Expert tips on growing cannabis from The Ones That Know Best. Everything you always wanted to know about growing but you had noone to ask..
CANNABIS GROWING INTRODUCTION
This page contains loads of info on growing cannabis in an indoor garden. Just read, pick a room and get going! Ofcourse we need to tell you that this activity might be illegal in your country/state. We strongly advise against illegally growing cannabis. But if it's okay to do over there, hey, here's all you need to know:
For the small grower, or new starter we believe that the easiest and cheapest method is to use soil. For example: organic pre fertlised soil is very easy to use because it needs no feed just water and possibly a small pH. adjustment to be between 6.2 and 5.5 which can be measured with any cheap pH. testing kit or meter. (If the pot sizes are small and the plants are left to get big, additional fertiliser will be needed in the cannabis plants later stages of life.)
With hydroponics there are many varieties of media to choose from i.e.: Rockwall, clay pebbles, coconut fibre, prelate etc.
Also there are different methods for the iragation of these media such as Flood and Drain, Libra tray's and drippers, pots and drippers. (Both the latter can be either "To Waste" or "Recirculated", depending on the type of medium used). There are also systems that use no media just oxygenated water and nutrient travelling across the roots. The two most commonly known are the N.F.T. systems (nutrient film technique) and Aeroflow systems. Both achieve amazing results.
LIGHTING THE PLANTS
There are two major types of lighting that you can use, primarily white and yellow, although the High Discharge Lamps are also divided into two types. These are Plantas which favour the Blue end of the spectrum and H.P.S. Nav - T / Son - T which are outputting at the Red end of the spectrum. White light is beneficial to healthy growth; yellow light is essential for flowering stage. Fluorescent tubes or Metal Halide lamps can be used as a source of white light and for the yellow light we have an extensive range of High Pressure Sodium lamps; these vary in strength from 250 to 1000 Watts. The plants light needs are:
The most efficient lamp for output (light output and energy use) is the 600 Watt lamp. The 1000 Watt lamp is avoided as it produces excessive amounts of heat per light output. The 400 Watt lamp can be useful if there is a limited height within the workplace, as it can be hung closer to the plants. The minimum distance between the lamps and the plant (to prevent burning) are:
They're two different types of lamps to choose from. The first type is where the reflector and bulb are separate from the heavy ballast. The indoor grower tends to favour these lamps for ease of placement. The second type is where the ballast is connected to the bulb and reflector which are generally cheaper, but quite heavy so more suited to commercial and industrial locations.
When using several lamps at once it is essential that they can be turned on and off safely. It is essential to use good switches, preferrably those that conform to European safety standards.
Choosing the correct ventilation system sometimes can be quite complex. It is very important that you have the right system for the area that you have chosen for your indoor garden.
Choosing a ventilation system requires bearing in mind the following factors:
We use 2 types of discharge ventilators: snailhouse ventilators and tube ventilators. The snail is quieter, the tube is stronger.
Air discharge is not only important for temperature control as well as the supply of fresh air. Fresh means in our case richer in CO2, carbon dioxide. From CO2 and water under influence of light, sugars and oxygen are made: photosynthesis. In the grow-area there should always be ample CO2 otherwise the plant will grow and bloom slower. For strategic refreshment between the plants we use moving ventilators, for the whole room a large discharge ventilator takes care of fresh air. In winter it can be useful to artificially add CO2 because one generally discharges less air due to low temperatures.
If it is important that the smell does not travel outside the building then the use of odour filters is necessary. The most tested method is the extraction of air through carbon cylinders. This cylinder consists of two perforated metal walls, among which active carbon-grains can be found. All the air pulled through here (not too fast!) is odour free. To keep the carbon as active as possible another filter is put around (clean). Because these cylinders have a high resistance we use them mostly in combination with a tube ventilator.
The inline fan
The snail ventilator
The fan controller
Carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment
In order not to waste any CO2 there are recoil clips available for the air discharge and supply vents, which closes in passive stand.
It is possible to use the CO2 cannister with a gas regulator on its own (tap + pressure meter + flow meter + gas clip) but this is not as accurate as using a digital timer. The timer can be programmed appropriately for the room's contents. This can lead to an significant increase yield.
Here we name points about the underside of the plant: the roots-system. One of the first, and important choices is which medium should be used.
NFT & Aeroflow
To catch the excess water from the pots it is advisable to place the pots on a watertight tray that has a good drainage point. For this the channel bottom comes into use; this has a central drainage point and is quickly dry again through a network of channels that lead to this point. When growing by hydroculture this is especially important so that rinsing is possible.
When irrigating by say a "Header Tank", the flow is divided between a numbers of plants. The basic requirements are a reservoir, a submersible pump, and an electronic timer to control these, a water filter, a main tap and a number of plastic hoses to water the plants. On the end of these hoses also known as capillaries, is a sort of pricker, the plug (spike). A mechanical float in the barrel avoids overflowing as the barrel is filled.
It is always advisable to warm the water in the food reservoir; the ideal temperature is between 18o C and 22o C. Low temperature will delay or stop the plant from growing.
Irrigation with garden hose
Irrigation with PE hose
In the previous chapter was the big choice in cultivation: soil or hydroculture. For those with a tight budget the choice is obvious: first begin with soil. When gardening with soil you must always have adequate drainage and must never have your pots sitting in old stale water, this will starve the roots at the bottom of the pot of all the oxygen they need to stay healthy. For the best results in soil always use soil fertilisers with a good name that has been well tested and sold for many years. Different liquid fertiliser are available for both vegetative growth and the flowering phase.
It is also possible to make your own organic soil mix that contains virtually all the nutrients, minerals and trace elements that we need for the healthy growth of our favorite plants. A good mix contains snail shells, fish blood, bat guano, hoof meal molasses etc… We think it stinks, but our little green friend's absolutely love the stuff. Just mix some of that organic concentrate approximately 5% with 15 % worm castings (for a little bit of nitrogen) a good quality potting compost and perlite (we recommend between 20% and 50% depending on what sort of speed you want your plants to drain. There is also a choice between a number of biological and non-biological liquid fertilisers. With hydroponics higher yields are attainable because the hydro-media contains more oxygen than earth with the same percentages of moisture. The water that plants get is at the maximum as one keeps the acidity between 5.3 and 6.0 pH. Acidity regulation and control can be done by a pH-meter. These come in different prices; begin with a simple pH meter because the special hydroculture fertilisers that are available are compounded so that they are always around 5 or 6 pH. The raising or lowering of the pH as well as the base of acidity of the food solution happens with pH- or pH+ liquids. If one can control the climate then one can control with hydroculture the root climate and these two work together for an increase in harvest.
Fertilisers For Hydroculture
COCO is a product made from Coco fibres and is environmentally friendly; it comes in a slab form or in a 50 litre bag (for pots).
For the rooting and pre-growing of cuttings, rock wool is still the best solution: strong and easy to manage. They contain a lot of oxygen. Cutting blocks are available in different sizes; this has to do with the proportion of the cutting to be.
Note that you can not(!) use the kind of Rock wool that is intended for isolation in construction. These materials are made water resistant by chemicals. Get your Rock wool products intended for farming at specialised farming equipment stores.
To catch the excess water from the pots it is advisable to place the pots on a watertight tray that has a good drainage. The base of the pot has a central draining point, which is fed by a network of channels for good drainage. This is especially important in hydroculture so that water can be flushed out.
The basic requirements for irrigation are a reservoir, a plunger pump, an electronic timer to control these, a water filter, amines tap, a number of plastic hoses (capillaries) to water the plants, a tool to punch holes in the capillaries and the plug (spike).
In the winter it is advisable to warm the water in the food reservoir to a temperature of between 18o C and 25o C degrees.
The Coco slab is made from mechanically and thermally treated coco fibres. This treatment results in a perfectly sterile mat. The pH buffer in the cocos slab is very high this means that pH level will be stable for almost 4 weeks (idiot proof) No chemicals are used during manufacture. The slab can keep a stabile temperature. The root system thrives because of the similarity between this mat and the natural environment.
Fertilisers For Hydroculture
The acidity of a solution is given as pH. This scale runs from 0 (acid) to 14 (alkali). Lowering of the pH (acidity) can be done with two sorts of acid; normally saltpetre is used during growth and phosphor during flowering. This is because one acid bonds with Nitrogen and the other with phosphor. An important property of the nutrition applied to the hydroculture is the strength of the solution. The strength is determined by the level of salts in the solution, which is measured in EC. The optimum strength is between 1 and 3 EC (or 10 and 30 depending on scale).
The most common infestation in indoor gardening is the red spider mite. Their presence is recognisable by small, light coloured suck marks on the top of the leaf; these look like small white dots. In an advanced stage they form small spiderwebs. Spider mites thrive in a dry, warm environment. If you catch the mite in its very early stages, natural predators can be used such as the Roof mite. The Roof mite has to be introduced into the environment early to be effective. It is advisable to always have the Roof mite in your garden. There is also a biological spray called Hurricane, which can be used if you have a large infestation, and the Roof mite prove ineffective.
When it is in later stages the infestation can only be treated chemically. These are two options:
One of the other main pests associated with indoor cultivation is the Root Louse and the larvae of the Root fly, which attack the root hairs. This occurs mostly with Rock wool cubes and clay pebbles and it is recommended that you inspect the roots quite often. The root louse is between 0.5 and 2mm long. The only way to prevent the root louse is to eliminate all flies from the grow room by the use of fly paper, air filtration of incoming air, regular spraying with a mild biological pesticide and the introduction of natural predators into the grow room environment (with predator cards). If you do get infested then you put Root louse killer in the plant's water.
If the infestation has well and truly begun then there only one thing left to do. Blast them with chemical insecticide. There are many of these products out there and are subject to change. Allways check the labels and follow the instructions on harvestable produce, since someone will eventually consume the cannabis. Try not to use chemicals in the last stages of flowering.
With the predator chart all kinds of natural enemies can be ordered at specialsied stores and websites. When you have had an infestation, you must always sterilise the grow room with either a strong solution of bleach or insecticide to make sure there are no eggs still left alive and dormant in the grow room waiting for the next lot of plants to be introduced to the room. Keep it clean.
To prevent any contamination with insects, allways make sure you have none on your clothes before entering your indoor garden. After a visit to the garden or engaging in outdoor activity change your clotches and shoes when tending to your plants. Never let furry pets in to the room. They may have tiny hitchhikers on them. And most importantly, try to keep other growers away, since they might have problems you don't want.
Some extra pointers