Hydroponic gardening is an ancient art of growing plants without soil, usually precipitated by harsh environmental conditions. Hydroponic gardening as we know it today, started in the 1860s by two German scientists, Wilhelm Knop and Julius von Sachs. However, it wasn’t until 1937 that it acquired its present name-hydroponics, from UC Berkeley professor, Dr. William F. Gericke.
Today, renewed interest in hydroponic gardening as a technique in modern food production is prevalent in Canada, the United States of America, Germany, France, and several other countries. Hydroponic gardening is for everyone. However, if you are contemplating becoming a hydroponic gardener, then here’s all you need to know about hydroponic gardening before you begin.
The Benefits of Hydroponic Farming
Before we delve into all you need to know about hydroponic gardening, let’s look at some of the benefits. First of all, you need to know that Hydroponic gardening is a very attractive and oversimplified technology of agriculture with numerous advantages.
For one, as space is one of the major concerns of today, you can grow crops anywhere with hydroponics techniques. As it does not require soil, and need quite less amount of water.
Same, plants grow in a faster pace in hydroponic gardening, which means hydroponic plant’s harvest occurs in less time. Another benefit is the reduction of soil-bourne diseases, giving you healthy and nutritious crops.
Nutrients for cannabis growth
All plants, including cannabis, don’t really need soil. What they need are some elements from the soil. These elements are: Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), Nitrogen (N), Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca). These are known as macroelements.
There are also some microelements needed for healthy growth of your plants. These include Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Chlorine (Cl), and Iron (Fe). When you grow your cannabis plants hydroponically, you mix these nutrient salts with water to create a perfectly balanced nutrient solution for healthy plants.
You can make your own all-purpose nutrient solution with all of the secondary elements to get your plants through all of the growth stages, but sometimes you will need to adjust nutrient levels depending on the stage of growth. This is why companies like Canadain Hydro Supply provide all-in-one solutions for each growth phase.
The three (3) main macroelements your plants will need are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N-P-K). Usually, when you go to a gardening supply store, you will notice on the nutrient bag a label with numbers. For example 15-15-15. What this means is that the solution contains 15% Nitrogen, 15% Phosphorus and 15% Potassium.
Nitrogen is one of the most important elements of a plant. It’s a building material for enzymes and proteins and most importantly, chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment responsible for the colour of plants and the process of photosynthesis. During the vegetative phase of growth, if the temperature in the grow room is less than 80 degrees you will need a higher amount of Nitrogen (N). However, if the temperature is greater than 80 degrees, you won’t have to worry about the higher concentration of N in the formula.
Phosphorus is also a very important element that helps plants transform solar energy into chemical energy, strengthens the immune system and helps plants to grow and mature. Phosphorus (P) is also important for the creation of terpenes, oils, waxes, and plant sugars, giving cannabis its flavour. During its flowering stage, your plant will need a lot of P.
Potassium (K) is essential for early plant growth, photosynthesis, and protein production, as well as the flowering stage. This element is responsible for the movement of nutrients, sugars and water in plant tissue. Not only that, but K is vital for plant longevity.
Non-essential additives (vitamins and amino acids)
Non-essential additives are the substances that a cannabis plant produces on its own and it doesn’t really need an external source for growth, but they can aid the growth and flowering stage significantly.
Some of these non-essential additives can be found in some of the ready made nutrient solutions, but their role in increasing plant growth has not been proven.
Fertilizers necessary for cannabis growth
You need traditional fertilisers when you grow your plants in the soil. However, when it comes to hydroponic gardening, all of the nutrients are already present in the nutrient solution. Therefore, the water you use is also the fertiliser.
When it comes to fertiliser and hydroponics the key to remember is that less is more. Too much fertiliser will kill your plant, too little fertiliser will not. The worse that can happen is that the plant will grow at a slower pace. That is why Canadian Hydro Supply recommends *****
Water and Hydroponics
As the name suggests, water is a vital component of hydroponic gardening. The water in your tank will evaporate and also get absorbed by your plants. As a result, the water level in the tank will drop. When this happens, simply refill the tank with 3-day old tap water, free of nutrients.
In addition, every two weeks, you’ll need to change the solution of nutrients. This means discarding the old nutrient solution and cleaning the entire system. Clean everything that is used with hot water. After that, you can add the water and nutrients to the tank.
To monitor the balance of macro and microelements, and correct any imbalances, you’re going to need a pH and PPM metre.. The pH metre will help you determine the acidity of the solution, which is very important for the healthy growth of your plant.
The PPM metre determines how many Parts Per Million of a certain element is in your solution. You want to know exactly how much of these elements are in your solution because you don’t want too much or too little of them in it. Also, you need different amounts in different growing phases. This process is simplified for you via the products at Canadian Hydro Supply, such as the ph Down and ph Up solutions. .
pH metres– Most of the strains for hydroponic growth require a pH level of 6.0. The allowed variation is +/- 0.2, but if you go too much up or down, it will slow down the nutrient uptake and stop the growth of your plant. You can optimise the pH by using pH Down and pH Up solutions.
PPM-EC metre– This instrument measures the electrical conductivity of the water. The more minerals are dissolved in the water, the higher the conductivity will be.
PPM-TDS – This PPM metre is a little more precise as it measures how much plant food there is in the water.
What’s important to remember is that pH levels should be between 5.5 and 6.5, depending on the strain, and PPM between 900 and 2800 depending on the growth phase.
While the pH level should be steady over the entire plant life cycle, the PPM levels change during each growth phase.
The hydroponic System Set Ups
There are different types of hydroponic systems for your hydroponic garden, the most popular being the Ebb and Flow system, no doubt due to its simplicity and ease of use. This system uses a reservoir that contains the nutrient solution that is placed under the growing tray.
The plants are supported by a soil-free medium that can be used as an anchor for the roots. Usually, the media are made of stone or fibre, and are made porous so they can retain air and water.
Other systems include the Deep Water Culture (DWC) and Drip Irrigation (ideal for our stealth growers) .
Regardless of the system you choose, one of the most important matters that require your attention is the reservoir. The reservoir holds the nutrients and water that you need for the growth of your plants. Ensure that you choose a large enough reservoir to hold enough water and nutrients for one or two weeks. It should have a lid so the water does not evaporate too quickly.
It is recommended that you buy at least three:
- One to hold tap water for 3 days so that the chlorine can evaporate and the pH neutralised;
- the second one is to hold the water and nutrients for your system,
- and the third is a spare–accidents do happen.
The reservoir should be elevated so air can flow around it, and insulated so that you can control the temperature of your nutrient solution.
Conclusions About Hydroponic Gardening
There is so much you need to know about hydroponics and gardening–they even have books on the subject. However, in this article, we’ve tried to give you all you need to know about hydroponic gardening to get you started.
Essential pieces of the hydroponic system that are must-haves include pH and PPM metres, nutrient solutions for both vegetative and flowering stages, and three reservoirs.
Yes, some of the systems require more money than others, but choose one that is right for you, regardless of the costs (it will be so worth it). While hydroponic gardening is easier than growing plants in soil, it does require some time as you have to visit your garden on a daily basis to ensure everything is okay. If it’s not, you will then make the necessary adjustments, as your plants will only grow under perfect conditions.
And don’t worry if you don’t do everything properly on your first try. That’s all a part of the learning process in hydroponic gardening. Never give up because the reward is great! There’s nothing more fulfilling than enjoying cannabis you grew by yourself.
So there you have it: All you need to know about hydroponic gardening. Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments box below.