Bottom-fed (AKA gravity-fed) systems are a great way to automate the feeding of soil or coco grown plants with the absolute minimum of hassle. These systems provide a very economical solution; they're also quick and easy to set up, and they're highly effective. Hydroponics has never been so easy! Once set up, gravity-fed systems keep plants fed and watered automatically using float valves - no pumping equipment required. All you have to do is top up / change-out the reservoir from time to time. Simple!
If you like growing in soil or coco, there will possibly come a time when you would like to erradicate the time-consuming and inconvenient job of hand-watering, particularly if you grow a large number of plants. A bottom-feed system (sometimes called gravity-feed) makes your life a whole lot simpler by watering your plants automatically. All you have to do is keep a reservoir tank topped up with nutrient solution and the Easyfeed or Autopot system will do the rest. The soil or coco "wicks" up the water from the bottom
They offer the following benefits:
Remove the need for hand-watering for most of the grow cycle
Simple to set up
Can be expanded to almost any number of pots
They're very economical to buy
There are no pumps to fail
Things to remember when using an Easyfeed or Autopot System
Put a thin layer of washed gravel at the bottom of each pot to improve drainage
Preferably use soil or coco that contains either perlite or clay pebbles to prevent the soil clumping and clodding This also helps with keeping the soil aerated. Plant roots need oxygen!.
Plants with small root systems will still need to be hand-watered for the first 2 weeks. This is because the water from the reservoir does wick all the way to the top of the substrate. After potting up small plants or cuttings into the pots, keep the soil around them moist until they have had a good chance to root down well into the fresh soil. If you are using a soil with nutrient in it you may not need to use any other nutrient. If you are using coco or soil with no nutrient value then use a weak nutrient solution.
Don't use organic nutrients as these can cause problems with blocking the pipes
Clean the pipes and the valves (particularly the yello rubbers) after each grow cycle to keep the system running sweetly. Consider using a product such as Dutch Pro Keep It Clean or House & Garden's Drip Clean through the grow to keep blockages at bay.
Keep the nutrient solution in the reservoir well mixed with a small pump
Make sure you use a sturdy stand under the reservoir to raise up at least 8 inches above the bottoms of the pots
Place an insulating tile under the pots if using on a cold surface such as concete
Increase oxygenation in the root zone by placing an Autopot Air Dome inside each pot of substrate about two-thirds of the way down
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