Planting Seeds in the Niwa

journal garden niwa

I've been sick for a couple days, but the silver lining there is that my vermiculite finally arrived, so now I have a whole day to start growing my lettuce!

You do want to make sure you have a few hours to spend on this, mostly waiting, since the first step is soaking the rockwool and that does take a few hours. So if you fire this up when you get home and find the last of your delivered supplies sitting at your door, that step will probably just run all night and you'll have to wait to do the actual planting. Or you can be a sensible gardener and wait for the weekend (or illness-imposed faux weekend).

When you download the Niwa app, it guides you through the setup.

The first step is to get your Niwa connected to your home internet connection. This takes a bit of hoop-jumping, because you have to connect your phone to the Niwa's own Wi-Fi, and then sign it in to your home network. So if you're doing MAC filtering, you'll have to make sure to allow your Niwa in that way as well.

I found that if the Niwa can't find any Wi-Fi networks--not even your neighbors'--then you probably can just unplug it and plug it back in again rather than assume that your own wireless router is impossible to find.

After that it gives you a couple choices of things to grow. Apparently there will be more growing programs later for a wider variety of crops. These screenshots are from the Android version of the app.

A screenshot of the Niwa app, asking what to grow.

Make sure you put water in the Niwa before selecting a growing program! As soon as you select one, the pump will turn on, and you don't want it running dry. So, before you tell the app what you're growing, measure out the fertilizer (4 ml each of Plagron A and B), stir that into a lot of water, and pour it slowly and evenly over the rockwool. The extra water will drain into the reservoir, and once there's enough in there to run the pump, then you can start the growing program. After that, you just have to let it sit for a few hours so that the rockwool can become fully saturated with water.

The amount of noise this thing makes is pretty comparable to a small aquarium. The pump or heater comes on once in a while, like a running refrigerator, but there's also a trickling noise of water from the water that doesn't stay in the rockwool and drips back down into the reservoir.

Once you tell the app that the rockwool is moist, it stops pumping and asks if you see small leaves.

A screenshot of the Niwa app, asking about growth progress.

That's the time to plant the seeds; you make a small depression in the rockwool, put seeds in, and cover it with vermiculite.

Seeds planted in the Niwa.

Germination will be in a few days, so there will be more updates later.

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