There are tons of little growing tips out there. For example, don’t mix beneficial microbes and hydrogen peroxide as it will kill the microbes.
While doing so would certainly make crop production less efficient, it is not likely to result in a massive decrease in yield.
This blog covers some of the worst things a grower could do while managing a grow. These mistakes could potentially decrease yield, risk personal safety, or damage equipment and property.
Dispose Of Leftover Nutrients Properly
Inevitably, all good things come to an end and an operation has to be shut down. The grower has leftover nutrients and so the quick and easy way to get rid of them is to dump them down the drain. First of all, this is bad for the environment: it could cause algae blooms once it reaches the watershed.
Improper disposal can also damage the plumbing of the property and the municipal sewer system. Calcium and phosphorus react and turn insoluble so they could form a rocky material inside the pipes. While this isn’t common, the risk of permanently blocking pipes is much greater with potassium silicate. It is very unstable and reacts with pretty much anything to form a gelatinous material, which over time will solidify into rock.
The better option is to use leftovers on lawns or gardens. If you don’t grow in this manner, then perhaps you have a friend who does. Another option is to take you leftover nutrients to a hazardous waste drop-off location in your area.
One should treat all grow room chemicals with respect. We recommend reading the associated Safety Data Sheets for any chemicals being used. However, there are a few notable hazards that everyone should be aware of:
pH adjusters are by far the most hazardous chemicals commonly used. Not only can they severely burn skin, eyes, or nasal passages but they can also generate heat when mixed with water. This is dependent on the formulation of the specific product. Take care when cleaning up spills as they should be neutralized before a final clean. pH Down can be neutralized with baking soda, and pH Up with vinegar. It’s nice to have pH test strips handy since they can quickly tell if the chemical has been neutralized.
Sealed up Hydrogen Peroxide can pressurize over time, and especially in hot conditions. The worst-case scenario would be for it to foam up when the bottle is cracked. Most companies use vented caps which gets around this issue, but those should never be replaced with the standard one.
High Pressure Sodium and Metal Hallide Bulbs produce considerable heat and draw large amounts of power. Many times, growers will have equipment such as intake and ventilation fans on the same breaker which increases the risks of tripping the breaker, electrical shocks and shorts that could cause a fire. Bad wiring (ie. Improper grounding, exposed wires) can also lead to disaster.
If a grower is experiencing shorts due to exceeding the amperage of their breaker, they may try to remedy the problem by installing a larger breaker and altering the wiring of their home. These alterations often create a new problem of wiring not being up to code, which presents potential safety and legal issues.
Instead of tampering with the wiring of your house, see if you can run power from another room on a different breaker than your grow lights in order to power your fans, pumps, and other equipment requiring power. Avoid daisy chaining extension cables or power bars together. Keep all electrical wiring out off of your grow room floor. If electrical problems persist, it might be a good idea to invest in LED grow lights that draw less amperage.
Plant maintenance alone can amount to a lot of work in and of itself but growing equipment should also be properly maintained to help the prevent a potential growing disaster by way of equipment failure. Many grow light ballasts have tiny fans inside that cool them to prevent a heat-induced short.
If these fans become filled with dust and debris, over time they will simply stop running. A ballast without a working cooling fan can overheat and become a potential fire hazard. The fans used inside your tent and for intake and ventilation should also be properly maintained to prevent from failing in a similar manner.
Blockages due to sediment build up in hydroponic pumps intakes and lines, can reduce water pressure and cause blockages. Excessive algae can also clog drain table run off, which can lead to potential flooding issues if not properly attended to. Properly maintaining your growing equipment should not be overlooked and regular maintenance after each harvest should mitigate the likelihood of such problems.
Keeping up with proper sanitation and grow room cleanliness can go a long way in preventing the spread of disease and pest infestation. Botrytis, Fusarium and Powdery Mildew are all potential grow room disasters in the form of fungal disease, but taking preventative steps in the form of sanitation is the best way to approach each new grow.
Fungal spores are extremely hard to keep from spreading once they’ve infected your crop, and if infected plants are left untreated, they can have severe consequences on your yield and bud quality.
Pathogens like pythium, can infect future grows if hydroponic equipment and pots are not properly sanitized from previous grows where the disease was present. We generally recommend that if you believe your growing pots are contaminated, the best bet is toss them. However, should you be inclined to preserve your plastics, then a thorough cleaning with a sanitizing solution is recommended.
The same sentiment can be applied to pest infestations as well. Often times pesky critters like two-spotted spider mites can stay in a phase of dormancy inside uncleaned pots and equipment only to infect your next grow.
Spider-mites, Aphids and Fungus Gnats are all tiny creatures that can be hard to detect by the naked eye so make sure to clean your pots after each grow to mitigate such an occurrence. Once you’ve got an infestation, it may mean tearing your plants down and starting anew to eradicate the problem.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Crop:
It can be hard to always be there for your plants, vacations happen – and so they should! That's why some growers have sought to automate their home grows as much as possible, with irrigation timers and fancy environmental monitoring cellphone apps. This is a wonderful way to grow, but in the event of unforeseen circumstances like a power outage, routinely monitoring your crops will help prevent these occurrences from negatively effecting your harvest day. A tripped irrigation timer could lead to your plants wilting or dying due to an inoperable irrigation system.
In nature, pollen from a male cannabis plant can pollinate a plant miles away through the wind. Indoor growers utilize fans to simulate the natural environment and increase airflow. Some cannabis plants, whether through genetics or environmental stress, can become hermaphroditic. These plants produce male pollen sacs as well as female cannabis flower. If a grower has a hermaphroditic plant in their grow room and has not been monitoring their crop, it could lead to the entire grow room being seeded.
Seeded flower will be much less potent because of all the energy a plant utilizes to create seed, which is most definitely a grow room disaster! If you’ve been routinely inspecting your crops, and you notice these pollen sacs, the plant can be eradicated before the pollen sacs open. This will protect the other plants in the room from being pollinated.
Some of the best ways to mitigate pest and disease in your grow room is also done by routine monitoring. For instance, if you suspect you may have fungus gnats, you can use yellow sticky cards to monitor the situation. Without routinely inspecting your plants a pest or disease issue can get out of hand quickly.
Plants also express themselves in different ways depending on their genetics. Some strains grow quite tall for instance, which may require additional plant training methods to keep your canopy away from your light source. Commercial cannabis companies have rigid monitoring and sanitation regimes to protect their bottom line, which is dependent on the yield and quality of their cannabis. We as home growers, should do the same to protect the quality of our buds!