Hydroponics Basics & Setup
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that uses only a water + mineral solution to deliver the essential nutrients the plant needs and thus removing soil entirely from the process of growing. Hydroponic techniques have been continually developed over the last century and even today NASA intensely studies ways to further increase the effectiveness of growing plants in soilless cultures (very useful in outer space).
Because soil is being removed through this method, there are 3 main functions that a hydroponics system will need to provide in soil’s absence. They are:
- Foundation – Without soil to hold the roots, other inert mediums like Hydroton, Rockwool , and Perlite must be used as a structural base. These mediums will usually be held in place by a net pot.
- Nutrients – In soil grows, cannabis gets its nutrients directly from the soil mixtures used. This includes the necessary elements needed like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. A hydroponic system must have a way of delivering these nutrients to the plants roots.
- Protection – Inside a pot of soil, marijuana roots are well protected from trauma, light, and heat which are all enemies of a healthy root structure. Your hydro system should also serve as a barrier against these potential dangers.
Hydroponics isn’t just a really cool way to grow weed, it has a lot of benefits as well. When I began growing, the first question I knew I had to get an answer for was whether I should use soil or hydroponics for my grow.
After a lot of extensive research, I noticed a lot of common themes in what people were saying who had experience growing with both mediums. The most significant points were:
- Hydro Is Efficient – Time and time again, I saw growers accepting that hydro will go through the entire growing cycle a lot faster. Some people claimed a month or more is shaved off while others say it just yields up to 50% more buds with all other things being equal.
- Hydro Is Cleaner – Maybe this is just personal preference, but the last thing I wanted to work with indoors was a bunch of bags of soil. If you make a huge mess with water, evaporation will clean it up eventually.
- Hydro Gives More Control – Hydroponic setups leave roots exposed and more readily available to accept what you’re giving it. This is part of the reason hydro grows can grow so much more quickly, but also makes it easier to manage problems if they arise. A pH problem in a hydro system can be fixed with a simple water exchange whereas soil might require a full transplant, which will be very hard on the plant.
This isn’t the full extent of the discussions I read, but for me, these reasons were more than enough for me to tackle hydroponics right out of the gate. To be honest, all I needed to know was that hydroponics can give more overall yield, and I was completely sold.
Because the 3 requirements for a hydroponic setup are relatively wide-open, there are actually several different types of hydroponic systems. Some setups leave the roots in water at all times and some drain the water regularly. Timers are used in some kinds of setups while others are ran all day.
There are many ways to customize your hydroponic system to your preferences. Custom setups are a little beyond the scope of this guide, but if you want to learn more about creating your own setup, I highly recommend Growing Elite Marijuana. It has a huge section dedicated especially to custom hydro setups.
On the other hand, if your main priority is like mine when I started which is going from Point A (where you are now) to Point B (jars full of your own buds), then getting a pre-made system is a smart idea. When I made the decision to start growing, I was up and running in less than a week.
The system I bought made that possible because it was easy and convenient, and who knows how long it would have taken me to start if I had gone to the effort of building a system I wasn’t entirely familiar with?
As you can see from the picture above, the system is simple and straightforward while still delivering effective and efficient results. The parts included in the system are:
- Nutrient Tank
- Lid with 6 Holes and Net Pots
- Hydroton and Rockwool
- Water Pump and Water Delivery System
- Air Pump and Stone
The main advantage of this setup is its simplicity. It can be operational out of the box in only a couple minutes.
When I ordered mine, I began germinating my first seeds that day. When the system arrived, it literally took me less than 15 minutes to set up the Bubbleponics, lighting, and plant the seeds. And I had never done anything like this before! Looking back, I think it was really helpful to be able to focus solely on my plants and not have to worry about any mechanical or technical issues.
Stealth Hydroponics has a few other systems too if you want to get something different, but I just got the simplest one I could find so it will probably meet most people’s needs. I still use it 7 grows later and have only replaced the air stone. So long as you take good care of it, it will last a long while.
Lastly, the systems come with a manual that shows how to put it together and get it running. This is something they didn’t have when I bought mine, and I was still able to put it together quickly; it’s pretty common sense.
Remember though, if you still have a question, you can always ask me too. I love talking to fellow growers!
Price: $70 – $150
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