Alternative soil medium for testing

I’d like to build my FarmBot indoors. Is there another medium that could be used to simulate soil/dirt? Foam perhaps?

Expanded clay. We use it extensively in our greenhouse.

Would you mind sharing a picture?

Our Farmbot is in an indoor greenhouse. We have started growing but would love to see what others have done.

Did you start from seeding using the clay pellets?

No. I’m not using my farmBot to grow plants. I’ve switch to building my own system.

I was trying to answer you specific question about what other media besides dirt can you grown plants in indoors. We’ve used expanded clay quite a bit because it can grow bacteria and such on the surface (which is good for micro-nutrients), its totally germ free, ph neutral and provides support for roots and very light. You can run nutrient water over it and the clay will hold a little water for a while and the roots will pick it up from there.

We have “seeded” plants directly into expanded clay before, but it dose not work very well.

We typically germinate seedlings in a seeding tray with a lamp and a heating pad under the seedlings. We use either “rock wool” or something similar to germinate the seedlings in and then when their roots start to grow just outside of the seeding tray’s cube (typically 1 to 1.5 square inches) then we transplant the seedling to the expanded clay. We generally grown 2 to 3 times more seedlings than we have room for in our growing tables and then select only the “best” plants to transplant. The space in our growing table is quite valuable and we never want to waist that space on a seed that doesn’t germinate or that is week even it it does germinate. The two step process avoids all that.

From my description, you can see that the whole “automated seeding” concept in the current FarmBot doesn’t really solve any problems for us and only creates them. This is why we are building our own system now to automate and solve the specific problems that we think most folks would have in growing plants in a greenhouse/indoor setting.

If you want to seed with the farmbot then I’d stick with planting/potting soil.

Hope that helps.