Bio-Hydroponics; the Holy Grail of Cannabis Grows
Bio-Hydroponics; the Holy Grail of Cannabis Grows. I recently learnt some information from some of my UK grower friends, who told me about a new growing technique that is supposedly based on organic hydroponic systems. Usually, growers have to choose between organic growing and hydroponics, unable to combine both, but it turns out that you can do it. How? Well, the story begins with cheese.
Yes, cheese. If you live in somewhere like bustling Brussels, then it isn’t hard to get your hands on some of the best cheeses in Europe; French, Dutch, Belgian, Italian etc. Last year, a new kind of cheese was added to the menu; a strain that had only ever existed as a clone from the UK. It has a dominant smell, and it has been dubbed “Cheese” thanks to that particular smell. If you still haven’t tried it, we wholeheartedly recommend that you get your hands on some. Apart from its amazing aroma and flavor, similar to gorgonzola cheese, it gives an amazing social high which is perfect for having a laugh with friends, while out on a walk or even for going to a museum. This hybrid is indica-dominant, easy to grow and rewarding for those who grow it, giving a happy, relaxing and sometimes euphoric high. It’s said that this strain can help those with stress, pains or depression. It’s extremely popular in Dutch coffee shops and in the streets of the United Kingdom.
I recently heard of a special batch of Cheese that had been grown using a relatively new product called BioTabs, which are slow-release fertilizing tablets; the result was so good that people began asking for BioTabs Cheese specifically, even though it was much more expensive. This caught my attention, and I was left wondering what’s so special about BioTabs and this Cheese strain. It turns out that the system used could be considered organic-hydroponics, something that many people have told me was impossible over the years.
All of this sounded ridiculous to me. If you’re not familiar with hydroponic growing, here’s a little insight on why organic-hydroponics originally sounded so farfetched; hydroponics is the act of growing plants in an inert medium, which means that there is no life in the medium. Usually, nutrients are added to the water that your plants will be drinking, but herein lays the issue for those of us who prefer organic fertilizers; if you add organic nutrients to your hydroponic plants through micro-tubes, their components will end up creating algae which will in turn block those tubes. This is why hydroponic growers have to use artificial fertilizers to make sure their watering systems function correctly.
Of course, this brings another issue to hand; due to the fact that growing cannabis is still illegal in many countries the people who manufacture chemical and mineral products for cannabis plants are under no obligation to test them for human safety, as it’s an activity that is supposedly illegal. This argument is used a lot when arguing the pros and cons of chemical and mineral fertilizers. Another argument used as a pro is the fact that hydroponics significantly increases yield and irrigation is somewhat simplified. I’ve tried it first hand and I can definitely tell you that hydroponics offers a much larger yield, but even so many growers around the world still prefer to grow organically.
Organic grows are done in an active medium, where nutrients thrive and develop in said medium. Wouldn’t it be amazing to find a way to grow organically in hydroponics, guaranteeing the best of both worlds in as far as high yields and amazing aromas and flavors? Well, thanks to the BioTabs Cheese story, I discovered that it’s possible. The trick is that all the nutrients your plant will need are already right there in the flowerpot. BioTabs are small tablets full of organic components that are released when you add special ingredients to the water. Apart from this special additive, which you’ll need to add at the start of the grow and during the fifth week, you’ll just need to give your plants water and that’s it. You won’t even have to worry about adjusting the pH levels, which is something that experienced growers will absolutely love. You can use BioTabs in your flowerpots just like you would in any organic grow, or you can use an automatic watering system that gives your plants pure water and that’s it (hydroponics). The British brand, AutoPot, sells irrigation systems for this exact function (among other kinds).
These AutoPot systems work by using a valve called an AQUAvalve, a set of pots, a tray and a water tank. Each flowerpot fits perfectly into a tray with an AQUAvalve which is then connected to the water tank through a system of tubes. The water is pushed through the tubes through simple gravity and it reaches the valves, which regulate how much water gets into the trays. Once the water level reaches 2cm in the trays, the AQUAvalve interrupts the water flow. The valve opens again once the water is all gone, filling the tray with 2cm more of water. The only thing left for the grower to do is to make sure the water tank is full.
So, you need to add the BioTabs to the soil, and then add about 50% perlite and make sure that the medium is spongey. Fill your AutoPots with this exact mixture. There are three different pot/tray combinations; 8.5L, 15L and 25L, depending on your needs and the space you have available. Add pure water to the tank, and rest assured that your plants will get the exact amount of water they need. This is called plant-controlled irrigation. If your plants need less water, then they’ll drink less water; when they need more, they’ll drink more.
This system is completely automatic and it works through gravitational pull, meaning that you don’t need any sort of power inlet or outlet. They’re modular systems, meaning you can place more or less pots as needed. The more flowerpots you have, logically you’ll need a bigger water tank. To be honest, this kind of grow is really spectacular; you don’t have to obsess over the pH levels in the water, nor do you have to worry about mixing nutrients or watering and you can even go away for a little holiday without having to worry about your precious babies. The yield is rather large when grown like this and the flavor and aromas are amazing thanks to having grown organically. You can use this method indoors, outdoors, in your greenhouse and in smaller scales for home-growers or even on a large scale for commercial/industrial growers. BioTabs, invented by Dutch grow expert Karel Schelfhout, are still relatively new on the market. They’re getting more and more popular all over Europe, and they’re being sold in many countries already. For more information on how they work and where you can buy them, click here. We recommend buying the starter pack.
Although AutoPot is a UK brand, they’re distributed in over 40 countries. They have explanations on their webpage on how to install their systems and where you can buy their products.
Translation: Ciara Murphy