How to set up an Aeroponics grow station to grow cannabis

Published May 30, 2019 12:13 p.m. ET
Credit: SEASTOCK

Whether you are just learning how to grow weed for the first time, or you simply don’t have the space to consider any other options, aeroponics is one of the most straightforward, most compact, energy efficient and self-functioning systems out there for growing marijuana. Here you will learn precisely what aeroponics is, how to make your inexpensive aeroponics grow station at home and some of the many benefits that can be achieved by using this technique.

What is aeroponics?

Aeroponics is a technique that is used to cultivate plants that are suspended in the air with exposed roots that are consistently being misted with nutrient-rich water.

How to make an aeroponics system for growing marijuana

This DIY project is an expensive way to try aeroponics growing all year round. You will notice that there are very few length measurements and that is for a good reason. Every tote is going to be slightly different than the next, so it’s essential to keep that in mind when picking up supplies. If you use a small tote that can only sustain 4 plants, you will need fewer parts, and if you select a larger version, 12 feet of pipe might not quite be enough. Always inspect the parts compatibility by eye before beginning to make cuts, as one short measurement can mean another trip to the local hardware store to finish.

Tools/Materials

  • 1 large, durable rubber storage tote with lid
  • 4-8 caged sleeves
  • 4 360-degree sprayers
  • 12 160-degree sprayers
  • 1 drill
  • 1 small pump with PVC exhaust that matches the pipe size
  • 12 feet of PVC pipe that is a ½ inch in diameter
  • 5 PVC corner joints
  • 5 3-way PVC pipe splitters
  • 1 4-inch circular drill bit
  • 1 1-inch drill bit
  • 1 foot of 1-inch diameter rubber tubing
  • 1 rubber corner piece

Instructions

  1. Begin by measuring out the number of plants your tote can support. There should be at least one square foot of lid per plant. Once you know how many you will be using, you can use a large circular drill bit to cut a hole in the cover for each plant sleeve to slide into.
  2. Now remove the lid and set it aside entirely. It’s time to take an assessment of measurements that are needed for the internal irrigation system that you are about to create using PVC pipes. Begin by measuring the length of the inside of the tote. The longest parts are here, so these will be the first cuts you want to make. Remember, it’s always better to cut longer rather than shorter, as you want the piping to sit in the indent at the top of the tote as snugly as possible.
  3. Once you have made those cuts, then it is time to press all 4 of the corner pieces onto the freshly cut pipes. Press them together firmly, since the glue will not be used and lay them lengthwise in front of you.
  4. The internal pipes that will run the same way as the outer chamber are slightly trickier. Each one will need one 3-way splitter piece installed directly in the middle, while still measuring the same length as the first two pieces. This means you will need to cut four separate pipes that are held together in pairs by a splitter and measure the same as the solid pipes that you just cut beforehand.
  5. Finally is the smallest and most significant number of cuts. This portion of the irrigation system will be made up of three separate pipes that are attached using 3-way splitters.
  6. Once you think you have all of the pieces cut to length, it is time to put them together and see how they fit inside of the tote. Once you are done there should be one full outer ring of piping and two others that run lengthwise across the center of the tote. Press the system into the divet along the edge of the tote, and trim down any parts that need to be adjusted. Once you are confident in the fit of this portion of the irrigation system, you can move onto the next step.
  7. Use a one-inch drill bit to make a drain hole towards the bottom of the plastic container. This way, if you ever have too much water, it will leave through a safe set up rather than lifting your plants out of the aeroponics system. Press the rubber corner into the hole and install the tubing by pressing it firmly into the corner hole.
  8. Now you will need to install the final piece of pipe that will run directly downwards to the submerged pump. Do so by cutting two small pieces of tubing to a size that will hold in the final 3-way splitter that is pointed down.
  9. Remove the irrigation piping to install the sprayers. Most sprayers that are found in grow stores require a 1/16 drill bit to fit snugly without leaking. The four 360 sprayers should be installed on the inner tubes, and the 12 160 sprayers should be evenly spaced out around the outer piping.
  10. Now you will need to measure the length of pipe that will be required to reach the pump spout from the last opening in the middle 3-way splitter. Once that’s cut and put into place, the whole thing can be put back together to ensure a proper fit before moving on.
  11. Finally, a hole for the drill cord is necessary towards the top of the tote to keep it from being submerged. Use a 1-inch drill bit to make a small hole, and feed the cord through it to plug it in.
  12. Now it’s time to see if the system works! Add in approximately 10 gallons of water and plug in the pump. Lift the lid to inspect all the working pieces and make any adjustments necessary before moving onto the planting stage.

How to plant cannabis in your aeroponics system

This DIY marijuana grow system is very different from regular planting in soil and pots. Follow these step by step instructions that will guide you through the planting process:

Tools/Materials

  • 10 gallons of water
  • 4-8 marijuana seedlings started in rockwool cubes
  • 4-8 neoprene sleeves

Instructions

  1. Once you have finished building an aeroponics grow station, you will need to fill it with small cannabis plants. The seedlings should be started well in advance of making this system, and all of them must be grown in rockwool cubes or a similar growing compound. Dirt is not compatible with the cage sleeves that are used to suspend the plants in midair. Once you have seedlings or clones that are rooted in this medium, filling the tray is as simple as dropping one plant into each caged sleeve.

  2. If you were to leave the seedlings just sitting, they would eventually get damaged from rubbing against the edges of the cups, so to avoid that you must use neoprene sleeves that are cut to the size of your cups. Gently open the slit in the middle of the neoprene disk and guide the stem of the plant into the center holding hole.

  3. Now finally you can add the water to the system and make sure it’s enough to properly function the sprayers. If not, you can add a bit more, and if it’s enough than you can set the lid back on and get ready to watch the magic happen.

How to take care of an aeroponics system when in use

Though this grow box is relatively low maintenance, there are a few things you will need to do to keep the system running flawlessly. Follow these guidelines for the best chance at success.

Instructions

  1. One of these set-ups will work for the length of an average growing season, but they should be thoroughly cleaned between crops to prevent mold and other bacteria from forming.

  2. The aeroponics system will initially take an average of ten gallons of water, but much of it will slowly evaporate over time. It is always a good idea to check the water levels of your grow station daily to avoid a potentially fatal dry spell.

  3. One of the best parts about using aeroponics for growing marijuana is that it makes for a direct and straightforward delivery method for nutrients and supplements that can provide an extra boost for your plants. Any hydroponics specific supplements that are meant for edible types of plants should be safe to use in this system. Just remember to perform proper flushing for at least 3-4 weeks before harvest.

  4. The roots of the cannabis plants will always be well watered, but the tops that support the fruit will remain dry without a little bit of extra assistance. Keep a mister bottle on hand and give the plant stalks and leaves a fresh spritz once a day, to keep the leaves healthy and well nourished.

Lighting for an aeroponics grow system

A lot of people use these homemade boxes outdoors to avoid having to supply additional lighting, but for those who are using them indoors, a bulb and fixture that is equipped to cover the square footage of the tote are necessary.

Credit: OpenRangeStock

Benefits of growing marijuana using aeroponics

  • Takes up minimal space.
  • Energy efficient as both the irrigation system and portability lessen the amount of water and hydro needed to produce a healthy harvest.
  • Less maintenance is required since the system is self-functioning and uses a growing medium that will help to regulate the PH levels.
  • Over 90% of the materials needed in this aeroponics unit are reusable.
  • Aeroponics speeds of the growth process and produces most substantial yields.
  • These systems are entirely safe to use, and easy to fix.
  • Since aeroponics applies constant exposure to oxygen via the roots, the plants can easily absorb more significant amounts, while also staving off many of the diseases that cannabis plants so often succumb to.
  • Useful both indoors and outdoors.

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