Commercial Grow Diaries Indoors Outdoors

The dirty little secret in hydroponics

LifeProTip: Don’t buy water at the Hydroponic store.

There are many choices when you go to the hydroponics store near you. The shelves are a rainbow 🌈 of choices that leave you wondering what else could you have bought. Do you have everything you need? How else are you going to cultivate dense cannabis nuggets without the magic potion?

Don’t pay for water or its shipping. Mix your own mineral nutrients yourself. Save yourself some money as you start out by not being confused about the wide array of nutrient propaganda.

There is a dirty little secret amongst hydroponic growers regardless of whether they are DWC, ebb and flow, NFT, or just about any other concoction of growing a plant that is not in dirt. Hydroponic nutrients are a scam. There I said it. But don’t take my word for it. Research the requirements for plants to grow.

The nutrient requirements are not the best bet to spend big money on. We would point you towards lights if you are looking to blow some cash.

Now that you are back from your research you already know that plants require 3 major nutrients (actually four) but we will get to that in a minute. Those nutrients are NPK. Then some macronutrients which I won’t list out here so you’ll have to take the internet’s word for it.

In the absolute Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are your big three.

To tl;dr the entire thing, you can get the correct ratio of nutrients in mineral form and skip buying expensive bottles of nutrients and additives.

Two that I would recommend, one on experience and another on research are General Hydroponics Maxibloom which mimics the Lucas formula, and my new favorite friend Jacks 321 which I found on Etsy in a kit, but have seen littered in amazing grows across the world wide web and so we are now excited to try in our own hydroponics system.

Now back to that fourth Nutrient. Oxygen.

In hydroponics, since we are growing with water (that is the hydro) we go to great lengths to ensure that the root system of the plant gets enough oxygen. The fundamental availability of nutrients and oxygen is the fundamental advantage hydroponics has over growing plants in dirt.

In deep water culture systems, the plant’s root system is submerged, but not entirely. One-third of a plant’s top root system is designed to take in air in search of oxygen. The lower two-thirds are focused on the uptake of nutrients.

If you think about how a plant would receive water after a heavy rain, the ground would flood and over time the water would drain into the earth. Air returns as the rains drain off providing the suction of air into the soil as the water retreats to the earth.

This is one of the reasons air stones and air pumps are widely used in deep water culture and one of the reasons why DWC is the lead in explosivesgrowth. The downside is that the pump usually has to run 24/7 and if it fails you run the risk of drowning the plant without oxygen. It takes about 36 to 48 hours to drown a plant-based on experience (that is with the plant completely submerged with no external air).

Deep Water Culture systems are nice for small personal grows however the cost of running air to all plants, plus the enormous amount of nutrient solution does not make the typical 5-gallon DWC setup all that appealing for much more than a 1-2 plant grow. Beyond that, you are mixing up too many resources between waterings and they require the plant to be moved (barring creative- engineering of course).

Ebb and flow systems are what you frequently see commercial cannabis operations going with as far as hydroponics and for very good reason. A not entirely sustainable block of Rockwool is constantly watered, monitored to allow the plant system to dry out. Rockwool is widely used for the one reason that it does a great job of allowing air to retain within its fibers. It is almost impossible to kill a plant in Rockwool by drowning.

Of course, there are a variety of other inert (no nutrient value) substrates that are used in hydroponics but the nutrient requirements remain mostly the same.

Long story short. If you want super simple go with Maxibloom at seven grams a gallon from start to finish. If you are like me and have already been using it and are looking for something a little more precise checkout Jack’s 321. It appears to be the benchmark and also the reason we are keen to give it a go.

Grow Diaries

Will A Hybrid Hydroponic System will change how you go about growing marijuana?

RDWC/Ebb-and-Flow Hydroponic System

All the parts that are necessary to assemble your own killer 4 plant site hydroponic system are available between Amazon, at Home Depot, Lowes and Menards. Our system is perfect for the first time grower who is growing for personal pleasure indoors.

Achievable results on your first try. Guaranteed.

What you will need

  • Grow bucket
    • Qty 4 1 Gallon HDPE food grade BPA free bucket
    •  Qty 4 3″ Netpot | Holds Plant, Hydroton, and Rockwool while allowing the plant to root into the grow bucket.
    • Hydroton |Enough to provide a nice moist barrier between the bucket and the outside world. Keeps pests and light out while maintaining moisture.
  • Nutrient Distribution
    • Qty 1 – Cycle timer|This is used to control the system via the inline pump. When it is on the pump is activated and in a 4 plant system, the buckets will be drained into the reservoir.
    • Qty 1 – In-line pump | The engine of the system. This is the only pump needed and it is activated via a cycle timer. See link below. The pump recirculates nutrients from the 1/2″ vinyl line back to the reservoir. The solution from both the buckets and the reservoir is returned back to the reservoir. This does four things.
      • Drains the buckets. The roots are now in the air. No need for an air pump running 24/7. Prevent root rot by airing your roots out.
      • Aerates the solution. Surface tensions and the basics of just pumping the solution into itself aerates the nutrient solution sufficiently. It’s a running river – the same method mother nature uses to aerate the water on earth.
      • Recirculates the solution. This mixes up the 5 gallons of the solution so no irregular salt build-ups occur. If you change your solutions regularly as most nutrient suppliers will suggest you will have fewer problems.
      • Nutrient changes. Flip the return line to an empty bucket and activate the pump. It’s a simple way to drain your system weekly to prepare for fresh nutients.
    • Qty 4 – 1/4 Top Hat Grommet |
    • Qty 1 – 1/4 tubing (soft) |The line that runs from the grow bucket through the top hat grommet to the 1/2″ vinyl nutrient distribution line. Soft line is easier to work with. Cut the end that is inside the bucket at a sharp angle (not perpendicular) so that the opening of the tube is about a 1/2″ wide. Align this opening facing towards the bottom of the bucket, which will discourage roots from blocking the system.
    • Qty 1 – 1/2 tubing black |Essentially irrigation tubing is used to connect the reservoir to the buckets. The run can be almost any length. We try to keep the reservoir away from the light (heat) which could and should be outside of your grow tent if you are using one.
    • Qty 4 – 1/4 connector barbs | These barbs puncture the 1/2″ line and allow you to attach the 1/4″ line from buckets to the system.
    • Qty 1- 5 Gallon Bucket Reservoir BPA free (get a second one to mix nutrients, drain system, and perform weekly nutrient changes.)
    •  Qty 1 – 1/2″ bulkhead
  • Grow media Qty 4(per grow) 2″ Rockwool cube |Rockwool is magic unto its own. It is virtually impossible to drown a plant in Rockwool. In our system, it is used as s wick. Using only a 2″ cube per plant per growing has its benefits. The cost per plant is around $.25. When 5 gallons are added to an empty system the solution distributes between the reservoir and the buckets coming up to the lower third of the Rockwool wicking up to the plant. The rootball of the plant will explode out of the Rockwool in search of nutrients. In the bucket, they will find both oxygen and nutrients.
  • The System is scalable(for 4 one-gallon buckets – if you want to grow more plant sites the reservoir needs to accommodate every plant site. ie 55-gallon drum could run 55 plant sites) | connects 1/2″ poly tubing to 5 gallon bucket| Add Mini float valve connected to a water source to continuously keep the system at the correct level without having to manually add water between nutrient changes.
After over 10 years of experimentation with hydroponics, this system by far has created and managed amazing root structure.

Recommended Tools.

  • Drill
  • Step bit
  • 3″ hole saw
  • Utility knife
  • Irrigation puncture tool

System Diagram.

Hydroponic Cannabis Grow Results: Gorilla Glue. 600W MH/HPS. Maxibloom.

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Hydroponic System