In this post, we will cover the basics of how to manage your Spring System.
The Spring System is designed to allow anyone to garden, regardless of experience or ability, by growing and watering itself with minimal maintenance. It does require some routine management to keep it running at peak performance.
The three parts of Spring Management are planting, adding and topping off nutrient solution, and rinsing.
There are two methods of planting a ZipGrow tower.
- The recommended method is to use a horizontal planting bench.
- The second method is to plant the tower vertically.
Method 1: Choose a planting bench and pull media in and out of the tower
If you are going to plant your ZipGrow tower using a planting bench, you will need to decide what your planting bench will be. If you have a shop, or greenhouse, this might just be a wooden garden table. If you are working in a classroom or other small indoor space, you can make a makeshift mobile planting bench out of a piece of plywood and/or some particle board.
Either way, drive a screw into the top of your planting bench, leaving the head of the screw sticking out a few millimeters. Make sure to use a screw that has a head or smaller. This is how you will secure your tower to the bench. Locate the anchor hole in the back of your ZipGrow tower and place this down over the screw to attach the tower to the bench. Now, use your pulling hook to pull the two media halves out of the tower.
Methods 2: Get a partner and pull media in and out of the tower
If you are going to use the alternative, less recommended method of planting, you will not need a planting bench. Instead, you will just be planting your tower by standing it up vertically. Although this may eliminate some preparation work, it will be a little harder to get the media into the housing this way.
For this method, you will start by removing the media with the pulling hook, but you won’t have the added benefit of having the tower secured to a flat surface. Have someone hold the tower while you remove the media to make this easier. Once your media are removed, you will insert the wicking strips into the media. Then, stand your tower up on its end, and you yourself will probably need to stand on a chair or stool. To make this easier, have someone else hold the tower stable while you are inserting the media.
Mixing and topping off the solution is easy
Nutrient solution is the liquid fertilizer that provides vital nutrients for plant growth. Mixed with the water which goes in the basin, it cycles through the tower and is absorbed by the plants.
When you first put together your Spring System, you will need to add the nutrient solution for the first time. To do this, add 6 tablespoons of the supplied fertilizer to the Spring basin. Then, fill the basin with water up to the top of the pillar that holds the tower in the basin. Pull the irrigation tube through the hole in the lid of the Spring and then secure the Spring’s lid to the basin tightly.
Every few days, you will need to check your water levels in the Spring. Do this by turning off the pump and removing the irrigation tube and weight, and moving the ZipGrow tower. If the water level has fallen below the top of the support pillar, it will need to be topped off with pre-mixed nutrient solution.
To make the pre-mixed nutrient solution for topping off the basin, add 1 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water. Mix the solution, add what you need to the basin, and then place the solution in storage. It will stay good for several months.
Every two weeks, replace the nutrient solution in the basin entirely. To do this, either drain the basin by placing the irrigation line of out the top of the tower into a drain or receptacle for the solution, or remove the drain plug in the back of the Spring and allow the solution to drain into your lawn or garden. Remove the pump, the filter, and the filter housing from the basin and rinse out any accumulated solids. Finally, replace these items and fill the basin with fresh nutrient solution as you did the first time.
Rinsing and cleaning can improve performance
Other general maintenance practices should be followed to keep the Spring System running as well as possible. Every month, give the Spring a good rinse. If you notice any solids or algae forming inside the basin, scrub and rinse it with clean water. Rinse your pump filter as well. Finally, check your system for any leaks or clogs, and take the necessary steps to fix the problem if present.
Another good maintenance practice is to clean your matrix media every couple of growing cycles. Start by hanging the matrix media somewhere to dry. Once it is completely dry, flex the media to break up the dried organic material stuck inside of it. When most of the organic material has fallen out, take a strong powered hose, and spray out the remaining material. Then replant the tower.
The Spring System is designed to be relatively self-sustaining and low-maintenance. However, it does require some routine management. By following the management practices described above, you will keep your Spring running at peak performance and see better plant growth and a longer lasting Spring.