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  #21  
Old 12-21-2019, 03:19 PM
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SouthPark SouthPark is offline
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Originally Posted by orchidphile View Post
It's amazing, isn't it? I'm sitting here looking at oncidiums, cattleyas, vandas, phals, etc., etc., all supposedly having different needs and all thriving in my self-watering system. They pretty much all thrived in regular semi-hydro too, except for the vandas.
Absolutely! Absolutely amazing in that once some golden rules of orchid growing are realised (known), then a lot of the issues that a lot of people once had in the past become significantly reduced or even eliminated.

The wicking water system started off with wicking material - microfibre, wipe material, or other material - that goes down into water, which the water runs up the material. It was then connected up to say the base of a pseudobulb or rhizome (or something) of an orchid that had very little roots, or maybe even no roots - and the idea was to keep moist the rhizome area or minimal root area - without rotting. An airy environment with good air movement allowed for this.

The idea of wicking with good aeration to roots is the important thing. So whether the material is a suitable cloth material or LECA etc is just fine - as long as the material can be used to keep wicking the water and good aeration to the roots is maintained, then it should be possible to grow an orchid based around that method. Naturally, some maintenance is required every once in a while, as expected. The maintenance typically or classically requires pot handling, lifting of pot with hands, cleaning things etc.

For your reservoir system, maybe a water level indicator on the side of the reservoir, with a hole/window for topping-up water would be workable.

Just got to watch out for configurations that aren't able to provide adequate aeration to the roots, which also can have other negative spin-off effects such as creating conditions that might eventually produce certain kinds of unwanted fungus/bacteria - or maybe algae too (where algae might not at first appear to be a problem).


Last edited by SouthPark; 12-22-2019 at 08:38 AM..
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  #22  
Old 12-22-2019, 11:51 AM
orchidphile orchidphile is offline
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Default water indicators for self-watering pots with leca?

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Originally Posted by SouthPark View Post
Absolutely! Absolutely amazing in that once some golden rules of orchid growing are realised (known), then a lot of the issues that a lot of people once had in the past become significantly reduced or even eliminated.

The wicking water system started off with wicking material - microfibre, wipe material, or other material - that goes down into water, which the water runs up the material. It was then connected up to say the base of a pseudobulb or rhizome (or something) of an orchid that had very little roots, or maybe even no roots - and the idea was to keep moist the rhizome area or minimal root area - without rotting. An airy environment with good air movement allowed for this.

The idea of wicking with good aeration to roots is the important thing. So whether the material is a suitable cloth material or LECA etc is just fine - as long as the material can be used to keep wicking the water and good aeration to the roots is maintained, then it should be possible to grow an orchid based around that method. Naturally, some maintenance is required every once in a while, as expected. The maintenance typically or classically requires pot handling, lifting of pot with hands, cleaning things etc.

For your reservoir system, maybe a water level indicator on the side of the reservoir, with a hole/window for topping-up water would be workable.

Just got to watch out for configurations that aren't able to provide adequate aeration to the roots, which also can have other negative spin-off effects such as creating conditions that might eventually produce certain kinds of unwanted fungus/bacteria - or maybe algae too (where algae might not at first appear to be a problem).

I think you've found the one problem with my system, Southpark. Since I diy-d all my pots, they don't have water indicators and I have to lift all the pots by hand to check the water levels. Somewhere, I read that there's a way to diy indicators, too, but I can't remember where or when. Does anyone know how to do this? (Something involving the use of plastic straws, as I recall.)

The only concern that I have with my system is that if organic material built up in the reservoir and I waited 3 weeks to soak and water it again, I might be in trouble. The water in the reservoirs can get stagnant and it's not a big problem, as long as it's pretty clean, because as soon as it gets wicked into the pots, it gets re-oxygenated. But if a big clump of organic matter were to sit in the stagnant water for weeks, you'd have a perfect setup for the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which would both stink to high heaven and create toxins that could harm my roots--at least that's what I think--not an expert on this stuff.

Fortunately, all that soaking tends to produce very clean reservoirs once the plants are established. I try to dump any reservoir that doesn't look clean and refresh, but so far, I haven't observed any problems with the plants at all, and quite a few having been growing this way for almost a year.

---------- Post added at 11:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:48 AM ----------

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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
If used with LECA, I'd never worry about it being too wet.

I tried an experiment in which I watered 300 plants (50% each Phalaenopsis Lemforde White Beauty and Oncidium Sharry Baby) every day for 6 months. Not only did I not lose a single one, they were significantly larger than a "control" set that get normal watering frequency.
Very interesting, Ray. I, too, have observed some benefit from watering more frequently. Alas, I'm way too lazy to water every day. In fact, I developed my system because I'm too lazy to water every week.
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  #23  
Old 12-22-2019, 09:18 PM
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Somewhere, I read that there's a way to diy indicators, too, but I can't remember where or when. Does anyone know how to do this? (Something involving the use of plastic straws, as I recall.)
I just took a look on the internet and see this click here.

But ----- I totally don't trust the mounting method of this particular device. I seriously doubt the sealing method is great for this particular device. A reliable leak-proof method for coupling this device to the plastic pot would be excellent.
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  #24  
Old 12-23-2019, 07:17 AM
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The original indicators are tubes containing a stick with a float on the bottom.

Another method is the clear vinyl tubing attached at the top and bottom of the outer pot sidewall, as that'll show you the water level directly.
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  #25  
Old 12-24-2019, 04:28 AM
ArronOB ArronOB is offline
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Hey Orchidphile, have you thought about adapting your method for mounted orchids. I’m thinking maybe a long, thin reservoir with a line-up of mounted orchids above it, each fed water by a couple of those microfibre wicks?
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  #26  
Old 12-24-2019, 10:37 AM
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Hey Orchidphile, have you thought about adapting your method for mounted orchids. I’m thinking maybe a long, thin reservoir with a line-up of mounted orchids above it, each fed water by a couple of those microfibre wicks?
What an intriguing idea. I don't actually have any mounted orchids because all the soaking has always seemed like too much work to me. (Do you sense that laziness is a theme here?) But recently, I've been eyeing a couple of orchids that I can only find mounted, so this might be a way to go, rather than damaging the roots trying to get them off the mounts. If you try this, please let me know how it works.

---------- Post added at 10:35 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:32 AM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
The original indicators are tubes containing a stick with a float on the bottom.

Another method is the clear vinyl tubing attached at the top and bottom of the outer pot sidewall, as that'll show you the water level directly.
I'm guessing the first method can be d.i.y. and the second can't. One problem is that there's no space between the inner and outer pots to run a plastic tube for the float, so I'd have to run the tube through the inner pot. I may try this next time I have to re-pot something.

---------- Post added at 10:37 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:35 AM ----------

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Originally Posted by SouthPark View Post
I just took a look on the internet and see this click here.

But ----- I totally don't trust the mounting method of this particular device. I seriously doubt the sealing method is great for this particular device. A reliable leak-proof method for coupling this device to the plastic pot would be excellent.
Interesting, but still expensive to convert all my orchids, and if it's unreliable, it could be a disaster. The search goes on--
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  #27  
Old 12-25-2019, 02:11 AM
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Interesting, but still expensive to convert all my orchids, and if it's unreliable, it could be a disaster. The search goes on--
Absolutely and totally agree.

I'm going to be doing some traveling for 9 days soon, and starting to set up a timer system for trial runs, just to check on the performance and reliability.

I purchased a couple of 'easygrow' timer units, and opened one up to see what sort of pump/motor system it had inside.

After knowing what was inside, I then went ahead to purchase a couple of those same assemblies, so I can later put together something similar, but with some modifications - reliability considerations included.

At the moment, the existing setup merely involves 5 mm inner diameter transparent tubes with a series of in-line holes for the water to come out of the holes, and the ends of the tubes are just capped off (plugged). I put enough tubes across the surface of my scoria rocks, and the tubes are held down quite firmly with those plastic dripper irrigation spikes.

The dripper irrigation spikes don't suit my purposes, so I just use them for holding the watering tubes firmly in place hahahaha. Works very nicely.

One of the attached photos shows two separate DC motor/waterpump assemblies.

With the existing 'easygrow' system, it lets you water the plant for some pre-settable number of seconds (from 1 second up to 99 seconds) every 24 hours. I just set it to water for say 20 seconds - which seems to put enough water into the scoria media.

When I travel, somebody will kindly help me to check to see if the system has activated each day - easy to see from the colour of the scoria, and just top up the water reservoir/tank.

The manual watering-wand systems (I have two of these, one for back-up) will be on standby - just in case!

In previous traveling periods, somebody would help me to water my orchids - which wasn't a problem as well.

Attached Thumbnails
Self-watering pots with leca-timer-watering-jpg   Self-watering pots with leca-timer-watering1-jpg   Self-watering pots with leca-motor-waterpump-assembly_dc-5-volt-jpg  

Last edited by SouthPark; 12-25-2019 at 03:06 PM..
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  #28  
Old 12-25-2019, 02:50 AM
ArronOB ArronOB is offline
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I don’t know what an Easygrow timer is so this story may be irrelevant, but here goes anyway.

I bought a timer (brand name forgotten) and set up an auto watering system for an orchid collection I used to have at our holiday home. It ran directly off mains water. I checked with the vendor that it was designed to ‘fail off’ if it should fail at all, worse scenario therefore being some dry plants.

Anyway it did fail eventually, but it failed on, and the watering system ran for two weeks solid, until our next visit.

When I set it up again I used two timers, one ‘inside the other’ so to speak. This meant that if the inner one failed on the worse consequence was the outer unit would switch the system off a few minutes later, and if the outer unit failed on it would make no difference as the inner unit would have already switched the system off. If either unit failed off then, again, dry plants.

Just a thought.
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  #29  
Old 12-25-2019, 03:55 AM
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so this story may be irrelevant
Most definitely not irrelevant Arron. Error and failure detection, reliability and back-up are incredibly important - for protecting the orchids, and also protecting our property.

The approach you used is nice Arron.

These timer systems could possibly be applied to the O.P.'s LECA system. If the number of plants are limited, then the timer system could dump water onto the LECA surface every once in a while. Could also be one of the various ways to handle the root dessication situation on the surface of the LECA.

Reliability will be important. And I'll be working on that side of things. I think it was great that you mentioned the arrangement you used. That can help a lot.
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  #30  
Old 12-27-2019, 01:36 PM
orchidphile orchidphile is offline
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Originally Posted by SouthPark View Post
Most definitely not irrelevant Arron. Error and failure detection, reliability and back-up are incredibly important - for protecting the orchids, and also protecting our property.

The approach you used is nice Arron.

These timer systems could possibly be applied to the O.P.'s LECA system. If the number of plants are limited, then the timer system could dump water onto the LECA surface every once in a while. Could also be one of the various ways to handle the root dessication situation on the surface of the LECA.

Reliability will be important. And I'll be working on that side of things. I think it was great that you mentioned the arrangement you used. That can help a lot.
All of this is very ingenious, but for me it hasn't been necessary. I'm fortunate to live where the climate is very humid when it's hot, so even without the gravel top layer, I could go 3-4 weeks without watering and not face serious consequences. I did get some surface root damage from the dry top layer, but it barely slowed down the cattleyas or the easier dendrobiums. The oncidiums were more affected, and they've definitely benefited from adding the gravel.

I can't speak to anyone else's situation, but for my conditions, just tweaking the wicks and the composition of the mix and adding the gravel top layer seems to be enough. I can go out of town for three weeks without hiring a plant sitter, and everything is fine as long as I remember to fill all the reservoirs. Once I get enough deep outer pots, I could stretch that to a month. But I grow mostly very tough and adaptable complex hybrids and very easy species. If I grew the delicate doilies that some growers do, it might be a different story.
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