Marijuana growing systems

Everything related to the different grow systems used by cannabis farmers. Hydroponics, aeroponics, vertical growing systems, soil, coco coir…

LST – Low Stress Training for cannabis plants

Plant training – a low-stress alternative to pruning

Cannabis is a robust, vigorous and fast-growing plant which responds very well to crop optimisation techniques such as: pruning; propagation via cuttings; hydroponic cultivation and more. In a previous article we looked at the so-called “destructive” techniques like pruning, super-cropping, etc, and in this article we’re going to talk about a very useful technique both for indoor and outdoor growers: Training or tying down, often referred to by cannabis growers as LST (low stress training). This technique originated in the agricultural sector, where for generations vineyards and orchards have been cultivated using a variety of training techniques, to facilitate harvesting and improve the productivity of the crop.

A vine trained to maximise yields

Plant training is a traditional technique in vineyards and orchards

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Aquaponic Cannabis Cultivation

Aquaponics and Cannabis

Aquaponics

Indoor aquaponics setup

Each day there are more techniques for marijuana cultivation available within the international cannabis scene.

Aquaponics is the intergration of fish farming and hydroponics. Rakocy (1999), Messer (?) and Rakocy et al. (2003) state that ‘aquaponics is the cultivation of fish and plants in a circular, closed system.’

This system is perfectly adaptable to marijuana cultivation producing harvests of maximum quality, like those of hydroponic systems, but with the flavour and aroma of organic cultivation. Now is the time to choose your preferred cannabis variety and try your hand at this new proposal from the team at Alchimiaweb.

In this method the fish supply the water with rich nutrients and bacteria transforms their faeces into a rich food source for our plants. The bacteria decompose the aforementioned excrements through a process which converts them into accessible nutrients for the plants.

This, together with a hydroponic plant set-up, creates a self-sustaining, re-circulatory system that feeds both your plants and reduces toxic build-up in the fish-tank.

With the roots suspended in the hydroponic system, the system itself acts as a bio-filter, improving the water quality in the fish-tank. Continue reading

The SOG cannabis growing method

Sea of Green

SOG or Sea of Green is a marijuana growing technique used to take advantage of all the available growing space. Basically, we only need to completely cover the whole space with relatively small pots, as many as needed. The number of pots used will depend on both the size of the pots and the available space. For our example, we will use a 1m2 growing tent and tell you a few tips that everyone should remember in order to achieve a successful SOG crop.

SOG indoor cannabis crop

SOG indoor cannabis crop

The main goal of this kind of cultivation is reducing as much as possible the time needed to grow and flower the plants, while getting the best possible yield of our growing space. With this method, one can achieve the same results in two months – using cuttings – than in 3-4 months when growing cannabis seeds . Saving money in our light bills or being able to perform more crops per year are some of the benefits from this interesting growing technique.

How to set up a  SOG crop

After getting all the needed growing gear (pots, lighting systems, fertilizers, etc.), the first thing to do is growing a motherplant from which we will take cuttings . For this kind of cultivation, it is very important having identical cuttings from the same motherplant – or at least from the same genetics – to achieve a homogeneous crop. Working with several genetics will surely cause problems regarding size, height, flowering time, nutrient needs, and a number of factors that will decrease the overall yield of the plants. Continue reading

The SCROG cannabis growing system

The SCROG training technique is a growing system that allows us to get the best yields from our grow tent with very few plants.

SCROG are the initials of Screen of Green, a technique in which plants are grown, literally, through a mesh or screen.

Cannabis plants flowering in a SCROG setup

Cannabis plants flowering in a SCROG setup

Let’s explain a bit more about this growing system.

Growing marijuana with the SCROG method

To use this method we only need from 1 to 5 cannabis plants for each m2 of crop. At the end of the flowering stage, the result will be the same regardless the number of plants, since we’ll get exactly the same yields using one, three or five plants. The only thing that may vary is the time needed to harvest our plants. Continue reading

How to grow marijuana plants in mapito

What is mapito ?

Mapito is a growing substrate used by Dutch growers on indoor crops due to its features, like excellent oxygenation or  moisture retention . It’s composed of rock wool and polyethylene flakes.

Mapito bag

Mapito bag

Before using mapito we must stabilise and wet it correctly. The method is quite easy and similar to rock wool slabs. On first place we must clean the substrate to leave it free of impurities or salts which can increase the EC levels. To clean it properly, we should place all the substrate to use in a bucket full of water, and with an EC level as low as possible, from 0.3 to 0.4.

Once we have washed the mapito we must stabilise and set its PH at a range of 5.5, so we start the culture with an EC level as low as possible and a stable PH, for a correct feeding of the plants from the beginning.

Mapito is a substrate that, must be wetted before its use to get an optimal results, since if it isn’t well moistened its capacity to retain moisture will be seriously reduced. It’s important to keep it wet during 24 h, seizing this period to stabilize the PH level.

Advantages of mapito compared with rock wool

Mapito and rock wool are two similar substrates with similar features and excellent results for growing of marijuana on hydroponic systems.

3.5L Plant pot filled with mapito

3.5L Plant pot filled with mapito

As we mentioned before, mapito is made of rock wool and polyethylene, and sold in form of unpacked flakes and shavings. This form of flakes is ideal since it can be used in plant pots, allowing to move the plants if needed. With rock wool slabs , plants can’t be moved since it exists the possibility to break the roots or the main rootball and so damaging the plants.

There is, on the other side, the grade of oxygenation, which is high on both substrates, but we should highlight that mapito – as being granulated – has an extra degree of oxygenation compared to rock wool. The high levels of porosity of mapito make this growing media to be really suitable for growing in hydroponic systems and plant pots.

The moisture retention on both substrates is similar, but with mapito we gain more oxygenation and moisture retention compared with the classic rock wool slabs.

At the moment of placing it inside the plants pots it’s important not pressing it too much, because if this happens, the root development of our seedlings will be disfavoured.

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How to install a hydroponic growing system for marijuana plants

How to assemble hydroponic growing systems

Nowadays there are many ways to grow marijuana plants, but today we will focus on hydroponic growing systems. One of the advantages of hydroponic systems is the explosive growth of the rootball, what entails a greater vegetative growth and therefore a higher final yield of our favourite flowers.

Marijuana plants in rock wool slabs

Marijuana plants in rock wool slabs

The first thing that we must take into account about hydroponic crops is that our plants live in an inert substrate such as coco fibres, rock wool or clay pebbles  (expanded clay). There are also systems known as NFT or aeroponics that consist of spraying a thin film of nutrient solution on the roots, which are hanging in the void sustained in netpots. This means that the adequate nutrient solution needed for each stage of the plant’s life is directly supplied to the roots mixed with lots of oxygen in each watering.

Next, we will focus on how to mount a hydroponic system with coco or rock wool slabs for a growing space of 1 m2.

All the needed materials to make the assembly and those that must be taken into account are the following:

  1. 90L Water tank
  2. 1200l/h Water Pump with built-in flow control
  3. 1.00×1.10 m Growing Tray
  4. Drip irrigation tubes, 20 mm Ø (4m length)
  5. Hose, 20 mm Ø (1m length)
  6. 2 T-Connectors
  7. 1 Bend-Connector (Elbow-Connector)
  8. Metallic flanges for water, 14 units
  9. Plug for the end of the duct, 3 units
  10. Microtubes, 25 units
  11. Droppers, 25 units
  12. Digital Timer 1 minute (on/off) for the water pump
  •  Drainage, composed of:
  1. Small 40 L water tank

Homemade hydroponics

The first thing we have to do before starting to assemble the system is cleaning and disinfecting the space that we will use for the crop: even if it’s a growing tent, a room or any other place prepared for growing marijuana plants.

Once disinfected the growing zone, place the 1x1m growing table.

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How to water cannabis plants in hydroponic systems ?

Bud flowering in coco coir

Bud flowering in coco coir

How to irrigate cannabis in hydroponic systems?

Marijuana is a plant that adapts very well to changes, we can choose any of the different growing media on the market to easily grow it. The most common methods of cultivation are; soil and hydroponic systems – an inert substrate like coco coir, clay pebbles, rock wool or mapito – without forgetting the aeroponic systems, a growing method which is now increasingly used.

Between the different hydroponic and aeroponic growing systems we can find clear differences among the used substrates, although they are all inert. We will have to keep in mind all these differences when setting up our growroom. The fertilisation or fertirrigation in hydroponic systems will vary depending on the chosen system. Then, how to know what is the best way to fertilise our plants according to each system?

We’ll start discussing each substrate separately and analyzing their virtues and faults, so that each grower can easily choose between his/her favourite hydroponic growing system and understand its functioning, advantages and disadvantages.

Growing Marijuana in Coco Coir

Coco Coir, as it’s well known, is an organic substrate from the fibre that surrounds the coconuts, the fruits of the coconut trees. After being processed and treated, it will be suitable for growing marijuana or for other agricultural uses. The commercial coco coir that we find for growing marijuana usually has a granulometry – thickness of the coconut fibres – quite appropriate for a balanced retention and evaporation of the humidity.
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