Aeroponics

Aeroponics is an advanced method available for rooting cuttings. This unit also doubles as a cloning chamber.

You can buy table top units that will hold a dozen or so cuttings for nearly $400. There are even larger systems that hold upwards of 70 plants and can run into thousands of dollars. But the results are nothing short of spectacular! There are many videos online demonstrating their operation.

This is what the finished unit looks like once it is running.

What I chose to do in this experiment is to build a new aeroponics system that supplies a mist that is so fine, that it is better described as Fog.

Traditional aeroponics spray misters produce a 70 micron spray, but this unit will produces a fog of water at only 5 microns.

While rooting cuttings has already been done with this method, what is unique to this experiment is that this unit is not using any circulating fan, tubing or pump.

Total cost? Under $130 retail. 30 plus spaces for propagating roots or aeroponics gardening.

I used a Nutramist ultrasonic ceramic fogger with three heads. It keeps the cuttings moist in a controlled humidity environment at both root level and above surface foliage. Within an nano-second of being plugged in, the nutramist starts producing a fog with moisture at 5 microns in size

Within a matter of seconds the rooting chamber is filled. You can put your hand into this mist and find it hard to actually feel it. The mist is sterilized as it is made, providing additional protection against disease. Any microbial or mycorrhizal that you intend to use will need to be added directly to the plug and not into the reservoir.

The container that I am using has a fifteen gallon capacity and I have it filled to within 4 inches of the yellow lid. I drilled some 1" holes and used these Grodan hydroponics plugs that will hold the cuttings. I have found that I can cut them in quarters to make a small collar that holds them in the holes.

Trim your cuttings, slip them into the slit in the side of the plug and place them in the holes. Leaving a few holes open will supply humidity inside the dome. The dome is nothing more than the bottom of a clear plastic storage container without the lid.

I used some foam weather stripping tape around the edge of the dome to help seal it in.


If you look close you can see fog that is rising out of the holes. This helps maintain humidity in the dome.

I suppose some kind of vent can be installed into the dome, but for now it it easier to just lift the lid whenever I need to regulate condensation.

This is a Nutramist Ultrasonic Fogger. It is only about four inches in diameter. The black piece that forms a loop over the top is a water level sensor that must be constantly submerged in order to keep the unit from damage.

The picture above is a plastic floating collar that came with the unit.


Simply place the nutramist fogger in the float and place in the water. With 12 gallons or so in the reservoir I will not have to worry about the unit running dry.

Starting your own cuttings does not require and kind of fertilizer because there are no roots yet.

When starting seeds and growing vegetables in this aeroponic unit, liquid organic fertilizer is used at only at half strength.

Hydroponics and Aeroponics systems require proper pH levels and correct fertilizer (ppm) to grow healthy plants.

When I read that a light bulb went on inside my head and I realized that I need to invest in a dechlorinating filter on my drip irrigation system. I bet that will provide superior results in my raised beds! I wonder how badly the local water has crippled the microorganisms in my beds? I drink distilled water because I seen build up in my shower head and faucet, it can't be doing a whole lot of good for my tomatoes or roses!

It is probably a good time to find an in-line fertilizer dispenser to install as well. But that sounds like an experiment for another weekend.

Aeroponics Update

Below is what the cuttings are looking like today (10/20/12)

I am very pleased with the progress that these cuttings ave made in the past four weeks. Each has multiple roots that are covered with hundreds of thread like hairs. I am very impressed.

I have found that so much fog is being generated by the Nutramist fogger that I can easily add at least two more containers and triple the growing space.

Now that we are heading into fall I am going to try rooting some hardwood cuttings and several types of roses that I have in our landscape. I can have each in it's own container and closely modify the conditions to best suit their needs.

aeroponic_roots

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