Customer Success using Autopot® Systems
Here's some customer photos of what our customers have achieved using Autopot® Systems. Thank you to all our customers for sharing their gardens with us.
Photo: Cascading Petunias in Autopot® Hanging Baskets and Orchids beneath grown in Hydrotray Single 12" modules.
Above: Cafe setup at Hervey Bay QLD
Above: A Hervey Bay school in Queensland
“I am always searching for ways to improve what we do. I believe we need to take greater care with our planet and we need to become more self sufficient and move away from our chemical dependance.”
Ross Cotton - Queensland
“It is a good investment, even if you add on a bit year by year as we did. The money you spend is worth it, over the years.”
Frank & Nellie - Melbourne
In Dec. 1998, we walked into Gardenworld and stopped at Jim’s GardenSmart. We looked and soon Jim told us how much pleasure we would have to see plants grow well. I must admit we fell in love with the system. The first time you start, you need a few things, but you can add on over the years. Yes, it does cost you for your first outlay of pots, nutrients, pumps etc. What ever way you want to start, do it bit by bit and with advice from Jim. We have had so much joy in seeing our plants grow - we have had tomatoes, spinach and spectacular flowers. What ever you grow is fantastic. You cannot go wrong and as you get to understand the system better, it is not hard.
Jim told me to put some of my orchids in the pot. At first I didn't believe you could grow orchid in the pots. But I had a small plant which hadn’t flowered in 8 years it was one hard to flower type. Just one and half years in the Autopot® System, we have 8 spikes of flowers. We can imagine how spectacular it would be when Jim’s 200 cascading Cymbidum (Sarah Jean, Plush Canyon, Ms Moffet etc) orchids in Autopot® hanging baskets come into flower.
Our 40 Autopot® hanging baskets look fantastic. What ever you want to grow will work and you can have colour in your garden with a minimum of fuss. Yes, Jim’s System has given us lots of pleasure. We have been happy with the Autopot® System and I am sure a lot of other people will like it too.
It is a good investment, even if you add on a bit year by year as we did. The money you spend is worth it, over the years.
Frank & Nellie Bosmans.
“Water conservation is vital in Australia. Jim your Autopot® system will do that. Not only water but costly nutrient.”
George - Melbourne
I was involved in farming and animal nutrition for 45 years. I moved to Ringwood, an outer suburb of Melbourne in 1977 and became a hobby grower for tomatoes and vegies in a glasshouse, enabling me to study plant nutrition. I heard about hydroponics, I managed to get a book written by Dr Allen Cooper from UK on his NFT system, published in 1979. I obtained nutrient mixes and some equipment from Wally Tresise in Burwood. After trying the NFT system which I have found needing constant adjustment , I changed to the recycling drip system followed by the flood and drain system.
When I read about a new hydroponic system called Autopot® by Jim Fah who in 1992 won first prize for best invention for a smart valve as an automatic watering and fertilizing system, I decided to give it a go and I didn't regret it since. It proved to be the best system for my needs. Advantages are numerous: eliminating digging, weeding, manual watering, feeding and fertilizing, a big help for me at my age (80 plus).
A greater choice of growing location, having a limit to poor soil area. An area of 10 sq.m. can grow hydroponically enough tomatoes and vegies for a family of four, fast growing, better flavored and pollution free. Garden soils could be contaminated from airborne and applied chemicals. Convenient for us elderly or disabled. The system can be placed on a table or bench allowing easy access without bending and allowing wheelchair access.
The Autopot® Systems is practical and is the only one enabling me to pick up their pots (before they get too high) and move them outside. Having the plants outside will avoid them the built-up number of pests. Your system applies a pot culture providing for food supply on capillary action versus a patchy distribution by the drip system. It is a plant driven watering and feeding system, no worry of under or overwatering.
Each container of your two pots could have different plants also of different ages to dictate their water and nutrient according to their needs rather than tied to an automated cycle without the use of electricity or pump by gravity tank fed or tap pressure fed system. Larger operation of 25 or more containers warrants the use of a pump (12V 6amp DC) and a battery. I am very happy with my pump set-up enabling me to use it also in the garden for watering hanging pots.
The smart valve will respond to environmental changes such as temperature and wind, avoiding me to set irrigation cycles. No longer of soil-borne diseases destroying the entire crop as the nutrient solution is not cycling. The non-recycle drip to waste system will pollute the ground. Drips in pots will not spread evenly in the media as capillary will. NFT and recycling drip systems need constant adjustment. Autopot® supplies unaltered nutrients. Water conservation is vital in Australia. Jim your Autopot® system will do that. Not only water but costly nutrient.
For pollination for tomatoes, you recommend a battery operated toothbrush. I find it excellent. Hybrid varieties perform well in pots. they take a lot of abuse, erratic watering and inconsistency in nutrient formulation. Here again I get the benefit of the Autopot® system. Transplanted at 4 to 5 weeks of age into your 10-inch pots on a bench in the glasshouse fed by your system's 35 L container at cf 35. 0utside I have two tanks for cf 30 and cf 25. At the designated time the pots are transferred to the lower position and connected to the larger tanks.
Jim I thank you for the opportunity of meeting you to enable me to learn and adapt to your Autopot® system which I found the right system for my needs.
Thank you for your friendship over these years and I wish you well in the future with your project world wide.
Pat's Autopot® System - Tocumwal, NSW
Most of us have the opinion that greenhouses MUST be covered with glass or platic materials that can trap the heat in and keep the rain out. Well, this story tells us how wrong we can be.
Pat's "greenhouse" is different. The "greenhouse" covering is plain shade cloth, white 30-50% mesh on top and beige 30-50% mesh shade along the sides. As you can see in the pictures, it's a fairly large shadehouse. Just look at the amazing results he achieved with the crops grown in the Autopot® Hydrotray Double 10" module fed by gravity from two 200 litre tanks. The broccoli heads are huge and all other vegetables are just as healthy.
Pat's location is dry and hot. In Summer, with outdoor temperatures averaging 32 deg. C, you can expect it to be 40 to 50 deg. C inside a normal greenhouse. Unless the greenhouse is equipped with a proper evaporative cooling system and with huge expense in power costs, such high temperatures will certainly be very damaging to the crops. In the case of the shade house for Pat, it seldom goes more than 1 to 2 degree C above the ambient. All he did was to open both ends of the shade house and let natural air movement to prevent heat build up. As a result, his vegetables thrive right through the year without adverse effects from the extreme heat in Summer and cold frosts in Winter.
Ken's Autopot® System - Melbourne
A note to Jim Fah to thank him for his “Autopot” System and advice over two years.
I am an avid gardener and have grown vegetables for 50 years. I have enjoyed growing from seed to maturity and supplying the whole family with vegetables of all kinds.
In the year of 2004, I had an excess water bill of $900. It would have been cheaper to buy the vegetables than grow my own but the flavour and quality of the homegrown variety is much superior. So in 2005, I installed rainwater tanks, four tanks equalling 36,000 litres to try to save on water bills and reduce costs. In 2005, the weather temperature was not excessively hot, which meant water usage wasn’t overly excessive. Then in 2006, we had a very dry year with very low rainfall. We had a couple of severe storms enabling all tanks to be filled. We then had a very hot summer and water usage grew to the point that over three months, that 32,000 litres of water was used and I had an excess water bill again. (The rainwater tanks are used for garden and toilet use only). So I had to work out how to save water. I looked at a flow and return system of Hydroponics, which would involve a lot of work for testing of nutrient tanks before recycling of water - a 7 day a week job.
I went to see Jim Fah and found his Autopot® System looked to be the answer to all my problems of water usage. Then in 2007 I purchased a start up system. I set this up and was really excited about it. I then bought a larger system of sixty pots. My water usage dropped to 16,000 litres, which was fantastic, in half the area of in ground usage as before. I have grown a lot of new vegetables after talking to Jim and taking his advice on types and growing requirements with his Autopot® System. It is great to talk to someone with a wealth of knowledge. I have increased my system even more, still using less than 16,000 litres.
In 2008 I built an igloo hot house to grow plants through the cooler months of the year with great success.
Thank you Jim for all your help and advice. We are still good friends and I am still growing more varieties of Asian and Australian vegetables. I have found Jim’s advice to be an invaluable asset as I increase my growing expertise in the hothouse environment.
Dave's Autopot® System - Mt. Martha
What an amazing hydroponic system. So easy to work, not a problem to maintain and the produce is such a great benefit to the family in this day and age.
I first met Jim Fah in 1998 after returning from Queensland and buying a house in Melbourne. What a wealth of knowledge Jim has and so eager to share it with you. I visited his centre on Springvale Road in Braeside and spent an afternoon with Jim going through his actual displays and working of his Smart Valve Hydroponic system and learning as much as possible.
I started with the small gravity fed system that had eight 10 inch pots and now have the Pump Feed System with 20 hanging pots, 8 window boxes, 30 hydrotray double modules and 4 single 12" units. As you can see from some of the photos supplied I have quite a few plants, vegetables and flowers growing in and around our house.
Hanging pots are in front of our lounge leading to the front door which contain flowers. There are hanging pots and window boxes seen from our kitchen window under a small pergola which contain herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, marigold flowers and some lettuce.
This year I built a Hot House to house plants that I am going to grow, or try to grow, all year round. Some examples of these are tomato, broccoli, capsicum, cucumbers, strawberries and chilli. I have purchased a heater to aid my project.
One of the main reasons I built the Hot House is that the family love broccoli and strawberries which grow really well in the Smart Valve system, but unfortunately in the past the birds would eat all the ripe strawberries and the white butterfly would always infest my broccoli. There has been a big change this year with both being enclosed within the Hot House as the bird and white butterfly problem has been solved.
The Hot House is made of a steel frame that was the original frame of a gazebo that had a shade cloth roof. I completely stripped the shade cloth and bought some lazer lite sheeting which I attached to the steel frame of the gazebo with treated pine. To facilitate air flow I formed one roof vent which opens automatically when the temperature climbs above 29 degrees centigrade. There is also a sliding window at one end and a flywire door directly opposite. I have also installed an electronic temperature guage, min/max. I have recently bought from Jim a fan and misting system to bring the temperature down on really hot days, but so far this year I’ve been lucky as there haven’t been a lot of really hot days.
Due to the construction of the Hot house I have been able to try growing eggplants for the first time. I just planted 2 plants and what a success! In normal garden conditions it is said that you average about 6 – 7 fruit per plant. I have already harvested 18 fruit of exceptional quality in both size and weight and the plants are still producing.
Later this year I hope to go Aquaponic. I have already purchased a 1000 litre tank, mounted and with pumps ready to go. I just need the time to plumb it into my system.
I have always grown vegetables and herbs most of my life, starting when I was a young boy with 5 siblings.
Jim, your hydroponic system is really great, requires very little maintenance and work when compared to other similar systems, and it goes without saying that the produce is exceptional. I cannot recommend it enough.
Many thanks Jim for your ingenuity in creating such a fantastic, user friendly hydroponic system.
“I can assure you all, that there is no better or more simpler a system than the Autopot® System.”
Mick - South Australia
Growing Vegetables in Murray Bridge.
I first met Jim while I was living in Berwick, not all that far from his Hydroponic retail outlet. His method of growing hydroponics interested me as I had used a similar gravity feed system in Mildura years ago, with which I had huge success.
The Autopot® System is the ultimate gravity feed system as far as I am concerned. The smart valve eliminates the need to have all the containers at one level as with my old system where nutrient was released as levels dropped by use of a ball float on a secondary tank that was fed by the larger primary tank.
Since moving to Murray Bridge in South Australia, an area with poor limestone soils and an average annual rainfall of 250mm, I decided to install the Autopot® System using only collected rainwater, with the intention to be self sufficient with vegetables.
First I built a lean to roof covered with clear corrugated polycarbonate sheeting on the east side of my house to create a hot house of 6 x 2.5 metres. I then paved the area to create a neat growing environment.
I installed 5 x 200 litre plastic drums, connected inline. These collected all rain that fell on my pergola and hothouse an area of about 75 square metres. I installed a cheap submersible electric pump into the last drum to be able to pump water up into the 2 x 200 litre gravity feed drums. These two drums were on a 1 metre high tank stand made from besser bricks. The attached pictures tell the story well.
I opted for two rows of Hydrotray (double) modules. Each row had 12 modules giving me 44 pots to grow my vegetables in. Again the pictures tell the story. The hardest part was to ensure the system was totally without leaks, as I was well aware of the cost of nutrient and the value of my collected rainwater.
The two nutrient drums each have their own tap and allow nutrient feed from either tank via a 13mm plastic line with a quality filter installed inline. Tank No.1 has nutrient mixed to reach 22-24 CF and the second tank only contains rainwater. After each tank full of nutrient has been used, a half tank of pure rainwater is fed through the system. Replenishing the gravity feed drums is simple using the submersible pump in the rainwater drums. Touch wood, I have not run out of rainwater since installing the system in September 2008. However I do have another 10,000 litres rainwater in other holding tanks just in case.
I have included a number of descriptive photos to show how very successful this system is, and I can assure you all, that there is no better or more simpler a system than the Autopot® System.
Matt's Autopot® System - Melbourne
Matt had a very successful crop in the growing season from September to March. All these and more from his Autopot® Systems. He tried almost any variety he can get a hold of including some very interesting heirloom varieties.