Techinical Questions

Have a read of our blog post by Angus Stewart on the best growing mix for your Vegepod

For Mature Plants

It does depend on the weather and how established your plants are. For a start, note the canopy is permeable, so if it’s ever raining, it’s getting watered like any other garden. Also, once your plants are established you don’t have to water them as much. They are being serviced by the water reservoirs below, and the wicking system. I.e.: even when the top soil looks and feels dry, you will notice the plants still thrive. They are drinking from the wetter soil below via the wicking bed. Don’t overwater the Vegepod – the beauty of the wicking system is its water efficiency. It doesn’t need the typical amount of watering that a standard garden would.

As an example, a customer didn’t water their pods last year for the 6 months of autumn / winter, as Sydney had regular coastal rain every couple of weeks and the weather was cool. This continually replenished the reservoirs. The warmer months obviously use more. Even in a Sydney summer though when you go away the established plants will be self-watered and okay for up to 2 to 4 weeks without rain or watering! Every time you get rain or use the misters or manually water the pod, your plants are getting watered and the water leaches down through the soil to replenish the reservoirs .

For Seedlings

Having said all that, when your seedlings are just babies, or the summer days are really cooking, we recommend using the mist spray for at least three minutes per day until the seedlings establish. Once they have decent roots sent below or the super hot days are finished, you’ll no longer need to spray. If in doubt, remember, the plants tell the story. Are they drying or wilting? Give ‘em a water!

We have never really had any problems with pollination or fertilisation over the years, and we have grown pretty much everything in the Vegepods. This is due to a few factors:

- So many fruits these days are self-pollinating varieties.

- The bees get all the glory but pollination is not solely performed by the larger pollinators like bees and butterflies. Tiny insect pollinators, such as ants and small beetles, are still active. (We are bee lovers too by the way, we have both native and euro hives at Shedquarters!)

- Pollination also occurs via wind / movement which happens thanks to the permeable canopy.

Also remember that for all the leafy greens, herbs and root vegetables we don’t want or need to go to flower / seed anyway!

The only things we have ever really bothered giving some attention (i.e: some finger poking) are cucumbers and zucchinis just to make sure. However, for such big vine growers, we sometimes take the canopy off once they are bursting against the canopy walls anyway. Once the cover is off the bigger pollinators can have access.

The pods are made of excellent quality and food-safe materials, tweaked and enhanced over the years.

For a start, the wicking bed bases and raised walls are all virgin polypropylene (right down to the nuts and bolts!), which is certifiably food-safe plastic. This ensures no leaching of chemicals and maintain organic status for soils, unlike treated timbers or iron beds. Some think it may be better to utilise recycled plastics to help the environment as an added bonus, but unfortunately such plastics have a myriad of unknown plastics in every single batch and could not warrant a food-safe check for every lot. Having said that, polypropylene is recyclable (if indeed someone ever wanted to recycle down the track, but it should just keep going!).

The mesh is commercial grade crop cover as seen on fruit tree farms. The poles are made of galvanised steel to ensure no rust and a powder coating for good measure.

The stands are also all made of gal steel and powder coated.

Firstly, note the fungus gnats or sciarid flies are not bred in the water reservoirs below to make their way up into the soil and plants. The larvae are either brought in with your soil or flies are attracted to damp spots with lots of organic matter  (which is what is in abundance in most potting mixes, or rotting leaves above the potting mix) if the canopy is left open. The flies will fly in and lay eggs in the top layer of the potting mix. The Vegepod reservoir wells don’t stagnate as they have an overflow hole to allow regular flush outs when there is lots of rain or you can purposely water the pods through from the top.

If you notice them then also STOP watering. The top layer of soil in a Vegepod should generally be dry.  You should always place your vegepods in sunny locations that gives as at least 6 hours direct sunlight a day, that is best for veggie growing anyway, and will ensure you don’t get any wet/damp related pests or fungi probs. Dead foliage attracts the gnats so always clean away anything you don’t intend eating.

One solution to rid the gnats altogether is a biological control in the form of a nematode that is introduced to the soil. Apart from using the predatory nematodes (check your local producer for supply), another option is to kill any adult flies that are hanging around above the potting mix. They lay eggs which hatch into the larvae that do the damage. A sticky trap is a good non-toxic way to get the flies (see for example https://www.bunnings.com.au/trappit-yellow-sticky-insect-garden-trap-5-pack_p2960969). Stopping the flies will stop the larvae that cause the problem. 

Here is a photo of fungus gnat larvae which could be in the potting mix. Run your fingers through your top soil and look for these as a tell tale sign.

Growing Tips

Firstly, please refer to our assembly support videos for clear instructions on the link below: https://vegepod.com.au/assembly-videos/

You must ensure the hinge clips click over the edge of the walls to secure in place. This requires some decent force to click the little lip over the wall panel.

You must also ensure to put at least two of the hinge clips on the front wall and not use all of them on your back wall. This ensures wind does not simply blow the cover up and down.

Ants generally like to live in really dry areas so you could try using a wetter soil agent and/or soak the pod continuously for a bit until they bugger off. Google and people will mention various deterrents such as cinnamon, lemon, borax / food grade diatomaceous earth etc. But don’t necessarily malign the ants, they are often helping out or at worst innocuous. They will help pollinate inside the pod whilst the bigger pollinators like bees can’t get in. Have a look to see what they are doing. They may be feeding on nasty pests like scale insects. But if in plague proportion or destroying your plants, then you could try Ant-Rid which usually works well.

The misters produce a high volume of super fine mist. The mist will cover most of the plants and soil area in your pod, but you are correct, they do not necessarily reach into the corner extremities of the pod. This is not a problem for established plants because what we are basically aiming for is to have all the water leach down through the soil, and replenish the wicking reservoirs at the base. That’s where established plants get the vast majority of their water from. Even if ALL the top soil was dry, for example, it doesn’t really matter. Technically you could have all the water enter from beneath the soil and the wicking job still does the job. We didn’t design it like that, however, as it is indeed natural to have soil dampened from above too. We emulate nature as much as possible.

Having said all of this, if your plants are still tiny seedlings without decent roots to drink from the wells, it is recommended to water by hand the whole lot until they establish.

If you are getting say a few days of plus 33°C heat in a row, then a bit of shade cloth over the canopy can be a good touch during those periods. You can either drape the cloth over the canopy or peg it to the Vegepod’s poles. Remember, we chose the lowest shade rate in commercial grade crop mesh, to allow as much light in as possible for ideal veggie growing…and to cater for those customers who only get a few hours sun a day. However, on hot days, the cover is only 17% shade, so adding a bit of green shade cloth on those days is recommended.

If your plants are still young seedlings and unestablished this is particularly recommended. Whilst still small seedlings, their roots have yet to take a good hold or grow much towards the lower and wetter regions of the wicking base. Until they get a bit bigger and more established, a good 3 to 5 minutes of daily mist spray or manual watering is also recommended.

Aphids are about the only pest tiny enough to get through our super fine protective mesh. They are the size of pin-head in green/grey/brown colours and typically infest in large numbers on leaves of the leafy green veggies. There are many “quick-fix” spray suggestions out there (such as organic options of garlic/chilli/milk sprays or the pyrethrum oil spray), but really, we never find those truly effective and besides, who wants to spray the very leaves we are going to east with all that stuff!? The sprays don’t stand up to a good ole bit of elbow grease anyway. Take your time and literally run your fingers over top and and bottom side of every leaf and squish all of those buggers for good. It’s the only sure-fire way to really ensure they are kaput in our view. It’s a good way to spend time with your plants and get to know them, it’s therapy and education! However if your greens are decimated already or you have a timid heart or you just can’t be bothered, then rip out the infested plants and start again. (You can often just wash all the aphids off the pulled out plants out under a running tap and eat them rather than tossing too).

“Vegepod does not recommend nor endorse doing this, but it has been witnessed before and does technically fit into place. Note the large vegepod is weighing approximately 450kgs when full of wet soil and full reservoirs, so any such unintended use of such trolleys is at your own risk. Vegepod will not be held responsible. The surface would definitely also need to be absolutely smooth, hard and level like a concrete slab as even a fairly small ridge could place undue pressure on the separated trolleys.”

The benefits of worm juice come in several ways as follows:

It has a very well balanced nutrient content usually depending what your worms have been fed.  If they have had the usual diet of things like kitchen scraps and manure these materials have the same  balance of nutrients that plants need for optimal growth.  Humus which is the end result of the breakdown of organic materials. Humus builds a soil's ability to store more water and nutrients Beneficial microbes from the worm's gut is in the juice. 

Storing the juice for more than a week or so will greatly reduce the quantity of beneficial microbes and for that reason we like to use it as fresh as possible.  However, your stored juice will still have the full benefits of points 1 and 2. So for that reason it will still be good to use.