Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Saturday, June 24, 2006

If you can't stand the heat...

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), yes the same stuff that humans exhale, is essential for plant growth. Commercial growers of marijuana use it to double their yields and grow healthier, more robust plants. As a humble, small-scale medpot grower, I thought I’d give it a try. The results have been excellent (see the picture in last week’s posting)!

The red object in this week’s picture is an old-fashioned CO2 generator. I managed to get it for a good price, used. It burns propane gas to produce the carbon dioxide. A cleaner, cooler method is to use a CO2 emitter system, which releases controlled amounts of the gas from a bottle containing compressed CO2 that has to be refilled periodically.

The latter method can be completely automated. You can set the rate of injection (depends on the size of your room, the number of plants, the intensity of your light[s]) by means of a controller that is linked to a regulator via a solenoid valve. You calculate the square volume of the area you want to fill with CO2 and preset the level (let’s say 1200 parts per million). A built-in light cell will shut off the system during your night cycle.

Needless to say this system is more expensive than the one I have. The propane gas burner option has a pilot light, which is connected to a solenoid. A timer switches on the solenoid, which then ignites the burner and presto, you have CO2 filling your grow room. You have to build a shelf for it high up on the wall, since CO2 is heavier than air and will sink. In order to get it to the leaves that breath in the gas, it has to be above the plant canopy. You can also hang it from the ceiling, provided you insert strong enough hooks to hold the weight.

CO2 treated marijuana plants require more watering and nourishment, than untreated plants. Luckily, Advanced Nutrients Medical (my company of choice) has a lot of experience with just the proper amounts of nutrients necessary for a CO2 room and they are not shy about sharing this knowledge. I use 100% organic nutrients made by this company and the results are always terrific!

One drawback with the propane burning method is the heat generated by the burner. In the sweltering heat of summer some air conditioning is necessary to cool the room to a manageable level. I temporarily solve this problem by not burning CO2 during the summer months. In the fall, winter, and spring the heat is not a problem, provided you have two strong fans, one bringing cold air in, the other pulling hot air out.

Commercial grow ops solve the heat problem by installing either air or water-cooled air conditioning systems in their grow rooms. Another difficulty is the pilot light of the CO2 burner, which confuses the plants during periods of complete darkness. That’s why the red box around the burner is designed to obliterate any light coming from the pilot.

Normal room air has around 300 parts per million of CO2. In order to ensure the optimum growing environment for your medpot plants, that should be increased to 1200-1500 PPM. Good Luck!

posted by Wes @ 4:53 PM


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