Posted on

Comprehensive Guide on How to Prepare the SNAP Working Solution

a solution with a slightly yellow and cloudy appearance.

The correct mixture of water and SNAP Nutrient Solution for Hydroponics A and B is called the working solution. This diluted mixture contains all the nutrients a plant needs in order to grow. The working solution also regulates its own pH making sure it is in the proper range for optimal nutrient uptake.

How to Prepare the SNAP Working Solution

Start with ten liters (10L) of clean water. Water from regular sources, tap water, well water, etc., works well. The use of pure rain water and pure distilled (reverse osmosis) water is discouraged because pure rain water and pure distilled water has a neutral pH. Sometimes they are even slightly acidic due to the presence of dissolved carbon dioxide gas.

water being poured on a grow box.
Adding ten liters of clean water.

SNAP is designed for regular water sources which in the Philippines are often slightly alkaline. If the working solution is prepared from water with neutral to slightly acidic pH the resulting working solution will be ineffective because the resulting solution will have a pH level that is way below the optimal range. Please see this video that demonstrates the effect of water quality to the pH of the resulting working solution for more information.

Add 25mL of SNAP A. Mix well. Add 25mL of SNAP B. Mix well. Please note the emphasis on mixing well after adding SNAP A and SNAP B. Either SNAP A or SNAP B can go into the mixture first but do not add both at the same time nor mix SNAP A and SNAP B together before adding them in water. This is because the components of SNAP A and SNAP B will react with each other and will render the resulting solution useless. This is also the reason why SNAP A and SNAP B are in separate bottles.

When properly mixed the resulting working solution has a slightly yellow and cloudy appearance.

a solution with a slightly yellow and cloudy appearance.
Ten liters of properly mixed SNAP working solution.

Additional Notes

Different volumes of working solution can be prepared by mixing SNAP A/B and water in a 2.5mL per L ratio, i.e, 2.5mL of SNAP A and 2.5mL of SNAP B for every liter of water.

To prepare one (1) liter of working solution half a teaspoon may be used because one teaspoon is equivalent to 2.46mL.

SNAP nutrient solution sets from authorized resellers usually comes with measuring cups. To use them fill up the cup with nutrient solution up to the level indicated in the picture below.

picture of cup with 25mL level indicator.
The line in the picture above is at 25mL.

White and powdery precipitates may appear in the working solution just after mixing or after a few days or weeks after transplanting seedlings onto the working solution. This is normal, it is not harmful and in will not effect the growth of the plants.

For larger applications, the use of a large 200L drum is recommended. A drum with a 200L capacity can be used to prepare a 201L working solution by simply mixing 500mL of SNAP A (the whole bottle) and 500mL of SNAP B (again, the whole bottle). This 200L working solution is enough for 20 styrofoam boxes which can grow a total of 160 heads of lettuce or other leafy vegetables.

a large blue 200L container
A generic 200L container.

That’s it! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below. Good luck and happy growing!

Posted on 1 Comment

Comprehensive SNAP Hydroponics Grow Box Construction Guide

SNAP Hydroponics grow box

Grow boxes or growing boxes are an essential part of the SNAP Hydroponics system. The grow box acts as a reservoir for the SNAP hydroponic nutrient solution. The grow box also holds the seedling plugs in place. This post is an easy to follow step-by-step guide on how to properly construct grow boxes from used styrofoam boxes (styrobox).

Required Materials


Boxes made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) known commonly as “styrofoam box” or simply “styrobox” make excellent materials for grow box (or growing box). The size recommended for use with “SNAP” Hydroponics is 20⨉16⨉6. These boxes can hold 10 (ten) to twelve (12) liters of nutrient solution and has enough room to grow up to eight (8) leafy vegetables and up to five (5) fruiting vegetables. Styroboxes of this size are used to transport US-imported grapes and are typically common during the months of September to January. For details please see this styrobox guide.

Lining Material

Styrofoam boxes has ventilation holes running along the edges. In order for the bottom half of the box to hold the nutrient solution it must be lined with a sturdy waterproofing sheet. In this guide we’ll use 20⨉30 inch polyethylene (PE) plastic bags.

A typical brand of 20 by 30-inch polyethylene plastic bag.
A typical brand of 20 by 30-inch polyethylene plastic bag.

Styrofoam Puncher

A styrofoam puncher is required to make holes on the upper half of the grow box for the seedling plugs. A tin can of the appropriate diameter for the seedling plug can be made into such a tool. For details please see this guide on making DIY styrofoam puncher.

Empty tin cans with handles added on one end.
A couple of DIY styrofoam puncher.

Packaging Tape

This will be used to hold the lining material in place and optionally cover the ventilation holes.

Brown packing tape.
Packing tape

Bamboo Stick

A bamboo stick or similar implement is used to draw guidelines on the styrofoam. It is also used to safely remove the styrofoam piece from the styrofoam puncher after each cut.

Prepare the Styrobox

Although styrofoam grape boxes are of the same size, the way their upper and lower halves are designed to fit together are different depending on the manufacturer and the manufacturer’s type designation as discussed in the video below. This means the upper and lower halves of the styrobox won’t fit properly if they are not of the same type.

The styrobox has a locking tabs to keep it shut. To open the box press on the lower half at the middle of one of the shorter side to release the lock then pull the upper half away.

We recommend wiping the styrobox down with a clean rag to remove dust, grease and/or moisture. These can cause tape, which we will be using to hold the plastic liner in place, to fail.

Work on the Upper Half of the Grow Box

Turn the upperhalf of the styrobox over and place it on a flat surface. You may also put a piece of plywood or cardboard in between the surface and the styrofoam to prevent the surface from being damaged by the styrofoam puncher during the cutting step of the procedure.

Draw guide lines connecting the ventilation holes from opposite sides of the box as illustrated below. A hole should be made where the lines cross.

Flipped over upper half of styrobox with guide lines drawn.
Flipped over upper half of styrobox with guide lines drawn.

To make holes, put the sharp end of the styrofoam puncher on the styrofoam and apply pressure to score the surface. Hold the tool by the handles and apply pressure while moving the tool in a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction making tool cut deeper through the foam. Continue this process until the tool cuts through the foam.

Gently pull out the styrofoam puncher. A circular piece of foam will be left on one end of the tool. Use the stick to safely push one side of the piece into the tool. This will cause the piece to rotate and the other side be pushed out of the tool allowing you to safely grab and pull it out the styrofoam piece from the styrofoam puncher.

Repeat this process to create the rest of the holes.

Upper half of grow box with holes properly aligned.
Upper half of grow box with holes properly aligned.

It is strongly recommended that you use packing tape to cover the ventilation on this half of the styrobox if your growing area does not have protection from mosquitoes. This will deny mosquitoes access to the nutrient solution and stop them from breeding in the grow box.

Grow box with upper ventilation holes covered with packing tape.
Grow box with upper ventilation holes covered with packing tape.

Work on the Lower Half of the Grow Box

Start by preparing pieces of packing tape roughly 3 inches long. Position the 20⨉30 plastic liner as shown below. Since the box is 20⨉16 in size, the plastic liner should exceed the length of the box by 5 inches on both ends and exceed the width of the box by 4 inches on both sides. These measurements makes it easy to center the plastic liner on the lower half of the grow box.

Plastic liner laid over the lower half of the grow box.
Plastic liner laid over the lower half of the grow box.

Fold both ends of the plastic liner as shown below.

Plastic liner over lower half of grow box with both ends folded.
Plastic liner over lower half of grow box with both ends folded.

Fold both sides of the plastic liner allowing the plastic liner to fit and “fall through.”

Plastic liner with ends and sides folded fitting into the lower half of the grow box.
Plastic liner with ends and sides folded fitting into the lower half of the grow box.

At this point the edge of the plastic liner should be flush along the length of the grow box. Tape them in place at the center of the length of the grow box as shown below.

Plastic liner taped at the center of the length of the grow box.
Plastic liner taped at the center of the length of the grow box.

Add tape on the same sides of the grow box but towards the corner as shown below. Note how the tape only holds the side flush edge of the plastic liner and not the folded part of the adjacent side.

Tape towards the corner.
Tape towards the corner.

Repeat for the rest of the corners.

All corners taped.
All corners taped.

With the plastic liner fixed into position by tape you should now be able to grab the folded ends of the plastic liner and pull it towards the side of the grow box. The plastic liner will make a triangular shaped fold at the corners.

Folded ends of plastic liner positioned on the side of the grow box.
Folded ends of plastic liner positioned on the side of the grow box.

With a helping hand or with the use of clip to hold the plastic in place for you, tape the ends of the plastic liner to the side of the grow box. Tape the corners first then tape the center. Note that the plastic exceeds the height of the grow box’s wall along its width and the plastic will go over the styrofoam as you tape it in place. Repeat this process on the opposite side.

Completed lower half of the grow box.
Completed lower half of the grow box.

Your grow box is now complete.

Remove the Locking Tabs (Optional)

The upper half of the styrobox has tabs that locks it in place on top of the lower half. When the grow boxes are packed close together this locking mechanism can make it difficult for you to open the grow box to examine what’s inside. You may opt to remove them by cutting them off with a box cutter.

Styrobox locking tab found along the with of the styrobox.
Styrobox locking tab that can be optionally removed.

That’s all there is to it! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below. As always good luck and happy growing!

SNAP Hydroponics grow box
SNAP Hydroponics grow box
Posted on 2 Comments

CnS 101: How to Grow Cactus and Succulents in the Philippines

An updated version is available in our comprehensive Knowledge Base.

This is a comprehensive and newbie friendly guide to cactus and succulents growing. Growing cactus and succulents (CnS) in the Philippines can be challenging. CnS originate in areas where it is hot and arid while the Philippine environment is generally hot and humid. Humidity is the opposite of aridity! Without proper care CnS can easily die in tropical conditions.

an arid desert with little vegetation
The arid landscape of Africa.


What are Cactus and Succulents?

All cactuses (“cactuses” and “cacti” are both correct plurals of “cactus”) are succulents but not all succulents are cactus. In this post I’ll refer to both as succulents.
Succulents are plants with fat leaves and/or stems that are used to store water. Succulents have adapted to arid environments.

In their natural habitat succulents receive very little water. Rains are few and are far between and the landscape experiences dry spells. In their natural environment it is arid. The air contains very little moisture (low humidity) which means water, if available evaporates quickly. When it rains in the desert it floods. The floods carries with it rich nutrients from the desert landscape thus enriching the soil. Remember the rain is not nutrient rich. Only when it hits the ground or collect as floodwater does it get infused with nutrients which in turn gets distributed through out the landscape. Because it is arid the water evaporates quickly.

flash flood in a desert
Desert flash flood.

These are the conditions that succulents has adapted to. To survive succulents generally have the following adaptations: water storage through succulency and crassulacean acid metabolism.

Succulents Store Water

Storing water is one of the ways plants survive in arid environments. Succulents store water in their leaves and stems in the form of juice or sap. Succulent is derived from the latin word sucus which means juice or sap.

jade plant potted in a grow bag
Crassula ovata stores water in its leaves and stem.

Succulents Use Crassulacean Acid Metabolism

Plants transport water and nutrients in a process called evapotranspiration. Plants draw water and nutrients through the roots. Water move through the plant via the stem. Water then escapes as water vapor through the stomata. Up to 98% of the water taken up by plants escapes as water vapor through this process. This is something that succulents cannot afford in the dry environments where they originate. To combat this they developed the crassulacean acid metabolism or CAM. With CAM the succulent keeps their stomata closed during the day thus preventing water from escaping. To photosynthesise they used carbon dioxide they stored  previously.  Then at night their stomata opens allowing for the exchange of gases which will allow the succulent to store carbon dioxide in a form of an acid.

A diagram of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism
CAM diagram

Succulents Have Shallow But Expansive Root Systems

As mentioned earlier water is a premium in the environments where succulents originate. When water does come they must make the most out of it to be able to absorb as much water and nutrients as they can before it all evaporates.

During dry spells succulents put out roots to try and find water and make sure they are going to make the best out of the next rain. When rain does come their roots are ready to make the most out of it. They will suck up all the water they can as fast as possible and store them in their leaves and stems. The soil will soon be dry again and they will grow more roots and so on.

That is why it is very important that succulents receives dry spells. It is during dry spells that much of the root growth happens. The more root they have the better they can absorb water and nutrients when rain does come.

Proper Care

We now know basic but important information about succulents. To grow succulents successfully we must do our best to replicate the growing conditions for our potted plants. The conditions, NOT the landscape. For example, you can’t take a cactus out of the desert; put it in a pot using the rocks, pebbles and silt from the desert; take it with us to the Philippines; put it out in the sun and rain and expect it to grow.

First of all, it rains here too often. Secondly the air is so humid because the country is surrounded by water. The end result, the pot could stay wet for too long. Wetness is bad because it promotes the growth of microorganisms that can cause problems for the plants.

Remember, in their natural environment succulents doesn’t have to deal with wetness for very long. That is why they don’t have that much defense from water borne maladies. If they stay wet in their pot for too long. Sooner or later rot will result.

That is why it is important that your potting mix is fast draining, quick drying and airy.


Terracotta pots are the best. Terracotta pots are porous. They allow moisture to escape and thus allow your potting mix to dry faster. Terracotta pots can be cumbersome however.

Your pot should be big enough to allow the root ball to occupy 1/2 to 2/3 of the volume of the pot. When in doubt err in the side of caution and under pot. Larger pots collect more moisture and takes longer to dry.

Be sure that your pot as drain holes at the bottom. Drain holes are required because otherwise water pool inside your pot and kill your plant. It should also be at the bottom instead of the side. Side drain holes still allows a small amount of water to pool at the bottom which will supply moisture through out the entire pot.

a potted jade plant
A jade plant in a properly sized terracotta pot.

Potting Mix

There are as many succulent potting mixes as there are succulent growers. The amount and type of materials you use should apply to your environment.

Fast Draining

The mix must not retain water. Again it is important that our growing medium dries as quickly as possible. One way to check if your mix is water retentive is by comparing its dry and wet weight. If your mix become significantly heavier when wet, then it is water retentive.

crushed scoria pictured with 25-centavo coin for scale.
Crushed scoria is a medium that doesn’t retain water.

Quick Drying

The longer the pot is wet the longer the plant has to deal with the problem instead of doing other things like growing  or reproducing  (flowers/fruits/seeds). Your potting mix should be allowed to dry quickly. One way of allowing your pot to dry faster is by not using top dressing. Top dressing can prevent water vapor from escaping the pot and slow the drying process.


Plants need to breathe too. Roots need oxygen from the air. In addition, air circulations culls the growth of anaerobic bacteria (bad ones). Air circulation speeds up evaporation too. One of the signs of a good mix is when it makes a faint sound when you pour water over your pot. Those faint gurgling sound is a sign that fresh air is being pulled inside your pot aerating the roots and keeping them healthy.

Proper Watering Steps

Proper watering, again, is based on the conditions in their natural environment. In their natural environment, there are periods of dry spells. Rains (and other forms of precipitation) drenches the soil. Then it all drys up again. To water properly follow these steps:

  1. Wait until the medium is thoroughly dry.
  2. Add water until the pot is thoroughly wet.
  3. Repeat.

Make sure the pot is dry. You’ll be surprised how, even an excellent medium like pumice take so long to thoroughly dry because of how humid the environment is.

Do not follow a schedule. “Water once a week.”, is a common advice but this can be harmful for your succulent. It can take more than a week for the potting mix to dry and if it remains wet for too long  death will occur.

Proper Care Tips

Use a Test Pot

Take a pot similar to those used by your potted succulents. Fill it with the same potting media you use with your succulents. This is your test pot. To use simply water your test pot until the medium is thoroughly wet. Take a BBQ stick and stick it into the center of the potting medium. Push it down to the bottom of the pot. Wait for a couple of minutes. Pull it out and feel the stick for moisture. If there is moisture the pot is still wet. You’ll be surprised how long potted media take to thoroughly dry.

You can use it to tell if you should consider watering your collection. Water your test pot along with the rest of your succulents following proper watering steps. You can use the test pot to tell you when to water. Check you test pot for moisture to tell if it is OK to water your succulents.

Don’t Use Sprays

Spraying succulents will do no good because most of them have a waxy covering to keep moisture in and this also keeps the moisture out.

Spraying the growing medium will do more harm than good. Spraying the top of the growing medium can result in bad root development. Remember that the medium should be thoroughly wet if one follows the proper watering steps.

Don’t Use Top Dressing

Don’t use them. Unless, you are following proper watering steps or made adjustments elsewhere. Top dressing can trick you into believing your pot is dry. Top dressing also hinders evaporation. Even if your medium is porous and airy often times top dressing is not. The top dressing prevents water from escaping and can keep your medium wet for longer.

Don’t Use Terrariums

Don’t use them. Unless you’re quite experienced in succulent care. Terrariums act like a humidity dome that traps moisture in. This is one of the worst place for succulents to grow.

Drainage Holes at the Bottom of the Pot

This is very important. Without this your plant will sit in water and drown (roots need oxygen from the air) or rot.

Drainage holes to the side is OK as long as you make sure that water doesn’t pool at the bottom of the pot.

Use Terracotta Pots

They can be cumbersome but are the best option. They are porous and it wicks away moisture from your medium and exposes it to the outside of the pot thus increasing the rate of evaporation. If you are in hurry to dry them up you can use a fan to speed this up further. Air movement increases the rate of evaporation.

Use a Dry Box

It is just a box with a dehumidifier inside. You can buy dehumidifiers from hardware stores. The more you put in your box the more arid the conditions will be inside the box. That is because dehumidifiers removes the humidity from the air thus the name. This increases the rate of evaporation of your pot. It is best to do this overnight so that you don’t deprive your plant of sunlight.

Water in the Morning

Following proper watering steps. If you water in the morning your pot and succulent will be exposed for up to 12 hours of warm temperature and sunlight. Water evaporates faster when it is warm. In addition, succulents (and other plants) generally do a lot of work at night. Topping them up with watering the morning makes sure they are ready for the day ahead.

Give Them as Much Sunlight as You Can

Succulents (generally) are not indoor plants as many would lead you to believe. They live outdoors in the middle of the punishing desert heat. They are not used to receiving very little sunlight. If they do not receive as much sunlight as they need they will etiolate in an effort to find more. They stretch, become less compact, and their stems become weak. Etiolation is not a normal thing. It happens because they are desperate for sunlight. Etiolation means they are not healthy and this makes them even more vulnerable to rot caused by overwatering.

Fertilize in Moderation or Not at All

In the desert, succulents generally survive in poor soil and nutrients are only brought in by the occasional flooding. To adapt to this environment most cacti grows slow. If they grow slow they won’t need that much nutrients. Pumping your pot with fertilizers could be harmful. Always start at half dose and increase gradually until your reach the recommended dose or a sweet spot you are happy with. In most cases you can forgo adding fertilizers because succulents are used to growing in areas with very little nutrients in the soil.

Put Succulents Inside an Air Conditioned Room at Night

Desert nights are cold. Air conditioning also lowers the room’s humidity which can aid in drying up your pots. If you spend your night sleeping in an air conditioned room, consider taking your succulents with you. Cold nights are perfect for your succulents and can give them their trademark stress coloring. In addition, colder nights trigger flower production in some succulent species.

Common Misconceptions

Succulents Photosynthesise at Night

No they don’t. Photosynthesis require light, so like other plants they do photosynthesis during the day.

Succulents Grow Indoors

No, most succulents cannot survive indoors. Succulents require lots of light in order to survive. Growing them indoors will result in etiolation and very likely death.

Succulents Can Grow on Rocks

No, they can’t. Succulents can survive in environments with very little nutrients but like most plants they can’t survive without them. Only the Mexican giant cardon (Pachycereus pringlei) and a few others have developed to ability to extract nutrients from rocks.

Additional Questions

What is humidity?

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Humidity dictates how fast water evaporates. The higher the humidity the longer it takes for water to evaporate. The Philippines is surrounded by water which makes the air very humid which means wet stuff tends to stay wet for longer.

Can I use SNAP on Succulents?

Definitely. If you’re using a totally inert media like pure pumice or scoria you can use diluted SNAP working solution to supply their nutrient needs. The left over nutrient solution you collect after harvest works well.

Posted on 3 Comments

How to Prepare SNAP Working Solution

SNAP working solution is a mixture of water and SNAP Hydroponics nutrient solution that is used to grow plants. The working solution provides the nutrients a plant needs in order to grow. This post contains information on how to prepare a SNAP working solution.

A typical use case is to prepare 10L of working solution for a standard sized growbox. To prepare 10L of working solution:

  1. Start with 10L of tap or well water.
  2. Add 25 mL of SNAP A.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Add 25 mL of SNAP B.
  5. Mix well.

The video below demonstrates:

The order by which SNAP A and SNAP B is added doesn’t matter. What is important is that they are not mixed together before being added to water. It is also important that the solution is mixed well before adding the next nutrient solution. SNAP comes in two bottles because it has components that will chemically react with each other if mixed in high concentrations. The components will form soluble and insoluble salts that will render them useless for hydroponics use. The video below demonstrate what would happen if SNAP A and SNAP B is mixed together.

Smaller volumes of working solution can also be prepared if needed. Simply add 2.5mL of SNAP A and SNAP B for every liter of water (diluting in between).

Common Questions

Can I use distilled water?

Using distilled water is not recommended. SNAP is designed to work with Philippine municipal water sources which are typically alkaline (pH values above 7). SNAP is designed to lower that to a pH range that plants require. Distilled water is neutral and using this to prepare the working solution will result in a solution which is extremely acidic.

ph meter reading 3.7pH
The pH of the working solution when distilled water is used.

Can I use rainwater?

It depends on the conditions on how the rainwater is collected. Pure rain water is very similar to distilled water and is not recommended for the same reasons mentioned above. The video below demonstrates this:

A 1:1 mixture rainwater and tap water can be used.

How do I use the measuring cup that is included in my SNAP Hydroponics Kit?

Please refer to the picture below:

Picture of measuring cups with text instructions.
How to use the measuring cup included in SNAP Hydroponics Kit

I’ve seen an instructional video saying I need to add 75mL of SNAP A and SNAP B. Is that correct?

Old formulations of SNAP Hydroponics uses 75mL. Current formulation requires only 25mL of SNAP A and 25mL of SNAP B.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below. Good luck and happy growing!