Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Grow Plugs. Two years ago I began experiments in hydroponics and these plugs have been the absolute easy button. For instance these tomato plants were grown from seed in just 25 days, they even have blossoms on them already. I have been growing vegetables since the early 80s when I was a little kid in my Grandfathers garden. I have never seen anything like this, I am sure my GrandPa would have called it “sorcery”!
I have been using these since I got involved with hydroponics about 4 years ago now and I still love them. It is also winter now is the time for two things for most folks…
- Indoor growing – these are great for that
- Getting your Seed Starting Set up – also great for that
I have made changes over the last for years with all my systems but two things have not ever changed for me.. One, I continue to use Barrina Grow Lights as they are the most bang for the buck on the market. Two I’ve suck with General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Grow Plugs because they just work better with less effort than anything else I have tried. When I started there were tons of options, other pre made grow plugs, some say jiffy pots work good and cost less, rock wool, LECA, etc. One product though had the most positive things said by newbies and the least negative, you guessed it General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Grow Plugs.
Let me say I originally thought long term I would find a less expensive option to settle on, these were originally just to “get started”. Yet year after year, experiment after experiment, I just kept coming back to these guys and now I don’t even consider other options for myself at this point.
Yep they cost about 37 cents a piece at a quantity of 50. Which really is not expensive when you think about what a head or organic lettuce or a baby bok choy sells for at the market. If I were growing 5,000 plants a week in a commercial operation sure it would add up. I figure for home scale production the cost is not minuscule but it is minimal overall. However I have discover that I can use them about 4 times before they crap out.
All I do is cut the growth off the top, toss them on top of one of my ebb and flow beds and let the worms eat the rootlets. Then I give them a soak in water and hydrogen peroxide, squeeze them to just damp, and put them in a zip lock bag to reuse. With that the real cost for them comes down to about 9 cents each.
Now when it comes to starting peppers, tomatoes, egg plant, etc for spring it is almost not worth considering when most plants like that sell for 3 bucks or more a piece at box stores. If you really want to pinch pennies though, use the ones from your grow out systems on their last run, and you get to the same total final cost.
In the end here is the deal, I am a builder and tester, I have built a ton of projects in 4 years time. The seed starting one, the indoor farm (two versions) and two outdoor system in my green house and some in the aviary. I wanted the entire time to form baseline of performance with as few variables as I possible, and these damn things work and work like mad. The roots grow so insane in just a couple weeks that I am forced to modify the dang net cups just to get the transplants out as you see in this video.
So it isn’t that rock wool isn’t lower in cost, it is that in side by side comparisons I have seen rapid rooter just do better for more people, more often. It isn’t that LECA isn’t infinitely reusable and better long term, it is that in side by side comparisons I have seen rapid rooter just do better for more people, especially new people to the hobby.
See where I am going here? It appears (to me anyway) that rapid rooters allow for less accurate PH and fertilizer calculations. Sure when you get everything absolutely perfect all of it works, and I am not saying you can just dump things with no testing and have these work, I am saying these will perform better than most other options even if you are not perfect.
I have mostly settled on using MasterBlend or General Hydroponics Fertilizer just using the on the package base recipe for my fluid mix. Letting the PPM go as high as 1100 as evaporation happens and that is it and frankly often I don’t even check the PPM, I just top off systems until a grow cycle or two is complete. I then drain the system by 50%, us it to fertilize some trees or swales and top back up with fresh mix. After two more grow cycles I do a 100% change. I am practicing do only what you need to get good results. Efficiency via elimination of unnecessary work.
As I am using rain water I didn’t even test PH which everyone screams you must do. Our spa PH kit says the PH is under 7, how much though I don’t know it only goes down to 7. I eventually got a PH test kit, I used it a few times, I went to not bothering unless something seemed off as to growth in a system. In four years only once did I actually find PH to be a problem.
Otherwise though if you plan to start playing with Hydro or even aquaponics, try General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Grow Plugs. Let them form your baseline and if you can find a lower cost or reusable media long term, go for it. But if you are new to anything make your life as easy as possible. Frankly at 18 bucks for a 50 pack, I consider this a very affordable way to do just that.
Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com