Growers Forum consists of selected questions, suggestions, and comments submitted to the forum which further the advancement of aeroponic growing.

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Copyright 2001 Astrogrow.  All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/17/11.

Q.  Why do you think Astrogrow is the best aeroponic system?  Aren't all aeroponic systems basically the same?  J. Williams, Salem, Oregon

A.  While all aeroponic systems will have some similarities there are vast differences in how they present the technology.  Lets look at a couple of the prominent systems.

        AeroJet 4                                      AeroFlo2
        Click to enlarge                                Click to enlarge

AeroJet 4 has an internal nutrient supply line with misters inserted into it, therefore, the misters are right smack in the middle of the roots.  It makes for poor oxygenation, once the roots surround the misters, you really have a NFT system.  Unless you are growing small crops (lettuce for example) you will have quite a clean up between crops and probably some root pruning in between.  The smallest net pot offered is 4" which means you must use a growing medium.  AeroFlo 2 is a similar set up and the manufacturer wisely states it is for "small crops", it is a essentially a "deep flow" system so the roots don't really get a chance to drain out completely.  Both are well made systems suitable for smaller crops.

Astrogrow is made to be truly aeroponic, with the misters above and out of the root zone.  It has 2" net pots and we recommend not using a grow medium unless growing from seed.  Our system will grow very large plants without root pruning and since there are no roots surrounding the misters, clean up is as easy as pulling a piece of rope out of one end.

Q.  My Astrogrow system is amazing but the crop I'm currently growing has gotten spider mites.  I haven't had much luck with Safer (soap) and the warnings on the pesticides are a little scary.  Suggestions?  Seattle, Washington.

A.  Using pesticides should be avoided on all crops if possible, particularly during the "bloom" cycle.  During the bloom cycle the buds or flowers are easily burned.  Fortunately there is a better answer.  Predator mites are your own private army of spider mite eating terminators who will not stop until there is nothing left to eat.    Most local hydroponic stores will order them for you.  In the Portland, Oregon area Urban Flora currently sells 1,000 mites for $ 30.00.  You do have to order them because they must be set free within 3 days of shipping.  If you apply them as a preventative measure when setting cuttings into your system you can treat a couple hundred plants.  If plants are already infested, and the plants are large you will need to apply more predators to each plant.  One benefit of the predators is they will kill everything that hatches out that pesticides typically miss. 

Comment:  I just completed a cloning experiment.  I started with cuttings from the same plant.  The cuttings were put into an EZ Clone, under florescent light.  I started (30) cutting under each method.  After 9 days 40% of the cuttings which were "scraped/untreated" and 40% of the "untouched/untreated" had rooted.

Only 33% of the "scraped/treated with Clonex Rooting Compound" had rooted.  None of the "pin pricked/with or without Clonex" had rooted.

In a parallel experiment I used a different parent plant for cuttings.  Half went into Rapid Rooters and the other half went into the EZ Clone.  None were scraped, pin pricked, or treated with Clonex.  After 9 days 100% of the cuttings in the EZ Clone had rooted.  None in the Rapid Rooters had rooted.

My conclusion from this experiment was that the genetic stock influenced the rooting time more than the method.  Clearly, the untouched/untreated cuttings outperformed the scraped or pin pricked whether or not treated with Clonex.  B. Sullivan, Portland, Oregon.
Wow!  Great experiment.  You used a significant number (ruling out flukes) and kept great records.  Your conclusions seem sound.  It is possible that the rooting compound might also perform differently on different genetic stocks. 

Q.  What are the basics of "cloning"?  T. Allen, Portland, Oregon

A.  Cloning is the process of creating new plants with the exact genetic makeup of the parent plant, generally by taking a cutting from the parent.  If the parent was a female the clone will be a female.  The cutting should have at least two sets of leaves with about 1 1/2" of stem below them.  Trim the bottom of the stem with a razor blade on the diagonal.  The cutting is very sensitive to its environment until it sprouts roots.  It can be rooted in soil (potting mix), perlite, vermiculite, Rapid Rooters, Peat Pellets, or in a cloning machine like EZ Clone which constantly sprays water on the stem.  Put the cuttings under florescent light if possible for 18 hours per day.  Do not put in direct sunlight until rooted.  Plant the cutting when exposed roots are about 3/4" long.  Share your cloning expertise with the Forum.  In particular "scraping" or "pin prick" techniques. 

Q.  How is aeroponically grown food better?  Denver, CO

A.  The more controlled the elements of growing are the safer and healthier the food will be.  A clean growing environment minimizes  the need for pesticides, an accelerated grow cycle limits the exposure to pests and disease.  The crop can be harvested under near perfect conditions at the peak of its flavor and nutritional value.

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