Anyone grown with autopots before?
I did for years until I evolved my grow beyond them. As for what they are, they are not bad, inexpensive and can easily help a home grower scale up…questions?
I did Autopots inside and out for a couple of years, sometimes exclusively AP, sometimes in hybrid systems using APs and my own stuff…I would say my only complaint was the water/flow valve, it was poorly designed, or maybe had obsolescence designed into it but that thing broke, froze open or froze shut all the damned time and it just didn’t need to be that way. If they had built just a little more tolerance into their flow-valve they would have a near-perfect duoponic system for any grower.
Nice what do you mean evolved past them how do you grow now?
I’m going to grow with roots organic terp teas
I have the 4 pot system can you cut the tubing to connect all 4 pots or do you have to buy more tubing?
Welll (takes deep breath) ok warning: I used to be an engineer so…I was using Autopots and I loved the features where you could just pick up a potted plant from veg and drop it into a second Autopot setup in bloom light/feed and have instant plug and play. Float-valve issues aside, I loved how reliable they were crop after crop. Finally, I loved the auto-feeding part of it all as I have dementia and so forgetting to feed (or feed the right amt) is a real issue that just doesn’t happen with Autopots. I guess one last thing that stuck with me about them is that until I installed Autopots I was not able to leave the plants unattended for more than 24 or so hours, no leaving town for a long weekend, etc. Also being disabled I get sick alot and often have to pause any grow activities until I am better again.
So for all that why did I evolve away and what to? Previously I had mentioned the float valve that could sporadically stick open or shut. Shut it starves the plants and open it floods the room. And sort of attached to that is if you look at the tray they sit in, there isn’t much fluid in there so if for some reason the main rez goes dry, or more likely you just get a clog (1/4 inch tube does that), the whole bottom areas under the plants dries right up leaving nothing to keep the roots wet. Again I was planning my own incapacitation.
Also, as cool as duoponics was, I wanted to do everything and was limited by the Autopots…so I designed my own system from scratch, using various sized garbage cans for reservoirs, I replaced the trays they sat in with 12-gallon tubs with special lids I made. Each tub has an industrial grade flow valve that just doens’t fuck up and these use the same connectors and tube as the autopots. This way even if the main rez goes dry or the lines clog, I still have a few days of safety net because I set the tubs to cache about 5 gallons of water/food. This system was great, I fell ill once for two solid weeks and I came in there and everyone was doing great, nobody suffered for not having attended and I had to thank this design for that.
Now the float valve in adjustable and so depending on how I reconfigure the lids/inside gear, I can do duoponic (Autopot-style), straight soil, classic DWC hydro, aeroponics, and basically anything I chose to do. Sorry if you have seen this but this is a video I made of the last grow I was totally in charge of and the thing is it shows this in action, the many many ways I used these tubs…
Saves me from having to dig up pix. Anyhow time moved forward, the LBD ate more of my brain and I had to dumb it down even more so now I am stuck using Hempy buckets…but Autopots still have a warm place in my heart, even if I cursed out their engineers every time that Fing float valve tried to kill my crops…
Oh yeah one other thing that may come out of the video about this system: even though it could be configured to do soil, hydro, aero, etc, one way I used it alot over the years is I could set up a single spare tub with no speciality at all, it just kept water/nutrients at a predefined level in the tub. Then I took a bunch of 32 oz plastic “to go cups” I had, modified them so you could fill them with an inert soilmix or even just hydroton and then stick a plant in it. Now holes on the bottom sides of it allowed me to just stick a plant in a to go cup and the cup in a tub and it would feed the plant nicely and I never had to worry about watering because the tub took care of that. If I had to later transplant to say soil I could just dig a hole where I wanted it, set it in the hole, remove the bottom of the to go cup and then just lift the rest up and out around the plant, the net result is I could do transplants in less that 30 seconds and they were safe as hell, bonus being the roots never got touched and the plant being transferred avoided shock because the way this worked, the plant took its environment with it, same soil/mix/whatever its had all along, so this gave the plant more time to acclimate and not go into shock.
I am explaining this all goofy so here is something I wrote with pictures etc that explains this.
The upshot of why all the crap about the to go cups and the tubs is that how often is it that you need to stash a dozen or more plants for a short period, they need to be taken care of but you just don’t have the space to host that many plants. Well when used with the to go cup trick, I can stash, mix and match plants from several projects in one tight confined area…more of this in the video too…but having that stash place was great…
I feel I can make them work so how do you know when they are stuck when the valve won’t close or open?
do the valve is supposed to shut and open when the plants received the exact feeding? Or when they need to be fed?
Too bad you don’t live closer, I have a shit-ton of Autopots gear you could just have…
The valve in the Autopots is designed to maintain about a half inch or so of fluid in the trays, enough to fully reach the slotted bottoms of the pots themselves. When the fluid goes low, the valve opens and water from the rez fills the tray. When “full” it shuts off. Classic gravity-fed system, one I have stuck with ever since. I think the big takeaway is it autofeeds with no need for power etc so power loss doesn’t foul the system up…
Well in practice you sorta develop a set of troubleshooting steps. First signs, plants look “tired” or classic underfed. First thing I do is lift one Autopot from each pair to see which trays have water and which are dry. If more than one is dry (and rez is not) then start checking for clogs under the logic that its unlikely two aquavalves or whatever they call them will fuck up at the same time. If only one tray is dry, odds are that is the culprit and you pop out the panel in the middle of the tray, lift out the valve and fix it…be careful of the little plastic nipple that you put the feed hose on; those break off and the whole thing is wrecked. I clean them out with a bristly pipe cleaner; once per crop I would take them all out and scrub them in the sink to get every last bit of build-up off of them…but they still foul up.
I’m currently growing in the Autopot XL pots. As a beginner, I love it. I just started flower with a few plants and they have to be topped off by the middle of the week. Then I change it out on the weekends. In the future I will probably switch to a RDWC for any photo periods that I grow and super soils for all the auto’s. I’ve read that super soils and other organic grows aren’t suitable for autopots. Which stinks because it’s a great set it and forget it system. The float valve pretty much works like one you would find in a sump pump tank or a toilet. When the water level gets to a certain point in the autopot trays the valve shuts. As the water level drops from the plants and soil medium absorbing it, the valve reopens and allows more water to flow. The only cons I can say at this point is that unless you have separate reservoirs, you are limited to growing your plants in the same stage. I made the mistake of planting an auto and three photos and the auto needs bloom nutrients while the others are still in veg. So I’ve had to put the auto into a waste bucket and top feed for almost a month or so.
Yep that is a drawback although the way I set up mine was two 4x8 tents, each with 4 Autopot trays with two pots each. You mentioned XL, mine were the 3.5 gallon ones. anyhow that line ran out to the rez that was position outside the tent to control temps…one tent had the lights set to bloom, the other to veg with appropriate nutrients in each rez. And now that you mention it, one other drawback to them is that it makes flushing at the end difficult. I think the only remaining problem was that the little 12.5 gallon rez ran out all the time in bloom…