If you want to grow the best marijuana weeds, get rid of the traditional soil method and employ the latest way to do it and this is with the use of a hydroponic system. However, the latter is more difficult compared to soil gardening. However, as you become used to it, you will realize that hydroponic system allows you to grow bigger crops at a faster rate.
However, if you are still new with hydroponic system, the wisest thing to do is to practice first using other seeds. This can be tomato or lettuce. Remember that Marijuana seeds are quite expensive and you wouldn’t want to waste any of them so better not use them in your hydroponic system experiment. You can also try planting marijuana weeds in the soil to have a first-hand experience on marijuana soil planting. This way, it would be easier for you to discern which one is better; use of a hydroponic system or soil planting. If you choose the hydroponic system then this post will be very helpful to you.
To set-up a hydroponic garden, you will need to gather the following:
- Grow tent or space where you will grow the weed.
- Peat or coco coir which will serve as the soil
- Grow lights as substitute to sunlight
- pH tester to check the acid level
- Timer to know how long the plant receives light
- Seeds or clones
- Ventilation for odor control and reduce the heat emitted by hot lamps.
Expect each marijuana plant to weigh 1-3 ounces. This depends on a lot of factors like the health of the plant and its strain.
Growing Cannabis: Basic Overview
When growing cannabis, you have the option to choose between Indica (the one with the healing power and calming effect) or Sativa (the one that makes you high). Regardless of which one you choose, you need to know that their entire growing processes are the same. If you want Indica to bush out more, might as well trim its top. However, there is no difference in the way you feed and water both plants.
As you grow these weeds, you need to be mindful on the following factors:
Your grow room must maintain a temperature of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. It must not go beyond 90 degrees.
See to it that the water you use is slightly acidic (around 5.5 – 6.5 acidity). An acidity of 6.15 is perfectly right. Use a pure well water or filtered water. This is to get rid of fluoride and chlorine since these substances are not good for your plants.
Proper coverage and height of light must be observed. To do this, there must be a correct distance in hanging the light at the plant’s top. Make sure that the light gets to the grow area’s edges. And if your grow tent is lined with Mylar, the light will easily illuminate to the plants.
For best result, make sure that your plants receive the right amount of light that they need. This will vary as the plant grows. For instance, during the germination phase, no light is needed. But when the seed sprouts, they will need 18 hours of light daily. And this needs to continue until the plant reaches half of its final height. The height will also depend on the weed’s strain. Once it flowers, its light exposure is reduced to 12 hours per day.
After 1-2 weeks of flowering stage, you need to sex the plants to distinguish females from males. Obviously, you don’t want to reproduce plants that don’t bear seeds. You would know if the plant is a female since it would grow white hairs while males grow balls. And since males can’t be used as smoke, may as well get rid of them. They are only good for pollen.
In two weeks prior to harvest, you need to stop feeding the plants with nutrients. Only give water them. This will reduce their nutrient flavoring.
During harvest, the plant needs to be trimmed. You can do this manually using your hand or you can employ a bud trimmer. Keep the plant in an airtight container for the span of 2 weeks up to one month for curing.
What has been discussed are the basic ways to raise marijuana plants. On the following posts, I will cover hydroponic systems.
Different Types of Hydroponic System for Marijuana Growing
Deep Water Culture (“Hydro Pots”)
This is your easy and cheap option when it comes to the hydroponic system. This has 3 parts:
- Air Stone
This resembles a fish tank that adds air to the nutrient solution
- Reservoir or Bucket
This serves as the storage for the water based solution.
- Additional basket or mesh
This contains a peat or rockwool soil so that the plant’s roots will grow down through its nutrient solution.
For every plan that you grow, it will require one deep water culture unit. Hence this is how it will appear:
There is a 5-gallon bucket filled with nutrient rich water on the bottom. The basket is peat moss filled and has clay where the plant is planted. You can also see air stone bubbling at the bottom of the liquid.
If you are raising more than one plant, you can combine all the individual buckets together by linking them with irrigation tubes and form a single reservoir. The plant will receive its nutrient water out of this reservoir.
However, you need to watch out for 2 things:
- Stagnant Water
So protect the nutrients in the main container from contamination and light. And make sure that the air stone works at all time.
Deep Water Culture System (For Beginners)
General Hydroponics Waterfarm
With its simple design, this one can be your affordable option when it comes to hydro pots. Hence, if you have just started growing the weed, this can be your best pick. For those growing more than one plants, you can convert this to a larger configuration by linking each of these units. Along with the system are 2 gallons container that serves as the reservoir, clay pellets, smaller basket container, nutrients, air stone, air pump and the needed tubing that comes with a drip feed. Just be mindful on the acid level or pH at the plant’s initial phase when it starts to grow. So, test and do the necessary adjustment when needed.
Deep Water Culture or “DWC”
This is a hydroponic bucket with the capacity of 5 gallons and measures 6 inches. So, if you are growing the larger kinds of cannabis then this is your best pick. Because of its size, it requires a bigger floor space. And in exchange, the kit accumulates humongous strains such as the Brian Berry Cough and Big Bud.
Another advantage of using DWC is that it is FDA approve, meaning it is very safe to use. This includes:
- 5 gallon bucket
- Basket lid
- Air stone
- Air pump
- Rockwool plugs
This set-up is designed with a water level marker as well as a bucket drain. Also, it is offered with 1 year warranty. However, know that Rockwool can be irritating to the skin. So use gloves when using it, unless it is properly moistened.
AutoPot 4Pot System
This is a gravity fed watering system. It is used for traditional gardening as well as a hydroponic system. It includes one big 12-gallon reservoir. On top of that, 4 smaller pots are included in the kit which holds up to 3.9 gallons each. However, this kit does not have a potting medium and air stones. However, you can always add these items according to your preference.
Because the set-up is gravity fed, it does not deliverer nutrients until the plant has used enough nutrients on its own pot so it makes room for more. However, be vigilant regarding possible contamination of the central reservoir. If this occurs, all your plants’ health will be compromised.
Ebb and Flow (“Flood and Drain”)
This system acts on your plant’s roots by draining and soaking them. And since the water isn’t kept stagnant, there’s no need to use air stones for Ebb and Flow. However, if there is no system, a timer will be needed. Watch out for parasite problem since this will cause the rest of the plants to suffer.
This is an Ebb as well as flow hydroponic system tray which measures 4’x 4’. The system includes a tray and stand, pump, potting medium, timer and tubing. It comes with 25 pots and each can hold 1 gallon. However, you can always look for larger replacements.
Viagrow is also sold in smaller setups. This size is pretty handy since a lot of jurisdictions put limits as to the number of cannabis that can be grown by one household or person.
This type of system employs a reservoir, resembling Deep Water Culture. But this comes with a pump set on a timer which delivers nutrient solution down its roots. And the nutrient solution that drain from the reservoir returns to it. However, you need to watch out for the pump well since if your pump malfunctions, it results to plant dehydration.
Nutrient Film Flow Technique
Instead of moss, this system makes use of a capillary mat, “rockwool” as soil and clay. Its porous mats allow the nutrient to circulate continuously around the plant’s roots. This results in a well-fed plant, just enough to keep it from drowning. On top of this, it keeps the nutrients from getting stagnant too.
Aeroponics with Misting
If you want your plants to experience a rain-forest atmosphere, go for Aeroponics and Misting. However, it is not ideal for anyone who is growing weeds in a spare bedroom or closet. However, the use of aeroponics with misting can be allowed if you employ a good isolating grow tent.
With this system, the plants are held in baskets that are hanged. Mist is applied on their roots as scheduled. This results to a super-fast growth. However, you need to monitor the plant closely. Watch for an inaccurate level of pH or improper mixture of nutrients since these will definitely harm the plant in many aspects of its growth.
General Hydroponics RaifForest 66
This is an aeroponic system meant for medium up to large size plants. This is your convenient option when it comes to all-in-one setup. Items included in this setup are:
- Reservoir – 17-gallon
- 3 Part Flora Kit
- 6 Plastic Containers (This is with CocoTek liners)
This type of system allows the nutrient solution to aerate before this is sprayed to the roots of the plants.
When using this system, you need to be vigilant against parasites such aphids, especially if you failed to isolate it from pests. Also, remember that its pots’ diameter is only measures six inches.
Growing Mediums to be Used for Hydroponics
You may not be using real dirt for a hydroponic system but it comes with a lot of counterparts that you can choose from. They are ideal for hydroponic growing and among them are as follows:
This has the ability to hold a large volume of water and lightweight. Although this is more costly than peat, it works very well when used in a hydroponic system.
This is the most popular hydroponic medium because it is affordable and packed with a lot of minerals. Peat moss and humus are the most common types you can find these days.
This is otherwise termed as “mineral wool”. This can be formed into slabs or cubes and is spun into fibers. It has the ability to keep the water as the air penetrates through its roots. By nature, Rockwool is alkaline. Hence, there is no need to treat it prior to its use.
Its material came from a shredded coconut husk. This can also be made into croutons. It has super absorbent property and holds water pretty well.
Vermiculite and Perlite
Vermiculite comes very useful for soilless mixes when used as an additive. Such mineral has the ability to hold moisture as well as nutrients. On the other hand, Perlite is used as an absorbent additive. You can often see this as a mixture with peat and coco coir.
HECD or “hardened expanded clay”
The hardened expanded clay pellets are devoid of nutritional value which is similar to the moss. However, this is ideal for use in a hydroponic system since it has a very good draining quality plus it allows the roots of the plant to have oxygen. During watering, HEC is heavy enough and young plants are kept in place.
Effective Tips for Those Growing Healthy Plants
Expert growers have given the following tips to make your hydroponic experience a delightful one:
- Watering Plants
When your plants are still young, watering must be done every couple of days. Once it starts to flower, you need to water them daily.
- Check the plant’s moisture level
You can do this with the use of a hygrometer. It checks the plant’s water content too and this has to be done when you notice that the potting substance substrate is dry.
- Observe the leaves
Check if they drop or droop. Once this happens, do not give nutrients to your plants. It only needs water. After a week or two, you will be harvesting your weed.
- Right time to harvest
Harvest time is done when ½ to ¾ of the plant’s white hairs become yellowish brown in color. The trichomes will also turn whitish or yellowish. If you want your weed to have a more relaxing effect, you can harvest them late as well.
- Make use of the harvested leaves
Although leaves have few THC content, this does not mean you have to throw them away. They can be used as butter or cannabis oil so make the most of them.
- How to tell if the plant’s buds are dry enough
Once they snap off cleanly and not bend, they are dry enough.
Testing the pH acidity level
When growing cannabis; maintaining the right acidity level is very crucial. With the right pH, the plants can absorb the nutrients well. Here’s what you need to know about testing for pH levels:
The soil has different pH levels and they vary from 1 to 14. 1 is considered to be the most acidic level and 14 is the highest alkaline level. The neutral pH is only 7. For a weed to grow well in a hydroponic system, it must maintain a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 which is slightly acidic. However, if you use dirt, pH level must be maintained within the range of 6.0 to 7.0.
The pH level can be checked in 2 ways. You can know about it using the nutrient solution or the hydroponic system’s “soil”. This is where the plant grows. To get the pH result, you will need strips, tester pen and liquid solution. Samples must be taken from the soil or the nutrient solution and the tester will be used to check the acid levels of the samples provided.
What if the soil is alkaline or too acidic?
The pH levels may differ slightly daily. In such case, don’t panic. Let the weed handle this issue. However, if the pH level lowers than 5.5 or is more than 6.5 while you grow them hydroponically, this may result to unfavourable consequences. Hence, it would be wise to correct the pH level as soon as possible.
You can purchase a pH Control Kit that is very easy to use. Along with this is a pH tester. Hence, there is no need to buy one. Some growers even use household items to manage pH level issues. They make use of vinegar and soda. However, this may not be advisable for use to amateur growers.
Stopping Root Rot
In an interconnected system, the resence of root rot can be a threat to the entire plants. This is a type of fungus that can spread quickly to other plants. Symptoms of root rot include wilting leaves that turned to yellow. If you check the plant’s roots, it doesn’t look creamy or white. The roots are brownish and its smells like a disgusting mildew or rot.
Excessive watering can cause root rot. Overfeeding can also be the cause. To prevent this issue, you need to maintain the plant’s temperature in lower than 72 degrees. Also, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instruction and get rid of any dead plant matter.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that additions of beneficial bacteria to your nutrient solution can be helpful. You can also use “root control” products to kill the fungus that cause the rot. Expert growers address the root rotting issue by spraying copper treatments to the plants. Sometimes, they use clove oil. Read labels and keep away from products containing hydrogen peroxide. Such can kill good bacteria as well and this deprives the plant to fight against pests naturally.
As for your reservoir, protect it from excessive heat and light. Once this part is correctly sealed, it will be hard for the fungus to penetrate. On the other hand, if you are growing multiple plants cut the affected plant and observes the others to prevent them from getting sick.
Growing a Healthy Cannabis: Nutrient Needed
When it comes to nutrients, everyone’s favorite is a product made by General Hydroponics. This is what NASA used when they tried to grow plants (not weeds) at the outer space. People who raise herbs to make essential oils love this product since it’s organic.
General Organics Go Box By General Hydroponics
It comes in various types of organic nutrients for cannabis. It also works on other types of plants. Using them can be easy since included in the set is a very helpful instructions and how to use the product.
The box contains:
- Bio Thrive Grow and Bloom
- CaMg+ 8 ounce samples
- Diamond Black
Helpful instructions in growing weeds
Do return and read more guides and reviews for marijuana growers.