Some may think that getting into growing marijuana is an easy affair. That idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Cultivating marijuana successfully takes a great deal of detailed planning, skill and consistent effort. Each crop takes eight to 10 weeks to mature, so the grower will have to spend at least an hour a day while caring for them to ensure the plants live up to their potential.
There’s a lot to consider before making the decision to create and sustain a successful grow operation. Cultivators can never know too much about growing this magical plant, so being educated about the process and diligent about the health of the crop will make a world of difference.
Selecting the strain of marijuana that will be grown can be complicated, as there are hundreds of different strains, each with their own pros and cons. The key is to select a strain that’s appealing according to length of time to maturity, potency and ease of growth. Some strains are finicky, so they shouldn’t be used as a first crop.
Proper Grow Areas are Vital
Selecting a growing area can be tough to do but the first step is to choose a clean area to start a crop. Find a spot with low amounts of dust, as the particles carry pests. For indoor growing, both the plant and the lamp used for lighting will require vertical space, so there will need to be about 6 feet of clearance. The lamp must be kept a certain distance from the top of the plant to prevent the lamp from burning the tips of the plants.
Plants Need Space
Marijuana requires a large footprint to grow in. Each plant requires 4 square feet (2 feet x 2 feet) of growing space. If the plants are placed closer than this, the limbs of each plant will block the light of the other plants, leading to an unhealthy crop.
There Are Different Ways to Grow
There are many different techniques to grow marijuana hydroponically. However, there is much to consider before choosing one and many growers may do best to experiment to see which of the following works best with their skillset. Below are a few examples of cultivating options.
Ebb and Flood – This methods consists of taking a plastic container and filling it with pea gravel. Next, flood the pea gravel with nutrient solution until the reservoir is full. Drain the nutrient solution out of the reservoir. The nutrient solution left over between the pea gravel will nourish the roots. Do this several times a day.
Peat and Perlite – This technique is simple and effective. Fill a large pot with a mixture of Peat and Perlite. Perlite is a blown glass product that retains a large amount of moisture. The peat gives a stable and inert growing medium for the roots to grow. The one drawback to this method is the salt accumulation midway in the growing cycle, which can be fixed by flushing the salts down into the bottom of the pot by flooding with pure pH balanced water.
Nutrient Flow Technique(NFT) – In this method, the nutrient solution constantly flows through a flat-bottomed tray or a wide, round pipe (PVC plumbing pipes work excellent for this) and is allowed to flow over the roots of the plant. Because the roots are sitting in fast flowing water, a large amount of oxygen is delivered to the them. Most NFT growers also aerate the solution in the reservoir to further increase the oxygen content of the nutrient solution.
Aeroponics – This method is a spin-off of NFT, as the setup is almost the same. What changes, though, is the method of delivering the nutrient. Instead of having the nutrient flow over the roots, the nutrient is sprayed in fine mist via a special nozzle, much like the fuel injector on a car.
Nutrient Solution Makes a Difference
Finding one nutrient solution that covers all of the plants’ nutritional needs is a tall task. The norm is to find a nutrient solution that covers as many of the essential chemicals required by the plant and adding a secondary nutrient source tailored to the three basic growth cycles marijuana grows through to become a mature plant.
Understanding pH & PPM is Important
The pH of the nutrient solution refers to how acidic or how alkaline the nutrient solution is. Knowing how to understand and measure pH is an important skill that will improve the health of a crop. Marijuana likes a pH of about 5.5, which is slightly acidic. PPM (Parts Per Million) refers to the potency of the nutrient solution. The required PPM of the nutrient solution depends on the nutrient type that will be used. Find the recommended PPM for fast growing leafy plants on the container the raw nutrient comes in.
It Takes Lots of Power
The few power outlets found around the house aren’t going to cut it, as a 1000 watt lamp is the standard for a grow operation. Most residential circuits will blow the power breaker if you plug in two 1000 watt lamps into the same outlet, as the limit for most residential power outlets is 1500 watts. Trying to pull 2000 watts out of this circuit just won’t work. Even if only one 1000 watt lamp is being used, the other electronics you’ll need for the grow ops such as fans and pumps will still overwhelm one circuit.
Marijuana has a very strong odor to it, especially in the budding stage. This odor can fill whatever building it’s being grown in. Combat this with a hepa filter on a fan vented to the out of doors drawn directly from the growing area.
But, Wait… There’s More
Once the plant has matured, it must be stripped of its buds. The buds must then be dried or cured in order to be suitable for smoking and then they must be trimmed to perfection. This process is one of the last steps for growing, unless they decide to use the leaves as the base for hash oil, concentrates or edibles.
What are some cultivation tips you have? Share with us in the comments.