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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: “I think that I have everything connected correctly, but the water hasn’t started filling the tank. Does the solar panel have to be exposed to the sun for awhile to engage the pump?”

Answer: “When the solar panel gets full sun it will add water and once it has added enough water it will start circulating it.”


Question 2: “A hurricane is coming what should I do to protect my GrowBot?”

Answer: “The high winds could damage your Growbot,  we recommend that you bring your portable green growing machines inside after emptying the water from the reservoir or tanks. 

MODEL M (growbags): 
Steps:
    1. The easiest and quickest way to empty the water is by removing the plants 
    2. remove the top boards
    3. remove the lid 
    4. use a pot or other container to remove the water  
    5. disconnect the water hose 
    6. then you and partner can move the GrowBot inside 
    7. reassemble inside 
    8. keep the growbags with plants moistened

MODEL T (coconut core and net pots): 

  1. disconnect the water hose 
  2. the easiest and quickest way to empty the water is by 
    1. very slowly lifting the GrowBot from the solar panel end so it tips
    2. lift slowly which allows the water to drain out without blasting out the plants. 
  3. You and a partner can then move the GrowBot inside. 
  4. Keep the coconut core moistened.

Once the hurricane has passed and it is safe you can move your growbot back and reconnect the water hose.”


Question 3: “Aloha!  Question, we’ve noticed in the last 24 hrs, all the parsley is wilting. When I checked the bag to see if it was wet, it’s water logged. I notice several inches of water standing in the yellow tray. Thoughts?”

Answer: “Could be the hole in the middle of the tray is plugged.”


Question 4: My growbot stopped feeding my plants! what do I do?

Question 5: jammed yucky nutrient pumps. *Note — nutrient pumps should never jam and should never be yucky.

* Avoid touching the nutrients and rinse your hands beneath running water when done.

1. Clean them by taking off the covers that protect the turbine(use your fingernail to gently pry off the turbine covers) then wash out any debris you find. Make sure the turbine can move it has a ’springy’ feel to it. 
2. When you re-assemble the nutrient jar make sure both pumps are about an inch above the bottom. By having the pumps off the bottom it will insure the pumps will only take in nutrient that is mixed with water and will not jam.
3. Make sure to always close the nutrient jar lid after adding nutrients so that bugs, leaves and other debris do not fall in.

Watch the Video! clean_pumps — music: bensound.com


Question 6: moldy plants!

Mold on plants is unfortunately common. However it’s not so common on our systems if they are functioning properly. 

Some of the common reasons for mold is: 

  1. when leaves stay wet for multiple days
  2. got dehydrated from temporary lack of water which wreaks havoc on the plants immune system
  3. don’t have enough nutrients
  4. don’t get enough sun
  5. certain bugs will spread mold when they feed on plants
  6. root infections can also cause mold in the rest of the plant
  7. it’s just a plant that no matter what it always gets certain kinds of mold infections
  8. last but not least the plant is just old and it is dying and the mold started growing because of the plants naturally failing immune system

Some things to check:

  1. Leaves are blocking the solar panel
  2. The grow bed (yellow tray the plants are sitting on) is not draining properly because debris has blocked the hole in the middle of the tray.
  3. The nutrients are not being added regularly 

Things you can do:

  1. Consider a greenhouse to keep the plants dry and warmer if you live in a wet cool climate
  2. Make sure to keep your solar panel clear of debris and leaves, make sure the water hose connected to the growbot stays on
  3. Top off your nutrient tank weekly to insure there are always plenty of nutrients for your garden (1/4 cup of nutrient per half gallon of water premixed before adding to the nutrient jar is best)
  4. Move to a location with at least 4 hours but 6+ hours of full sun is way better
  5. Keep a bottle organic insecticidal soap handy and the first hint of bugs spray leaves, stems and the perlite of the plants showing signs of bugs — do not spray flowers – don’t kill the pollinators
  6. If the plant is diing take out and consider not putting in your compost pile but instead some place it can decompose but not spread unwanted insects. Move any neighboring plants away of the same variety away from the affected plants.
  7. After 3 to 4 years of use our systems will have so much soil created naturally in the perlite it is a good practice to use the existing perlite in pottle plants and add new fresh perlite. Otherwise because our systems drain so well our clients plants never get root infections of any kind.
  8. Some plants … just don’t do well in the local area. However keeping more distance between the ground and the plant can work around those environmental challenges. Our gardens pebble walkways are specifically to combat beetles that live in the soil and will attack cucumbers, other Mellons and squash.
    At some point a plant is just done … take — say thanks — put in your compost and plant a new one.

Question7: mold in nutrient tanks

To be clear there might a small scum layer of mold on the surface of the nutrients but never a lot. Under normal circumstances the mixing pump and the fact that the nutrient tank is emptied every 7 to 10 days during normal operation keeps the mold in check. 

There is a little sugar in the nutrients that the sugar mold is growing on. Anything that causes the mixing pump to stop working will eventually lead to a layer of mold growing on top of the nutrients.

* The sugar is there to feed bacteria/fungi that help to release the nutrients to the plants just like the bacteria and fungi in soil breakdown nutrients in the soil. The mold you are seeing is pretty common and harmless to us and the plants. That mold also dies or at least stops growing as soon as it gets injected into the main tank – the PH of the nutrient tank has a high PH and the main tank is much much lower. 

Your pump(s) jammed which is why you had ‘big’ mold issues.

To fix the mold issue. Watch the Video! clean_pumps — music: bensound.com

  1. Clean the pump beneath warm running water or a bowl of water. 
  2. When adding nutrients mix them before adding to the nutrient jar.
  3. Make sure the nutrient pumps are suspended about an inch above the bottom of the nutrient jar.

 

Question 8: “Power looks good and per the video water looked good up until a few days ago and then I no longer see it. When you touch the bottom of the bags are they dry or wet?”
 
Answer: “If the bottom of the bags are dry most likely the circulation pump is jammed.  During the interim water the plants!”
 
This process is detailed but should only take 5 minutes.
 
To un-jam:
  1. Disconnect the solar panel 
  2. Place the solar panel in a safe spot where it will not be stepped on or fall
  3. Take off the two top boards on either side of the lid
  4. Lift the lid as little as possible so you can see in and reach down and get the pump out
  5. Grasp the pump at the bottom of the tank CAREFULLY bring pull out f the tank so you can easily clean it
  6. Using your fingernails CAREFULLY remove the grill on the pump – put in a safe spot close by 
  7. Using your fingernails CAREFULLY remove the pump turbine cover – put in a safe spot
  8. Remove any debris 
  9. Use your finger to move the turbine blades — they should have a ’springy’ feel
  10. CAREFULLY replace the pump turbine cover
  11. CAREFULLY replace the pump grill
  12. Put the Pump back in the tank and make sure the pump is stuck to the bottom of the tank
  13. Make sure the lid seats properly
  14. Replace the two side boards
  15. Reconnect the solar panel
  16. Replace the solar panel

Question 9: “Finally getting my growbot setup.  Want to understand how the nutrient solution concentration works.

When adding nutrient solution to the mason jar, should that be a full strength solution or should it be diluted?  When is solution added to main reservoir?  Is it pumped in when the water valve opens ?  Just wondering how an appropriate EC is maintained.  Also, what about solution pH?  Generally we need to add some form of acid to keep pH optimal.  I didn’t see anything about that in any of your videos. ”
Answer: The ratio is 1/4cup of nutrient to 1/2gallon of water. The first time you put the nutrient solution in it will take the full half gallon of nutrient solution. Maxigro is PH buffered, which allows it to self regulate the PH. The AI on the controller adds just a little bit of the nutrient solution per day. That small amount is sufficient to keep the plants growing strong but not so much that it will ever burn or under feed the plants during typical growth.
 
  • The bottom 1/3rd of mason jar is reserved for the solution.  
  • When you look in the jar the pumps should be suspended an inch or so above the bottom. If they are on the bottom there is a risk the pumps will get jammed.
  • During normal usage the pumps will never get dry. 
  • The nutrient pump runs a max of 10 seconds a day.
  • The nutrient circulation pump runs about once every 10 minutes for 30 seconds.  
  • Every week to 10 days refill the nutrient tank. 
 
If you have ’non-typical’ growth we can give suggestions. The controller also has capacity for 4 more nutrient pump and nutrient circulation pump pairs. 
 
You can also attach the electronics/pump to a much bigger growing area.

 


Question 10: Well unfortunately our summer here in Michigan is coming to a quick close.  What process should I use to close the Grow Bot down for the winter.  Obviously I will clean out the box and the yellow top, the nutrient jar, etc. but what do I do with the perilite and the bags?

Answer: Thank you for using the GrowBot this summer. 

 
The perlite and the bags can go inside the tote(water tank) please let the perlite and bags dry first. The camera pole has a hole in the back that it fits into. Carefully put the camera in a dry water proof bag (1 gallon ziplock) and put inside the water tank with the bags and perlite.
 
To get ready for next spring:
 
* Please note .. I know it sounds silly but be careful with hot water it can scald or burn you.
 
If you have the opportunity to blanch the bags and perlite by pouring hot water over them that would be great. I use a tea kettle and let the water come to boil the dowse each bag in our kitchen sink. Then hopefully you can let them dry out before putting in the GrowBot. 
 
Do not let your GrowBot freeze.
 
The GrowBot should be stored some place where it will not freeze and stays dry. If that is not possible make sure it’s nice and dry before it freezes. The pumps and valves are like most plumbing .. it does not do well when frozen.
 
If you have a garage and or basement with a drain and they stay relatively warm you can put inside, hang some grow lights and grow all winter.
 

 

 


Question 11: ‘I water not pumping from main tank is a recent issue (noticed it few days ago)’  (5min fix)

Answer: The pump can get jammed for several reasons. The most common is a piece a perlite or a small part of a plant got into the pump housing. 

  1. if needed put the growbags on the ground
  2. disconnect the solar panel and carefully place in a save place
  3. remove the circulation pump tube and lift the lid enough to allow you to reach in
  4. carefully lift the circulation pump up to eye level 
  5. user your fingernails (or a tool) to pry off the screen and then the pump housing cover
  6. clear any debris by dipping in water (normally there will be plenty in the tank)
  7. replace the pump housing cover and the screen
  8. place the pump back on the bottom of the tank
  9. lower the lid
  10. reinsert the tube and replace the growbags
  11. make sure the pump plug is properly placed in the WC1 socket
  12. reconnect the solar panel