How to Start Growing with Your iHarvest
Welcome to the IGWorks® community of growers. We’re excited to have you as part of our community of growers. I hope you will join us in our Facebook group, where the IGWorks® community helps each other grow. After you’ve set up your iHarvest®, follow the steps below to start growing.
It’s always best to start by growing some of the easiest fruits and veggies. These include most herbs like basil and parsley, and greens like lettuce. You can grow tomatoes as part of your first hydroponic grow as well. If you choose to do so, we hope you will review the article we’ve linked to at the end of this post.
Starting your seedlings:
If you purchased a seedling starter kit at IGWorks.com starting your seedlings will be easiest.
- Assemble the kit and place it on the heating mat
- Place 1-3 seeds in each rapid rooter pod
- Make sure the pods are nice and wet, but that water does not pool up in the kit
- Watch your seedlings grow, and place them in the iHarvest® when they’ve sprouted
If you didn’t purchase a seedling starter kit, don’t worry. You can make your own kit by using Tupperware covered with plastic wrap that you poke a few holes in. Place the Tupperware on top something warm like your cable TV box for best results.
Alternatively, you can use the paper towel method, which works like this…
- Dampen your paper towel with water so that it is plenty moist, but not dripping everywhere.
- Place your paper towel in the plastic zipper bag (the bag should be wet, but not pool up with water)
- Place your seeds in the plastic bag, on top of the moist paper towel
- Zip the plastic bag at least ¾ of the way shut
- Place the bag in a warm spot, away from direct sunlight. Placing the plastic bag on your TV cable box or similarly warm (but not hot) surface works best
- Open the bag daily to allow some fresh air to circulate around the seeds
- Wait for your plants to sprout, and transfer them to the rapid rooter pods before placing them in the iHarvest®
You can also grow by placing 1-3 seeds directly in the rapid rooters that go in your net pots. Then, place the net pot in your iHarvest®, and wait for them to grow. Your seedlings will start off a little slower (7-10 days), but you'll be growing in no time!
Managing your Nutrients and pH:
*Keep Nutrients and pH solutions away from children and pets. Read the directions and warnings carefully.
Before placing your seedlings in the iHarvest®, you will want to condition the water so that it provides your plants with the proper nutrient and pH balance. When starting your seedlings, please do the following:
- Fill your reservoir to be ~50% full by adding 5-7 gallons of water. The iHarvest® reservoir will hold ~14 gallons of water at its max fill when it is filled to the top of the filter, but it is good to leave some room to add more water later, if you mistakenly add to many nutrients during setup.
- Using the small measuring spoon included in your bag of nutrients, slowly add nutrients to the reservoir.
- Either stir the nutrients in the water, or wait for the pump to cycle water for 15 minutes to ensure they dissolve well.
- Make sure your EC meter is set to EC, by hitting the shift button until the screen says EC. EC stands for Electrical Conductivity, and it is a measure of the amount of nutrients in your iHarvest®
- Measure the EC with your meter. You will want an EC reading of approximately 0.8 for your seedlings. (Read here for more information about what to do as your plants get bigger). When your EC is between 0.7 and 0.9, it’s time to add your pH.
- Use General Hydroponics pH Up and pH Down solutions to manage your pH after adding nutrients. It’s recommended to use plastic gloves when handling pH solutions, but at least make sure that you wash your hands afterwards.
- Switch your meter to read pH rather than EC. You will want your pH to be between 5.8 and 6.5. If your pH is below 5.8, then add the pH Up solution. If your pH is above 6.5, then add the pH Down solution. A little bit of pH solution goes a long way, so you should not have to add more than a few tablespoons in most cases.
- Either stir the pH solution in the water, or wait for the pump to cycle water for about 15 minutes with the pH solution to ensure it mixes well.
- When your pH is between 5.8 and 6.5, check your EC reading again to ensure it remains between 0.7 and 0.9. If you add additional nutrients or water to manage your EC, make sure to check your pH again.
- Continue to check your Nutrient and pH levels on a daily basis to make sure they stabilize. Once they have stabilized, you will only need to check them once or twice a week.
Now, it’s time to start growing. Keep your lights close to the iHarvest® so that your seedlings get lots of light. If your lights are too far away, your plants will stretch and reach towards the light, which will result in less compact and easy to manage plants. Keep your lights ~3-6 inches away from your plants as they grow.
As your seedlings sprout and grow, you will want to add additional nutrients, depending on what you’re growing. Here’s a great article about how many nutrients to add as you grow different types of plants. It includes information about growing tomatoes with herbs and lettuce.
Let’s Grow Together!