.  Keep experiementing. 
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2009, 02:44:43 PM »

I agree, keep experimenting, you never know what you might discover!
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Namaste,

Shane
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2009, 08:33:14 AM »

Sigh...fungi definitely not a fun guy!

Fungal rot got some of my seedlings that were in the originale grey substrate and one of the 1$sponge pods dried out Cry Oh, well I now have 3 free slots to test new substrates! Why not carry out my hare-brained scheme?! I packed 2 clean baskets with lint and seeded one with chard (they grow well even with my sponges) and the other with oregano, which is the herb that has the most difficulty right now, due to drying out. After setting up my lint pods, I put the rest of the stuff out 4 the sparrows to pas their nests with: they've started to visit my balcony more frequently Wink

To keep the spirit of varying one parameter at a time (and be somewhat scientific Cheesy), I seeded another pod with oregano, but using a rolled-up piece of paper towel as the substrate (I read on some other website that someone had tried this but there was no actual experimetal account/data). This picks up the moisture incredibly quickly: it was wet within seconds!! Probably not the best for sprouting rosemary... My only concern about the paper towel is that it may have been chlorine-bleached, but we'll see. If that is the case, it's easy enough to find unbleached paper towels (a lot of coffee shops have recycled, unbleached paper napkins and at least 2 pods if not 3 could be made out of one napkin). Also, I have memories as a kid of germinating peas/beans in a mason jar with either paper towels or cotton balls as a substrate; and I know these are readily transplantable outside when the seedlings are big enough.

Since the 1$ sponges have produced a few healthy plants (savoury, chard & now rosemary), I am not quite ready to dismiss the cheap cleaning sponges yet. They may be a suitable alternative for herbs likre rosemary that need a dryer environment to thrive.

Keep on growin'

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Jean N.
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2009, 11:11:30 AM »

I have some tarragon sprouting in toilet paper!  No telling if it will work, but here's a pic:

Jean


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