Cannabis, which is also known as weed, is often grown for medicinal purposes or recreational. Through time, different methods in growing the plants were introduced, and not only the traditional way, which is the soil method, is being applied now but also the hydroponic method, which does not use any soil but utilizes nutrient-rich water solution(1).
Since the natural condition of Cannabis is growing in soil, it is easier to grow the plant through this method, due to its low maintenance. Cannabis plants best grow in nutrient-rich and slightly acidic soil with good drainage. Some growers even include perlite in the soil to ensure maximum drainage. Also, essential nutrients can be added into the soil as the plant grows and as it changes its nutrient requirements. Soil-grown Cannabis yields natural and better-flavored products(2).
Growing Cannabis can be done using an alternative method called the hydroponics technique, which is a technique utilizing any other medium for growing except soil. This technique produces maximum yields and can be managed in a limited space. Also, the nutrients introduced to the plants are highly regulated as well as the environment, thus diseases and pests are controlled, and faster growth is expected. The common methods are aeroponics, deep-water culture, drip irrigation, nutrient film technique, and ebb-and-flow(3).These different methods offer different approaches in growing weeds hydroponically, therefore careful assessment should be done before implementing one.
Growing weed with Soil
Growing weed with soil can be easy and simple. The choice of soil is essential to ensure maximum yield from soil-grown Cannabis. The soil should have enough nutrients vital to the growth and development of the plant, as well as good drainage. Either perlite, sand, compost, mulch or vermiculite can be added in the soil to have good drainage(4), and to achieve coarse, light and spongy texture of the soil. Aside from good drainage, this is also a good way to supply enough oxygen to the roots. Also, Cannabis prefers slightly acidic soil. To achieve this, there are several products in the market that can be added such as elemental sulfur, iron sulfate or aluminum sulfate. Manure or compost can be mixed as well to increase the pH of the soil in a natural way(5). The spacing of each plant should also be considered so as not to constrict the growth of Cannabis.
Soil Pros vs Cons
Soil method is the traditional and natural way of growing Cannabis. It is a cost-effective, simple and easy option for growers, though a large space is needed to allow the plant to grow without constriction to receive adequate sunlight(6). Giving the plant enough space to grow to tend to produce higher yields. However, despite being easier to grow weeds in soil, Cannabis grow slower in this method in its vegetative stage than the hydroponic method.
Growing Cannabis in the soil gives growers less control over the plant. Although soil is innately compacted with nutrients, additional nutrients should be added as the plant grows to provide the exact nutrient requirement of the Cannabis in each phase of its growth and development. The right kind of nutrient and the right amount can prevent nutrient deficiency in Cannabis, thus giving off higher yields. Soil-grown weeds may offer low maintenance, but extra precaution is needed for pests and soil-born plant diseases(7). Also, problems may take time before it can be noticed and acted upon.
Good drainage in the soil is a requirement in growing Cannabis. This is to avoid drowning the roots, thus watering the plant should not be done often. There are different ways to achieve good drainage in the soil, such as the addition of either perlite, sand, compost, mulch or vermiculite. Adding any of these improves the texture of the soil thus making it more suitable for the Cannabis.
The environment of soil-grown Cannabis is not controlled, such as the temperature may be too hot or the amount of sunlight may be too harsh. Also the humidity outdoor cannot be regulated as well as the wind. These environmental conditions may not be favorable for the weeds yet these cannot be turned into favorable settings.
Lastly, weeds which are grown in soil exhibit natural taste and better flavor.
Soil Setup and Maintenance
The types of soil greatly vary, as well as the nutrient content, acidity, and texture. These make growing Cannabis in the soil slightly challenging.
A well-balanced soil nutrient crucial for growing Cannabis cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, preparing the soil is a must to avoid nutrient-deficiency in the plant. Adding Cannabis soil mixes, which are available in the market, can be done to avoid the problem. During the vegetative stage, a high amount of nitrogen, just enough magnesium and calcium, and trace elements are needed. Meanwhile, during the flowering stage, high amounts of potassium and phosphorus, just enough amount of calcium and magnesium, and trace elements are essential. At this stage, the nitrogen is still needed but in low amounts. Important nutrients can be mixed in the water while watering the plants, as well as managing the ideal pH level. Note not to over-water Cannabis since this will prevent the oxygen in reaching the roots. Also, avoid chlorinated water.
Moreover, soil texture should be taken into consideration since Cannabis requires good drainage, to avoid drowning the plant, and well-aerated soil. Either perlite, sand, mulch, compost, or vermiculite can be added to ensure good drainage and to allow circulation of oxygen in the roots. This will also result in a texture ideal for the plant, coarse, light and spongy soil. When using containers, opt for dark-colored ones to avoid root exposure to sunlight.
If Cannabis is being grown in the open field, the spacing of the plants is critical. Each plant should have a room for side growth. This will allow adequate sunlight to reach each plant. Additionally, since the environment cannot be controlled, growers should be cautious for pest infestation.
With proper care, soil-grown Cannabis can generate high yields.
Growing Weed Hydroponically
Growing weed hydroponically is done without the aid of soil. This is commonly done through aeroponics, deep-water culture, drip irrigation, nutrient film technique, or ebb-and-flow. Cannabis being grown using the aeroponics method, which is a technique of growing plants in a mist environment, gets most oxygen into the roots. Deep-water culture involves suspending the roots of Cannabis into a nutrient-rich and oxygenated solution. On the other hand, drip irrigation is done by allowing the water and nutrients to drip into the roots of Cannabis either continuously or over a certain interval. Meanwhile, the nutrient film technique involves a film of nutrient-rich water to flow over the roots of Cannabis. Lastly, ebb-and-flow is like a flood-and-drain method where the roots get flooded with nutrient-rich solution, then drained for the roots to be aerated(8).
With all these different methods of the hydroponic technique of growing Cannabis, the growers should closely monitor the weeds to ensure healthy roots, thus healthy plants.
Hydro Pros vs Cons
Growing Cannabis using hydroponic technique greatly manages the environment of the plant, where the temperature, light, and humidity are constantly regulated to ensure the best growing atmosphere for the plant. Pests and other diseases can be easily controlled due to the absence of soil where most microorganisms thrive. Also, problems in growing the plant can easily be managed due to its structured environment.
The hydroponic technique is a cost-efficient method since only the appropriate nutrients are introduced into the plant. This guarantees that the plant is subjected to well-balanced nourishment. Additionally, since the environment is greatly controlled, growth of the Cannabis is faster than the traditional method. Also, some methods can be automated, thus having a low maintenance growing of Cannabis.
It is important to note that implementing a hydroponic method of growing Cannabis can be done outdoors or indoors. That being said, it implies that hydroponically-grown Cannabis does not take up lots of space.
Assembling a hydroponic setup can be expensive, though some can be done by DIY(9).But then, readily made equipment are available in the market. Also, some equipment requires high maintenance for it to properly function.
Furthermore, the formulation of the Cannabis nutrients to be dissolved in the solution has to be carefully studied to avoid deficiency. Inadequate nutrients will result in unhealthy plants thus lessening the yield.
Another disadvantage of this technique is the possible oversaturation of the roots, thus resulting to root problems. Roots should be properly aerated and should not be subjected to a solution that is too hot or too cold. A solution temperature of about 20°C should be maintained. This means that the whole setup should be constantly monitored while growing Cannabis.
Though the environment is regulated to maximize the growth and development of Cannabis, the taste is less flavorful than that of the naturally grown variation.
Hydro Setup and Maintenance
To set-up a hydroponic system for growing Cannabis, it is great to determine which method to use, be it aeroponics, deep-water culture, drip irrigation, nutrient film technique, or ebb-and-flow. Once the right method was selected, build the setup for Cannabis garden.
The essential nutrients should be mixed well into the solution or reservoir. The reservoir should be of the right size to ensure that all the plants can be supported. For drip irrigation, aeroponics, nutrient film technique, and ebb-and-flow, a water pump should be of adequate size to deliver the right amounts of nutrients in the reservoir into the roots of the Cannabis, which are arranged in a growing table. A wrong water pump can either oversupply the solution or simply not supply enough nutrients into the roots. Meanwhile, for deep-water culture, an air pump is installed to supply oxygen into the Cannabis roots(10).
Once the setup is functioning well, it is necessary to maintain the setup. The grower has to make sure that the Cannabis is receiving proper nourishment and that the roots are healthy and properly aerated. Also, the water pumps or the air pumps should be checked from time to time to see if working properly, as well as the spray nozzles used in the aeroponic method. The hydroponic nutrient schedule should be properly followed to have a maximum yield.
Differences between Growing with Soil and Hydroponically