When it comes to growing marijuana indoors, one of the biggest decisions that you will have to make is between using soil or hydroponic systems to grow it. This is a major decision and one that can have a massive impact on what kind of success you have. Should you choose soil or hydroponic grow mediums? The answer isn’t exactly black and white, but there is a clear reward to using one of them over the other. We’ll take a look at both to be sure and to learn exactly what each offers, as well as where each option falls short.
Growing In Soil
Marijuana enjoys soil that drains well and is dense in nutrients. Most growers add other things such as manure or earth worms to add additional nutrients to the soil, although there are a lot of feeding options available.
For most people, there is an ideal balance when they are growing with soil. The combination of a nutrient dense soil mixture and a drip system on a timer, you can easily get the best of both worlds when it comes to soil and hydroponics. There is always something to be said for traditional soil grows, such as the simple fact that it is much simpler and easier to understand for beginning growers. You don’t have the automation that you have with hydroponics, but people have gotten by for thousands of years with soil grows.
- Many claim that organically grown soil makes the marijuana taste much better.
- Soil is much more forgiving for beginning growers when compared to hydroponics.
- Marijuana will grow slower in soil when compared against plants that were grown in hydroponic environments.
- Plants will be slower to recover from problems and show signs much later in soil.
- Lower yields are harvested with soil compared to other growing methods.
Using A Hydroponic System
Hydroponic systems use the latest in indoor growing technology to provide your plants with nutrients in a brilliant way. Essentially, you are going to be growing your marijuana plants without any soil. There are a lot of different soilless mediums that you can choose between, but the general idea is that you are going to be using a steady supply of water to bring nutrients to the roots of your plants. You can find an in-depth guide on setting up a hydroponic grow on Instructables, but here we’ll focus on the pros and cons.
There are several different types of hydroponic systems currently in use: Ebb-and-flow, NFT, Drip Irrigation, Deep Water Culture, and Aeroponics.
- Ebb-And-Flow: Ebb-and-flow systems use trays on tables that are fed a nutrients at regular intervals from a reservoir that is located underneath. Once the plants have been fed, the water is flushed back out and saved for the next time around. Typically, this means using clay grow rocks or rock wool cubes.
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): Nutrient film technique uses a steady, but shallow, “river” of nutrient solutions that flow through tubes. These feed the roots that are dangling down from the net pots. It is important with these kinds of grows to make sure that there is enough oxygen in the roots, since there is going to be a steady stream of water covering them.
- Drip Irrigation: Deep irrigation relies on drip emitters that are at the base of each individual plant. These emitters will provide droplets of your chosen nutrient solution to feed each plant on its own. A timer makes sure everything is kept on time, while long tubes make sure that everything is self contained and smooth.
- Deep Water Culture (DWC): Deep Water Culture setups will use a bucket for every plant that you are growing. These are sometimes managed by a main “feeder” bucket that supplies the nutrients, but that isn’t always the case. The roots then sit into an oxygenated nutrient solution. This allows much larger plants to be supported, but you can run into problems when the nutrients aren’t all managed through their own system.
With all of these, the nutrients are fine tuned in a way that makes them perfect for each individual stage, whether you are vegetating them or waiting for them to start budding. That ease of use is by and large the primary draw for people who are going to start using hydroponic system. There are a lot of reasons to use it, though, even more than there are for traditional soil grows, although it is going to depend on what your own personal preference is.
- Nutrient levels are easily controlled and managed on a micro scale.
- Plants grow faster, giving you more harvests each year when growing indoors.
- No worries about weeds or soil-born pests and diseases.
- Grows can be entirely automated with hydroponic systems.
- Problems can be solved much more quickly compared to soil grows.
- Hydroponically grown marijuana doesn’t have as good of a taste as soil grown.
- Problems can overtake plants much more quickly in a hydroponic system .
- Hydroponic grows aren’t always easy for beginners, especially when using complicated growing methods.
The Hydro Vs Soil Argument
At the end of the day, it is easy to see that hydroponics offer a great deal to any indoor grower. Hydroponics are often seen as the ultimate option for people who want large, fast harvests in an indoor setting. If you are growing smaller harvests, soil can be an excellent option for a personal stash, but professional harvests have to have a hydroponics system in almost every case.