by Sirius Fourside
What’s the best medium? How about the best tent? Best lights? Best nutrients?
No one knows who the ‘best’ is, we all just know what’s been the best in our own personal experience.
The sheer amount of opinions available online make it so you can almost always find people who agree or disagree with a particular method. This can make it pretty tough to find a solid opinion on what will actually work the way you want.
Today we’re sidestepping all the opinions and I’m just going to show you what works for me. As in, this is the exact setup I use to make sure I never run out of cannabis.
Is my setup the ‘best’ in the world? Definitely not.
Does my setup make it easy to grow way more sticky, aromatic, potent, top-shelf quality bud than I can smoke before my next harvest? Yes! Yes! YES!
Where I Grow
- I grow indoors exclusively for many reasons such as security and environmental control. One of my biggest motivators is that indoor growing allows me to start a grow any time of the year which is important for back-to-back grows.
- I am currently using the GrowLab GL120, which is 3'11" x 3'11" x 6'7". This tent works extremely well for me and was pretty easy to assemble.
- Depending on your situation, this tent size might be too large for your goals. I tend to grow 2 larger plants, but one could easily get a smaller tent and grow one plant or keep two plants in vegetative for a shorter period of time.
Type of Lights Used
MH/HPS vs CFLs vs. LEDs vs T5s
- After attempting to grow cannabis with all of the types of lights mentioned above, I’ve found the Metal Halide/ High Pressure Sodium (MH/HPS) combo to work best. It outputs more light than CFLs, T5s and LEDs and the light penetrates further as well.
- The main drawbacks of the MH/HPS combo are two-fold. MH/HPS lights aren’t energy-bill-friendly, and they make a great deal of heat which will need to be managed.
- Growers can scale back the size of this grow by using smaller lights in addition to getting a smaller tent (mentioned above). Instead of getting a 600 watt MH/HPS combo like I do, some growers go as low as 150 watts.
- It's important to note that although T5s and CFLs don’t compare to the power of an HPS, they are still more than capable of growing potent buds in a small area.
Quality MH & HPS Bulbs
- It’s tough to tell who makes a better MH/HPS bulb since so many factors contribute to plant growth. I’ve grown extremely potent bud with a no-name light that came with a no-name reflector, and I’ve also grown mediocre bud with an awesome bulb. My advice is to stick to a bulb if you’re happy with how it works for you.
- A fellow grower referred me to the bulbs I currently use. I’ve been so pleased with them that they’re all I use now.
- MH bulb: SunMaster 600 Watt Cool Deluxe
- HPS bulb: Digimax Digital Lamp 600 Watt
- There are many hoods/reflectors available on the market, and many of them perform comparably to each other. I’ve found that the shape of the hood is more important than who made it in a lot of cases. In short, the type of air cooled hood pictured to the right gets the most efficient spread of light while allowing for easy cooling.
- The particular hood/reflector I use is: Sun Systems Yield Master 6” Reflector.
- Although they cost more than the competition, I would definitely recommend a GGL (Global Greenhouse Lighting) ballast. The logic here is that you might as well pay a bit more for a ballast since a bad one can catch your house on fire!
- I use the GGL 600W Dimmable ballast.
- I have also heard really great things about the new dual air-cooled Lumatek Ballast, which (like all Lumatek ballasts) comes with a 3-year warranty.
- My exhaust fan also came as a recommendation from a fellow grower. It moves tons of air and is relatively quiet which is very important for stealth.
- This model is the Can-Fan Max 6” with speed control.
- Although speed control isn’t necessary, it’s better to be able to adjust it on days when full power isn’t needed (such as in early vegetative or cooler temps).
Which Medium Do I Use?
Soil vs. Hydro
In short, I only grow via hydroponics. I use a custom built top-fed DWC (deep water culture) system which is usually called a bubbler (this grow style is sometimes known as "bubbleponics," but I fondly call it my "bubble cloud").
Hydroponics can sound complicated, but I’ve found that it’s actually one of the easiest ways to grow cannabis, especially with top-fed DWC, since it takes so little time for maintenance. In addition, top-fed DWC hydroponic plants grow drastically faster than plants in any non-hydroponics-based medium.
Learn to grow cannabis via top-fed DWC – Bubbleponics Tutorial by Sirius
What I Feed My Plants:
- As some of you many know, I am a big fan of General Hydroponics Flora Trio. This complete hydroponic nutrient system is cheap, and those three bottles will see you from seedling to harvest without any other additives required. In fact, besides adding beneficial bacteria(next bullet point) General Hydroponics Flora Trio is all my plants get!
- Root health is incredibly important in hydroponics. Trouble at the roots is the most common growing problem with hydroponics, yet when you give your plants what they need to have healthy roots, the entire grow goes smoothly with great results.
- My plants only get one thing besides standard nutrients… Botanicare Hydroguard (formerly known as Aquashield). Hydroguard adds beneficial bacteria to outcompete the type of bad bacteria which causes root rot. In addition, the beneficial bacteria form a symbiotic relationship with the roots and actually help your plants grow more vigoursly. There are many beneficial bacteria products like Hydroguard, some of which are very pricey (Great White, Subculture B, etc.), but after trying them all, Hydroguard works just as well as the more expensive options as far as preventing root rot and promoting root health. Now Hydroguard is the only extra supplement I use.
There are a wide array of pH testers available, and most of them will work the way they’re supposed to. That being said, I’ve personally tested the General Hydroponics pH tester against 3 separately calibrated electronic pH testers and it was dead on. If you don’t have a preference and want to go with something that is proven to work well, I’d stick with the GH brand of testers for price and ease of use.
Although it isn't comepletely necessary, it can be very helpful to growers to use a TDS meter to measure how much other "stuff" is in your water before adding nutrients. It also helps for making sure the levels of nutrients in your water stay at a reasonable level. I use the HM Digital AP-1 TDS meter.
To find out more about using a TDS meter to measure nutrients in your water, check out out article: PPM: What It Is and How To Track It.
- What's best for you is mostly a matter of opinion and the effect you’re looking for in your cannabis. If you don’t know what to look for in a seed strain, consider that these are the most popular attributes: High potency, high yield, quick flowering, aroma, taste.
- For the indecisive (like myself), I’ve listed some of strains I’ve been growing recently. I picked these strains because they all rank high in most (if not all) of the desirable attributes listed above.
Pic shows Wonder Woman
- Aurora Indica – High yield, strong diesel smell, flowers fast, POTENT.
This Grow – Finished!
- Wonder Woman – Creates many, MANY bud sites. Huge Buds. High yield.
- BlackJack – Hearty, easy to train and grow. Anti-Anxiety effect.
Stuff To Make The Job Easier
- Most growth that needs to be removed from a plant can be done with your fingers. However, using your fingers to remove growth incorrectly can result in a lost branch/bud sites.
- I recommend Fiskars Microtip Snips
- A small pair of Fiskars will make pruning much easier, AND they’re great for trimming after harvest.
- Caution: These things are sharp and dangerous! Please be careful with them and put the sheath back on when not in use! Seriously!
Soft Ties for plant training
- Twistie tie or soft wire ties are mainly used for training plants into a desired shape. If you train your plants, you should definitely have some of this stuff at all times. If you don’t train your plants, I would strongly suggest learning to do so since training can double your harvests!
Water Transfer Pump so it's easy to change the reservoir
- This cheap battery operated Sierra Tools water transfer pump does the job better than any other water transfer pump I've tried. This will allow you to easily remove water and add new water to your reservoir without disturbing the plants. You need 2 x D batteries for this pump, so don't forget to pick up D batteries if you don't have 2 extra ones lying around the house!
So now that you know why I use the stuff I do, get started on your grow!
Here’s a list of all the products I mentioned using earlier to keep my weed coffers full.
Remember, with a good setup and strategy, the problem isn’t having enough weed, it’s knowing with to do with it all!
Exhaust Fan: Can-Fan Max 6” with speed control
MH bulb: SunMaster 600 Watt Cool Deluxe
HPS bulb: Digimax Digital Lamp 600 Watt
Hood/Reflector: Sun Systems Yield Master 6” Reflector
Growing Medium: I grow using hydroponics. To find out more about my particular growing method, see my Top-Fed DWC Bubbleponics tutorial
Nutrients: General Hydroponics Flora Trio
Additives: Botanicare Hydroguard (for root health, formerly known as "Aquashield")
pH Tester: General Hydroponics pH Tester
BlackJack – Hearty, easy to train and grow. Calming effect.
Shears: Fiskars Microtip Snips
Twistie Tie: Any soft wire gardening ties will do
How to Grow Cannabis with Top-Fed DWC Hydroponics – the method used in this article