A Beginner's Guide to Coco

Discussion in 'Coco Coir' started by TheWatcher, May 1, 2012.

  1. #1 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2012
    I'm going to keep this as absolutely short and simple as I possibly can. Any questions about any stage, just ask.

    This is not meant to be a guide as to how to set up your tent/room, and works on the basis that you already have adequate air exchange and circulation within the tent. Both of these factors are very important and you should get them in place if you haven't already.

    Growing this is as simple as it gets and I hope the A,B,C outlay, and the basic delivery will put that into perspective. So, here we go.

    Before you buy nutes, check the EC & Ph of your water. This will help you choose the right nutrients to use. Most companies' nutes come in hard and soft water form.

    What you need.:

    A Ph & EC meter.

    A Good Quality trusted brand coco

    The feed for each stage of the cycle as follows:

    Baby feed

    Veg feed

    Bloom feed & pk.

    Some citric acid or other ph adjuster. I like citric crystals because they don't alter EC and can be used throughout. To use them dissolve in hot water and add that as you would Ph down.

    All the plants in this thread are grow in pure coco with no amendments. My advice to anyone is, if you are working with a good quality coco, one which has worked for other growers time and again, do not amend it with buffers such as dolomite etc because there is absolutely no need. If you're working with a brand of coco which needs adjusting, buy a different brand of coco!
  2. #2 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
    Step 1: Get a bottle of this [​IMG]

    Formulex is a one part baby feed and is as good as any on the market and is all you need for the formative stages of growth. It's all I start with.

    Start in seed cups and place the seed about half a cm/quarter inch deep, water the pot til run through with plain water and leave in a warm place.

    In a couple of days they'll pop the surface. As soon as they do, put them within an inch of a fluorescent light. Provided your coco is not pre-fertilised, once they have shed their shell and sprouted two tiny leaves, start them on EC 0.5 of Formulex, Ph'd to about 5.8.

    All nutrient calculations in this thread include the background reading of my tap water. My tap water comes out at 0.2, so when I say EC 0.5, I have actually only added 0.3 of the formulex.

    In another day or two they'll look like this, at which point I'll put them into 1L pots and onto 0.8 - 1.0 EC of formulex.

    Attached Files:

  3. #3 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2012
    Just 1 Week of growth later they look like this, by which time the EC is bumped up to 1.2

    It's important to get a good root ball in a 1L pot, because that allows you to transition into whatever final pot you wish. The 1L root ball will sustain the plant while it finds it's way through the larger pot.

    Don't start seeds or clones in big pots. It is inefficient, time consuming, and adds potential for problems.
    Allow the plant a good start in a small pot which is easy for you to maintain

    Attached Files:

  4. #4 967, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
    edited so as not to ruin his shit..
  5. At this point I will top the plants.

    Just fold the new growing shoot over on itself while it's still delicate and tender and it gives a clean and gentle snap. No need for knives/scissors etc because that can damage the baby shoots next to it which will ultimately become the next main branches.

    This is what that looks like up close, as well as a group shot of all the topped babies.

    Attached Files:

  6. #6 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
    You can see the tiny shoots on the stem in the left hand photo above. Well, at that point they go from 1L pots under the fluorescent, to 11L pots placed under the 600.

    And Just 12 days later they have become this

    When you top early the side shoots begin life as main branches at an early point and when you get them under the power lights at an early age it allows them to build really thick main branches.

    The lighting period throughout the whole stage is 24/7, with the occasional break

    Attached Files:

  7. #7 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2012
    Feeding In Veg

    By this point they're on roughly 1.2 - 1.4 EC of formulex, which should give you a very good general idea of how they feed through this early stage of their life, and how quickly and healthily they come on on just formulex and nothing else.

    The Key to this stage of growth, as it is through all of the veg period, is to keep an eye on two things:

    The first thing to watch for is the very lowest main fan leaves for paling. Sometimes it can be a general plant thing, but if your feed is close to spot on, it'll only show on lower foliage.

    This is the first sign of nitrogen deficiency. It just means your plant is a bit hungry and will indicate that you need to up the EC by 0.2. That's it.

    Go easy with adjustments and whatever you do don't expect the leaves to return to their bright green because that won't happen. What you will see is a continuation of healthy growth and the lower leaves will stop paling. you're back in the optimum feeding range again.

    The second thing to look out for is hooked leaf tips or tip burn. This is when the very tip of the fan leaf curls down or the very tip becomes yellow/brown. This is the first sign your plant is a tad bit overfed. The plant will generally be a darker green when this happens and the foliage can have a slightly waxy look to it.

    Again it's nothing major and just means you should lower the EC of the feed by 0.2. You can also feed plain water once if this happens, before resuming on a slightly lower strength feed.

    These really really should be the only issues you will face in the vegetative stage of growth. The plant's needs are met perfectly by a feed such as formulex so the only issues you should ever come across are slight under or over feeding, and how closely you pay attention and quickly you react, determines how close to perfect health your plants stay throughout veg.

    Water the plants when the top of the coco looks dry. You'll get a good feel for when they need watering, but coco is not soil, and can be watered more frequently. There is no need to let the pot completely dry, just as there is no need to keep it constantly wet. Plenty of growers will tell you both ways are the only way to grow, which only tells you one thing - they're both wrong.

    Coco can be watered when you please. Just don't let it dry out too much or you will cause irreversible root damage. Therefore It's always better to be slightly too wet than slightly too dry.

    Always water your plant til run through to make sure the root ball is completely saturated. Use saucers to collect the run off. Occasionally you can feed plain water til run through and tip away the excess. There should be no need to check EC or PH of run off in coco in order to keep your grow in perfect health. If there is, then you need to change to a better quality of coco or pre-treat it first. Good brands of coco such as Canna and B'cuzz are ideal to use straight away. Always buy good quality coco.

    These are the basics of plant feeding and the first lesson you must get under your belt

    And that's the first part done for tonight. Smoke break......
  8. Before I shoot off, let me just emphasise one thing

    Always keep the roots warm

    Never let the root zone temps fall below 19c. Allowing this to happen will cause issues that can easily be mistaken for nutrient problems. It'll stop the absorption of key elements and slow the plants growth drastically.

    Keep your thermometer at pot level to measure this and take high/low readings from the lights off period to see what is the lowest temp to which it's getting in there. If you need to, get a heater in for lights off.
  9. Yo Watcher, keep it going maing..
  10. i've been growing in coco for over 10 years. i think if folks knew how easy it is for hydro, more people would try it. i never feed anything at all until i have 3 alternating internodes, or around day 11, whichever comes first. some people feed from the beginning, but the cotyledons provide for all the plants need early on. i use house and garden coco specific nutes and some of their supps. i never really concern myself with the root-zone temps. unless it's winter. then i ensure it doesn't get too cold. it's good to see someone else out there that likes it so much to start a thread on it's use. kudos for you!!!
  11. #11 967, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
    Them some pretty plants. Do you use 100% coco? I'm a fan of perlite myself, but then again my plants dont look that nice so young

    What do you mean by the light cycle throughout the stage is 24/7 with the occasional break? Whats the break for?
  12. I've edited the first post to say yes, I use 100% coco. You can mix in a little perlite if you want, but it'll increase the frequency of watering and the dust is something I'd rather not work with personally.

    The light cycle is 24/7. I might give maybe a 6-8 hour break every few days. I figure the plants might need to do some restorative processes during the dark period, so I give them a little sleep every few nights, maybe once or twice a week. No more to it than that really.
  13. Some coco has a base nutrient in it. If so, they'll keep the plant going through the first week or so no problem. But bear in mind that plant in the second post is 11 days old, and if it had only plain water, would have been very hungry by that point.

    This is why it's important to understand your plant and why in this guide I talk about the basics of feeding, rather than the set adherence to a formula. I strongly believe that every grower should be able to read their plants to at least a basic level. Not only does it make growing more enjoyable, but gives you a sense of knowledge and control. You might switch to a different coco/genetic/environment, and well before 11 days see signs of hunger, yet still be in control even though it contradicts your regimen, because you understand the plant and the basics.

    Root zone temps should always be monitored, especially in cooler climates where even in spring it gets to levels during the night which are detrimental to the plant. In the heat of summer, yes you're ok, but here in the uk my heating is still on very low through the night to keep it above 18c.

    19c keeps the roots power switched on. It really is as important as that. If people knew this they'd treat it with much greater respect. You let the roots get down to 15,16c? Then you've shut the power down to it's nutrient supply and it suffers as a result.

    In the heat of summer, yes, you get a break from all that. Which is nice. But summer brings it's own brand of trouble...

    Indoor gardening eh?
  14. #14 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
    Pot size vs Light Wattage & expected yield

    So, what pots to use?

    First thing you need to do is know what you're aiming for. This will determine roughly what pot size you should use and how many of them you'll need in order to achieve it.

    Let's use a 600W as a guide.

    Using a 600W bulb, a gram per watt of light obviously equals 600g. That's just under 22oz.

    So how much coco do you need to safely be able to get that amount?

    Before anyone jumps in talking about what's possible, we're talking safe here, and these pots will safely get you than much, no problem.

    A general guide is as follows:

    15-18L is good for 6oz

    10-12L is good for 4oz

    5L is good for 2oz

    Smaller pots = more frequent watering and a higher possibility of drying out as well as more numbers, but also = less veg time and in some cases a quicker turnaround.

    Larger pots need a longer veg period, but reduce plant numbers and frequency of watering.
    large pots/planters are my preference, although I often use 11L.

    Use the pictures above as a guide as to what size they grow to and how quickly.
    Flip them at the right time and don't try to get too much veg growth out of a pot or growth will suffer as a result.

    The plants in post number 6 are roughly 3 weeks old and have been in 11L pots for about 10-12 days. They are about 12" tall. I will give them another day or two veg, then flip them. By the time they've stretched, they'll be roughly 2 and a half feet tall and ready to yield roughly 4oz give or take, provided they're given adequate space.

    The key is to get a good rootball in a 1L pot, then go straight into your final pot, whatever size you choose. If you have a separate veg space you could even do just 2 plants in 30L planters and grow some big beasts. You'll easily yield 10oz+ from these if they're kept in good health and it's such a fun way of growing. The finished plant does give some great photo opportunities ;)
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  15. #15 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
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  16. Trimming
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  17. Flipping to 12/12 (Bloom)
  18. well, i thought this was gonna be a good tutorial for folks wanting to try coco. you don't even mention one of the most important parts of coco and that is run-off. also, unless your environment is way out of whack, monitoring root-zone temps. is totally unnecessary.
  19. #19 TheWatcher, May 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
    It's one of the first things I mention actually. In the seed cup stage. I'll edit it to include all pots.

    If you're one of the people who believe in monitoring the ph and EC of the run off, and making sure you always get 30% out of the bottom, then you and I have different ideas on how to grow in coco and I am fine with that. Gardeners the world over have differing opinions and the results prove what is and what is not important.

    This is a beginners guide. If people follow it they will get very good results. I'm trying to emphasise how important it is not to let the roots get cold. A lot of new growers face this very problem which is why I put it in here. I put it in based on the countless sick plant posts on this board and others which ultimately derive from cold night temps. It's a simple point to make sure they don't get cold in the night. I'm really not sure why you'd want to argue that.

    I successfully get a GPW of very healthy bud, using the least amount of nutrients and work. I don't want to delve into run off measurement etc because it's my belief that it is completely unnecessary. This is my guide for people to see how easy growing in coco is. It is not to be complicated.

    If you want to discuss any of this further could you please put it in the relevant topic, and I will happily discuss it there.

  20. i didn't see a word about run-off. coco was made for run-off, and if you want the best results from coco, you should be getting it every feed. no, i don't mess with run-off ph/ppm/ec at all. if you properly ph everything, it isn't necessary. those numbers will always be different from what you put in because of the plants feeding/drinking. i don't think 30% run-off is necessary, i get 10-15% and that's plenty. just enough to wash out the old and add new. yes, i agree letting the roots get to cold/hot isn't good at all. but unless you have them sitting on concrete in the winter, they should be fine. but, obviously your method works well for you.

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