Frequently asked questions about the pPod®
What kind of plants can I grow in a pPod®?
A wide range of plants can be grown in a pPod, but obviously some plants are better suited than others.
• For single pPods, smaller plants such as oregano, thyme, radishes, chives, or microgreens are best. Certain hybrid Cannabis strains can be grown in a Standard pPod with careful pruning and grow light control.
• Expanded pPods allow plants to spread out, so the extra room can provide a better environment for bushy and viny plants.
• For some plants that grow a little tall for the pPod, such as dill, we have simply opened the top several inches for the last few weeks of the growing season.
Are pPods useful on farms?
Yes. pPods are a valuable addition to the range of products used in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). In particular, we have received considerable interest from micro-farmers who need enclosures for starting seedlings but want to avoid the financial and land investment in a full size permanent greenhouse.
The pPod is specifically designed to accommodate a total of 4 commercial 1020 seed trays per pPod unit. The modular design of the pPod makes it expandable and portable as the pPod segments can be quickly broken down and stacked for easy transport and storage.
How many plants can I fit into a pPod®?
That depends on the plants and the type of containers, as well as what stage the plants are in. The base is 24" x 24" and a Shelf Kit is available for a 2nd level of smaller plants. The pPod dimensions are specifically designed to accommodate two 1020 seed trays at the bottom and two more on the shelf.
Why do pPods use less water?
Plants consume the most water when they exposed to direct sun and constant wind which causes the water in leaves to evaporate faster. But if plants are protected from excessive direct sun and get just enough air flowing across the leaves to allow them to breathe, they will use a minimal amount of water and be very healthy. The pPod has translucent panels that diffuse sunlight and its access panels let you control how much air moves through the pPod. Many plants that grow very quickly, such as tomatoes, can require up to 3 times more water in exposed windy locations than in a pPod, as we have seen during 7 years of testing pPods.
How else does wind affect plants?
Plants need some air movement in order to breathe, just like humans, but too much wind can dry out foliage very quickly and damage leaves and stems as they rub against each other or against railings, supports, etc. In severe winds, such as during storms, stems can be broken and entire plants can be lost. The more exposed the plants, like on balconies and rooftops, the more likely wind will be a problem. As an example, chives growing in pots will often flop over when exposed to dry, windy conditions but grow upright when protected in a pPod.
How warm will the optional 40 W heat mats keep a pPod® during winter?
According to temperature measurements taken during the two cold weather events in New York this winter (2022-23), 40 watt heat mats kept temperatures above freezing on the nights when the temperature dropped to 15 deg F. As temperatures dropped to 5 deg F, some foliage was "frostbit", but the roots and stems stayed warm and the plants recovered as soon as outdoor temperatures went back above 15 deg F.
Above 20 deg F, the pPod should stay about 20 degrees warmer than ambient with that difference diminishing as it approaches the thermostat set temperature.
Are pPods useful in warm climates?
Sure. There is more to providing plants with a great enclosure than just keeping them from freezing. All plants have an ideal growing temperature and even if you live in a warm climate, temperatures can drop below 50 degrees during winter and might have freezing nights each year. Also, many plants are stressed more easily in direct sunlight and the translucent panels used in the pPod effectively diffuse sunlight to minimize plant stress.
Note that during hot weather or when direct sunlight can heat up the pPod, be sure to open the top of the pPod slightly to allow some circulation.
And besides the right temperature, there are more reasons to provide a good enclosure for plants.
Besides controlling sun, wind, and temperature, what else are pPods good for?
Plants can be damaged by all sorts of things: storms, airborne diseases/fungi, and pests, including bugs, rodents, and deer. pPods have proven to be excellent protection against all kinds of physical danger, from white flies to tropical storms.
Why use a plastic frame instead of an aluminum frame like most plant enclosures?
Aluminum conducts heat 500 times more than any typical industrial plastics. This is a problem when trying to keep plants warm on a cold night. Even though the frame is a small fraction of the total surface area of a pPod, as much heat would be lost through just the aluminum frame as through all the plastic panels combined. This could easily mean the difference between plants freezing or staying above 40 degrees F when ambient temperatures are in the 20’s.
What if I don't have a green thumb? Will I finally be able to keep plants alive in a pPod®?
That's the idea. pPods are designed to provide the best protected environment for your location, so all that is left is making sure that your plants are appropriate for your location and that they get the right amount of food and water.
Here are some hints for maximizing the probability that you will be able to do some high-quality growing in your pPod:
• In hotter climates, you will have better success with plants that are not sensitive to extreme heat. All plants have a temperature range where they are happiest and grow the fastest. More temperature sensitive plants, like cilantro or dill, will get stressed in prolonged heat above 90 degrees, even in the shade. Check with a local garden center for recommendations on plants for your area.
NOTE: During hot weather or when direct sunlight can heat up the pPod, be sure to open the top of the pPod slightly to allow some circulation
• In cooler climates, make sure your pPod gets enough hours of direct sun all year if you don’t have supplementary grow lights installed. The more hours of each day that your plants are exposed to sunlight or properly selected grow lights, the faster your plants will grow and the less likely they will succumb to disease, mold, etc. In the winter, sunlight is important for helping to keep the inside of the pPod as warm as possible.
• Container gardening is different than growing plants in the ground, especially with plants that normally like to put down deep roots. For example, you need to have carrots growing in a deep container inside the pPod. Unless you intend to do hydroponic or semi-hydroponic gardening, give your roots as much room as possible.
• Making sure you have the right kind of planting mix is a little trickier. Some commercial potting mixes contain plenty of nutrients and start out draining well, but usually need to be replaced or supplemented after one season.