Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tap Water, Sweet Leaf, and Coco Coir

While I’m waiting for my plants to grow and my sex selection process to be finalized, I am installing water filters on the intake pipes of my reservoir. We used to have relatively clean water coming from our taps in our municipality, but I’ve noticed lately that the water in the reservoir turned cloudy as soon as I opened the tap.

Tap water is either hot or cold. The cold water pipe doesn’t have as much calcium and sodium built up in it as its hot water equivalent, but I’ve been told to let the water run for a few minutes just to make sure that it’s as pure as it gets.

On the hot water side, you have rust, lead deposits, salts and calcium. That’s why when you fill a glass with hot water it’s much more milky than when you do this with cold. I haven’t even mentioned the chlorine and the flouride that most cities add to their water supply.

So I’m installing a carbon filter on both the cold and hot water taps. A reverse osmosis filter would probably be better, but I can’t afford one right now. I use as little of the hot water as possible to bring the temperature of my solution up to the desired level.

I usually keep my reservoir at 60º to 65º F, and the temperature of my grow room at 70º to 75º F during lighting periods, and about ten degrees cooler during periods of darkness. The reason I keep my reservoir cooler than my air temperature is because nutrient solution at the cooler temperature holds more oxygen.

Borrowing aquarium technology, I use an airstone in my reservoir to aerate the solution, as well as a small aquarium heater, so I don’t have to use too much hot water to regulate the temperature of the liquid.

An airstone is necessary even in an ebb and flow system like mine, since the porous nature of clay pebbles and the suction of air into my buckets each time they drain, is still not enough to supply my roots with much needed oxygen.

I remember the time when my roots were getting slimy. This was before I was told to use Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice at half strength in hydro. I panicked and called the Advanced Nutrients Medical tech guys right away.

They suggested that I should stop administering the root colonizers immediately, and to flush my system with a mild solution of HyOx. This interesting product delivers oxygen straight to the roots in the form of hydrogen peroxide.

If I weren’t using root colonizers, I could add HyOx into my nutrient mix at the rate of 1 mL per Litre, two or three times a week. However, the concentrated oxygen in HyOx will kill off the beneficial microorganisms that are colonizing my roots, when I use Piranha, Tarantula, Voodoo Juice, as well as SensiZym.

I never pour HyOx directly in its concentrated form into my reservoir. I always dilute it at a 6:1 ratio before I pour it in. HyOx is corrosive—keep it out of reach of children.

The suggested rate of application when flushing your system is 30 mL per 4 Litres or 1 Gallon. However, I used it at half strength, so I flushed with 15 mL per Gallon.

This killed off about half of the microorganisms in my root systems. Then I was advised to add the four root colonizers also at half strength, in order to help recolonize my roots with the beneficial fungi, bacteria, microbes, and enzymes.

SensiZym contains extremely bioactive key enzymes, such as chitinases, glucaneses, and proteases. These are able to split apart complex carbohydrate molecules, such as those found in harmful fungi and plant debris.

SensiZym does not harm the beneficial fungi in Piranha. On the contrary, by breaking down the plant debris and harmful pathogens in your grow medium, it helps feed the beneficial fungi, bacteria, and microbes contained in the root colonizers that I use to enhance the growth of my cannabis plants.

Chitin is a polymer of N-acetyl-glucosamine. Chitinases are commonly found in nature, secreted by microbes living in the soil. Advanced Nutrients includes only certain types of chitinases enzymes in SensiZym, ones that function well at room temperature.

Studies have shows that the growth of beneficial fungi is promoted by simply adding chitin to the soil. The chitinases in SensiZym help the Actinomycetes and the Trichoderma in Piranha. These good fungi consume the bad fungi tryijng to harm your root systems.

What actually happened to cause my roots to become slimy was that by using the root colonizers at full strength I encouraged too much of a good thing and the beneficial microorganisms grew in such large numbers that they caused this mishap.

As soon as the HyOx reduced their numbers to a manageable level, the symbiotic balance was restored and my roots became healthy again.

“What are the major concerns of medpot growers these days?” I asked the Advanced Nutrients Medical tech guy the other day. “All our products are being well received. Sweet Leaf has very good reviews in terms of how it enhances aroma and flavor, and people are happy with it.”

“Some people are even experimenting with using Sweet Leaf through the flush cycle. A caller yesterday said that using it in that way tremendously improved his flavor and smell.”

“On the other hand, it increased the time the final product needed to dry. He cured slower at the end, but he got a better product. The general consensus is that we make the best products on the market.”

Just out of curiosity, I asked what media people grow their medpot in these days. He said that out of every five growers, two grow in soil, two in coco coir, and only one in the other hydro media. In the last category, it’s a fifty-fifty split between rockwool and clay pebbles, but the use of rockwool seems to be diminishing.

“Why are people shying away from using rockwool?” I asked. “I think it’s because of the limitations. It comes in pre-cut blocks of various sizes and if you want to expand, you have to stack these things. And when you water up through two six-inch blocks of rockwool, it’s not always easy. People find that clay pebbles are just easier to manage.”

I’m glad I made the choice of using clay pebbles in my six-bucket ebb and flow hydroponic setup. On the other hand, coco coir seems to have become very popular as a grow medium while I wasn’t looking.

“It’s huge! We sell a lot of Monkey Juice, which is specifically designed for coco. But if they use coco, I always tell them to have a bottle of SensiCal standing by. Just because coco can lock out things faster than the other grow media.”

“It is acidic to start with, so when you buy your coco you have to wash it well and it may take one or two grows to balance it out. So I tell people that if the plants show deficiencies to use SensiCal and work on correcting the pH.”

“Coco grows by the seashore and it has a lot of salts in it. If they don’t wash it properly, the salts are left in the coco. And that can bring your pH down. It’s time to use pH Up, in that case.”

So even though Monkey Juice has extra Calcium nitrate in it, the tech guys are saying that if you grow in coco, you should have extra Calcium handy.

posted by Wes @ 9:16 PM


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