Grow or Not to Grow Part 2

By: Mel the Bumbling Gardener

For readers who missed out on last month’s issue…Our quest is to find an easy to understand, easy to set up, and most importantly easy to operate Indoor Growing System.  Based on the size of the machine, power consumption, and harvest time, the HYDROPLEX Spinner was our choice.

When I left off last month, The Spinner had been assembled; lights, fans, and pumps were all set to timers and tested.  Compared to my old growing chamber, with its twenty year old technology, this was really something to see.  I could hardly see after looking in, when I tried watching the baskets spin and feeling the fans blow on my face.  My color perception was gone and everything seemed to be dark outside.  I think I need a pair of sunglasses.

The next step was to figure out the whole mixing of chemicals and pH level adjustment thing.  I didn’t realize how important this all was at that time, until I made my first trip to the local hydro-store.  I quickly learned the importance of exact measurements and precise pH adjustment, and how crucial it is throughout the lifespan of your plant.  Bringing this new knowledge home along with a measuring cup and some pH up and down chemical, I was ready to mix my first batch of nutrients for the growing cycle.  I figured that I would buy clones that were well-rooted and ready to go.

Mixing the first five gallons of chemicals was pretty simple; all I needed to do was follow the instructions that were provided in the chemical kit that I received from Tom at HYDROPLEX.  The pH level on the other hand was a little harder to master.  The hydro-store told me to find a happy place between 5.8 and 6.2, like I knew what that meant.  After doing some research on the internet, I now understand that if I keep a pH balance of just below 6.0, my plants will absorb the nutrients in a more efficient manner.  Let me tell you, a little bit of pH up or down goes a long way and I didn’t think I would ever find that happy place.  I upped it and downed it until I finally found it.  I wrote down what I did with the hopes of passing it down to the generations yet to come.

How many times have you gone to your favorite collective or dispensary and looked at those trays of clones and thought to yourself, “What’s up with all that?” Well, I’ll tell you what’s up with all of that – now that I’m a hydroponic gardener.  Every clone looks strangely different, but every name, leaf color, root structure, and size of the plant means so much more.  I think I get it, but what I didn’t get was enough clones to fill my Spinner.  I just couldn’t find the right ones, the strong ones, the ones that I wanted to call my own.

Only finding four spinnerettes at the first collective, I was forced to dig even deeper.  Knowing that this grow test was coming, I had decided to try my own hand at cloning, really basic cloning.  I added four of my own clones to the four I bought at the collective, giving me a total of eight to plant.  The clones planted easily into the Spinner with grow-blocks.  I turned the light to 75%, adjusted the timers to 18 hours on and six hours off, and closed the doors.  Knowing that I needed to fill the gaping holes in my Spinner, I made plans to go to another collective to pick up four more clones.  I just couldn’t believe it, all the collectives I knew were out of clones and they promised they would have more any day now.  A week later, I finally got the four I needed.  Having spent the first week playing with the Spinner and getting to know it, these next four transplants should be no problem.  It’s funny when you look at something every day, you don’t really notice the change until you add something new to the mix.  These new clones didn’t look nearly as strong as the ones that were growing for only a few days at 75% light capacity.  Half of my clones looked a bit stronger and greener, but the other two looked pathetic.  However, they have only been in the Spinner a short while and I am going to give them some time to catch up.  The only thing left to do now is turn the light up to 100%, so stand back and see what happens.  Man, that light is bright!  600 watts in a 40 in. circle should really do the trick.  It’s hard not to open the doors and watch the plants spinning back and forth.  And it’s amazing to see how quickly the plants all gain strength from being under that intense light 18 hours a day.

The daily routine is pretty damn easy.  I check the pH in the morning, I help it find it’s “Happy Spot” with a little bit of up or a little bit of down.  I check the water level in the reservoir and add what is needed.  Believe it or not, after a very short time I already started thinking about what leaves I’m going to trim first.  Did I mention that it was hard to keep the doors closed? If I was a cat, I’d be dead. The doors of the Spinner open like curtains at a movie theatre, revealing a great view of the constantly spinning plants.  I know that I should leave them closed, I know that I should just walk away and leave it alone, but it’s just so darn interesting!  This may turn into one of the best hobbies I’ve ever had.  I am now a Hydroponic Hobby Gardener.

Next month…Continued daily care, top and side trimming, chemical maintenance, and a growing appreciation of the HYDROPLEX Spinner.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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