The last post was all about mother plants. If you took my advice, your moms' biochemistry is set to produce fast growing, pest-free growth tips ripe for cuttings that root in 5 - 7 days.
This course I want to talk about your cloner. More specifically, address physical locations in your cloner that pathogens can hide. I’ll also outline my protocol to confidently sterilizing cloners between cycles.
The Mechanics of Keeping Sterile
Pump housing: The back of most water pumps (where the power cord enters the pump) has a cover plate that shields a small orifice in most water pumps. For most cloning brands this back-plate prevent sterilizers from entering this space effectively. On some systems the plate is spot-glued in a couple locations requiring a flat-head screwdriver to pop it off. Once removed, leave it off so sterilizers can effectively flush this area at each sterilization cycle.
Air-Stones & Air-Lines: Aeroponics cloner do not require air stones because the space in you cloner offers air at 20% oxygen that high surface area water is flying through. DWC cloners rely on air-pumps for dissolved oxygen for the submerged stems of your clones. However, air-pumps, air-lines & air-stones must all be considered when maintaining a sterile system. Boiling your air-stones and air-lines between cloning cycles for 10 minutes is the most ecological way to sterilize them. The porosity of the stone make chemical sterilization unreliable. Beware that some brands of air-stones degrade if boiled, so test boil one first. I also recommend our ¼” - ⅜” AeroBlock Filter to prevent airborne contaminants from entering your system.
Cloning Collars: people often overlook cloning collars during sterilization; while conventional collars are impossible to guarantee sterilization. The attempts to sterilize traditional collars is time consuming and offer hit-or-miss results. Also, traditional cloning collars (for example neoprene) degrade and do NOT maintain food grade status with regular exposures to oxidizers. If you haven’t switched to PermaClone, I recommend replacing collars between cloning cycles for convenient, reliable, food grade results.
Sterilization Between Cycle
Once you made the mechanical adjustments mentioned above, now we can deploy my tried-and-true recipe for sterilizing your system between cloning cycles with minimal effort or labor by you or employees.
- With PermaClone collars in place, fill the cloner with fresh tap water.
- Add 5 mL/gal Bleach (~100 ppm Free chlorine) & 0.1 mL/gal (2 drops/gal) concentrated dish soap.
- Circulate this mix for 12 - 24 hours, and dump, but do not rinse.
- Next, sterilize you PermaClone collars using one of our four efficient sterilization methods found in the PermaClone User Manual.
- If using DWC, boil your air-lines & air-stones.
- With gloved hands, fill the cloner with sterilized collars and leave in a clean space until cloning day
Next we discuss The Kaizen of Cloning
Until Next time,