A new year is the perfect time for making resolutions — and not just personal ones. For 2018, we’re focusing on a few easy things you can do to improve your hydroponic cannabis grow (that can also be used for any type of marijuana grow setup). This list is perfect for folks just starting to dip their toes into the water of hydroponics growing, but it also contains suggestions that even the most seasoned of growers can use to expand upon and refine their skill set. Start the new year right by making these simple resolutions to reap the rewards of a successful hydroponic grow.
1. Growing Greener
Growing hydroponically has long been known as an excellent option for going green. This is because you use less water and land, as well as fewer pesticides than with traditional soil-based growing, which makes hydroponics environmentally friendly. But there are ways to get creative and make your grow even greener.
One of the most energy-consuming aspects of growing is the lighting, so a great way to further reduce your environmental footprint is by changing up the lighting system you’re using.
Kyle Hamilton, customer support manager at BloomBoss, says, “Growers can reduce their electricity use by an average of 48 percent by opting for quality LED grow lights instead of traditional grow lights, and still expect great results.
“[The] low operating temperature of LED lights allows growers to significantly reduce, or eliminate entirely, their need for environmentally harmful HVAC equipment such as air conditioners,” continues Hamilton, whose company supplies lights, tents and other accessories for home growers.
2. Hooked On Aquaponics
Hamilton also suggests utilizing the aquaponics method, a unique and creative way of going super green with your hydro grow. In a nutshell, aquaponics is a hydroponic setup for plants that’s combined with a tank filled with edible fish or other aquatic creatures, like shrimp or crayfish.
“The plants feed off of the excretions from the fish and in turn break down the bacteria from the fish waste and cycle the clean water back into the fish tank,” Hamilton explains. “So you don’t need to add any artificial nutrients or chemicals — the work is done by the symbiotic relationship between the fish and the plants.
“Aquaponics setups are proven to be extremely efficient,” Hamilton continues, “allowing growers to produce cannabis bud for as low as $2 per gram while being as organic as possible.”
3. Kick Up The Cleanliness
Whether you’re growing in water, soil or another medium, cleanliness is key. When your grow space gets dirty, you’re opening up your cannabis to a whole host of potential contamination problems including mold, bugs, mildew and more.
EJ Ecolango, a cannabis industry professional and activist based in Portland, Oregon, says that cleanliness is of utmost importance when it comes to hydroponic growing, seeing as “this type of sterile growing does not have a natural cycle of checks and balances one would get with soil-based cultivation style.”
And Austin Radney, horticulturist and sourcing specialist at MagicalButter, suggests that growers cycle their reservoirs appropriately, and make sure to keep water temperatures between 72–74 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Letting nutrients go too long in a hot reservoir could lead to a nutrient lock, disabling your plant from proper food intake while leaving your roots with a slimy brown mess called root rot,” explains Radney. “Keeping an ideal environment for your microbes in any nutrient solution will help to keep your grow clean.”
4. Expand Your Education
One of the exciting things about the legal cannabis industry is that it’s still in its infancy. New discoveries and innovations are cropping up everywhere, which means novice growers and skilled, old-school cultivators alike need to keep tabs on what’s out there in the cannabis community in order to ensure you’re doing your best and getting the most out of your grow. And when it comes to hydroponics in particular, education couldn’t be more important.
BloomBoss’s Hamilton notes that hydroponics is still a relatively recent development for growing (within the last couple hundred years still counts as new in the grand scheme of things, right?). “In the last decade, NASA has been doing extensive research on the subject; there is even a hypothesis about how hydroponics will create advances in space travel. There’s always more — you just have to look.”
If you live in an area of the US that has state-legalized cannabis, odds are you’ll find quality workshops or classes in your district. Make sure to vet them carefully and ask around for recommendations. Your local grow store or dispensary may offer good suggestions.
For those of us in other US states where cannabis is not yet legal for medicinal or recreational use, head to the internet for workshops or classes that you can take remotely. While hands-on and in-person instruction is always preferable, there is still much you can learn from online opportunities.
However, expanding your knowledge of cannabis shouldn’t necessarily be limited to taking classes or hitting the books. It can also mean networking and connecting with those in your community.
Ecolango suggests hanging “in your local hydro shops and grow stores to meet with the people who are selling you your gear. Research which days there might be an event or panel on growing in a local city. Attend certain growing-based conventions or cannabis cups. Most have a day of speakers that make it worthwhile to attend.”
With these major resolutions in mind, go forth and make 2018 your best grow year yet!