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New grower, first indoor 250W hydro, any input appreciated.

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#1
SpaceMonkey23

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Hi everyone. I'm about 3 weeks into my first ever hydro grow. I'm still very inexperienced in growing in general, so I'd greatly appreciate any criticism that the gurus here would be kind enough to offer. Please take a look at my photos and descriptions below and let me know if you can see any avenues for improvement or potential problems. Thank you all for your time!

 

Strains are: 1 x White Rhino feminised, 2 x Super Kush regular. All began germination on 11/10/2013. All popped about 2-3 days after commencing germination. Thus, they're all about 3 weeks old right now. 

 

First: this is the current state of the grow. I've got a 250W MH lamp in a 125mm x 400mm cooltube. There is a 120mm fan at the top of the case sucking hot air out of the lamp. I know it's considered more effective to blow air through the cooltube, but I have one end of the tube open to suck air out of the cabinet in an effort to use it both to cool the lamp and also act as an exhaust vent.

 

It's a drip-fed run to waste system, being fed twice per day at 1/2 strength nutrients. Medium is pure perlite, seeds sprouted in peat plugs. Buckets are 4 litre, with about a 1 inch reservoir maintained in the bottom of each bucket. Pump is a piddly little 2W thing from ebay.

 

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Here's a closer shot of the light above the plants. It's about 30cm/12" away from the top of the plants. The plants themselves are about 10cm/4" high. There's a small 80mm computer case fan hanging precariously from the cooltube ducting (yes, this could be better!). It's a 12V fan running on a 9V power supply, and it blows constantly when the light is on. It blows just above the plant tops, causing them to rustle very slightly as if in an outdoor breeze. This alone has done a lot to improve temps at the plant level. 

 

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Exhaust fan on the back of the cabinet. As stated, 120mm sucking air through the cooltube duct and venting into the shed. I admit that this could be better if it vented out of the shed, but it's a big shed and a small wardrobe, so I can't see the venting into the shed itself really causing dramatic temp increases. Also the shed is very well ventilated, and furthermore I am running the light overnight to keep temps down as daytime temps are getting to be between 20C - 30C at this time of year. The temp inside the wardrobe is roughly 15C higher than the external daytime temp, so heat is a big issue, hence running the light overnight from 18:00 - 10:00. Thus, it's on a 16/8 schedule for veg. 

 

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This is how I initially grew the seedlings from sprout for their first couple of weeks: under 4x24W CFL globes with a home made reflector lined with aluminium foil. It was positioned about 5cm from the plant tops, and it worked great! I might try a pure CFL grow in future, because it caused next to no heat increase and the seedlings seemed to love it. I'd really like to see what you could get from a decent SCROG using a few 50W CFLs....!   :D

 

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Here is the basic dripper attachment. It drips onto the peat plug, and there are taps at each drip line to help regulate flow so it's even across all 3 plants. I tried making a home-made ring dripper but it didn't work very well. 

 

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Nutrients are a 2-part brand called 'House & Garden A & B'. Currently using at 1/2 strength and it seems OK. 

 

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Yellow bucket contains nutrients and rainwater, ph ~ 6-6.5. Testing with paper strips from eBay. Blue bucket at the back is for waste runoff. I'm getting minimal runoff now, which would suggest that I'm watering them just enough - Is that correct? 

 

Attached File  IMG_4404.jpg   210.5K   5 downloads

 

So, I'd really appreciate input from you all. I guess some of my key questions are: 

 

  1. Is watering them 2 x day with 1/2 strength nutrients enough? I was planning to build up to full strength around flowering time. They get watered for 1 minute each time. Dunno how much goes through the pump in that time... maybe 100ml or so...?
  2. The plants are about 8cm-10cm high now, after just under 3 weeks of veg. Is this too small? I put them in the peat plugs to germinate on 11/10/2013. They look nice and green and seem OK, although the leaves are looking a bit wrinkly around the edges (not burned or anything, just wrinkly). Is that a sign of anything to worry about? 
  3. The drippers are a single outlet pouring directly onto the peat plugs. Is this OK? 
  4. Any further input on anything would be greatly appreciated. 

 

Thanks so much everyone. 


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#2
buzzo

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All looks good so far


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#3
nici

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You only need to use 1/2 strength nutes for the first few weeks.  Also as it gets hotter your plants are going to fry; get a centri fan or inline and your temps will stay stable.


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#4
SpaceMonkey23

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All looks good so far

 

Great - good to hear! Thanks for reviewing it, buzzo. 

 

You only need to use 1/2 strength nutes for the first few weeks.  Also as it gets hotter your plants are going to fry; get a centri fan or inline and your temps will stay stable.

 

Yeah... I know what you mean. I've been hoping that running at night would keep them from roasting at least until harvest (ie. thinking probably around Xmas time, I guess. Not sure.)

 

Do you think that the centrifugal fans are that much better than the regular fan that I've got there sucking air through the cooltube? Is it really worth the extra money for one? 


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#5
thejudgefudge

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Is it worth the extra money for a kick arse fan and cooler grow room? 

Preparation is key because you don't want to be scrambling when there flowering and its way to hot in there.

whats you water temps like ?

Will smell not be a issue for you?

 

With the temp thing could you insulate your box and draw air from a cooler spot with a intake fan?

 

hate to see you get down the track and lose it because of heat.


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#6
SpaceMonkey23

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whats you water temps like ?

 

Will smell not be a issue for you?

 

With the temp thing could you insulate your box and draw air from a cooler spot with a intake fan?

 

Haven't tried taking water temps. The reservoir is below the grow area, in the shade, so I think it's probably not too bad. I guess the same as the external temp of the shed (high for a few hours during the day, but mostly all right). 

 

Smell is not really an issue as the shed is free standing in our own backyard. I don't expect anybody to really go in there. 

 

The intake fan's not a bad idea. I may consider venting in from a shady spot outside the shed, perhaps, if heat proves to be a significant problem further down the line. 


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#7
merl1n

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Hey Space,

That all looks pretty good, but some refinements would help. Here are some suggestions.

Airflow: You can never have too much airflow. And personally those little fans don't cut it. A centri is well worth the investment and if you decide to update your space at anytime (most of us do lol ) the centri can be used again. Also you will be needing a oscillating circulation fan too. This will stir the air in the space and remove air from 'dead spots' and the air blowing thru the foliage will assist in strengthening the stems as they flex and bow from the air movement. I'm in a bigger space but have 4 oscillating circulation fans, a centri and a can fan. Although you say that smell isn't an issue at the moment, when they go to head the odour will increase heaps, so be aware. It only takes one person who can identify that hint of odour for you to have visitors, either fence jumpers or filth.

Fluids: Once the plant has been established you need to up the strength and feeding regime. Perlite has no available nutrients, its inert. So you control all food. I'm in perlite with about 4 inch of clayballs at the bottom. Once the plant has established I'm feeding 15min/hr in a recirc system and although you are RTW, 100ml x twice/day ain't gonna be enough IMO. What is your ec?

I have a bit of a concern with your buckets and hoses. Algae needs water+nute+light to flourish. By using white buckets and clear tubing you are allowing the fluids to come in contact with the light and algae will grow. All of my system is black, pots, tubing, fittings, reservoir (and lid) the lot. All Black. No light. With the buckets you could wrap them with duct tape ( I've seen this done before) to eliminate the light. Even a glow is enough to encourage algae. Another point is do you have an air pump, pumping thru an air stone in your yellow bucket. You need to have an airstone rather than just placing an air tube in your buckets to break up the size of the air bubbles, the airstone makes the bubbles tiny. This helps to oxygenate your fluids and thus your roots. As you say you are keeping a level of water in your pots constantly it would be advisable to have an airstone in your pots. A problem with keeping your roots in water can be root rot, so again be aware. As for your water temps, I use a thermostat controlled aquarium heater to maintain a constant temp.

 

Just some advice

 

Merl1n


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#8
SpaceMonkey23

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Thanks so much for all that input, merl1n! 

 

I'll definitely consider a centrifugal fan as a next purchase. It's funny how we new growers tend to focus so much on light sometimes, but after doing a bit of reading I'm starting to see that air and ventilation is an almost equally important consideration. I'll keep an eye (?nose) on the odour issue. Was figuring that I'd try making myself a carbon filter using activated charcoal pellets and a couple of inserts & stocking material. There seem to be plans and stuff online. What do you think? 

 

Err... I have no idea what my EC is. I don't have a meter! I'm just testing PH and using the nutes as the bottles describe. Seems to be going OK so far... Do you think EC is terribly important, or can I ignore it for now? 

 

Algae is already growing in the transparent drainage tubes! :(  I installed them like that so that I could see what was going on during setup, but yeah - now I will replace them with some black tubing, definitely. 

 

No air stone, yet, but I'm thinking about it in the future. Hoping I can survive without one for now. 


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#9
merl1n

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Hey Space,

EC stands for Electrical Conductivity. Its a measure of the salts in your fluid. Here is a real basic explanation. Distilled water wont allow a low voltage to pass thru it, the more salts (Nutrient) in the water the more electricity can pass thru it. My EC meter has two electrodes approx. 20mm apart. The meter sends power from one electrode which is picked up and measured on the opposite electrode. It is measured as EC, there is another fluid salt measure called PPM or Parts Per Million. I use a salt meter called a Truncheon, it has both PPM and EC measures. Having both measures clears up any confusion as some nute solutions may have it listed as EC and others as PPM. It was expensive to buy at the time but I have never had to replace it and that's been 10yr+.

Is EC important? Very. First couple of grows I didn't have one. I used the theory that when my water heater built up with salts, it was time for a flush. I did get a crop but it was shitty fluffy bud and burned the back of my throat BAD. I used the manufacturers recommendation for nute strength. When I got the meter I found that in my system that strength was off the scale of the meter. No wonder it burnt my throat, although I had flushed, the salts were that high the flush hadn't removed them all.

To get a decent crop you need to have a few basic things in their right qualtities. Light, Air and Water (Nutrient).

Light: It has to be the right sort of light. An incandescent light(household light) gives light but the wrong sort of light, the wrong spectrum of light. I recommend HPS(High Pressure Sodium) lights. You can have two light rigs one for grow MH(Metal Halide) and one for flower HPS(High Pressure Sodium) but this is an extra expense when you can use HPS start to finish, which is what I do. Light timings are important too 18/6 during grow 12/12 for flower. There are others using 'altered' timings but for a newbie like yourself, my advice, stick with the tried and tested timings.

Air: You MUST have airflow. You need fresh cool air coming in and hot used air expelled. As I said previously, you also need that air to be circulated. The plant expels some of its waste into the air and if there is no airflow its a bit like you sticking a plastic bag over your head. Smell or odour control is a big one. If someone in the know catches a whiff................... This is why carbon filters are the go. they remove the odour. Now you can make your own but its a big job to get it right, lots of tweaking from all reports. So the easiest method is to buy a centri (you'll need one with a carbon filter) buy the filter and be done with it. Simple (Squeak) lol

Water (Nutrient): It needs to contain everything the plant requires for the specific stage of growth. For example if you feed the plant grow nutes during the flower stage the buds will be shitty cos the plant isn't getting the correct nutes it needs to develop flowers. Also in this is the pH of the fluid. Certain elements are only available to the plant at specific pH levels. Too high or too low and certain nutes are locked out from being used by the plant. And of course, EC. Aeration of the water is also a must IMO. An airpump and air stone you can pickup for $20-30, helps keep your nutes healthy.

Now I said to you about black tube. Don't be using common polypipe. It kinks real easy and once kinked its fucked. There is tubing available that is a mix of plastic and rubber. It bends round corners without kinking and even when folded completely in1/2 it springs  back to its original shape and NO KINKING.

 

All of these things are basic, then you can get into the more technical shit later. Refinement.

Go have a read of the Cannaversity page. There is a tab link at the top of this page. Lots of good basic info in there that covers different growing methods

 

Merl1n


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#10
SpaceMonkey23

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Thanks again, Merl1n. I am on a fairly serious budget here, so I'm going to take the same attitude towards EC as I do towards many things in life, and that is: ignore it and hope that it doesn't prove to be a problem later... ;)  Truthfully, I will start thinking about getting a meter in the near future. I appreciate your explanation, and it makes a lot of sense. 

 

Light's the really vexed issue in growing, I feel. There's so many different types. And then conventional wisdom gets challenged, just when you think that it's all clear, and somebody says that they're growing 12/12 from seed, or just under HPS without any MH or whatever. Some people love LEDs, some think they are uniformly terrible. 

 

And yes - I discovered the rubber poly pipe at my hardware store, and damn it is so much easier to work with! The other hard stuff is utter crap in comparison (although it may have its uses). 


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