Hydroponic Grow Systems – How to Choose the Right One for You.

So, you’ve decided where you are going to grow your cannabis. Now it is time to decide on a hydroponic grow system that is perfect for your site and situation.

There is no shortage of hydroponic grow systems to choose from. There are three basic types of systems, they are Soil, Soilless Mixes, and Hydroponics. We will be focusing on hydroponic grow systems in this article.

Let’s jump right in a find you the perfect grow system to get you started growing your own medical marijuana at home.

Bubble Buckets.

Bubble buckets are perfect for single plants or a small group of plants. They are easy to maintain. Therefore, bubble buckets are perfect for beginners and those who only want to grow a few plants. These are a mini DWC grow system. You can purchase bubble buckets in a complete kit like this one here.

In addition to their ease of use, bubble buckets are also a great DIY project. There are only a few items that you will need. These include a 5-gallon bucket, net pot, air pump, air stone, and some tubing.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Bubble Buckets

  • Easy to set-up.
  • The small size allows the buckets to be set up in almost any location.
  • Less water is needed. Thus, allowing easier and quicker water changes.
  • The ability to tailor the nutrient mix specific to each cannabis plants needs. Therefore, allowing you to grow more than one strain.

The advantages quickly become disadvantages when the number of plants increases.

  • The need to change out each bubble buckets water becomes a pain when more than a few medical marijuana plants are grown.
  • Secondly mixing nutrients for each individual bubble bucket becomes a tedious chore as plant count increases.

As you can see bubble buckets can be an excellent cannabis growing system for beginners as well as those with limited space.

Ebb & Flow or Flood and Drain.

Ebb & Flow grow systems are great options if you are growing four or more cannabis plants. They are also easy to maintain. The most significant difference between these grow systems, and the bubble buckets are that there is a single reservoir that supplies all the medical marijuana plants.

There are two main styles of ebb & flow systems.

  1. The first and most common is the bucket system. These are very similar in nature to the bubble buckets. There is one large reservoir that can hold enough water to supply all the cannabis plant sites. This reservoir is connected to each bucket. A pump takes the water from the reservoir to all the buckets in the system. Then another pump brings the water out of the buckets and back into the reservoir. Here is an example of an ebb & flow bucket system that I recommend called the Flo-n-Gro.
  2. The second one is the flood and drain table. This grow system consist of a reservoir and a flood tray/table. The reservoir is large enough to flood the tray completely and is usually positioned under the flood table. This grow system typically uses Rockwool as a medium although other mediums work as well. These systems function the same as the ebb & flow except there is usually only one pump that is needed to pump the water from the reservoir into the tray and gravity allows the water to drain back into the reservoir that is sitting under the tray. Here is an example of a flood and drain system.

Advantages & Disadvantages of the Ebb & Flow Grow System.

  • Very easy to set-up.
  • Only a few parts required to have a complete system.
  • This is a versatile system that can be tailored to your location.
  • One reservoir to fill and mix nutrients.
  • This grow system allows for many automation techniques to make it even easier to maintain.
  • You can use a large variety of mediums with this set-up.
  • Having a larger reservoir means being close to a water source becomes more important.
  • As a result of having a single reservoir growing multiple strains of cannabis together becomes more difficult.
  • Salts and minerals can quickly build up in the growing media.
  • Using a flood and drain system results in a higher starting point for your medical marijuana plants and as a result, this will reduce the height you have to grow your cannabis plants.

To sum up, using an Ebb & Flo grow system is perfect for those who wish to grow the maximum number of medical marijuana plants allowed while lowering the time required to maintain their system.

Top Drip.

The top drip grow system is an extension of the ebb & flow grow system. Instead of flooding the buckets or tray you would instead feed your cannabis plants by dripping water on the top of the medium used. This is accomplished by pumping the water from the reservoir through irrigation tubing to each medical marijuana plant site. You connect an irrigation water emitter or dripper at each cannabis plant site. You then control the watering with a timer.

The top drip system can be purchased as a complete system but is also a great DIY project. There are only a few extra items that are needed in addition to what you need for the ebb & flow grow system. These include the irrigation tubing commonly referred to as spaghetti tube, emitters or drippers, and a timer.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Top Drip.

  • Potentially a lower cost to set up.
  • You can control the amount of water and nutrients more efficiently.
  • As a result of using a top drip delivery system, you won’t have the salt and mineral build-up typically associated with ebb & flow grow systems.
  • The emitters and drippers are more prone to clogging up, therefore, resulting in vital water and nutrients not being delivered to your cannabis plants.
  • Setting up this system usually takes more time.
  • Depending on the medium used absorption rates can be affected.

In conclusion, the top drip grow system allows you to be more versatile while being able to maintain more control over your grow system. Although this grow system is more complicated than the others it is an excellent option for those who are up to the challenge.

Deep Water Culture is also known as DWC.

DWC grow systems are currently one of the most popular growing systems out there. There are two types of DWC grow systems.

  1. Traditional DWC – these grow systems are mostly the same as bubble buckets but on a much larger scale.
  2. Recirculating DWC – These are the most common and are very popular, for good reason I might add. One of the best systems on the market is produced by Current Culture, check out their complete systems here. The most significant difference between the DWC and the RDWC is in the RDWC system the water is continuously recirculated through the buckets. This increases the oxygen available to your cannabis plants in the water.

Advantages & Disadvantages of DWC

  • Low maintenance after set-up.
  • Rapid plant growth
  • Large root zone to support a large cannabis plant.
  • Cost effective set-up
  • Difficulty in maintaining reservoir temperature resulting in the need for a water chiller.
  • Having a large root zone that can potentially clog the recirculating pipes.
  • Electrical outages or pump failure could result in a loss of your plants due to drowning in oxygen deficient water.

In short, the DWC grow system is for those who want to supercharge their medical marijuana grow. While all hydroponic grow systems shorten the time from seed to harvest the DWC system capitalizes on increasing the growth of the root zone which translates directly to the increased speed and size of the cannabis plant.

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