In keeping with the theme of correcting commonly misquoted marijuana terminology (see my first post on THC percentages) I am hittin DRO. I’m sick of that corner pusher telling me he’s got that dro. As a rule of thumb: If you don’t know the grow, it ain’t dro.
I’ve grown soil and I’ve grown hydro. I’ve grown organically and non-organically. I can tell you that there is no definitive way to tell if it is hydro just by looking at the buds. While there are characteristics- “Dro is lighter in color”, “Smells sour”, etc… these are all characteristics of other properties of plants as well. There is no one way to tell just by look, touch, or smell.
So if you wanna know dro, read on- I’ll review the four most common methods of Hydroponic cultivation.
Hand feeding is the cheapest way to grow hydro. The set up and materials are the same as if using soil, except for rather than using soil, a variety of alternative mediums are used. Vermiculite, perlite, rockwoll, or coconut all work. I recommend coconut for this method and it is the most common hydroponic medium used in hand feeding.
To hand feed you just pour the nutrient water solution over the plant and it drains through coconut instead of dirt. I recommend using coco specific nutrients.
It qualifies as hydroponics because even when its put into a planter and hand feed, as you would soil, because it is so fluffy- even when drenched- it contains 50% air. Air in the root mass is critical, and its one of the reason hydroponic growers often out yield soil growers.
Hand feeding with coco is a great way to do a first grow. Especially if you want to grow hydro but are afraid of the science involved.
Deep Water Culture (DWC) / Bubbleponics:
DWC is the most common type of hydroponics. They are easy and cheap to build with things from your hardware store. And unlike soil they can be left for a couple of days or even as much as a week without constant tending.
A DWC is basically just a Rubbermaid with a fish tank air pump blowing lots of bubbles up towards the lid. The lid has baskets hanging from it, so that the root mass is suspended over the water and the roots swim in nutrient water and oxygen. This method is perfect for the personal medicine garden. Deep reservoirs allow for monster plants when compared to the small planters of the other systems which often develop shorter plants with less branches as a result of a smaller root space.
This is my favorite method, and has yielded tremendously compared to when I used to grow in soil. However, it does require a knowledge of the plant and the necessary science. I use pH meters, Electrical Conductivity (EC) meters, and PPM meters. Along with state of the art nutrients it can add up quick for an expensive yet bountiful harvest.
The Ebb and Flow or Flood and Drain:
These are some of the most common hydroponic operations as they are easy to manipulate. They consist of a reservoir that has a water pump in it, that pumps water up to a table where plants sit in permeable planters or bags. The water floods the table and the bags or planters become soaked with nutrient solution, the table then drains, and the bags dry. This flood and drain happens 2-3 times a day.
These systems are great because they can be recirculated much longer than the others, which can save big bucks on nutrients. They work great for medium sized operations. Also because they sit up on a table- they are often used by medical growers who are wheel chair bound- allowing them the freedom to tend their gardens.
A variety of this method (unpictured) is called the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). In NFT, rather than the reservoir being below a table- the reservoir is a recycling river that runs through a tube which plants are suspended in. This is the common PVC pipe systems you may have seen in magazines or your cool uncles basement.
The Drip system:
In this method a water pump within a reservoir pumps water out of the reservoir and to a series of planters with any variety of grow medium (vermiculite, coco, hydroton, etc). Very similar to hand feeding, only rather than the daily labor of pouring the nutrients over the plants- it is automated by timers and pumps.
This method is good for medium to large sized operations and works well for beginning hydro growers. However because the plants are often in smaller planters they often do not develop the root mass of DWC systems.
They are also somewhat complicated with timers and pumps needing to be in sync and all drip lines clean and free of nutrient clogs.
So next time someone claims its DRO, bust their balls and ask them what kind. Chances are they have no idea, and you can tell them its just plain ol’ Chronic. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
For whichever type of hydroponic system you decide to buy or build there are a number of instructional videos available on youtube- as well as magazines and forums dedicated to the topic. Do your research, and be prepared to learn. Growing hydroponically takes it to a science, but also you will find yourself growing with the plants.
If you have any specific questions, email me Ob.firstname.lastname@example.org, I am always happy to help.
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