A propag:th)r The present invention rdates generally to a propagator and finds particu'ar.
afthough not exdusive, utility in the growing of seedlings.
The pbnt training system allows the foliage of vegetabk, sahd and herb crops to be maintained in an upright position, regardless of their habit to prevent plants encroaching and lodging onto adjoining rows. Preferably, the conuiners are raised above ground to an ergonomic working height and reach.
Preferably, the containers are sufficiently deep to permit the full unrestricted development of root crops within a growing medium.
Preferably, the containers contain a growing medium with a blend of organic and mineral consfituents to promote moisture retention while ensuring the efficient removal of excess water via a drainage sump to prevent waterlogging without the loss of soil fin es.
The production of vegetaNe, salad and herbs crops in containers is constrained by the limited surface area availab'e. Planting at conventional spacing tllows on'y small numbers of plants to be. grown. increasing the. density of plants is generally held to be couriterproductivu with icr1onrirtg Joy due to suppression arid hiurcasud incidence of pests and diseases. These result from ow light evds and poor air circulation and occur even where the increased demands of closely spaced plants for moisture and plant nutrients are met.
Also such containers have, disadvantages such as over heating, not being able to hold moisture well, and providing no support to the shoo and stems.
It is desirable to have a propagator which provides various features which allow for conditions, such as light, temperature. air circulation, water supply, moisture retention, drainage, shdter and support, to be adjusted such that, taken together, the growing conditions are optirnised.
Tn one the invention provides a propagator comprising a container having rn internal volun e for containing a growing medium in which seedlings may be grown, the container including at least two sockets located opposite one another on the edge of the container, and a rod moveable in each socket, the rods being arranged to receive a cord thereheiween for supporting a seedling as it grows, the propagator also including means for maintaining the top of each rod relative to the container at a selectable position such that the height of the cord relative to the container is adjustably hxable.
The propagator mininlises hght suppression of the plants in middle lines and maximizes air movement between planting lines.
The propagator may be known as a plant training system.
The. propagator may include a cord extended across the container bertveen the rods.
Tn this way, the cord provides a support for the seedling and this support may be raised and lowered as required relative to the container as the seedlings grow.
A cord tensioning device for varying the tension in the cord may be provided.
The means for maintiining the top of each rod relative to the container at a selectable position may he a friction fit between the sockets and the rods. Alternatively or additionally, the means for maintaining the top of each rod relative to the container at a selectable position may be an ccQ" ring slidably arranged on each rod. Tn use, therefore, the rods may be lowered or raised as required relative to the container. Tf the rods are extended such that they have a suitable length above the top of the container more than one cord may be extended therebetween to provide support at more than onc level.
The base of the container may comprise a sump including a drain hole at its base. More than one drain hole may be provided, the suinp may be a recess in the base of the container, the sump allows for drainage of the container to prevent xvaterlogging of the growing medium.
The sump may thrther comprise a plurality of gravel within a porous recepticle.
The gravel may have a size range of S to 10mm. For example a small hag of mesh-like material may contain a portion of gravel or other such free-draining material placed in the recess. The gravel permtis free water released under gravity from the growing media to be efficiently removed and prevents the blocking of drainage holes with growing mediunt The sump may further comprise a non-woven geotextile membrane placed above it The geotextile may have a weight of 100-200 grams per m2.
This geotextile may lie over the receptacle, if present. These elements may also prevent \vash-out of particles of the growing niediuni and prevent any roots from growing out of the drain holes. Both the geotextile and porous receptacle can he \v1ished when the container is emptied to remove trapped soil fines and rootlets and to substantially eliminate pests and diseases se as to allow these ti he reused.
The container may comprise rounded internal surfaces, including corners. This allows for the container tei he efficiently cleaned between uses and avoid the harbouring of pests and diseases and the like in hard-to-clean sharp edged corners. The rounded internal surfaces and corners may be achieved through the rotational spin-moulding of the containers. In this respect the container may comprise plastics.
The sockets may be arranged external to the internal volume of the container.
The sockets may be arranged such that the entire length of each rod below the top of the container is held within the walls of the container. Alternatively, they may be arranged such that only a portion of each length of rod below the top of the container is held with the walls of the container with the remaining length being located outside the container walls external to the intemal void.
\Vith the seckets outside of the internal volume the likelihood of the growing medium entering and fouling them is reduced. This eliminates the likelihood of the rods not being movable and thus the cord not being movable leading to insufficient support for the plants.
Ihc propagttot may further coriipnsc a drip-line for irrigation of the seedlings in use. This may take the form of a pipe including small holes in its wall such that when the pipe is filled with water the water may seep out through the holes and irrigate the growing medium. In this way, the moisture content of the gro\ving medium may be optimised.
The drip-line may extend through opposite walls of the container. In one example, the drip-line may extend from one side to the other of the container. Valves may he provided at either end for connecting a water supply such as via a hose pipe and/or for connection to adjacent drip lines in either the same, or a different, container.
The position of the drip lines may define the position of planting rows within the containers to eptimise the cr01) spacing.
The base of the container may have an area greater than 70% of the area of the open upper end of the container. The area may be greater than 80%, greater than 90% or approximately equal to the area of the top of the container. This allows for a relatively wide space for root development even when the root; extend towards the base of the container, as opposed to a "V' shaped container \vhich may cri:imp the toots towards the base of the container as a result of the soil depth tapering.
The propagator may include a ipporting frame for elevating the container relative to a surface on which it is located. Tn this way, the container may be kept distant from a cold surhice, prevent drainage being impeded and provide an optimum ergonomic height for users to tend to the plan.
The. frame may be modular and extendable to support more than one propagator. In this regard. the frame may comprise of mterlockable tubes. More tubes may be added to increase the support area as required.
The above and other characteristics, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunctzon with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by xvay of example, the principles of the invention. This description is given for the sake of example only, without limiting the scope of the invention. The reference figures quoted below refer to the attached drawings.
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a propagator with plant supports in a first position; and Figure 2 is a perspcctivc view of the propagator of Figurc 1 with the plant supports in a second position.
The present invention will be described with respect to certain drawings but the invention is not limited thereto but only by the claims. The drawings described are only schematic and are non-limiting. Each drawing may not include all of the features of the invention and therefore should not necessarily be considered to be an embodiment of the invention. In the drawings, the size of some of the elements may he exaggerated and not dra\vn to scale for illustrative purposes. The dimensions and the relative dimensions do not correspond to actual reductions to practice of the invention.
Furthermore, the terms first, second, third and the like in the description and in the claims, are used for distinguishing between similar elements and not necessarily for describing a sequence, either temporally, spatially, in ranking or in any other manner. It is to be understood that the tenns so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumsnces and that operation is capable in other sequences than described or illustrated herein.
Moreover, the terms top. hottoni, over, under and the like in the description and the daims are used for descriptive puposes and not necessarily for describing relative positions. it is to be understood that the terms so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumstances and that operation is capabk in other orientations than described or illustrated herein.
it is to be. noticed that the term "comprising", used in the claims, should not be interpreted as being restricted to the means listed thereafter; it does not exclude other elements or steps. it is thus to he interpreted as specifying the presence of the stated features, integers, steps or components as referred to, but does not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps or components, or groups thereof Thus, the scope of the expression "a device comprising means A and B" should not he limited to devices consisting only of components A and B. It means that with respect to the present invention, the only relevant components of the device are A and B. 1 5 Reference throughout this specification to "an embodiment" or "an aspect" means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment or aspect is included in at least one embodiment or aspect of the present irivcritiomi. Ilius, appcaramiccs of the phrases in one emnbodinjicnit'', in an embodiment", or "in an aspect" in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment or aspect, but may refer to different embodiments or aspects. Furthermore, the particular features, structures or characteristics of any embodiment or aspect of the invention may be combined in any suitable manner, as would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art from this
disclosure, in one or more embodiments or aspects.
Similarly, it should he appreciated that in the description various features of the invetthon are sometimes grouped together in a single embodiment, figure, (Jr description thereof for the purpose of streamhning the disclosure and aiding in the understanding of one or more of the various inventive aspects. This method of disclosure, however, is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed invention requires more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Moreover, the description of any individual drawing or aspect should not necessarily be considered to be an embodiment of the invention. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive aspects lie in fewer thui all features of a single foregoing disclosed embodinient. thus, the claims following the detailed description are hereby expressly incorporated into this detailed description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment of this invention.
Furthermore, wln]e some embc'dnnents described herein include some features included in other embodiments, combinations of features of different embodiments are meant to be within the scope of the invention, and form yet further embodiments, as xviii be understood by those. skilled in the art. lor example, in the following claims, any of the claimed embodiments can be used in any combination.
Tn the description provided herein, numerous specific details arc set forth.
However, it is understood that embodiments of the invention may be practised without these specific details. In other instances, well-known methods, structures and techniques have not been shoxvn in detail in order not to obscure an understanding of
In the discnssion of the invention. nnless stated to the contrary, the disclosnre of alternative values for the upper or lower hmit of the permitted range of a paratneter, coupled with an indication that one of said values is more highly preferred than the other, is to be construed as an imphed statement that each intermediate value of said parameter, lying bertveen the more preferred and the less preferred of said alternatives.
is itsclf preferred to said lcss prcfcrrcd valuc and also to cach valuc lying bctwccri said less preferred value arid said intermediate value.
The use of the term "at least one" may mean only one in certain circumstances.
The principles of the invention will now be described by a detailed description of at least one drawing relating to exemplary features of the invention. It is clear that other arrangements can be configured according to the knowledge of persons skilled in the art xvithont departing from the nnderlying concept or technical teaching of the invention, the invention being limited only by the terms of the appended claims.
Tn Figure 1 the propagator i 0 is seen to comprise a container 20 having a box-like form. Tt comprises four walls and a base. The walls gently slope inwards from the top to the base; however, the base has a plan area only slightly less than at the top of the walls.
The walls step outwardly approximately two-thirds of the way up their sides creating a shoulder 50 which runs around the four sides. A lip 40 is provided at the top of the walls.
Along each of Iwo opposite walls anarray of five sockets 60 are arranged.
These sockets extend from the shoudcr 50 tc the lip 40. The sockets arc hollow with an opening at their upper and lower ends. The lower end of the socket is provided on the underside of the shoulder 50.
Rods 70, 77 are shown inserted into each socket 60 such that a portion 76 projects above the lip 40 and a portion 72 extends below the shoulder 50.
Extending across each pair of the middle three opposite rods 70 is a cord 80.
This cord 80 is in the forni of a 1oop which passes'ar()u1d each rod 70 at each end thereof Each loop of cord 80 may include a drawstring toggle (not shown) which may be used to tighten and loosen the cords. Ihe cord 80 may be elasticated.
Other arrangements of cords (not shown) are contemplated including the subdivision of the container into four quarters with cords extending diagonally across from/to each corner.
The position of the cords relative to each rod 70 is adjustable by the act of sliding them up and down.
Iwo irrigation tubes 90 are sho\vn extending across the container 20 bertveen Iwo opposite walls. 1ic cnds pass through the walls. In this figurc thcy arc shown extending parallel to the cords 80, however, other orientations are contemplated.
The ends of the irrigation tubes 90, on the wall of which the external surface is visible in the figure, are connected together with a pipe 100. A connection member [05 is also provided for connecting to a water supply such as a hose pipe.
The other ends of the irrigation tubes 90 may be connected together with a pipe or connected to an adjacent propagator 10 (not shown).
The propagator 10 is shown supported on a frame comprising tubular legs 30, cross-members 31 and feet 32. The cross-members 31 and legs 30 are connected together with appropriate 3-way corner sockets 33.
The position of each rod 70 is maintained relative to its socket 60 by either a friction-fit or the inclusion of an 0-ring @ot shown) located at the top of the socket 74.
These 0-rings are slidable along the rods 70 with the application of sufficient force but have enough grip on the rods such that the weight of the rods 70 themselves does not move theni.
In Figure 2, the rods 70 have been raised relative to the lip 40 such that the portions 72 below the shoulder 50 has been reduced in length and the portions 76 above have been increased in length.
The position of the cords 80 relative tc the rods has not altered in this figure but the spacing between the cords 80 and the lip 40 has increased due to the change in position of the rods 70.
An additional cord 85 is also sho\vn extending around the four corne.r rods 77 at a similar height above the lip 40 as the other cords 80. Tt may also he elasticated and include a drawstring toggle for adjusting the tautness. this cord 85 is optional.
In use, growing naedium, such as soil, may fill the container. With seedlings planted in rows the rods 70 in the central three cylinders 60 may be positioned such that their tops are relatively close to the lip 40. The cords 80 may he positioned close to the top of the soils so as to support the relatively short plants. As the plants grow and become taller and bushier the rods 70 may be raised and the position of the cords 80, 85 relative thereto adjusted as required.
The tightness of the loop of each cord 80 may he adjusted as required by the use of the toggle. In this way. each loop may hold a row of plants vertically growing in a linc bctwccn each pur of opposed rods 70.As thc pltrts bccornc bushicr the tautness of the looped cords 80 may he adjusted. By careful adjustment of the loops of cords 80 air flow beveen the plants can be controlled.
It will be understood that although not shown the height of each pair of opposing rods relative to the lip 40 may be adjusted independently of any other pair of opposing rods. this allows for different plan to be grown in the same propagator simultaneously such that taller plants require some of the rods to he positioned as shown in Figure 2 and shorter plants require some of the rods to he positioned as shown in Figure i