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Old 06-09-2011, 09:58 PM
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Default The Hairy Bucket

welcome friends,

ive been hanging around here a little bit, thought its time to show a little more of what i have done and my favorite method of growing. hope it helps someone out, or gives them ideas.

i came up with this system around 10 years ago, and i think with adaptation, it is one of the best methods. now, it is not quite an easy take down and move thing, so it certainly wont fit some peoples situations. and really, its just a couple little things put together that provide a good foundation, something most of you already have down. but it may help some people that are looking for a direction.

i like to try and be rational and scientific as much as possible. so a couple key ideas to this method is that providing a good root system is fundamental to growing a good plant. Everyone knows that the benefit of hydro vs soil is the additional availability of oxygen in ( most) hydro mediums. for this reason, i kind of laugh at soiless mix, its really hydro without as much of that main benefit. if you are going to be in something like dirt, might as well be dirt. with all the organics and benefits.

now rockwool is ok, lots of air and clean, easy to haul in and out. its great for a tray of mothers on ebb and flow, very reliable and low maintenance. but the best medium ive used so far is hydroton. they are porous and hold air and water ok by themselves, but its the size of the pellets that i think is a big influence. there are so many big air pockets between each pellet, well, im sure you get the idea, i dont think anything can beat it other than aeroponics. and it is used extensively in many production hydro units.

The problem i run into with many production units and my first hydro design, a 4" pvc tube drip system, is the rootspace. hydro is very efficient at getting the plant nutrients, and rootspace is not as important as in soil, but why not give the plant as much as it can handle? i moved to 2 gallon buckets with hydroton and a rudimentary sprinkler system to top feed. it wasnt long before i was looking for more.

5 gallon buckets with 3/8" holes drilled in the bottom, 2 holes drilled through the side for 1/2" pvc to slide through, slightly offset from center. this allows the plant to be placed in the center. 1" holes in the center of the lid and slit out to one side, carefully with a razorblade. i believe it is 3/16ths holes ( 2 in each bucket) drilled into the pvc for the rotosprayers to screw in.
you can run the pvc through whatever configuration of buckets you come up with, i had them on 4'x8' trays arranged 3x7 at first.the trays would be put on 2'x4' tables built for them. id stick a 4' length of pvc through a row of three and it would Tee into a supply line that ran the 8' length. fill the buckets up to 1" below from the pvc holes, just enough room for the sprayers to screw in and hang down. the sprayers do a good job of even watering distribution, something i found out early on is a pain with drip setups. Being top fed, i believe, is a good way to keep things flushing through and not get buildup. seems like the natural way anyways. after a bit, i noticed the plants just wanted more room. they would grow fast, and whcihever ones had a little headstart or advantage, would quickly outgrow others and shade them. so i dropped the seventh row and it was 3x6, 18 plants in 5 gallon buckets on a 4x8 tray with 2kw per tray. i always did 1 mh and 1 hps per tray. it worked ok at that spacing when i grew my homemade white rhino x blueberry, but then i put a jack herer in the system and it became time to give them more room again.

now i removed the middle row, so its just 2 rows of 6 on the outer edges of the tray. 6 plants under each 1kw light. plants with this spacing, and that amount of light, will get 4 oz easy. that gets you 1 1/2 lb per light. i know some guys out there get more, but its a good start. now, before i increased the spacing, i had one tray that had a jack herer on it that overgrew everything else on its half of the tray, it was 1 lb by itself. the 12 bubbleberry x sk1's were competely shaded by this beast and only got 1/4lb off them all. one other plant on that tray on the other side was some mystery skunk, yeilded 3/4 lb and likewise shaded most of what was on its side. the main point of this anecdote, is a 5 gallon bucket filled with hydroton is capable of supporting 1 lb plants. so its definately not going to hold plants back when your shooting for 4 oz plants average, or 6 or 8oz. now, a couple recent changes is to eliminate the tray and stand, and put them in a second bucket with no holes in the bottom, just a single drain line in the side at the bottom like the ebb and grow system. now that their Monster system has come out, its pretty much just like what i do except my system is top feed. their system can only water to the top of the bottom bucket, so the rocks at the top stay dry. in my system, there are roots all throughout the top, many coming off the stem into the air. its like a little bit of aeroponics at the top.
so this change make sit much easier to move in and out of places without the worry of neighbors seeing a big hydro tray. the sprayers, pumps, cycle timer,israeli filter, grommets and 1/2" 90;s and tee's are all you need from the specialty store,other than hydroton and nutrients . losing the tray and stand saves a bit of money and most importantly height room. ditching the tray setup also allows you to ditch the expensive low profile hydro reservoir, in favor of a regular plastic garbage can. the drain water will get pumped back into the reservoir by a pump and floatswitch setup, similar to how the controller bucket setup works on the ebb and grow. now another change im woking on is to eliminate the pipe running through the sides of the bucket, and having it feed through the lid. ive thought of having someone make me molded lids with bosses for sprayers and the hookup for pvc, still toying with that one.

so now that the physical basics are covered, lets talk about nutrients. thats the best part of this, you can feed them whatever you want, what you are already comfortable using. you can give them synthetics, or you can give them organics. i use an ez clone, and they can be transplanted directly into the buckets. then gently and carefully slide them through the slit in the lid to the center, you need to gently pry the gap open to do this, not to difficult. now set the pump timer to water for 5 minutes every hour. sometimes i scale it back to getting watered once every two hours, but im sure you dont really have to worry about overwatering in this setup. The frequency in which you water is important, and is hand in hand with the medium you grow in. each time you water, it helps renew the microclimate around the roots with fresh nutrient. the longer the period in between waterings, the more nutrients are depleted from the surrounding area, and the further the nutrient ratio gets from what you mix it at.

so thats enough typing for me for now, ill be putting some pics up soon and we'll see what you all think.
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Old 06-09-2011, 09:58 PM
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Last edited by jack hairy; 06-09-2011 at 11:39 PM.
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  #3  
Old 06-09-2011, 11:05 PM
british_hempire
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May I suggest you get some fake fur of your favourite colour (bright pink?) and use it to cover the buckets, then they would really be 'hairy buckets' pmsl

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Old 06-10-2011, 12:11 AM
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so, i put those pics up because its a great example of what will happen if you dont spend enough time with the plants. there was a 600 hung in the middle of the 2 1000's, and only it was on for a while. attention wasnt being paid, and the plants in the center grew so fast, the plants on the side werent getting as much light, and everything very quickly became unbalanced. add to that this particular setup was arranged to be vegged where they were, then moved to different flowering rooms. well, construction was behind and the flowering rooms werent ready and the plants were already growing into the lights! so if you are not ready, this system can catch you off guard. this setup was designed to veg 24 plants on one tray, then space that over two trays for flowering.
a little more work to move things around, but it has a little more effeciency in veg while the plants are smaller. i figured id show you the bad before we get to the good.

the main focus of this discussion so far is the rootspace. the rest of the plants environment must provide whats needed to keep up with the pace. to me, this means good nutrition, good light, and co2 injection. maybe a steady source of fresh air would be sufficient, but i have always used co2. i use air cooled fixtures to remove as much heat as possible so the room can stay sealed and full of co2.

for pruning the plants, unless im looking for extra clones, i try to keep the plant pruned to just the top single tip, removing side branches when they first appear. i believe this spurs the plant into developing more sets of leaves quicker, and a stronger main central stem. now is where timing and being familiar with your strain comes into play. i will top the plant leaving 4 or 6 or similar tips just below. this may happen about a week before flowering. in that week, those branches shoot up but they get topped themselves leaving two tips. so the original 4 branches become 8 buds or 6 branches become 12 buds, and so on. depending on your space and size you are going for, you can determine how many branches you want, develop them just before floweering, and let them fill in to size during the stretch period. this makes it fairly simple to maintain very uniform plants and have a nice canopy at the top where everything gets good light, air, spacing. all the buds are located right in that sweet spot, and by the time any light gets past them, it gets absorbed by the nice layering of leaves that runs down the whole main stem. it keeps the underside of the plants a little more airy, without branches coming up from the bottom, and towards the end, or even during their cycle, all thosee leaves are like a back up reservoir of nutrients that the plant will pull out and use if needed.
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:51 AM
british_hempire
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Looking like you know what you're doing, I'll be following along, looking forward to seeing some fat colas in there.

I here ya on how plants left alone for a while can shoot up, I keep burning the tips of my mothers between rounds of clone cutting as they will shoot up into the light if you leave em a few days.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:04 AM
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i usually shoot for 1 month veg, 2 months flowering type of situation. some of the taller plants could definately use 3 weeks or less. helps make up for the extra time in flowering, and they end up being just as big or bigger no matter what you do. all the time you can shave off of veg, gives you twice as much electricity back for flowering. this is why large numbers of plants, sea of green,with no veg, is probably the most productive and effecient. but i just dont think those small plants produce the same quality as larger, full grown plants. to test that theory, id love to try out some of those australian monsters kanga et all have going


the one lb jack herer was no diferent, 1 month of veg, the thing was a monster, hard to deal with indoors.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:15 AM
british_hempire
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I do the same with 8-10 week flowering plants - a month veg then 8-10 weeks 12/12.

With 12 week plants I only veg 2 weeks, with anything longer, I just veg a few days to get some roots established then straight into 12/12.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:34 AM
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:36 PM
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exactly, some plants certainly need to reach a larger size before they are "sexually mature". plants kept in veg for a while, start to show you they want to go. when they start to preflower, they jump into flowering faster than plants that havent reached that stage. i always veg under 24, and can always tell the sex of plants in veg after 3-4 weeks, with no need to flower them first or flower clones to check. and ive never been tricked yet.
it does seem opposite of most results, where clones are a little faster than the moms. but if those clones were taken before the moms reached "vegging" maturity, then maybe the clones would be lacking in maturity also and take longer to switch and stretch more during that period. it may have a bit to do with hormone levels in the plants, and that gets a bit beyond my reach. but as succesive generations of cloning takes place, i bet those clones will quicken up more each time till their flowering matches the mature mother. the quality of those smaller plants, well, that we'll just have to wait and see.

so we've covered a bit about the setup and some environmental conditions. one thing that i like to stress is the c02, mainly because temperatures can be hard to manage with several lights in one room. the ideal temperature for plants with normal levels of co2 is 70-75. by using co2, that temperature is raised to 80-85. this higher temperature is supposed to help them run their metabolism at a faster pace. well, other than co2's enrichments obvious benefit of helping the plants photosynthesize, seems to work like a band aid when you're having a hard enough time dealing with heat. ive always used bottled gas before until just last year, i was given a generator. its very easy to put a t and a valve onto your existing water heater or furnace supply line, and hook it up.there is always a little nipple extending down to catch debris before it gets to the device. you just take it off ,insert the t, and put the nipple back on the bottom. no more hauling tanks in and out, and no more tanks running empty for a day or so before you notice. only problem is the added heat and humidity, but its manageable. and with newer models out with water cooling and such, its the route i would recommend. ive never worked on gas line before, so i was a little apprehensive, but it is really easy and nothing to worry about. definately a good investment.

ive always used horizontal lighting in the past, but now a short ceiling has me redesigning the layout for vertical. in a 5x5 booth, you could run 6 or 9 plants, 2x3 or 3x3. now that its going to be vertical, i am going to put 3x3 with the center one missing, so its 8 plants per 1kw light. i may double up the booths so they are 5x10 connected.
i can certainly see some reasons vertical may be more efficient, but we'll have to wait and see on that.

Last edited by jack hairy; 06-10-2011 at 03:35 PM.
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  #10  
Old 06-10-2011, 01:51 PM
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Interesting thread. I was contemplating a similar (2 bucket) system but most of my supplies were stolen. Have you considered the use of misting type sprayers or are there issues involved in using them with a nutrient solution? Also, as far as getting your nutrient solution supplied to your girlz via the lid, why not use the 1/4" poly feed lines fed through the lids.

Your design, thus far, looks very clean.

Quote:
i like to try and be rational and scientific as much as possible. so a couple key ideas to this method is that providing a good root system is fundamental to growing a good plant. Everyone knows that the benefit of hydro vs soil is the additional availability of oxygen in ( most) hydro mediums. for this reason, i kind of laugh at soiless mix, its really hydro without as much of that main benefit. if you are going to be in something like dirt, might as well be dirt. with all the organics and benefits.
Potting soil can and normally needs to be lightened up quite a bit*. 25-30% perlite does the trick perfectly and allows the roots plenty of oxygen. I've seen soil grows produce as much weight as hydro grow using clones from the same mother without the chem flavors and/or blandness associated with hydro.
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