As the stigma on cannabis cultivation wears off thanks to regulation laws around the world, new methods, tools, and solutions are coming out to find the best way to grow and to improve the yield rate of each strain. Indoor growing is just the tip of the iceberg in this world of cultivation. Hydroponics are gaining ground in the city and experienced cannabis growers are profiting from a balanced cultivation method with fascinating results.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponic culture systems have been around in history since ancient times. Using water as a growing medium for the roots turned out to be convenient in plantations near the Nile River and in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. This kind of cultivation is characterised by the fact that it does not require soil, using a growing support material to hold the roots in place—such as expanded clay or LECA. These roots then grow down into a water medium containing all nutrients that the plant needs. Etymologically speaking, the word “hydroponics” derives from the Greek hydro meaning “water” and ponos, meaning “labour.” This system has proven to be highly effective in modern horticulture, and, of course, this success rate can also be achieved in the case of cannabis culture.
Step-by-Step Guide to Hydroponic Marijuana Cultivation
- Transplanting and Location
During the first stages of growth, we must first place the plant in a net cup and then fill it up with clay pebbles. This process begins by transplanting seedlings, whose seeds must have sprouted in rock wool or coconut coir, carefully washing the dirt off the roots. On its side, we place a water reservoir with a nutrient solution from which a little electric pump will suck the solution so that it flows onto the seedlings roots using a soaker hose as the ones used in drip irrigation.
- Connection and Nutrition
First, we must prepare a nutrient solution consisting of—preferably unchlorinated—water, to which fertilisers are added. An air pump is connected to the water reservoir near the plant to keep the solution oxygenated. As plants only produce their food during light hours, we must connect a timer to the water pump delivering nutrients so that it turns off once daytime ends.
- Care and Prevention
We must check water levels from time to time because evaporation and the plants themselves will cause the level to drop. On the same note, water must be changed every three weeks so as to eliminate waste salts that accumulate during the process. Of course, as plants grow, water will need a more frequent replenishment.
We must be careful with air circulation to avoid moisture accumulation, and also check that temperature does not drop below 18 Celsius degrees. If the amount of salts builds up on clay pebbles, the nutrient solution must be emptied and replaced by a flow of only distilled water.
This system requires a pH and an EC meter to measure changes in hydrogen ions activity and electrical conductivity, respectively.
LECA, also referred to as expanded clay, is a highly lightweight aggregate that results from heating clay materials. This is a re-usable material and only needs a careful bleach wash after harvesting so as to sanitise it, checking pH levels before re-using.