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Cannabis Cultivation Methods

The topic of growing Cannabis is complicated and understanding the different methods is important for success.  Determining whether to have your garden indoor, outdoor or in a Greenhouse is the first step.  Next, you must decide which method you wish to use.  Below is a breakdown of the different growing methods and a description of their advantages and disadvantages.

The most common growing method is to use plain, good quality dirt.  This method is typically used by small grow operations and is both easy and inexpensive compared to the other methods available.  This allows the grower to use standard fertilizers instead of the specialty formulations required for soilless applications.  However, the disadvantages are substantial.  Standard dirt can be contaminated with pests and will need to be cured before use.  Also, Cannabis grown in dirt tends to yield a lot less than other methods, which isn’t very efficient.

There are many soilless growing methods, which are preferred by the larger producers.  One of the many different inert grow mediums is called Coco Fiber or Coir, which is a natural fibre extracted from the husk of coconut and can be used instead of peat moss.  Another medium to consider is Rock Wool, this product is made from spinning molten basaltic rock into fine fibers which are then formed into a range of cubes, blocks, growing slabs and granular products.  The advantages of using these inert mediums are that it is easy to use, can produce a better yield and has less contamination like dirt.  The biggest disadvantage is that this method requires special fertilizers, which can be more expensive.

The hydroponic method of growing plants is done with water instead of soil, delivering nutrients from water that is enriched with liquid plant food directly to the plants’ roots.  An advantage of using this method is that it provides more control and typically produces a much bigger yield then plain dirt would with less risk of contamination.  However, this method requires much more equipment, which means it can be expensive and is more labour intensive.

There are many ways of delivering the nutrient-rich water to the root system.  The simplest type is the wick system.  This passive system draws the water solution from a reservoir into the growing medium with a wick.  A more common method is to use deep water culture.  This method completely submerges the plant roots into a reservoir and uses air stones to oxygenate the water.  The Ebb and Flow system works by temporarily flooding and draining the grow tray with nutrient-rich water from a reservoir.

Another hydroponic method is called the drip system, which uses a pump that drips nutrient-rich water onto the base of each plant from a separate reservoir.  The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a method that is becoming more popular with the large producers.  This system pumps a constant flow of nutrient-rich water from a reservoir into the grow tray, over the roots of the plant.

Aeroponics is another method of growing Cannabis and is similar to the NFT system.  The major difference is that instead of the water dripping into the grow tray, this system mists the roots which are suspended in the air.  This method reportedly provides the biggest yields of all.  The disadvantages are the substantial equipment expenses and labour required to monitor the system.

Last, but not least there is Aquaponics.  This method combines both aquaculture, which grows fish and other aquatic animals with hydroponics.  This system is highly compatible and customizable with most methods of hydroponics and can be merged with growing fish.  The plants are fed the aquatic animals’ discharge or waste and the vegetables clean the water that goes back to the fish.  Because of this the system requires no fertilizers and uses less water than other hydroponic methods.  Aquaponics is very labour intensive and requires more attention to ensure no system failures happen and so on.

There is no completely perfect method to cultivate Cannabis and deciding on which method to use is personal, it depends on how much time and money you can invest.  Another deciding factor is learning what your personal skill level is and if you are more of a beginner or more advanced.

Everyone seems to know someone who is growing Cannabis for either medical or recreational uses these days, you can too!  Read this past article about getting your garden started!

References:  Wikipediapowerhousehydroponics.comgrownrogue.comMedical JaneSimply Hydroplantcaretoday.comAGRITECHTOMORROWThe Aquaponic Source, Wikipedia, The Permaculture Research InstituteUW Ecuador Aquaponics,  thedailygardener.com.

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