Soil Versus Hydroponics – What Should I Use To Grow Cannabis?
For people who are thinking about embarking on the wonderful journey of growing weed at home, the question of which grow medium to use always comes up. Depending on who you ask, you’ll almost certainly have a strong bias leaning towards one or the other.
So which one is better? Well, that depends on a number of factors and your level of proficiency when it comes to growing cannabis. Let’s walk through the reasons why you’d either want to use soil or hydroponics as your grow medium.
Benefits of Growing in Soil
For most beginner growers, soil will be the easiest and most accessible medium to grow in. Cannabis prefers to be grown in slightly acidic soil that drains well. You can add things like Perlite to your grow mediums to assist with drainage.
Apart from being easier to get your hands on, soil also provides a plethora of other benefits to growers including;
- It’s more forgiving – Soil, unlike hydroponics provides you with a bigger buffer in terms of making mistakes. If, let’s say you lose power in a hydroponic system, your plants can wither and die within a matter of hours. Soil on the other hand provides you with more time to correct your mistakes and for beginner growers…you’ll have plenty of those.
- Better Taste? – Some people believe that soil provides your cannabis with a richer taste profile. However, the reason why many hydroponic grows taste different is due to improper flushing. It’s easier to flush your crops with soil and perhaps the medium does help slightly with terpene and flavonoid development. Personally, I have found that terpene production within hydroponics is slightly more developed, but when it comes to potency…I have always cropped out more potent weed with soil.
- Cheaper – One of the major benefits of growing with soil is that you’ll require less equipment to crop out. You eliminate the need to buy nutrients, pumps, containers and additional tubing. Of course, you’ll still be adding things like earthworm castings, guano, and other fertilizers to your soil over time, but all in all this is still cheaper than hydroponics.
- More Mobile – Considering that technically you only need a pot and soil to grow cannabis, it becomes infinitely easier to move your plants compared to hydroponics. Hydroponics is a system, whereas soil grown cannabis is a contained system. Sure, you’d still need to water your plants, but you don’t need to hook it up to anything. This becomes even more true if you’re considering to grow outdoors.
Soil, in my opinion is still one of my preferred methods of growing cannabis due to the ease of the medium.
Hydroponics Grown Cannabis Benefits
When you’re interested in upping your crop out frequency, going to hydroponics is a great idea. Hydroponics is a system where nutrient rich solution are being pumped directly to the roots of the plant, eliminating the need for soil entirely.
Here’s some additional benefits to growing Hydro;
- It’s faster – One of the major benefits of growing with hydroponics is that it’s much quicker than growing in soil. You can effectively shave off 2-3 weeks of grow time using this method. If you have enough space, you can even “conveyer belt” your grows. What this means is that you create a dual-chamber system and start growing your next crop while you’re flowering the first. By the time you are ready to crop out, you’ll be ready to move the next batch into the flowering cycle. Soil based mediums require the full growth cycle to occur within the same pot.
- Lower Risk of Pests/Disease – Considering that you sterilized your grow area prior to growing, the odds of your plants getting pests or diseases decreases significantly. Contaminated Soil is the typical culprit for bringing in pests and diseases.
- It’s Pseudo Automated – While you can make an automated system in soil, it’s pretty much limited to light cycles. With Hydroponics, you can virtually automate every aspect of your grow. The only thing you’d need to do eventually is maintain the system to keep it running optimally.
- Use Less Water – While you might think that hydroponics uses more water than soil, you’d be wrong. In fact, hydroponics uses 90% less water than outdoor soil grown methods. Thus, if you’re scaling up your grows, hydroponics is a perfect choice to conserve water consumption.
Which one should I use?
This really comes down to what level of proficiency you have in growing marijuana. I always recommend first time growers to start with soil and to work their way up from there. While it’s not impossible to start with hydroponics, it’s a heavier initial investment and has a slightly longer learning curve.
Nonetheless, if you have access to hydroponic stores in your area, then you could simply just buy a starter kit to start your grow. As mentioned, soil or hydroponics comes down to preferences. Perhaps, experiment with both and see which one better suits your growing habits.