Organic Vs. Chemical
After a number of successful harvests you are looking to achieve ever greater yields and to try out all kinds of new ideas from the growing scene. Since you now have the basic knowledge under your belt it seems like a good idea to try some fun experimentation. There are after all loads of possibilities, such as putting lots of small plants in a single square metre or raising just a few large plants. You might want to try topping your plants. Discovering for yourself the differences between these various growing methods is educational, and will serve you in good stead later when it comes to choosing the system that suits you best.
There are also a thousand-and-one different grow mixes and other media such as coco and mapito… the choices are endless. And we have not yet even touched on the thousands of different varieties that all differ from each other in their growth and bloom characteristics. The one variety naturally works better in one system than the other. In short, there is so much to experiment with that you could quite happily try new things until you’re 90-years-old without ever exhausting the possibilities.
So, you’ve already taken a large step forward, but the fact is that there are always new media being dreamt up, new varieties and hybrids are constantly being developed and new growing systems come on to the market continuously, to the extent that you will never be able to say that you have tried everything out. Which is just great.
That said, for me it is high time to give in to the lure of the water pool and try out hydro growing.
There is of course a running debate as to the merits and demerits of hydro and bio. It is safe to say that hydro produces bigger harvests and more rapid growth than bio (organic). On the other hand, bio weed does have a better taste and effect, even if the average Joe Toker will not notice much difference if he has both dished up in front of him.
From those who dislike hydro, you will often hear repeated that a decent grower using bio soil can get just as good a yield as someone growing on hydro. This is true of course – if you’re talking about an average hydro grower. But there is no doubt that an experienced hydro grower can get much higher yields than an experienced bio grower.
Since I could not give a toss what size harvest I get, being only interested growing good quality weed, I grow organically, Should I ever fall to the temptations of the financial reward, then it goes without saying that I’ll switch to hydro. Not because I want to but because I have to if I want to get the really big crops.
These days there are also the techniques of organic hydro and aquaponics, which should give hydro a better name. Regarding the aforementioned aquaponics, it should get a favourable mention, since the plants are fed the droppings (or whatever they’re called) of many fish, something that adds good quantities of NPK to the water, while the plants in turn cleanse the water for the fish.
Aquaponics is an integration of water culture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing in water) in a single system. First and foremost the outflow water
from the fish tanks is pumped to a part of the system to be treated with natural bacteria that transforms the fish waste (fish shit) in to a form that is usable as nutrient by the plants. Once this conversion is completed the fish waste water can be used on the plants.
It is pumped to the part of the system where the medium in which the plants are growing. It can also be used in a hydroponic system as nutrient water for the plants. The water in short is pumped through a filter that is packed full with bacterial life, and thereby transformed in to nutrient. After this the water is transported to the plants.
You can make such a filter yourself by pumping water through a vat filled with clay pebbles. It takes around 14 days to get a good bacterial life up and running. But the process happens all by itself; you don’t need to do anything. But you can also get hold of bacterial life (in liquid form) from an aquarium shop. This will speed up the process.
The system should deliver terrific buds of extremely good quality. It could also be described as ‘organic’ because there are no chemical nutrients added to the water. I recently read an interesting article on the subject of organic fertilizers versus chemical fertilizers.
In short, it was all about how cannabis plants are capable of taking up radioactive compounds and thereby cleansing the soil of them. If you didn’t know this already, cannabis plants are being used to decontaminate the soil around Chernobyl. Yes, I shit you not: the place where the nuclear pant went up in smoke. Because the soil for miles around it contains radioactive substances, cannabis – and tobacco – plants are being used to strip the radioactive substances from out of the soil, thereby decontaminating it naturally.
In connection with this, it is also nice to know that many fertilizers contain minuscule radioactive particles Chemical fertilizers contain up to five times more of these particles than organic. Knowing this, it seems pretty obvious to me that bio weed must be healthier to smoke than any raised with chemicals, whatever part of the world they come from.
Although the debate used to be all about the yield and the taste exclusively, the discussion can now be more about what is the healthiest for you. So too the smoking of cigarettes (tobacco plants) that have been sprayed en masse with chemical fertilizers is harmful.
It is these that contain the radioactive particles that cause the development of cancer cells. Just something I wanted to bring to your attention.
Choices, choices, too many choices. I have decided to go with a hydro setup with clay balls in it. You could also decided to use coco slabs or other media, such as ebb and flood, the NFT system, a grow box or a host of other possibilities. Whichever system you opt for, it is usually going to cost you a little bit of investment to get hold of the materials you need.
So anyway, I’ve gone with hydro. Also because in so choosing I am able to use the knowledge I have of previous harvests. Installing everything went really smoothly. Since I have not worked with a vat when growing in soil, I still had to get hold of one of these, along with all the pH- and EC-gizmos that I had also never used when growing in soil, but which are pretty handy hydro growing.
Personally, I don’t trust all that faffing about with water, and for that reason would always choose to grow on the ground floor or in a cellar when possible. In this way you minimise any damage should you get a leak. One of the most preventable causes of growers getting busted is leaks. The scenario does not bear thinking about: sitting quietly in your armchair when you suddenly feel water dripping on your bonce. No, which is why I feel a whole lot safer sticking to my soil.
To make sure that the vat was kept at a temperature of around 23 degrees Celsius I bought a heating element in an aquarium shop. This is perfect for keeping the water at the correct temperature. The plants after all are absolutely crazy about lightly-warmed water. Because the plants grown on hydro will be a bit bigger than usual, or will grow up quicker, I decided to let them grow a bit further apart from each other. In this way they were given enough room in which to fully develop their side branches. I pretty quickly noticed that the plants rapidly got started on hydro and began their growth immediately. After a few days of growth it is easy to notice the difference. After they had taken a week or so to get up to speed, they were growing several centimetres a day. The growth phase in other words does not need to last long before they can be brought in to bloom. If I were to give themjust another week then they would surely turn into a veritable rainforest.
I tried to check the pH and EC regularly and keep everything within the right parameters. So far it has gone very smoothly. As an addition to this I have to report that I have been using a special hydro nutrient. Specially developed for growing in water, in other words. I kept it really simple and tried not to use too many boosters and other additives that might have influenced my pH and EC levels. Fortunately, I did not come across any problems. Growing on soil I quickly realise when something is amiss, but since hydro was new to me there was a chance that it would be harder for me to get to the root of any problems.
After a couple of weeks’ bloom the buds began to develop very nicely. They had already reached a good size and smelt nice and sweet. There was clearly an explosive bloom underway and the buds were already bigger than they would have been at around the same time if they been grown on soil.
Because plants love oxygen I used a small aquarium pump to raise the oxygen content of my feed water vat. This they also seemed to enjoy and they responded by putting out new white hairs on their increasingly fat buds.
The harvest was getting visibly closer and looked furthermore to be squaring up to be a great one. So I was also pretty busy getting everything sorted for making my drying space ready. I also got my trimming shears together. One thing I find very handy are those small white nets on which you can lay buds for leaving them to dry. You can safely stack a couple on top of each other.
I find the attic the best place for drying out buds. It is never too warm and never too cold, at least not at my place it isn’t. There is always a perfect temperature of between 13 and 20 degrees Celsius. With this the buds can dry out nice and slow, ripening as they do so. Afterjust a few days the smallest buds were already dry and ready for trying out. After two weeks most of the other buds were also ready, though the really huge buds took up to three weeks.
The bloom is nearly over and so I only give my plant fresh water with the right pH, so that the plant uses up all its nutrients and if needed, draws more from its own leaves. This causes them to turn yellow, but that is normal. Sometimes some varieties react very weirdly to this nutrient shortage and develop lovely-looking red or coloured leaf shoots.
During trimming I noticed that the buds were nice and hard and bursting with THC. As usual, I collected up all the leaf trimmings and let this dry for a few days. This material was on the border between wet and dry and is perfect for making water hash out of. I froze the leaf material overnight and did indeed make a lovely water hash the next day. The quality was as usual very high. The only problem is that you get so used to it that you’re kind of spoilt. When you’re forced to go back to regular hash, having been using this very high quality stuff itjust doesn’t taste right, or has only a very mild effect.
But while the buds were drying out for three weeks I was able to enjoy my water hash. It is really useful to be have access to your own supply of great quality (water) hash while your buds are still drying out. I was never tempted even for a second to try and sneak a bud and dry it out quickly to try out; I was able to resist this temptation and let the whole harvest ripen properly.
I would strongly recommend that anyone who has ever been tempted to dry their weed too hastily in order to try it out gets their hands on an Ice-O-Lator. With one you can easily and quickly get your hands on your very own top quality hash for use while you wait. If you are so impatient that you simply can’t put off sneaking some weed too early, then you can stick your fresh, wet leaf trimmings straight to work after your harvest. Within a few hours, you be smoking away to your heart’s content.
Once your buds have finished drying and your hash supply is almost used up, it is time to test them out. Now I should mention that my sense of taste is not very well developed, and frankly I can not tell the difference between hydro and bio. But even though the hydro buds look fantastic, with loads of THC smothering them, and I got a great yield, I would still rather grow in soil and use organic fertilizers. Not because it tastes better, but simply because bio is and always will be, healthy. Or to put it another way, as healthy as is possible. And if I have to give something up on the yield then I do so with pleasure. That’s not to say I will never experiment with hydro again – I will, if only for the thrill of experimentation and trying out new systems. But at the end of the day, I will always come back to good old soil. Coco also interests me a lot, primarily because you can grow on it for months with no loss of yield or increasing the risk of sicknesses. Clones root superbly and rapidly in a good, airy coco slab.
To sum up my adventures in hydrogrowing: a shorter pre-growth period is needed, a sumptuous bloom leads to great yields and regular checks on the pH- and EC-values are vital. Onwards to the next system…