In our first Growers Corner blog, we interviewed one of our sponsored growers, who talks you through how to get the most of growing in your RDWC Pro, deep water culture system.
How long have you been growing hydroponically?
My first ever grow was in 2017, after a lot of research and reading many books, I decided on Deep Water Culture.
My main reasons for choosing hydroponics was the explosive growth, no soil (I'm a clean freak when it comes to my grow room), which in turn reduces the chances of pest problems. You also have the ability to monitor in greater detail the uptake of nutrients, PH and overall health of the root zone.
Which hydroponic system do you currently grow in?
The system I currently grow in is the ALIEN RDWC 4 Pot 20L PRO Silver Series with a system volume of 75 litres, and the 4x4 tent is modified, so the control bucket is located outside the tent. This means more flexibility when emptying and refilling the system as the plants do not need to be disturbed, especially during lights off in the flowering cycle. If the main control bucket was located inside the tent, I would be limited to carrying out these tasks only during lights on.
When transitioning from growing in soil to hydroponics, what are your five top tips for first time hydroponic system users?
Do some research, like anything in life; if you don't prepare then prepare to fail.
There are a lot of useful books, websites and YouTube channels to help familiarise yourself when it comes to hydroponics. A lot of growers are under the impression this style of growing is much more complicated when in reality, once you know the basics, you will have far greater control over nutrient uptake and the overall health of the plants.
Buy a PH and EC pen set. Without these two tools, it is impossible to monitor nutrient uptake and confirm PH is within range.
Cleanliness is critical, this should be part of your daily routine.
Clean up any leaves and standing water and always clean your tools after each use. If you start off this way, pests will very rarely be a problem.
Stick to the basics when it comes to nutrients and additives. All you need for both the veg and flower cycle is A & B veg/flower nutrients, silicone, cal-mag and PK in the flowering cycle and of course, a product to keep the system sterile.
If possible, mix your nutrients in a separate reservoir/container. Always mix your silicone first with the water thoroughly before adding the cal-mag next, if this is not done correctly, the water can turn cloudy when the cal-mag is added, which causes precipitate limiting uptake of nutrients.
Next, add your "A" nutrients, mixing well before adding the "B" nutrients, and last will be your product of choice for keeping the system sterile.
An aquarium heater should be added to the nutrient mix and heated between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. By doing this, you will have less risk of shocking the plants, which could lead to nutrient lockout.
Change your water/nutrients once every seven days, your plants may seem happy enough going a further seven days with the same water/nutrients, but certain macro and micronutrients may build up or be depleted, causing an imbalance.
During the seven days, depending on plant size and grow cycle, the plants may need to be topped up more with water/nutrients, this should be done with just A & B nutrients to the EC as before, and pH adjusted to 5.8
Have you ever used RO water in your system? If so, what were the benefits?
Yes, I currently use a 4 stage reverse osmosis system by Vyair, the system is cheap to buy, and I would recommend anyone growing in hydroponics should use reverse osmosis.
Considering after the seedling stage of around ten days from germination, I usually start at an EC of 0.4 after this stage, rooted cuttings are also started at the same EC.
If your starting tap water is 0.2 EC, that leaves only another 0.2 EC of nutrients, as you will not know exactly what your starting tap water consists of without a detailed water report. This limits key nutrients to the plants and is why I recommend starting with reverse osmosis water as close to zero EC as possible. Tap water also has chlorine and other nasties that can cause issues.
Do you run the system sterile or use any organic nutrients or additives?
I have tried both with good results. The downfall to running an organic system is it can be more difficult reading EC levels, and cleaning the system will be a lot more time-consuming.
What products do you use to maintain a sterile system?
Root Rot X™ is the product I use to keep the system sterile and promote new root growth. I use it at 1ml per litre of water with every reservoir change.
What mineral-based additives do you use in your system?
My base nutrients and additives are Canna veg and bloom, silicone, cal-mag and PK.
There are so many products pushed on growers that are simply not required. If you stick to the basics, you have much better results.
What is your ALIEN system of preference?
My system of preference is the ALIEN RDWC 4 Pot 20L PRO Silver Series.
If a smaller version targeted at the home grower was released, the Alien V-System would be my system of preference due to the fact no air pumps are required.