Join us on a mind journey, friends. Let’s think back to a time when cannabis prohibition reigned supreme across the nation. A time when it took a heck of a lot of effort just to get stoned. A time when ditch weed with 3% THC was the norm.
Those were the days, eh? And by that we mean those days were the absolute worst when it came to getting high. After all, you certainly couldn’t just stroll into a dispensary and order up an ounce of White Widow. You had to put in some serious work if you wanted to get your hands on some bud.
If you were fortunate enough to know someone who could hook you up, you’d still have to meet in a sketchy parking lot, where you’d exchange a wad of cash for a bag of weed filled with sticks, stems, and seeds. And, if you were lucky, the weed in that off-brand Ziploc was wellcured and slightly green, and a few bowls would get you high. If you weren’t, you found yourself holding a bag full of brown, dry buds instead. And in that case, RIP your lungs. They’re almost certainly still on strike.
Without a plug, the only other option was to grow your own — and that required even more work… and more risk. Having your setup out in the open meant that you were tempting fate — and just asking for law enforcement to come sniffing around. But if you took your little operation indoors, you were investing a ton of time, money, and energy — literally; the energy bills to run the grow lights would have been insane — to do so.
Things are obviously a heck of a lot easier these days, though. Thanks to our state’s thriving cannabis market, we have plenty of options. If we want to get stoned off of some fat nugs, we have the option to walk out the door, keys in hand, and snag a strain from the budtenders at our local dispensaries. Easy peasy. It’s great. But while a lot of us prefer to take the easy way out, it can still be a heck of a lot of fun to grow your own weed if you’re so inclined. Not only can you legally have your grow operation out in the open at your home these days — no more clandestine basement grows for you — but the payoff can be huge. You’ll end up with a product that you’ve nourished, loved, and cultivated from start to finish — and you’ll know exactly what went into growing your bud. And if you’re using your cannabis to treat a medical condition or chronic pain, growing your own can be a heck of a lot cheaper than buying weed an ounce or two at a time.
So, what say you? Yes? You want to grow weed? Well, this is the perfect time to get started on your new weed crop. But if you’re thinking of getting your green thumb on this spring, you need to know what you’re doing beforehand. You don’t want to slap together a haphazard plan for your buds. That will almost certainly end in disaster. And you certainly don’t want to take the outdoor route, either — why risk contaminants and critters getting all up in your plants?
Before you take the leap, though, you need to learn a few things. So please hold off on snatching up the last of the available clones at the dispensary, and make sure you’ve got the hydroponics plan for your weed garden down pat first. And lucky for you, the information below can help you out, so keep reading to learn all about what you need for your new indoor grow op. Trust us; it’ll benefit you bigtime to plan ahead.
A quick primer on the basics of hydroponics If you’re unfamiliar with the basics of hydroponics, here’s the gist. Hydroponics is basically an indoor growing system that uses water instead of soil as the major growing medium. All the nutrients needed by plants are delivered by ions directly to the roots of your plants, making the amount of nutrients easy for the grower to monitor and control.
And, believe it or not, hydroponics can produce much larger yields when compared to traditional growing in soil. Plus, the potential for drought, damaging winds, and hungry animals are all eliminated.
Hydroponics isn’t a new concept, though; it’s been around for centuries. In fact, famous reformer, philosopher, and scientist, Sir Francis Bacon, wrote an entire book about soilless growing back in 1627.
Francis’ book, “Sylva Sylvarum,” provided the impetus for a slew of research and experiments on the subject. At the time, growing plants in water was called “solution culture.” But the term “hydroponics” wasn’t coined until 1937, when the University of California’s William Frederick Gericke borrowed the name from a colleague, W.A. Setchell.
Today, hydroponics is an important arm of botany and agriculture, both within the cannabis industry and outside of it. You can actually grow a ton of different plants using hydroponics — tomatoes, herbs, and tons of other goodness — but when it comes to growing with water, weed will thrive with this system. What this means is that if it’s done right, you’ll end up with an inexpensive and reliable supply of marijuana for your own use.
As an added bonus, when you grow marijuana in the privacy of your own home, you won’t have to worry about nosy (and sticky-fingered) neighbors or curious wildlife getting into your stash.
The benefits of growing weed with hydroponics
Using an indoor hydroponics garden to grow your weed can have tons of other advantages, too. For example, cannabis plants grow, mature, and flower more quickly in these setups, which means that you’re spending less time waiting for your plants to flower and more time stoned.
Plus, bud that’s grown with hydroponics tends to be more potent than your average cannabis plant, which means it’s a great way to grow bud with a high
THC concentration, whether you need it for medical use or just want to get really, really high. Plus, the potential for your plants having problems with pests is lowered, so you may be able to avoid using any pesticides or other nastiness to control a bug issue. And plant diseases are easier to avoid in hydroponics gardens. If they do occur, though, they’re easier to manage.
The water necessary for hydroponic growing can also be reused, so it’s good for conservation — which is extra important, given the serious drought we’re in.
Since no harmful chemicals are carried into the Earth and shared, hydroponics is the green way to grow your “greens.”
How does hydroponics work, exactly?
When using hydroponics to grow cannabis, you’re primarily using water to nourish your plants. However, the plants grow from a substrate medium. This could include a wide variety of mediums, from baked clay pellets, coconut peat, minced volcanic rock, recycled glass, rice hulls, sand, gravel, vermiculite pebbles, sheep wool, polystyrene packing material, or wood fibers.
The preferred growing medium for most hydroponics gardeners, however, is rock wool. Rock wool is made by spinning minerals into thin fibers, creating an excellent substrate for plants.
While the plants are physically supported by rock wool or by some other substrate material, the roots are nourished directly from nutrients in the water. Of course, plants also need plenty of light for photosynthesis to occur, and they “breathe” carbon dioxide.
And for growing plants to thrive, they also require the right temperature, the right atmospheric humidity, and the right pH balance — all of which requires you to monitor the heck out of your plants and their environment. To do that correctly, you’re going to be putting some money into your setup. But the good news is that it is typically a one-time expense, and it could pay off in spades if you can get your plants growing quickly and potently.
How to get started with hydroponics
There are a few things you need to get your hydroponics garden up and running. You have a couple of choices here, though. You can either opt to purchase a fully functional grow box, which is our preferred method (we’ll get into more on that below) or you can opt to create your own hydroponics setup.
Option 1: The DIY setup
If you opt to create your own, your initial setup should include, at minimum:
A grow light — If you don’t already have a grow light, you’ll need a grow light with 250W, 400W or 600W HPS for your first grow. These grow lights are
optimal because they’re consistent and tend to result in awesome yields. You’ll also need hangars for your lights.
Hydroponic nutrients – You have your pick of nutrients to choose from, so do your research and find out what other growers are using. Calimagic and
Hydroguard are typically pretty great choices, but they certainly aren’t your only ones.
Growing medium — Rock wool works best, but you have your choice of other substrate, too. Do what you want, friends!
Seeds or a clone — Seeds can be tough to track down, but you can find them at some dispensaries if you call around. You may also be able to get a clone from a dispensary, but they are typically in high demand, so you may need to do some shopping around.
A hydroponic reservoir or tank — Again, you can build your own or buy a premade option. We’re lazy so prefer the latter.
A grow tent — You can buy one or you can build your own. Your call.
Hydroponic reservoir and tray — This holds the water your plants will rely on to live. Don’t cut corners with this.
Pump and airstone — You’ll need to keep air circulating for your plants, and your pump is what does the trick.
Other stuff — Net mesh planting pots, a carbon filter, duct tubes and ventilation fan, an oscillating fan, a hygrometer, and pH and PPM meters are all necessary to complete your setup.
We won’t go into detail on how to set up your DIY hydroponics system because there are tons of different options — and what works for you and your setup
will depend on a ton of factors. However, a quick Google search can give you exact instructions on how to get the job done to your specifications.
Option 2: The hydroponics grow box
The other option you have is a hydroponics grow box. What we like about these setups is that all the integral elements required to pull off a hydroponics grow will come with your grow box, and everything can be properly controlled with the touch of a button. It’s basically plug-and-play weed growing.
One of the main benefits of opting to use a quality grow box is that it can control the flow of air and the amount of light needed in order for the plants to thrive. Most boxes include a pumping system, screen for starting seeds, timers, CO2 circulation devices, and temperature control mechanisms.
If you purchase a higher quality grow box, it may also include additional lighting and tools to help prevent infections. A good grow box will also maintain an ideal temperature for your plants.
All grow boxes are not created equal, though. You’ll need to do some research beforehand to find the right one — and the best one you can afford, because prices? Whew, chile. They can vary. We’re talking prices in the mid-hundreds to a few thousand bucks. That’s a significant investment.
That said, there are a few options you may want to check out if you’re not down to DIY it. One is the Cash Crop Hydroponic Grow Box, which is great for beginners because it comes fully assembled. Everything you need is in the box, minus the seeds — which again, you’ll have to track down — and it can grow yields of between 1-2 pounds of dried plant matter in every cycle.
If you want something more hightech, we highly suggest that you check out the Leaf Smart Grow Box. That thing is a beast, with an app that lets you control your plant’s conditions — and also gives you the option to monitor your cannabis plant’s growth via daily reports and a live video stream. Plus, it’s one of the biggest grow box options on the market, and it also comes with everything you need.
The Mary Model Z, A Pot for Pot, and the Budgrower may be worth a look, too. But remember, these things don’t come cheap. So don’t be shocked when you see the price tag you’ll pay for taking the lazy route.
Beware of the challenges of growing cannabis plants indoors
The downside to hydroponics is that even with the right setup, growing healthy plants can still be a bit complicated. Just think back to the last time you tried to grow houseplants. Chances are that you had to repot them several times a year and use various fertilizers to ensure they remain healthy and strong. And, any wrong choice you made would result in your plants turning from brilliant green to a wilting, brown mess of sadness.
Well, the same can be as true with weed as it was with your houseplants. In other words, there are challenges you can face when growing weed with hydroponics, and you need to know what they are before you invest in your setup:
— Lighting intensity: Many people do not realize that even the strongest grow lights cannot take the place of adequate sunlight. While marijuana does not
require as much light as roses or various other plants, you will still need the proper intensity to ensure healthy growth.
— Nutrient issues: If you are planning to use hydroponics, you will always need to carefully monitor the circulating water for adequate nutrients as well as make sure that the roots have enough dry time to prevent illness. That’s why we like grow boxes
— because they typically include timers, pumps, and other mechanisms that will optimize water, CO2, and nutrient levels based on specific plant needs.
— Diseases and pathogens: Indoor plants are still susceptible to diseases and pathogens that can cause roots, leaves, and stems to rot. No matter whether the pathogen is an insect, virus, or bacteria, you will need to deal with them as much, if not more often when using hydroponic growing methods.
What sort of harvest can you expect from your hydroponics weed garden?
Well, it depends. If you do things right, most hydroponics gardens will set you up for a yield every six to eight weeks, or at least every few months, which is great. And by keeping the mother plant healthy and happy, she’ll provide cuttings for clones for a long time. Once you get going, you’ll have steady, dependable harvests that you can count on.
But the key here is to do your part. You’ll still need to keep a close eye on your plants and monitor the environment your plants are growing in. The nutrients, lighting, and setup all need to be exactly right to get things going — and to keep your plants healthy.
Once you’ve got things working the optimal way, though, you’re set. After you get your first yield, you simply need to harvest and cure your weed and then store it the right way so it doesn’t lose potency. Or you can just smoke the darn stuff instead. That’s what we’d do, but your business is your business.