This is a place to post all your burning questions related to gardening, our products, growing hacks, and more. Get help for all your queries from your fellow altifarmer or direct your doubts to us.
Here are a few FAQs to help you avoid some of the growing pains and to smoothen your first growing journey with our products-enjoy!
1. Can I use garden soil?
Yes, you can but you’ll need to amend it before using it. Garden soil is too heavy and will lead to compaction from watering. We would recommend using a potting mix for your plants. Potting soil is lightweight and absorbent with good drainage properties. It keeps your plants from getting water-logged. It consists of soil, cocopeat, perlite, and clay balls that retain moisture and ensure fast root growth. You can buy potting mix soil from a store or make your own soil by simply mixing 1 part of garden soil,1 part of perlite (white small pebbles that will aerate the soil), and 1 part of compost or peat moss.
2. Does it come with seeds and soil?
It simplifies gardening and makes it easy for anyone to grow at home. The idea is to give you the flexibility to decide over what and how to grow as per your wish and regional climate. That’s why we do not provide seeds and soil.
3. How often do I have to fill the water reservoir?
Our products require significantly less maintenance and water than traditional planters. The watering spout has a level indicator, which lets you know when the reservoir is low. This varies from plant to plant, and also depends on weather, humidity, growing medium and other variables. While testing outdoors in good sunlight near 35 °C, we typically get a 5-7 day watering cycle and get 7-9 days cycle while testing indoors.
4. How do your products supply the right amount of water?
Our products are provided with an automatic self-watering system for on-demand watering. The water reservoir is present at the bottom connected to the planter, soil draws water from the reservoir by capillary action and supplies it to the plant as and when needed by the plant. This maintains optimum moisture level in the soil and prevents over-watering and drainage problems, it also provides a perfect amount of oxygen encouraging fast root growth and microbial activity boosting nutrient uptake. It stores water for a week, so you won’t have to worry about your plants while you’re away. Plants choose how much water they need and no more underwatering or overwatering. No electricity or water connection is needed and does not involve any pump or motor.
5. Can I use tap water?
Yes, tap water won’t actually cause harm to your plants unless it is softened because softened water is full of chemical salts that tend to build up in the soil over time and can do serious damage to your plants. Chlorinated water is also safe for most plants provided its level is low enough to cause any loss.
6. Can grow lights replace the sun?
Yes, it can replace the sun provided it has the right kind of light (wavelengths) that plants can use for photosynthesis and other processes. Almost all grow lights tend to reproduce the same kind of light that the sun makes, in order to help plants grow autonomously without the need for sunlight.
There are different types of grow lights in the market however LEDs are the most efficient ones because they are durable, produce less heat, and most importantly can be tuned to meet the plant’s light needs. In all 3 products- Altifarm, Herbstation, and Pico, we have developed custom LED grow lights with the perfect wavelength recipe for each stage of plant growth - germination, tissue development, photosynthesis, flowering, etc. We have also covered the most essential light parameters like PPFD, Color temperature, and wattage to help you grow even in the darkest corner of your home.
7. How long does it take to grow herbs?
It depends on what you are aiming to grow. Basil tends to be the fastest at sprouting and can germinate in just 3-4 days, while other plants like cilantro, mint, celery, oregano, and thyme can take as long as 2-3 weeks to germinate. Basil takes around 40-50 days to harvest while cilantro, mint, celery, oregano, and thyme take around 2-4 months to harvest.
8. How to fertilize plants?
It depends upon the plant you’re growing and also on the type of fertilizer you are using. You can fortify soil by adding manure or compost, once a week. If you’re growing using a soilless growing medium like coco peat, you’ll need to fortify the water with hydroponic nutrients and adjust the pH if required with pH up or down solution. Fill the reservoir with a hydroponic nutrient solution. You should gradually increase the strength of nutrients as your plant matures so that you do not stress your plants. Use EC/TDS meter to check the nutrient strength and pH meter/pH solution/litmus paper to look over the pH of the nutrient solution.
9. When and how to hand-pollinate plants?
Hand-pollination is necessary for indoor or balcony gardens due to a lack of pollinator traffic. You’ll need just a small paintbrush/ toothbrush to transfer pollen from the male part to the stigma of the female flower. The idea is to mimic the delicate vibration of bees’ wings. Gently swirl the pollen collected on the brush or cotton swab over the female part. Don’t shake it strongly as this can break the stigma or even worse destroy the flower. You can also use cotton swabs, and gently swirl around the anther to pick the pollen and transfer it to the female part. You can even use a fan to create a slight gust that can facilitate pollination. Pollens are generally released from morning to afternoon, try to pollinate your plant midday as it provides optimum pollinating conditions (warm and low humidity) ideal for hand pollination.
Though pollination is essential for reproduction, not all plants must be hand-pollinated. Most of the houseplants, non-flowering, or non-fruiting plants don’t need pollination as they are not grown for their fruits or seeds. Some plants perform self-pollination while a few require cross-pollination to set fruit. So, before getting started with the pollination first check whether your plant is a self-pollinating or cross-pollinating type.
Got any other questions? Feel free to ask us here! We’ll do our best to help you out with any problems!!