Have you ever wanted to grow your own crop of OG Kush, New York City Diesel, or Northern lights – but felt you didn’t have the experience, time or energy? While that may have been true in the past, with today’s technological advancements for the clandestine closet cultivator – the home grower can now save thousands of dollars a year by easily growing their own meds. While some systems are more elaborate, there are some which are both simple to set up and inexpensive to make.
In a San Francisco, Sunset District apartment – a nondescript three-bedroom apartment just a short walk from the Haight-Ashbury district, a pot smokers dream is maturing under a low heat florescent grow light. Flowers glistening with THC encrusted crystals packed in a discrete 10′ x 10′ grow tent containing more than 25 maturing females in a hydroponic ebb and flow system, that cranks out 1 pound of Buds every 90 days. With a hectic schedule of work, family and maintaining the social activities of the modern family, this time-saving system grants the average overburdened grower the freedom to be both a good parent – and a damn good grower with only the minimal amount of time, effort and money.
These rudimentary hydroponic systems can be easily constructed within just a few hours, utilizing materials purchased at your nearby Home Depot or Lowe’s; timers, roles of black visqueen, fans, PVC pipe, pumps and trash cans. Those items not easily found at your local hardware store can be readily at your local hydroponic store – easily located online.
The fundamental idea behind the ebb and flow system is that water is stored in the reservoir, situated on the floor and is pumped into your elevated cultivation trays for approximately 15 minutes each day, allowing for the nutrient rich water to be recirculated time and again – as it directly drains back into the waiting reservoir below.
The cultivation trays utilized for this project have the dimensions of 40” x 20” x 7” – dependent on the dimensions of your grow room, these trays can be any size. As this trays dimension holds 50 Grodan Delta 6” x 6” rockwool grow cubes and is suspended above its own large nutrient rich reservoir, the simplest construction technique for your elevated cultivation table is two purchase to sawhorses and a sheet of 4 x 8 plywood. Putting the sawhorses 2’ feet apart and laying the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood on top of the sawhorses you have now created a stable platform for your cultivation tray. Placing your cultivation tray along an interior wall will provide substantial stability needed during the flowering cycle. In addition, the wall will provide a stable smooth surface for applying reflective mylar, useful for increasing lumens and ultimately flower production.
Now it’s time to set up your cultivation trays for the reservoir pipe feed and overflow drain pipe. Measure and drill two clean three-quarter inch holes in the bottom, at least 1 foot apart lengthwise, making sure that they are even at opposite ends of the tray. Be careful! The white plastic reservoir trays sold for this purpose tend to be brittle and can crack easily – which may lead to a bust creating leak. With your grow trays elevated on the sawhorse above your reservoir, measure and drill matching holes to allow the three-quarter inch pipe’s to pass through.
Fittings, pumps and putting it together:
Attach the feed and overflow drain pipe fittings from below into the elevated cultivation trays above, making sure to utilize plumbers tape in the screw fittings, and making sure the rubber grommets seat properly to avoid leaks later. The cultivation tray should be slightly angled placing the feed-pipe fitting with the drain at the bottom of the grow tray, as the water will drain back into the reservoir through the attached feeder hose when the pump has automatically turned off.
After that is been accomplished, connect the half-inch pump hose from the reservoir to the feed pipe fitting; trim the pipe as necessary. Then connect the three-quarter inch overflow drain hose below the tray to the drain fitting. The drain hose can be trimmed as needed so the overflow remains above the waterline in the reservoir. For your reservoir and cultivation trays, an inexpensive alternative to expensive pumps is offered by aquarium systems. Their mini jet 404 pump (approximately $25) is a great alternative to other more sophisticated systems, but any similar hydroponic pump will suffice.
As any grower will tell you, there are many different types of lights out on the market today. Some are geared towards the more industrial growers, utilizing vast amounts of electricity. While others are more friendly to the average home grower’s wallet. For the purpose of this discussion will be talking about the lesser expensive route. While low heat florescent lights are great for producing clones, propagating their tender roots without the fear of burning, they are also functional for vegetating and flowering, provided they are subsidized with additional light sources.
In addition to saving a wad of cash, low watt fluorescence lights will prevent your space limited plants from being tempted to outgrow their clandestine environment. While the size and yield will be limited, the quality, flavor and flower will not be affected. Low watt fluorescent lights will keep the meter reader from suspecting you and your unit from doing something out of the ordinary. Additionally these lights create substantially less heat – meaning a reduced heat signal – resulting in the greater likelihood of not being visited by your local police.
After first locating the studs in your ceiling and securing an eyebolt, suspend your light fixture above the cultivation tray, utilizing a quarter inch nylon rope and a small pulley. The pulley system will be useful as your ladies stretch for the sky; allowing for a single person to raise their lights without help.
Now that the hard stuff is done – the real fun begins. Assuming that you have already preserved a mother plant with desirable genetics; it’s time to start taking cuttings. To begin use a clean razor blade that has been cleaned of any oil, cutting at a 45° angle – making sure not to pinch, dip your cutting into general organics bio root solution to first wet the stems. Next dip them in bontone rooting powder prior to placing them in their 1 inch rockwool cubes – which have already been pre-soaked in a Bioroot solution to correct the pH levels. The cloned stuffed cubes are then ready to be placed in their rooting tray and kept moist and covered by a clear dome and lit under one 4’ x 4’ florescent and grow light. Providing a heating pad under the clone tray, set to medium, will exponentially increase your success rate and clone time. After approximately 2 weeks white healthy roots should appear protruding from the edges of your rockwool clone cubes. At this point your healthy young ladies are ready to be transplanted into 6” x 6” rockwool grow cubes and placed in your cultivation trays to vegetate.
Transitioning from vegetation to budding:
Once the cloned ladies have been organized in their cultivation trays, a quick three-week vegetation cycle begins, with the florescent light array on for 18 hours a day. Most cultivators generally use organic nutrients to make a tea which is then poured into the reservoir. Any good vegetation recipe should include bone meal, cottonseed meal, seabird guano, bat guano and an array of micronutrients. Filling the reservoir until it’s approximately three quarters full with reverse osmosis water, mixed with your nutrients the solution is then recirculated through your cultivation tray during the flood cycle and is drained during the ebb.
In the beginning when the plants are small and the risk of drying out is minimal, the pumps can be operated on a manual basis – flooding the trays as necessary, every other day. But as your ladies grow and their hunger increases switching the pumps to their automated settings will provide the home grower both peace of mind and time away from the crop.
Convincing your ladies to go from vegetation to flowering is as easy as turning back the dial. Going from summer to winter in the flick of a switch, it is necessary to decrease your photoperiod to approximately 10 hours of cultivating time – and 14 hours of restful darkness for 8 to 12 weeks – depending on the type of genetics utilized.