As a Botanist, it's your job to grow stuff for the Chef to keep the crew fed. There are plenty of vegetables to grow, and if you're feeling adventurous, there are some other less edible plants to experiment growing with. Other tasks that are likely to come up is providing the Science Department's RnD with particular mutated plants, and cargo with certain rare seeds for profit. For the most part, a botanist has a lot of free time to experiment, but don't forget that your first duty as a botanist is to keep the station fed.
Your First Shift
So you've just arrived to the station and you can't tell a potato from a killer tomato. Well, here's a little guide to get you started!
First, lets start with the tools and materials you might need:
Tools of the Trade
You get a few fun tools as a Botanist that will make your life easier when growing plants; attainable from the NutriMax vendor and the closets in the back room:
- Portable Seed Extractor A plant bag that can also turn it's contents into seeds
- Hydroponics HUD Shows you the level of weeds and pests on a soil plot and also when a plant is ready for harvest.
- Cultivator: This one is meant to claw, or perhaps filter, out weeds from the hydroponic trays. If weeds are allowed to grow, they will eventually kill your plant and take their place!
- Spade Used to remove plants from trays and soil plots. Can also be used to dig sand to make sand piles, from you can make sandstones, and from those soil plots.
- Plant-B-Gone Spray bottle: Kills plants slowly and can be filled with other chemicals. Does minor toxin damage.
- Bucket: Fill these up and use them to water your trays.
Things you should get from the outside:
- A multitool to hack your vendors with. You can ask cargo to make you one.
- A chem dispenser to make useful chemicals. Science will usually give you one of their own.
- Toxin Medical Kit: Just in case you eat something nasty.
- Various chemicals to mutate or treat your plants with.
- Beekeeping Equipment: Allows you to cultivate beehives and produce honey for the chef/crew to enjoy, as well as copious amounts of just about any chem. Do be careful though. Bees are dangerous once let loose.
There is an expanded list of chemicals in the guide to hydroponics, but these are some of the most useful and common:
- Saltpetre: Increases potency by 1 point per 2u used on the plant. Also had a chance to reduce production speed with each addition.
- Unstable Mutagen: Use it to mutate your plants. 2u is enough for stat mutations and a chance for a new trait, while 5u will give a chance for species mutation. The plants use the it immediately so you can keep adding it as quickly as you'd like.
- Diethylamine: Increases Yield by 1 for every 50 units added. This is counted per addition, so adding less than 50u at a time does nothing. Always add in multiples of 50u
- Ammonia: Increases yield by 1 for every 100 units added. needs to be added in multiples of 100u
- Robust Harvest: One of the 3 main fertilizers you get access to and the only one you should use once you have a steady supply of Mutagen. It increases yield by 30% and prevents random mutation from ruining your plants' stats. Doesn't increase the stat itself, just the harvested amount.
- E-Z Nutriment: The cheapest fertilizer available, this will give minor mutations with each harvest. Avoid using it if you wish to keep your plants' stats.
- Left 4 Zed: Provides heavier mutations than EZ-Grow and may mutate a plant into another type entirely. Will drop yield to 1, so change fertilizer once you are content with the stat changes.
Hover over each of the chemicals for a how to obtain them. for further details: Guide to Chemistry
Now that you know your tools and materials, it's time to get familiar with how you actually get plants growing:
Making things grow
The MegaSeed Servitor gives you the seeds to start growing. There are a couple of hidden seeds too if you get the tools to hack it, though you could also ask an engineer or scientist to hack it and they'll probably have the tools and knowledge to do it for you. Plant the seeds in a tray and begin your cultivation journey.
You can drop anything edible you make in the fridge for the chef, though you may want to plant whatever they need frequently in the chef's garden. You can also use the fridge to store anything that isn't restricted or dangerous, for those experiments you'd want a second fridge. Anything you don't want to store can go into the biogenerator(except for certain plants like death nettles) and be turned into biomass that can be made into a variety of things.
- Perennial growth is the most important trait, and the first one you should extract to a disk in the DNA Extractor. This is what makes your plant not disappear as you harvest it.
Doing your part
As you can see, getting something going isn't too difficult. But if you want to be useful, you need to grow the right stuff, and make it grow well.
- For food, make whatever the chef asks for, and preferably plant it in his garden to save tray space. Don't forget to put Gaia branches in the soil plots.
- Science will ask you for plants too, maybe even giving a chem dispenser to do so. Try to provide them as best you can.
- The Biogenenerator can take just about any plant, but the higher the nutriment and plant matter content the better, so watermelons are one of the best choices. Use the biogenerator to make products like cloth and leather for the crew.
- If you expect power issues, grow some potatoes. They can be made into potato batteries by clicking them with wires, and with high potency and the electrical activity trait from glow caps are as good as any power cell science can make.
Not Relying On Science
So you didn't get your chem dispenser, are you screwed? Well, not really, you can do hydroponics in other ways! To start with you still need your vendors hacked. Then go to the chemists with a bucket and ask them to fill it with Unstable Mutagen. Use this bucket to mutate Pumpkins into Blumpkins and also grow some Glowshrooms. Now extract the radium gene from the Glowshroom seeds onto a disk, and insert it into a pack of Blumpkin seeds using the DNA Extractor. Remove all other chemicals from it and you should be left with a plant that produces pure Mutagen. You can now use the grinder in the back room to grind those plants into Mutagen that you can use on your plants and continue from there.
For Saltpetre you will need bees, which you can also use for Mutagen, or Diethylamine. But even without the Saltpetre, you can still manage by recording plant stats onto disks. Not optimal, especially not without upgrades for your machines, but sometimes you have to make do. Now, if worst comes to worst and you can't get any Mutagen to start with you can use Left4Zed to make your plants mutate each time they are harvested. This process is slow, but once you get your Blumpkins things start going a lot faster.
Without a chem dispenser you won't be getting Diethylamine, but you can still make Ammonia. You should already have blumpkins for mutagen production, so take a blumpkin seed, remove the other chems from it, grow it, and grind it in the all-in-one grinder to make Ammonia. This is a reliable process, but a slow one, especially with an unupgraded grinder. Don't forget that you need to transfer the Ammonia to the tray in multiples of 100u so the smallest container you can use a large beaker, jugs won't work.
Another thing that might happen is you have a chem dispenser but no upgrades, in which case it won't dispense Diethylamine. It still does make the basic chems needed to make it: 1u Nitrogen + 3u Hydrogen makes 3u Ammonia + 3u Ethanol = 6u Diethylamine, or you can grow Blumpkins to make Ammonia and only use the chem vendor for ethanol. Either way you still need to heat them up. The easiest way is with an igniter, and a welding tool can also be used, though it requires refuling. Another option is to make a bonfire, which can heat up as many containers as you can fit in the tile it's on, but comes with the disadvantages of burning the containers placed on it to ash if they remain on it too long, and setting you on fire if you step into it.
In addition to all that you will want to upgrade your chem dispenser. Ideally you want to use a battery made from a potato with 100 potency and the Electrical Activity trait.
Helping other departments
Apart from cooking, plants are also useful for Research & Development, selling rare plants at Cargo, providing Medical department and chemists with ready-to-use reagents. Also, sometimes plants are needed for the DNA Vault station goal, in which case many different plants should be grown to be scanned.
Scientists at R&D can use plants in the Destructive Analyzer to get tech levels. Notable plants that help in that are:
- Tomato (biotech=5)
- Bluespace Tomato (bluespace=5)
- Killer-Tomato (combat=5)
- Bluespace Banana (bluespace=5)
- Glowcap (powerstorage=6, plasmatech=4)
- Glowshroom (plasmatech=6)
- Shadowshroom (plasmatech=4, magnets=4)
- Walking Mushrooms (programming=5)
- Glow-Berry Bush (plasmatech=6)
- Gatfruit Tree (combat=6)
- Death Nettle (combat=5)
- Ghost Chili (magnets=5)
- Golden Apple (materials=5)
- Ambrosia Gaia (biotech=6, materials=5)
Cargo Bay department can sell a number of rare plant seeds for supply points. Most of the mutated species of plants are considered rare. Plant analyzer tells you if a plant seed is rare and it rarity score when used on a growing plant or its products (if the plant is not rare, there is no corresponding line). Only one sample of a plant is needed to gain point, more is unnecessary. Points are awarded for two different things: discovering a rare plant and getting better potency for the rare plant. The more potency obtained, the better reward. This means that to sell plant samples for the most price, you should first ship the new plant with the poorest potency possible (first shipment does not reward for potency). Then you should sell the same plant but with as much potency as you can get since the subsequent shipment rewards scale based on the difference between the biggest potency shipped before.
A competent botanist makes for a terrifyingly effective antagonist by virtue of how plants can be modified in the DNA machine. If you have an easy objective, quickly rush out and get it out of the way, then head back and get your plants growing. If not, getting creative with your plants may provide a significant advantage, and in the meantime other antagonists may open opportunities to use them. Mix dangerous plant traits such as Liquid Contents and Gaseous Decomposition or Hypodermic Prickles with plants that produce poisons, and suddenly you have access to a deadly weapon that can incapacitate victims with ease. Such examples include acid smoke bombs and powerful contact-poison fruits. You can also adulterate some food; you have access to syringes in the NutriMax vendor that can serve this purpose. Just make sure your give it to the right person! Your leather gloves give no prints onto a crime scene, so Detectives will have their work cut out for them to pin anything on you in particular.
Botanists can also grow powerful medicines that keep them healthy against Security. Traitor Botanists in particular have access to Ambrosia Cruciatus, which features a high amount of bath salts production (useful for anti-stun or poisoning via overdose!), as well as a briefcase of bees. The briefcase full of bees works for a powerful unique traitor weapon, although the classic NOT THE BEES sound file will tell everyone that you're probably an agent.
Notably for Vampires, the Biogenerator can make monkeys to stave off hunger; this is useful when you're working on your perfect killer fruit.
Now that you know some basics let's run you down a basic to-do list for the beginning of the shift:
- Go to the backroom, grab a botany HUD and seed extractor from one of the closets, and the plant data disk box from each.
- Put the plant disk boxes near the DNA Extractor
- Ask Science for a chem dispenser, and bolt it near some trays so you don't have to walk back and forth all the time. However, Science doesn't have to give you the chem dispenser, so keep this in mind.
- Ask cargo for a multitool and screwdriver and use it to hack your vendors.
- Take a jug of Robust Harvest from the Nutrimax vendor and use it once on each of 8 trays. Those trays will "remember" they have robust harvest in them once they become self sustaining. You should do this on every tray and soil plot, but preferably after you got your Gaia growing nicely.
- Plant Ambrosia Vulgaris.
- Put a jug, bucket or beaker in your chem vendor and make some Unstable Mutagen.
- Set your Mutagen container to dispense 5u at a time(alt-click) and add Unstable Mutagen to the tray until the Ambrosia Vulrgaris mutates into Ambrosia Deus, then Ambrosia Gaia. Note that Ambrosia Gaia gets easily taken over by weeds, so make sure to rake the tray often, and keep a watchful eye on it.
- If the yield is very low use Mutagen 2u at a time(can only be done with a jug, pipette or syringe) to boost it a bit.
- Boost the Yield some more with Diethylamine from the Nutrimax vendor. Make sure you pour all the bottles into a bucket and add to the tray in multiples of 50.
- Make Saltpetre and use it on the Ambrosia Gaia until you get to 100 potency, and at most 5 production speed.
- Make more Diethylamine and boost the yield to 5
- Extract the Perennial Growth trait from some seeds that have it(e.g:apple seeds)
- When the Gaia finishes growing use one branch on the seed extractor, to get seeds, then insert the Perennial Growth trait to it in the DNA Extractor.
- Put whatever branches you have left into trays and save one for science
- Plant 2 Glowshrooms and 1 Nettle and mutate the Nettel into Death Nettle and one of the Glowshrooms by spamming Mutagen 5u at a time. Glowshrooms can mutate into shadow shrooms instead of glowcaps, so you may have to wait until your Glowshrooms finish growing so you can make some seeds.
- Get 2 of each shroom, 1 Death Nettle, and 1 Gaia branch to science. And make sure to keep one of each to make seeds from. Also make 3 leather in the Biogenerator if you have the biomass for it and make botanists gloves so sci don't sting themselves on the Death Nettle.
Would you look at that, you just made yourself useful! Good job!
As an aside, you can do a lot of these steps in paralel, but with how easy it is to lose your gaia to weeds it's better to keep it slow at first, at least until you have some backup gaia seeds.