Growing Cannabis can be a very simple skill that requires hand feeding only water, or it can be a clinical operation that involves heavy investment from nutrients. Cannabis plants need water to absorb available nutrients around the growing medium and to keep the environment moist and microbes rich. Below is better explained how feeding only water to your plants from seed until harvest has multiple benefits and will produce some of the best-tasting flowers you have ever grown.
By Stoney Tark
The Perfect Growing Medium
If you think about this as a fridge at home full with every type of food and drink you could want, then you would never be short of food or need to overeat. There would be a steady balance and, every time you got hungry, you would simply open the fridge and take whichever fruit, vegetable, drink or other food was available. The exact same principle applies when growing Cannabis plants and providing a microorganism-rich habitat full of all the minerals and nutrients plants need.
There are substrates which will aid in the drainage and water retention such as perlite, vermiculite, and coco. Blended with worm castings, compost, bio-char, diatomaceous earth, and dried seaweed will produce a growing medium that is high in primary nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, whilst the compost, diatomaceous earth, and dried seaweed will supply trace elements for a long period of time. What is great about the concept of growing organically and feeding only water is that the initial investment is very little and the growing medium can go a long way.
Beneficial Bacteria and Fungi
The roots of a Cannabis plant will search out in the growing medium for available nutrients. As the roots expand and search for moisture, they will rely on water to keep the growing medium moist and airy. Beneficial bacteria and fungi live in the soil and exist in the food web acting as a key component in the fertility and integrity of a growing medium.
The way beneficial microorganism work is by forming a symbiotic relationship with the root zone to improve the nutrient uptake of the plant as well as to condition the earth. Substrates such as worm castings, hummus, and other types of guano will be heavy in microbial count and, if the growing medium does not become waterlogged or too dry, then the colony of beneficial bacteria will expand aggressively.
Good Water vs Bad Water
Knowing if a water source is consistent or safe to use for plants is very important, and there are several different ways to find out. The easiest is to use a pH pen and take a reading of the potential hydrogen level of the water sample. Next, you can take an EC pen which is used to measure the electric conductivity of a water source, which will indicate how high the mineral content is in the water. Depending on which part of the country you live in, it can result in soft water or hard water becoming your go-to source from the tap.
Another alternative to using good, clean water is to buy bottled water in bulk and to use what you need when you need to. This way you can guarantee the pH and EC will be consistent and your plants are getting the best water possible. Many growers enjoy using reverse osmosis water, which basically means that it has been refined through various filters and the mineral content is minimal.
Bad water can result from a number of reasons, and stagnant water is usually the main culprit. Water that has been left undisturbed will form anaerobic bacteria and can cause the water to smell. The odor will be egg-like and unpleasant, comparable to that of a swamp environment. Water sourced from an outdoor well may also produce the same results as it could also be subject to contamination from outside debris. Aerobic bacteria require high levels of oxygen to thrive and this is why a balance of wet to dry is most important when watering your plants.
Saving Water When Growing
The best way to get the most out of your plants and save as much water as possible in the long term is to apply smart feeding times. Your plants should be fed around the same times each day, the best time being morning time a few hours after sunrise and also in the evening just after sunset. Plants will not transpire water as quickly as during the hottest parts of the day and will be able to disperse it more conveniently to the roots during the cooler parts of the day.
Another good way to stay consistent is to use a dripper system that will feed for a certain time period each day, or whatever setting you have. Using a pump or a battery-powered automated feeder is a good way to make sure your plants are fed on time and the same volume of water each time. This will make sure overwatering or underwatering does not happen and the wicking action between the growing medium is at maximum integrity.
How Much Water To Feed?
Finding the sweet spot between airy dry and soggy wet is a big difference-maker in the wicking ability, drainage and water retention of the growing medium. How wet or dry the medium becomes will also dictate the rate at which the microbial colony can reproduce and if aerobic or anaerobic bacteria will become dominant.
A good tip is to feed enough water so your medium can become saturated and can then absorb like a sponge down towards the rest of the pot. I personally find this method is the most practical for saving water for it allows the medium to air out much quicker between feeds. The trick is not to overwater and to allow the plants to sit in a saucer of water.
Can I Use Rainwater?
An excellent way to be as natural as possible without buying plastic bottles, or having to pay a heavy water bill. Harvesting rainwater is conventional and highly practical especially for those who live in the countryside or where the rainfall is heavy during seasons. Unfortunately, due to industrial-based cities, the quality of air in surrounding major cities and town could be classed as polluted and heavy in metals.
Ensuring that the rainwater is safe enough to give to plants is not always easy at first glance but by making sure there are no contaminants inside your water pipes or gutters collecting the water, or the tank the rainwater is being stored is not directly in the sunlight and is free of algae. Using a pH and EC pen will help further and those who are really conscious of what impurities may be in the rainwater can use reverse osmosis to really clean it up to a drinkable level and certainly safe for plants.
Continue To Use Your Growing Medium
The aim of the game here is to grow with true life organics and working with hard foods only. Once you have completed a full growing cycle, you will now want to use your existing medium once again. All of the roots that have previously grown can be broken up by hand and thrown back into the new medium.
The roots hairs will still be thriving with life and as soon as new seedlings or clones come in contact with them, they will also become host to the microorganisms allowing the best start possible. Over time you will save money, time and will never require to buy liquid nutrients again.