QUESTION: I am a beginner grower and I plan on purchasing the necessary hydroponic equipment for a medium sized grow. But I have a few questions regarding the process. 1. Is combining MH and HPS lighting better? 2. Is it better to have two separate grow tents for veg and flowering? 3. How much water do plants need if I’m using a DWC hydroponic system? 4. how long do I veg my plants? 5. When do I put my plants on 12/12?
Drew West: As a beginning grower, there are many things you need to take into consideration when deciding what equipment to buy in order to maximize your space. It is important to choose the growing methods that will be most conducive to your space as well.
If you intend to harvest as frequently as possible (every 8-9 weeks) you will need to have two separate grow tents, one tent for the Vegetative stage and one tent for the Reproductive stage. Both stages cannot occur in the same tent due to the different light cycles that are required for each one.
Vegetative growth requires 18 hours of light and prefers the bluish light spectrum generated from High Intensity Discharge Metal Halide (MH) Bulbs. Reproductive growth is induced by reducing the light to 12 hours a day with the use of HID High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs that produce a reddish spectrum.
The duration of the Vegetative stage depends on how big you want your plants to be in the end. Since you are thinking of using a Grow Tent, this consideration is especially important, because you don’t want the plants to overgrow their space. All plants are different but as a rule of thumb, you can usually expect your plant to at least double in size within the first couple weeks of its Reproductive stage. So allow the plants to vegetate in accordance with the amount of space they will have in the “Bud room”.
Grow tents can be great for growing in confined spaces, but don’t usually offer a lot of extra room to work after the addition of the nutrient reservoirs. Many hydroponic systems require the plants to be elevated in order to drain properly which can be a real problem in grow tents depending on how large you grow your plants. In your case though, if you are going to use a DWC setup, you will be able to set them on the floor. Do some research to make sure a hydroponic setup will be the best for your growing space.
Plants growing in Deep Water Culture (DWC) Systems require different water levels during different stages of their life cycles. When the clones are first placed in the net pots the water level must be high enough to submerge the roots. As the roots grow down out of the net pots, the water level must be lowered to allow more air and to promote more root growth. Once the roots hit the bottom of the bucket, most people keep the water level between 1/2 – 2/3 full.
It is important to state that standard DWC systems are not my preferred method for hydroponics. I have found through experience that it is quite difficult to monitor and change and/or adjust the nutrient and pH levels of the water when the plants are grown in the self contained buckets used for most DWC systems. This is because the plant and its roots must be lifted out of the bucket and transferred to an awaiting bucket each time a small adjustment needs to be made. Repeating this over and over is a pain and invites too many opportunities for the plants to become stressed out.
The water needs to circulate from a reservoir through the system instead of just sitting in the bucket with an air pump alone. The use of a re-circulating system fed by a reservoir will allow you to make adjustments through the reservoir without disturbing the plant. Just as importantly, it keeps the water fresh and aerated while circulating via the submerged pump.
Check out my book The Secrets of the West Coast Masters: Uncover the Ultimate Techniques for Growing Medical Marijuana for instructions on building your own low-cost “Hydromaster System” as well as everything else you need to know when setting up your grow!
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