The Best Hydroponic Methods For Growing Cannabis Yourself
Hydroponics is the next big thing when it comes to cultivation. It is a technique of cultivation that involves the use of mineral solutions in a water solvent. This method of farming pushes the boundary of what we think is normal and natural because it does not involve the use of soil; soil, a component that no one could’ve ever thought could be separated from farming. Hydroponics isn’t just an intriguing way of farming, it is associated with high yield rates and explosive growth. The benefits of hydroponics go on and on, however, enjoying all these benefits is contingent on choosing the right hydroponic method because employing a wrong hydroponic method can grossly impact your harvest negatively. Choosing an appropriate hydroponic method to farm with can be a very simple or a very difficult task, how easy you find this crucial step ultimately depends on you. If you’re equipped with the right information, choosing an appropriate hydroponic method is as easy as ABC. The relative ease, flexibility, and technicality of hydroponics are the major reasons a lot of experts and farmers recommend and make use of it.
The importance of hydroponics especially to cannabis cultivation is why I’ve taken it upon myself to inform and educate you on the matter. This is the future of cannabis cultivation and if you don’t want to be left behind you had better read on!
The best hydroponic methods for growing cannabis yourself include:
Peat and Perlite (soilless Mix)
This is the simplest and most basic of all hydroponic methods. It involves the use of a planting container filled with peat moss and perlite. One of the attributes of this method that makes it so desirable in comparison to other methods is that little to no maintenance procedures are needed throughout the plant’s life cycle. All it needs to produce a lovely looking cannabis plant is a steady and consistent supply of nutrients (1-2 times daily). The moisture retention ability of the growing medium is increased by the perlite component of the system. The system has no effects on the cannabis plant, it is completely inert, so the risk of essential components of the cannabis plant being altered is non-existent. Asides being relatively straightforward, this method is also very cheap. The major disadvantage of this hydroponic method is the retaining action of the growing medium. The growing medium doesn’t get rid off the leftover chemical components of nutrient solution, some of which may be harmful to cannabis. Anyone can grow cannabis using this method, it’s basically like watering a flower you have at home.
Ebb & Flood
Another very efficient hydroponic method is the ebb and flood method. This makes use of pea gravel, sand or any other similar coarse material as its growing medium. One of the major principles of this method is allowing plant roots to grow freely hence the coarse nature of the growing medium. To carry this out, fill a growing medium of your choice in a container or tray and attach a pipe to its end. Connect the pipe to the base of another container which will serve as a reservoir or store of nutrients. The container to serve as the reservoir is filled with the nutrient solution and then placed at an elevated level above the growing medium. The arrangement ensures the flow of nutrients from the reservoir into the growing medium and after completely saturating it, the reservoir is placed on a lower level to ensure the back-flow of the nutrient solution. This method ensures constant oxygenation and moistening of plant roots and the freedom of growth made possible to the plant increases their overall yield when it’s time to harvest. A slight disadvantage of it is that it can be a bit tedious as the growing medium needs to be flooded constantly at least thrice daily. The consistent flooding required to ensure the success of this method is a good reason why automating the process is a smart option unless you’re sure you’ll always be available to flood the growing medium throughout the life cycle of the cannabis plant. Automating the process is also pretty straightforward. It involves a pump (floods the growing medium), a float switch ( indicates when the growing medium is completely saturated), an electric valve ( controls the back-flow of the nutrient solution) and an electric timer.
This hydroponic method is perfect for those who’d love to use the ebb and flood method but aren’t good with electrical things or won’t be available to constantly flood the growing medium. This method just like ‘ebb and flood’ involves the use of a tray and the same kind of growing medium (coarse). The only difference between the two is that this method makes use of an aquarium aerator instead of a reservoir. A pipe is used to connect the aerator to the growing medium, this makes it possible to aerate the medium. The principle of this method is to keep a fresh nutrient solution consistently available in the growing medium. This is made possible through the aerator. It passes air through pipes into the numerous openings under the tray containing the growing medium thus keeping the nutrient solution constantly aerated and fresh. The air circulates throughout the growing medium providing a healthy flow of nutrients to the cannabis plant. Unlike the ebb and flood method, this doesn’t require a daily check, checking it every once in a while for critters is all it needs. And the nutrient solution should be replaced at least once a week. For the working-class cannabis cultivator, this hydroponic method is a God-send.
Nutrient Film Technique
This method is more suited for commercial purposes than the methods previously mentioned. It makes it possible to grow cannabis on a very large scale (can cover acres) while still producing mind-blowing results. The principle of this method is also relatively straightforward. It involves a constant flow of the nutrient solution over the roots of the cannabis plant. The fact that the roots of the cannabis plant are being supplied with a fast-flowing nutrient solution ensures that a significant amount of oxygen is constantly available to the plants. To further improve the quality and amount of oxygen delivered to the cannabis plant you can also aerate the nutrient solution in the reservoir. Unlike other hydroponic methods, this method doesn’t make use of a growing medium. The absence of a growing medium makes it possible for cannabis plant roots to grow extensively. This method isn’t just suitable for growing cannabis on a large scale, a lot of food crop growers also employ the method to better improve their yield. Foods like tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, etc are also grown using this method. While the upside of this method is endless, its major disadvantage is the complexity. Asides the expertise required to pull it off, a lot of materials like a network of pipes and trays, high flow pumps, etc are needed. And with numerous materials comes high cost. So it’s not just complex to set up it’s also expensive.
The last hydroponic method I’m going to mention in this article is ‘aeroponics’. This is like a spin-off of the method mentioned above given that the processes and materials involved are very similar. The only major difference between the two is the way the nutrient solution is delivered. The nutrient solution doesn’t flow over the roots in this method, rather it is blown on the roots. Yeah! You heard that right, the nutrient solution is applied via a nozzle which reduces the solution to fine mists and then blows them on the roots. This has been shown to increase the surface area of the nutrient solution made available to the plant and by so doing improving the rate at which they are absorbed by the roots thus improving the growth rate of the plant. Although this method is still majorly experimental, it is very promising, with the only foreseeable downside being how to keep the nozzles unclogged by the nutrient solution.
These are the most common hydroponic methods practiced by cannabis growers in the world today. And while knowing the specifics and principles of these methods is crucial, it is only the first step. The most vital part of the process is choosing the right one for you and to get this step right, you have to take the following into consideration:
· How big your budget is – Cost is always something you have to take into consideration, you shouldn’t venture into a method like NFT with a budget of peat and perlite.
· Skill as a cannabis cultivator – Your level of skill as a cannabis grower is also a very important factor that should be taken into consideration when choosing a hydroponic method. It is advisable for newbie growers to opt for simpler methods like peat and perlite. Starting with simpler methods gives newbies room to grow and develop their skill as a hydroponic cannabis grower.
· Location – The location where you intend to cultivate the plant is another huge factor that influences the type of hydroponic method you can use successfully. While simpler methods like ebb and flood and peat and perlite are suitable for places like your closet, basement, garage, a shed and so on, the same can’t be said for more complex methods like aeroponics or NFT. These need a larger area to implement.
So, taking all these into consideration, you should know which method is suitable for you and which method isn’t. Being realistic about your finances and capabilities is as essential to the success of your cannabis plant’s growth as the nutrient solution that keeps it alive. So before settling on a hydroponic method, make sure it’s one you’re completely capable of running, both financially and technically.