Soil 👉 some type of hydroponic

Hey yall,

I have been thinking and reading about switching to some type of hydroponic system.

I have read the pros and cons for various types of hydroponic grow systems. Now I am looking for practical advice from you experienced folks.

I would be growing 12 plants at time. I have a 240sqft grow room. 2 HLG 600R-spec lights and everything else that is needed to grow in soil, I have been using FFHF.

I don’t want to spend more than $3000. What I am looking for is advice on what type of system and why.
examples: Nutrient film technique vs. Ebb & flow vs. DWC vs. Aeroponics vs. Hydroponic drip vs. Wicking… Maybe there are more types I am unaware of.

Then I will look into what product.

I have zero exposure to hydroponics so please excuse an ignorance.

Thank you all in advance.

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A lot of people prefer ebb and flow for the fast turn around, auto pots for their hands off capabilities, and deep water culture for general growing purposes. NFT isn’t seen too often, but it definitely works too.
All have benefits and disadvantages, but really depends on what you prefer.
@Myfriendis410 may be able assist your also.

Most hydroponic systems are custom built, using general plumbing parts. You can buy a complete package, but they’re expensive, and don’t always work for your space.

High pressure aeroponics has been done, but it’s the most expensive option out of any of the above options.

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Do you want to grow large plants (12) or a bunch of smaller plants (ebb and flow): this is kind of the big difference between them. That said; @imSICKkid does top watering every hour on a timer using Jack’s 3-2-1 and a timer. Grows wicked dank but smaller plants using 1 gallon fabric pots.

DWC I would stay away from unless the ‘bucket’ is large enough to hold a meaningful amount of solution. RDWC (adding a reservoir and check-rez) is a much more solid setup as you in theory have enough nutrient solution to damp down the swings in PH and TDS that a smaller rez won’t allow. You can also grow big plants. You will need a fair amount of stuff to build one but I’d stay away from kits and design your own. Likely you are going to need a chiller to go along with your system. A standing rez can be picked up at your local automated carwash for nothing or next to nothing FYI. Just be sure to get one that had soap in it and not wax. Yellow-topped totes are great for RDWC.

Autopots are simple and do grow a larger plant than ebb and flow or thin film etc but not typically as large (in my experience) as RDWC. My last couple of grows were with Autopot XL’s and you can pull 12 oz of flower (dried) from one plant with this setup.

If you are going to clone one mother plant and grow out a bunch of plants for maximum turnover, ebb and flow is your huckleberry: a perpetual grow doing this is IMO the fastest turnover you can do.

I would be happy to assist you; just tag me in to your journal with questions and I can tag some other hydro growers who will all be happy to help.

Hydro is highly technical and does require you to think about plumbing and electrical along with how the system works. If you aren’t mechanically inclined then I would suggest doing top-feed in coco or use Autopots.

You will see some amazing growth when you leave soil. I’ll never grow another plant in anything but soilless or hydro.

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@Covertgrower and @Myfriendis410 have said everything…

I think coco is the easiest learning curve and I love autopots so that would be my suggestion.

RWDC grows monsters but with fast growth comes fast failures, risk reward thing and I’ve seen many struggle but also many be successful.
Getting into coco even if you just top water for a grow or two at least then you’ll understand soil less grows much more before you jump into fill hydro.

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I jumped straight into hydro instead of soil. I use both now because I was gifted a soil plant and then two more and then two more and so on. Weird state I live in - people find out you grow and suddenly they’re handing you clones.

Anyway - I went DWC with 5 gallon buckets, and it was a mistake insofar as there’s no way to regulate the water temperature, nutrient solution, yadda yadda. I have since converted it into an RDWC and a half (I haven’t gotten off my butt and finished connecting my 4 veg buckets and given them a reservoir yet to check levels from). The roots are much healthier and happier in the RDWC and while my plant ain’t big (she was grown to maturity in the DWC arrangement) the buds are disproportionately large for her size. She’s about 12” tall and about 10” of her is covered in buds that are still growing.

As others have said, there’s not really anything inherently “plug and play” about this, but a reasonable budget makes life much easier because you can start with the right stuff the first time. Some basic understanding of plumbing is good.

If I could build a custom set up with a reasonable budget, I’d go the aeroponics route. I.e. a fine mist sprayer on a timer to soak the roots and drip dry. I think there’s a journal by @MAXHeadRoom (who is no longer here I understand) that goes into the basics of an aeroponic system and honestly it was what got me on this forum back in May or June. Did a LOT of reading before I joined. I couldn’t afford the mental energy it took to figure out an interval timer and reservoir and so on at the time, having never successfully grown a tomato before. DWC was a viable alternative. RDWC is even better.

Since you’re talking 12 plants, aeroponics may not be the most accommodating to a budget, but in all of this the most expensive part for my set up, by leaps and bounds, have been my lights (approx $600 by now) and the water chiller (approx $400). If you already have the lights from being in soil, well, hardest part is over.

Well. You may find that your plants outgrow your lights if you grow yourself 12 monsters in an RDWC system but that’s a later problem. :rofl:

There’s videos on YouTube from PA Hydroponics they custom build any thing you want

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Once you grow Hydro, you’ll never grow back…haha, get it??

Anyways, First, let me say this, cancel out dwc. It has the potential to be a challenge with high maintenance for anybody. In all fairness, folks do grow nice plants in dwc, but some have struggled

I will never cut down any of the other methods mentioned above because folks here have proven over and over, they grow nice big plants.

I started with coco and grew nice plants.
Then I contemplated the dwc route and thought about all the work that would go into growing the way I wanted to. Definitely not for me.

I settled on designing my own rdwc system. With the help of folks here, yt, and just some good old fashion life skills. I ended up building me a 22 gall system. I have a 3’x5’ flower foot print.

image

I only have a 10’x5’ room to grow in, If I had the room I would have at least two different systems. That way if something goes wrong while your not checking them, you wont loose the whole batch. (Just a precautionary advise)

That’s roughly 16’x16’ room. You can fill that size room with 6 plants easily spaced 3’ apart with enough room to make a 3’x3’ scrog, and with just enough room to get around each plant to trim and work the scrog.

Best advise to give someone, ASK before doing something your unsure of. Folks here are extremely knowledgeable with their hobby.

A question to ask yourself,
How are you gonna do water changes?
Got to have water handy. Running that many plants is not something you want to do with 5 gal buckets.

I use Jacks because it’s supper easy and cheap.
My system like others is a,
“set it and forget it.”… (For the most part!) Which is why I said, “while your not checking them”… You can get lazy running rdwc… This I know… :crazy_face:

I would not waste time running autos. Too unpredictable.

These are my two Lambs Breath autos I got going at the moment.

Which ever route you choose, let us know if we can help.
Good luck! :+1: :v: :sunglasses:

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I screen shot your diagram. I’ve been doing coco with auto watering out of a 27 gallon res but this seems even easier after setup with less waste and not very encouraging for fungus gnats which are a plague for me right now. Thanks for sharing. I’ll send u pics when / if I do this

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Could you advise me on flow rates for RDWC? I can’t imagine that the flow rate needs to be much more than a trickle…

It’s more a matter of flow. If you get an exchange of liquid every 10 minutes or so you will be fine. It’s as much to maintain solution temps as it is to refresh salts. I think I used like a 160 gph pump, submersible.

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I plan on using a 55 gallon drum as a solution reservoir.

A 2" main supply pipe off of the drum, with 1/2" supply lines off of that to the buckets. Do you think a gravity feed system will work if I raise the drum above the buckets?

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You might rather use a check rez fed by the main reservoir via float valve and pump. This will maintain ideal liquid level throughout.

There are a ton of different designs to look at on YouTube FYI, all touting pros and cons of each.

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Point well taken

I have been usthe FF trio and Cal-Mag for my soil grow.

Can I use this stuff with RDWC or do I need different nutes?

You can but FF is one of the most expensive and finicky to use. A whole bunch of us have been growing using JR Peter’s “Jack’s” with a 3-2-1 program: Part A and B along with Epsom Salts. It’s a dry nutrient line weighed and mixed in water then fed. Very forgiving, very broad range of acceptable solution concentration and grows good cannabis. You can do a search on the forum for info regarding it.

Bruce Bugbee of Utah State and Apogee Instruments. Very good video using JR Peters.

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Just finished the tops to my veg tent hydroponic containers. It was kind of a PITA cutting the holes for the 6" net pots.




They will go in this.

Also have a reservoir container. Still waiting on some parts.

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Is this the stuff I need?

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That is correct @NYDon but you may want to check the Jacks site, and pick up epsom salt locally.

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So long as the Epsom Salt is fragrance free.

You’ll want to get some cal mag and silica along with PH up and down and that’s it.

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@Covertgrower & @Myfriendis410

Thank you my friends. I have up & down from General Hydroponics and a big jug of Cal-Mag. I’ll order some silica