Cultivation requirements

Cannabis needs certain conditions to flourish.

Growth medium
Soil is required, except for cannabis grown with hydroponics

Sufficient nutrients—commercial soil bags usually indicate this as “N-P-K = x%-y%-z%” the percentages of the fundamental nutritional elements, i.e., Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Nutrients are often provided to the soil via fertilizers but such practice requires caution.

pH between 6.0 and 7.0. This value can be adjusted – see soil pH. Commercial fertilizers (even organic) almost always make the soil more acidic (decrease its pH).

Warmth
The optimal day temperature range for cannabis is 24 to 30 °C (75 to 86 F). Temperatures above 31 °C and below 15.5 °C seem to decrease THC potency and slow growth. At 13 °C the plant undergoes a mild shock, though some strains withstand frost temporarily.

Light
Light can be natural (outdoor growing) or artificial (indoor growing).

When artificial light is used, from the germination until the flowering stage, the plant typically remains under a regime of 16–20 hours of light and 4–8 hours of darkness, although the plant can use a full 24 hours of light without harm. When the plant reaches the flowering stage the regime is typically switched to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

Water
Watering frequency and amount is determined by many factors, including temperature and light, the age, size and stage of growth of the plant and the medium’s texture. A conspicuous sign of water problems is the downward wilting of leaves. Too much water can kill young cannabis plants. Plants are occasionally sprayed with water to fend off under-watering in small steps.

Nutrients
Fertilizer burn on a leaf

Nutrients are the food of plants and come in the form of fertilizers that can be chemical or organic, liquid or powder and may contain several elements (see also: fertilizer). Commercial fertilizers must indicate the levels of NPK (mentioned above). During the vegetative stage, cannabis needs more N than P and K, while during the flowering stage, P is more essential than N and K. The presence of secondary nutrients (calcium, magnesium, sulfur) is recommended. Also there are seven micro nutrients (Iron, boron, chlorine, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum) that are not extremely important and rarely manifest as deficiencies.

Fertilizers are vital for good cannabis growth but must be used frugally to avoid burning the plant. As a general rule, half the amount suggested in a bottle may be given each time.

Because cannabis is acclimatized to virtually every growing region on Earth, its nutrient needs vary widely with its genetics and can truly only be determined with experience. Chemical plant foods vary greatly maker to maker, and some can be used at full strength, or the strength listed for plants with large fruits like the tomato.

How Hydroponics is helping the eco-system

‘Hydroponics’ is the new method of 19th century, also known as aquaculture. It is a method of cultivating plants using liquid nutrient solutions, without soil; yes the soil is not required in this method. Normally, for any terrestrial plant soil acts as a mineral reservoir, but in this method the soil is not required for the growth of a plant. Hydroponics has gained popularity in the global market in last few years.

But, hydroponics should not be confused with soilless culture. There is a slight difference between hydroponics and soilless culture. Soilless culture does not require usage of soils with clay or sediment. Also, hydroponics requires many mineral nutrient solutions, which are not used by soilless culture.

Hydroponics has proved to be a very beneficial in the market place. The most important advantage of hydroponics is, it requires no soil. The other advantages are: the cost is less as the water in the system can be reused; the nutrition level can be controlled, so lower nutrition cost; it is eco-friendly because there is no nutrition pollution released; and because of the container’s mobility there are fewer chances of pests and related diseases.

But of course, all methods have their own limitations. Even hydroponics has few disadvantages like: it creates an environment that stimulates salmonella growth, which can cause abdominal pains and diarrhea in human body; the plants require different fertilizers and containment systems; and, pathogens attacks caused by high moisture levels associated with hydroponics.

The two main types of hydroponics are solution culture and medium culture. Solution culture is further classified into three main categories: static solution culture, continuous flow solution culture and aeroponics. And, medium culture can further be classified in two main types: subirrigation and top irrigation.

It is very important for the farmers, applying hydroponic method, to make a careful decision as to which medium they should use, as different techniques have different medium. Hydroponic farmers can make a choice of mediums, which are as follows:
(1) Diahydro;
(2) Expanded clay;
(3) Rock wool;
(4) Coir;
(5) Perlite;
(6) Vermiculite;
(7) Sand;
(8) Gravel;
(9) Brick Shards;
(10) Polystyrene packing peanuts; and
(11) Wood fiber.

Hydroponics has been the most beneficial and preferred method by people who are fond of vegetable gardening. The method has been successful in providing tasty, nutritious, and good quality vegetables and fruits. Because it is pest free it is most favoured in international markets. No need to worry about the excess water or little water. It is a very consistent method.

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How to Grow Using Hydroponics

To grow plants like vegetables outdoors successfully, you need the correct balance of nutrients, soil, oxygen and sunlight. But if one of these elements is lacking, you can still grow plants in a controlled environment like a greenhouse. Many people, however, also develop thriving indoor gardens using hydroponic techniques. With this method, you can eliminate the factor of soil condition because you grow your plants without using soil. This type of garden puts chemistry and plant science to work for you.

Choose containers for your hydroponic garden. You can use a regular flowerpot filled with a soilless growing medium that holds the plant roots. If you want to use a hydroponic system with plants in water only, you should consider using a plastic container or trough.

Lighting
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Select your plants. You can grow almost any vegetable and many fruits using the hydroponic method. Novice hydroponic growers can have success with vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Consider fruits like strawberries and melons such as cantaloupe or watermelon. Root vegetables like potatoes and turnips can be difficult for beginners.

Pick a sunny location for your hydroponic crops. They need as much sun daily as any plant that grows in soil. Most growers recommend a minimum of six hours of strong sunlight. Your location can be indoors or outdoors, depending on your preference and weather conditions. If you select an indoor location, you will have the option of supplementing the available sunlight with grow lights from a hardware store.

Construct your garden. You can order manufactured hydroponic kits from specialty garden suppliers, or you can assemble the materials you need and build the system yourself. Virginia State University suggests that beginners use a simple hydroponic system that only requires a 3- to 5-gallon plastic container, an air pump, a plastic mesh tray that holds the plants and a soilless growing medium that supports the root system. Your growing medium can be sand, gravel, coir (coconut husks) or vermiculite.

Prepare the container for planting by adding 1 to 2 inches of gravel or sand to the bottom. Place the air pump on top of your medium and plug it into an electrical outlet. Add enough plant nutrient solution to fill the container to a level of 2 inches below the top. Place a mesh tray over the top of the container.

Insert your plants in the tray, allowing the roots to hang down 1 inch into the solution. Start your pump when you have finished inserting the plants. The pump will provide oxygen to the plants’ roots.

Monitor the level of nutrient solution in your container. Add more solution as needed, usually one to three days. The frequency will depend on how many plants are in your container.

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