Ed Rosenthal's Favorite Methods For Growing Huge Plants
This excerpt from Ed Rosenthal's new book “Ask Ed: Marijuana Success” highlights one of his favorite ways to grow cannabis at home with a wick system. The wick container system is an easy way to garden because it is self-watering and takes the guesswork out of when to water. It requires much less care than hand watering, it is simple, quick to assemble and inexpensive to install. The wick system is based on capillary action, like a cloth sucking water from a puddle. The system we have set up works on the same principle. Instead of a fabric, we use braided nylon rope.
Starting from the bottom, we need a tray that is at least three inches deep and wide enough to support the plant container. The larger the container, the deeper the tray should be. For example, for a 1,80 m bin, I use a 25 cm deep tray, but for small bins, the tray is only 7 to 12 cm deep.
Materials needed to build a wick system
We need blocks to keep the container a few inches above the shelf. Here are some possibilities: 2 ′ × 4 ′ or 4 ′ × 4 ′, planks, styrofoam blocks or an inverted plastic tray. The container is as follows. Choose a container the same size as the one you normally use. I have used this system with four inch containers and eight foot wide squeeze containers.
Then there is the wick. The braided nylon rope sucks water very well. These wicks last a long time. I have used it for over 10 years. Choose the size of the bit. The larger the container, the thicker the wick should be. A small container only needs a ¼ inch bit, while a large container, deeper than a small one, can use bits up to ¾ inch. Larger containers should have more wicks, so water is sucked through the wicks all over the bottom of the container.
Then the planting mixture is placed in the container. Once the water is sucked up by the wick to the bottom of the soil, the latter begins to make it rise vertically by 20 to 25 centimeters. Many mixes are able to draw moisture upwards, so try your favorite mix first. You've probably seen the wick of the soil mixture soak up when you've watered a plant and excess water has drained into the tub below. A little later, the water disappeared as it rose through the planting mixture. The wick system works in the same way.
Place the wooden or plastic supports in the tray. Measure and cut the wick. It should start at the bottom of the tray, go through the drain hole of the container and extend over the bottom of the container to the drain hole on the other side and to the bottom of the tray. The rope tends to fray at the ends. To prevent this, before cutting, use two twist ties, one for each end of the rope, to hold it in place. If the bin is wide, use two drill bits, one in each set of two opposing holes. You may need to drill holes in larger containers, such as children's pools or wide trays. Imagine that each drop of wick covers about two square feet. Fill the container with a mixture of plants. Plant the plant or seeds.
To start, add water to the container until it begins to drip into the tray. Fill the tray with water, replenish the tray as it loses water. You can also water the container from the top every now and then. The planting mix automatically absorbs water from the wick as the plant uses it.
This system can be automated. By placing a tank above the level of the container and placing a flush valve in the tray, the water level can be maintained longer. A number of tubs can be connected to a reservoir, so that the entire garden is irrigated by simply filling the reservoir. The advantage of this system is that each tray receives water only when it needs it.
And there you have it, it's an easy, inexpensive but really effective way to arrange your garden. Thanks Ed.