High Level Tips for Hydro

Discussion in 'Hydroponic Growing' started by DT4, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. I have already built phase one of my grow room which includes a 1000W, air cooled light system and a 4x4 ebb and flow table with 24-6" netpots filled with hydroton. I have a pretty good plan layed out for my first grow and I'm expecting some amazing results! My goals in order, are to maximize quality, maximize yield, and to minimize the cost. I will also lean toward shorter grow cycles whenever possible. My operation is a legal MMJ grow setup, so I will recoup my investments through sales to dispensaries and reinvest back into my system over time.

    Although I have not completed my first grow yet in this new room, I am already planning to buy a second light and build a second hydro system and I want to begin thinking about ways to achieve my goals above both during this first grow, and to determine if there are any design changes I need to make for my next upgrade/grow cycle.

    Right now my system is a very simple ebb and flow table and I've seen similar setups in action and they work great. My only real concern right now is the cost of the nutrients and amount of water that will be wasted - my container sits underneath my table and is somewhat short and wide; there is space between the pots that takes up a lot of water; i'm thinking i will need to top off at around 35-40 gal weekly to support this system. So I've been considering purchasing or building a controller so that I can build an ebb and flow setup with buckets to go under the second light. Aside from the additional "controller bucket" needed, if designed correctly it seems like the best solution to achieve my goal. Can someone help me determine what pot sizes and reserviors would be needed for a 16 bucket setup and how much of a savings this would be over my current setup? Is there a better design, perhaps one of those PVC pipe type systems, that would better suit my purposes?

    I am also looking into different growing techniques such as topping and SCROG. I'm pretty sure by my second grow I'd like to try adding a screen over my existing table as this method seems simple, logical, and will increase the yield and keep quality and yield fairly consistent across the plants. Are there any other techniques I may have overlooked that I should look into? Keep in mind I don't want to add a ton of complexity or maintenance to my grow, but I'm willing to consider the ROI if it contributes to my success.

    Finally, I wanted to talk a little about the pros and cons of the grow medium I'm using. My local grow shop swears by coco, but I really like the way hydroton works and I know it gets great results. I like that it's reusable so I have nothing to buy for each grow except for nutrients. It does look like a lot of work to clean them each time, but at this point I think labor is an acceptable tradeoff for cost savings. I don't think switching to another medium (unless I try aeroponics, which is a little too sensitive for my taste) will help me achieve any of the above three goals (improving quality, quantity or cost), but are there any alternatives I should consider and if so, why?

    I'm sure I will have more questions as my first grow progresses, so I appreciate any help or advice offered, in advance. Thank you,

  2. Bump... anyone? I could use some tips and have more questions... :)
  3. How are you flooding the table right now?
  4. It's just a simple table with the reservior below. When my timer kicks the pump on, the nute soup is pumped up into the table, until it hits the overflow drain (about 4" of water, give or take - the table slants a little for better drainage). When the timer stops the pump, it all drains back out.

    I was thinking I could conserve quite a bit of water if I were to fill in some of the empty space in the table with something. I really don't think the roots are going to need that much space. I'm just not sure what to fill it with. Soda cans? (I think the aluminum might not be good) Glass jars filled with water? (A little expensive for what they're doing) Rocks? (If I bleach and rinse them really, really well?) I was also thinking of just filling it in with hydroton but that's costly as well and a ton of extra work. Any other ideas?
  5. If the nute soup returns to the res (as it should) I don't understand why you are worrying about water conservation?
    I use a flood table for early veg growth. I add a layer of hydroton a couple of inches deep and then sit the 4" rockwool cubes I cloned into on top and let the roots grow out of the bottom of the cubes and into the hydroton. I flood 4 times a day for 3 mins (just enough to cover the hydroton) and have great root masses when I transplant 2 weeks later
  6. what are your questions?
  7. The amount of water I'm using is more than is necessary - which also means I need to use more nutrients to achieve an appropriate concentration. Over time this adds up signifigantly and is just wasteful. Right now I've got hydroton in net baskets, but all that space between the net pots is just wasted. I could just fill it in with more hydroton, but it seems like that would be more work than is necessary. What else could I fill the space with? Could I just get a bunch of large river rocks, clean them really well, and them stick them in my flood table, between all the net pots? I even thought of using soda cans or glass jars. I'm basically just trying to reduce the volume of water needed to get the flood level in my tray up to 3-4", and I've got a cover that goes over my table so it doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it doesn't mess up my nute solution. Any reason the river rock would be a bad idea?
  8. I'm hoping someone will just read everything I wrote there and give any general tips (i wrote some questions inline) based on the goals I'm trying to achieve. I don't have a specific question.
  9. how about MORE pots?!?. fill the space with a Sea Of Green!!!!
  10. Unfortunately I'm limited to 45 total plants (legal limit) and I'm planning to add a second light, so I figured I'd do 24 in a table, another 16 in pots (second light) and keep 5 mothers. I suppose theoretically I could do 40 in the table under one light and shorten my cycle by a few weeks, but overall I think I'll still get a higher yield with more light and larger plants, right?
  11. Shorten your cycle?? You can't just tell a plant to be done...shortening your cycle will just give you premature buds:( your goals are very ambitious but you should get through a few cycles and learn from them. The best way to learn is through your own mistakes.

  12. you CAN shorten your cycle by cutting the veg down. Thats what hes talking about with the sea of green approach. more plants, less time. Hes doing fine :)
  13. Hey Ace, some folks I know are doing exactly that - 1-3 week veg time, producing shorter plants that focus most of their energy into a single top cola, and maturing a few weeks sooner. My first grow is using a similar method and I expect similar results, but for my second setup I want to increase the yield (hopefully keeping quality the same). I'd like to stick with Ebb & Flow, but I'm thinking about building buckets that will sit on the floor instead of the table setup. Aside from just using larger buckets, can you recommend any changes to my current methods to increase the yield?
  14. more light :)
  15. I'm planning to add a second 1000W light for these 16 - I'm just trying to figure out if I can get a larger yield with 16 pots on the floor vs. 24 in a table as it'll give me about 2-1/2' more height.
  16. you could always make your table lower. The res could be a pond liner with 4x4 outsides
  17. True, I could actually build a really cool table with an upper and lower tray that would be lower than my existing table and probably reclaim at least a foot or so of vertical space... but I think i could grow much larger plants in 5 gal buckets, no? My concern would be that I couldn't maintain the same quality in a larger/taller plant.
  18. #18 trichome fiend, Dec 28, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2012
    ...use the Lucas formula for a lower overhead on fertilizers. (floramicro, and florabloom)
    ...bake your hydroton in the oven, the heat sterilizes the rocks and the roots will turn brittle and srink, falls right off to dust.

    ...I have some good ebb/flow tips linked in my sig if your interested.
  19. DAMN trichome!!!!!! sick ass calculator!!!!!
  20. Thanks for those tips bro, everything helps... I'm thinking about baking the hydroton, but I have a lot of it so I don't know how practical that will be - I'll still have to rinse it pretty thoroughly. How much can you stick in your oven at a time and how long do you bake it for??

    I don't know about the Lucas formula. I've seen it. I believe it works and would save money, but I don't know if it's optimal for quality. I'm looking for that happy medium - right now i'm using GH 3-part with some supplements - but once i get everything dialed in really well i may start mixing my own nutes.

    Good links too, i'm going to have to go back and reread your e&f tip page when i can wrap my brain around it lol.

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