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Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:31 pm
by Crazygar
The Tupperware Grow Op

How many of us have tons of Tupperware containers lying around our residences doing nothing? If you are like me, you'll have a ton. Now, how many of you have plants for your Aquarium that you'd love to have more off and really want a quick amount without spending your retirement savings on many pots of plants?

If you've answered yes to both the questions I have a neat solution that won't break the bank and put those Tupperware Containers to use!

Materials Needed;
  • Tupperware container. I generally use the big, squat ones for more floorspace. Sometimes, though, I use my smaller ones for just growing "enough" for what I need.
  • Potting Soil. I prefer to use Schultz's Tropical Potting soil as I've generated some good results with this.
  • Plastic Food Wrap that will cover the top "Tightly" of the Tupperware container. Regular Tupperware Lids won't let the light penetrate the container. Besides, there is always orphan lids around (usually in various sizes and colours...)
  • Tape. Good tape just in case the Plastic Wrap does not hold well onto the container. Masking Tape as well to put the name of the plant on the container for ID purposes if you are growing more than one type.
  • A bottle Mister. For use in misting the plants on a weekly basis with water. Set to mist NOT Earth moving spray.
  • Aquarium Plant you'd like to grow.
Before I get started, I will like to tell you that most plants that do well in these types of setups are the smaller, ground cover plants. I've had major successes with Eleocharis (Dwarf Hairgrass, E.parvula) and smaller Cryptocoryne species such as C.parva and C.lingua. Glossostigma elatinoides and Hemianthus callitrichoides also do quite well in such setups!

For the larger plants (such as C.wendtii, Java Fern, Anubias) you'll need a larger container (10GALS work well) and ensure that the environment is humid. But for this article, I'm going to concentrate on Ground Cover Plants (usually they fetch top dollar anyways). Most Aquarium Plants we purchase (a good part) are grown emersed anyways, so we will be in fact, be mimicking what the larger Plant Farms do!

It's a good idea as well to grow only one type of plant per container! Growing C.linga and C.parva in the same container can get confusing when harvesting! Both have different needs in the Aquarium (C.linga requires tons of light).

Step 1

Location location location! Usually in a window sill, ledge or area where you get a lot of direct sunlight. You can however, use standard Aquarium Lighting (ensuring that the photoperiod does not max 8hrs) if you wish. For this article, it'll be standard sunlight and my Kitchen Table (I'm single, I have no one to complain about limited space!). After all, Sunlight is free.
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Step 2:

Fill the container with the potting soil. Generally I only use about 1" to 2" depth for the substrate (depends if the plants are heavy root feeders). You can attempt Peat Moss (100% Natural Canadian) if you like but I've went with the easiest Route and just used Potting Soil which is available just about anywhere there is plants! I will also recommend Schultz's Tropical Potting Soil as well! I've had explosive growth using this and the rest of my standard Houseplants as well! Always a use for Potting Soil!

Don't use the soil from your backyard! Who knows what is in it! Along with settled pollution, best to go the bagged route. One Bag of Potting Soil can really fill a lot of containers!
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Step 3:

Fill the container with water so that the soil is moist but not a giant Muck puddle. The moisture is what we are going to be relying on for the next little while for our plants.
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Step 4:

Time to plant. For this experiment, we are going to be using Cryptocoryne parva. Separate the plant and place each plant (with tweezers, holding the bottom of the root) into the soil. Plant the plants about 1" apart from each other. Plants grow quicker and denser if the initial planting is close to each other!

Plants such as Eleocharis , Glossostigma elatinoides and Hemianthus callitrichoides need to be planted closer to each other for dense growth. Always research (plant style is similiar to Aquarium conditions) your plants planting needs.

Step 5:

Cover with Plastic Wrap. If the Plastic Wrap does not stick (generally what happens in my case) then use some tape to ensure that the plastic it tightly on! Dry plants don't do much but die. Ensuring the plastic is on tight and sealed proper will keep moisture in so that your plants can grow in their emersed form!

Step 6:

Place it your location where it won't be disturbed. Like everything else, things do fine if not disturbed (especially myself when I wake up in the morning) and yield more positive results (wow, me too!).

Step 7:

Each week, remove the cover and mist the plants (only the plants) with some regular ole' Tap Water (unless of course, your water has high Chlorine or Chloramines then use Aquarium Water or treated water) and place a new piece of Plastic Wrap over the top and ensure it's sealed. Continue the process until the final step below;

That's it!

Over time, your plants will grow to the container (growth will vary due to location, sunlight, light etc..). When you hit your yield (you can't see nothing but plants) it's time to harvest. Remove the plants and carefully, prune back long roots, clean well to remove the potting soil and plant in your Aquarium. From one pot of plants, you now have tons! I often keep my "Grow Ops" running. I've supplied other hobbyists in the area with plants without too much effort or Energy Consumption! I've also filled my personal Aquarium with all the ground cover plants I'll ever need but always keep a crop going.

Eventually, you'll start moving onto more different types of plants to grow. Stem Plants are the hardest. They often take quite a while to re-adapt to emersed conditions and usually grow quite tall that a 20GAL High would be more preferable. Also, they are more brittle than the rest of the Aquarium plants.

Echinodorus (E.tenellus, E.quadricostatus) or "Sword Plants" do amazing in these types of setups as well. Experiment and journal your results here!

Written by Gary A.MacDonald (Crazygar)

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:51 am
by Dutchman
Gary,
ALL our Tupperware is in the loft in strategic places under a leak in the roof. They fill up during periods of rain and then dry out when the sun shines again. They've been there for years, and they've never overflowed. I do not dare to remove them. It's one heck of a job to fix that roof. :rofl:

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:23 pm
by Crazygar
Most of the C.parva has "melted" back from their original form and starting to see signs of new growth at the bases of each one. This is week 2. Straight sunlight is all they are getting. The growth rate will be much slower, but the end result should be the same. No supplemental light or ferts given other than weekly misting.

Gary

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:20 pm
by Crazygar
This batch is growing much slower than the usual time frame! Could be the changing of the Sun's position in the sky. It's reaching Spring (I said reaching, not quite) here in Ketchupwan (Saskatchewan) and I might have to reposition it the container or add supplemental light. Though I plan the au natural approach. I am seeing new sprouts all the over the place, I'll get up a picture to show progress!

Gary

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:45 am
by DaFishMan
Great article as usual Gary, can't wait to see the pics !

ps - love the new sig LOL

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:28 am
by Crazygar
I'll fire up some shortly! Thanks DFM, I get to return to normal this evening!

Gary

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:16 am
by Crazygar
I'm closing it down for now. The light has changed so much from Winter to Summer I can't believe it. My best bet would to have this running in the Winter when I get full sun from both the east and South.

I have someone interested in the mere pittance that seems to be growing in there. Though I am not giving up. I'll keep the container "active" as I am going down Saturday to get my Dwarf Hairgrass which I will modify the setup for my 18W PC setup.

Gary

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:06 am
by AdamCichlid
I really would like to try this but I'm kind of confused on how it saves money. I'm new to aquarium plants and dont understand whats the difference in growing them in a tuppeware contanier and growing them in your tank, and also how do you make 1 plant into 2 plants and so on.

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:59 am
by C. Andrew Nelson
I think Gary's plan basically sets it up so the everything is geared towards growing the plants and growing them quickly. In a tank, there are so many other concerns such as water conditions, heating, filtering, and possibly fish. I know there are a lot of people who set up "dirted" aquariums that have organic potting soil under the gravel substrate and get good results this way. Gary's method essentially gives you a bunch of little hothouses. It accelerates the process, growing underwater plants like cryptocorynes as if they were house plants in a greenhouse. They are kept sufficiently moist by the tight plastic wrap cover. The soil is nutrient rich and promotes growth. And because it is not submerged as with a dirted tank you don't have to worry about extra nutrients in the water causing algae growth.

As Gary has pointed out, this works well for sturdy clump plants like cryptocorynes, swords, anubias, and other plants that can support the weight of their own leaves out of the water. Most stem plants rely on their underwater buoyancy to stand up straight. So Gary's method wouldn't work too well for plants like pennywort and waterweed. It is an excellent idea, however, for the other plants mentioned.

The way this idea saves you money is that you can buy one small mass of plants, subdivide it, plant them in these little tubs, and quickly grow them all to full sized plants again. For example, most crypts that you buy at you LFS or pet shop are in reality a small grouping of several plants that can be separated and spread out. With Gary's method it seems like you could spend $ on one "plant" (which in actuality is several plants growing snugly), break it up into many plants, raise them up larger at an accelerated rate, and in a short amount of time end up with $$$ worth of plants that you can then fully aquascape your tank with or use for sale or trade. On top of that you can stick these little containers anywhere you have space and the pants can get sunlight (such as window sills) and they don't take up the same footprint in your home as a tank would.

So Gary, chime in here if I've got any of this wrong.

Adam, thanks for resurrecting Gary's old thread. I had completely missed this topic. Very good read, Gary! If my wife will let me I think I'll try it.

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:20 pm
by Crazygar
It doesn't take too much space and becomes a nice Table adornment at least that's how you sell it as. :D

Actually when I startup a tank, I usually do emersed growth first to the Carpet plants, just do that, carpet. There is more CO2 in the air than water so it only makes sense. The results are great lawns of small Crypts such as Parva and Hairgrass. I leave areas "ungrown" to plant the plants I want to put in when the water level is deeper. Of course there is an adjustment period but I slowly raise the water table and let those plants get adjusted.

Gary

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:24 pm
by AdamCichlid
Not confused at all anymore, Thanks C Andrew and Crazygar...I'm going to try this, this seems cool!!!

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:05 pm
by twotone12valve
How does this work with hair grass? I have been trying to carpet my 125gal with hair grass but my lighting is insufficient for healthy fast growth but it does grow. So this may help a lot!

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:34 pm
by Crazygar
While you will start out strong, if you don't have the proper substrate and lighting the Hairgrass will perish regardless of your Grow Op, though you can always work on an emersed growth Tank. They are fun as well.

Gary

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:03 pm
by AdamCichlid
Gary I cant find Tropical Soil anywhere...What is a good substitute??

Re: Tupperware Grow Op

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:54 pm
by C. Andrew Nelson
I know a lot of people who do dirted tanks us Miracle Grow Organic Soil. Would that be a good substitute, Gary?