Depending on your system and the space available purchasing more expensive equipment can hinder your grow rather than provide benefit. It’s up to each individual grower to decide on monthly costs; electricity can always spike causing more problems for your budget.
Soil vs Hydro
This among many others should be your first question, if you have seeds already soaking and you’re just now deciding which medium to grow in the answer the answer may not be so simple. I recommend preparing at least a week in advance for how to handle each week of growing. 20 minutes a day is really all it takes, per plant or for your entire garden is a good rule of thumb.
Deciding to go soil or hydro can get confusing, certainly you woukd think soil is more organic and hydro full of chemicals. Thinking this way is kind of a catch 22, yes soil sustains organics more, however it’s also up to the grower to keep a beneficial soil sustainable for the plant. Organics can be applied to hydroponics as well, certainly Aquaponics takes the cake for most complete/full organic-hydro system.
*Medium then Nutrients and vice versa*
Keep this in mind for each grow, transplant and any time you are working in the garden. Whatever nutrients you add to your medium will not benefit you or your garden (plants and grow bed) when mixed incorrectly. There is some forgiveness with soil, but with the cost of amendments any mistake is worth avoiding. Hydro depending on the line is full of salts or a few unnecessary comounds that are otherwise wasted space in that container, especially when mixing nutrients. Quickly can a ‘correct balance’ of mixed nutrients nuke your plants to death, regardless of ratios you add /gal water. Less is more and none at all is best, for both soil and hydro.
- Soil or Hydro
- Nutrients – ‘how organic’
Grow space and containers will be the other points to mess around to make sure costs are balanced and the garden can grow to its fullest potential.
5gals buckets was what I grew up thinking is the traditional growers container size. Size and how many transplants will always need fine tuning per garden, the mediums temperature is dependant upon how much medium there is as well. Grow mats with too small containers can damage roots and in larger containers if there is not enough airation mold can occur, control over the environment is best achieved when both ideal and worst case scenarios are acknowledged and prepared for.
I find it best to avoid warming the roots, unless absolutely necessary and your conditions require it. If the plant is growing there will be potential root growth once the medium permits it, maintaing the water and its temperature is the best you can do for slow roots. Roots are like raw nerves exposed to whatever they lie in. Amendments and medium need to allow for root development but ultimately these are for the plant above ground, not the roots.
*Temp first, lights last, no exceptions*
Heat is a hazard, there is not much to debate on this, except maybe to argue what else may be as hazardous in the garden. Growing your own cannabis is easy enough that adding extra costs and safety risks is entirely unnecessary, especially for those who would otherwise still be purchasing their own medicine. At some point upgrading lights will benefit your grow tremendously, however without the experience of what’s been discussed above lights won’t benefit you.
CFLs can burn your plants, that should say something to their power at least in 2017. I’ve found low wattage CFLs to be best for seedlings, supplemented with a low wattage LED and then depending on grow move them under a t5, only supplementing with LED for mothers and plants ready for flower.
- LED (~35-100 watts)
These are enough to successfully grow 2’+ plants from seed to veg. Flower height is dependant on the training but easily if left untopped these low cost light sources can grow a decently tall plant. It is from my experience vigours training and topping under these lights after a generous amount of pre-vegging allows for a more developed plant. Untopped you risk loosing light penetration when raising the light to support the plants height. Applying training techniques to reduce the height while maximizing node development greatly benefits from low cost light sources since a close proximity to each plant/node is more sustainable.
You can grow for show or you can grow for what your budget supports. Ultimately your budget will always be what decides your grow so don’t expect high cost equipment to supply a great high in return.