Bubbala's Bucket Journal

Greetings to all my new growmies!
Ok… so I’ve been fiddling around with this concept on/off for a couple years now, and have had some success with a single plant RDWC. It’s grown some respectable plants, but I’m just horrible at training, so I want to have 2, smaller plants in my 2x4 tent. I may just be compounding my problems, or it might work well… Let’s all find out together! :grin:

This iteration has several major changes besides doubling plant count, most important, is a DIY chiller addition. There’s also some fan upgrades, the tent is now elevated, and since I’m not really a scrog-ger, and typically just tie back to the buckets, I’m trying a lower level mini-frame to tie back to that allows the net lid to be slid over slightly when necessary… more on that later.

Needless to say, it’s not enough for me to just grow a plant, I gotta fiddle and fart around with all kinds of mechanics to do it. I guess being a machinery operator my whole life, I just get a weird kick out of blending the overly complicated, with the super simple.

So the first thing you’ll most likely notice, is that the flow of water is running backwards! Yep, skimming the surface and feeding from the bottom. Kinda like an ebb and flow, only it’s all flow, all the time. Maybe it’s all been tried before, but I haven’t seen much about it, so it’s all just experimentation to me. It’s all about the journey, not the destination… right? RIGHT?! :crazy_face:

The ILGM Super Skunk Auto seeds (new genetics to me) only took 12 hours to crack, and that was 7 days ago, so today is Week #1. One of the seedlings was effortless, the other helmet headed really bad. I planted hinge down for the J-root, and kept it domed, but I think the short soak might have something to do with it. Anyway, it was close, the stem looked to be turning black, and I didn’t think she was gonna make it. I went through a hot pepper spree a couple years ago, and they’re notorious for helmets, so I had some experience dealing with it, and had it not been for that, it probably wouldn’t have made it. She looks a little rough yet, but I think she’ll catch up just fine.

Anyway, I could ramble on for pages, but I’ll post a few pics, and just go from there. I’m open to all the questions and critiques anyone has to offer, even if it’s just simply to say: Bro, that’s never gonna work! It’s all good, and I’m just gonna have fun at it no matter what.

Right now, the standpipe in the return brings the water level about an inch below the rockwool. I’ll start turning the elbow that sticks into the return bulkhead in a couple days, gradually lowering the water level by tipping the standpipe until it can be removed completely and the elbow returned to an upright position. I’m uncertain which direction I’ll take moving forward after that. I might run it straight out the bulkhead, or leave the elbow in. It’ll depend on what I decide for a water table height and how the roots react this grow.

Big plus to this, is any root interference can easily be addressed from the top of the bucket, instead of a bottom drain, although I’ve had very little issues with it in the past. Another big change in this version, is the return bulkhead holes are drilled much lower, allowing a water table below the netpot, which is something I’ve never really done. Once the rootball encases the stone, I really don’t see a point in leaving an air gap. As long as the root crown isn’t submerged, it’s all good. If these were totes with lots of open water, it’d be different. But a 5 gallon bucket can get pretty packed with roots, so more water = more root room. I’m more concerned about holding pH in a small res like this. It was fine for a single plant when using pH drops, but now I have double the plant mass, and this fancy new Bluelab pen, so… stay tuned!


Digging the concept and I’ll tag along :love_you_gesture:

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Adding in some details:
Air temp 80f
Humidity fluctuating quite a bit. Typically 50-60% Dehumidifing when too high.

Well (25%) + RO (75%)
General Hydroponics Flora Series @ 5/5/5ml per gal + CalMag @ 2ml per gal
Running seedlings at 25% strength of that.
Chilled to 67-68f.

HLG 600w DIY RSpec @ 24/0
Dimmed to the 300 PPFD / 25 DLI range.


Good luck growmie!

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Thanks! I can always use more of that!


Day 14 since seeds opened.
It’s been a busy week. Right away this week I noticed the rockwool cubes were getting wetter, which they shouldn’t. I’m also trying bigger airstones, so I lowered the water level a bit and turned the stones off for a day. Now they’re drying out nicely and some good roots are put down. It seems the stones were just way more powerful than I was used to. No harm was done, and that was an easy fix.

Then the slight light green appearance they always had kept getting worse all week. I started by dumping a few gallons and adding full strength mix, to get to a 50% solution. Didn’t help. Then I double the N. Thought I saw a little progress. Then I dumped the whole thing a couple days ago and mixed up a full strength 5/5/5 mix, and it looks like they’re finally taking off. What pigs, either that or my nutes are going bad. By comparison, the last thing I grew was a Grandaddy Purple Auto, and besides being a little heavier in the bloom mix, this level of nutes would have fried it even as a mature plant. When adjusting nute levels, I feel comfortable upping the Gro or Bloom on the fly, as they’re added last when mixing anyway, but I’m reluctant to add the Micro to an already mixed solution for fear of lockout. That’s the point I dump and start over.

I guess that’s the problem with experimenting with a different strain every grow. All part of the thrill though! Hopefully I’m on the right track now and I don’t end up burning them, now that I know what heavy feeders they are. They’re still on the mend, but looking much better than they were. Being autos, it’ll probably result in a lower harvest now, but I’m totally ok with that.

I’m also using this new Blulabs pH pen, and compared to drops it reads a little different. 5.8 on the meter is closer to 5.0 in the drops, even after 2 calibrations. I know I’ve had good grows with the drops. I thought about returning it and trying the Apera, but nearer to the 6.0 range they seem to be closer. At least it’s consistent every time I measure, so that’s the important thing I guess. I’ll give it some time and accustom myself to the new tech before making any judgements.

A bit of an uncertainty I have is in the supposed 5.8 pH ideal for hydro though. Any chart or table I look up shows, even in hydro, that N starts falling off at 6.0. The only thing to start dropping at/above the 6.0 mark, is iron. I know some with run 5.8 in veg, and up it to 6.0 or so in flower. I decided to run around 6.2 for now, and slowly drop it as it greens up more. Just something I’ll be monitoring.

So anyway, the helmet headed one is still lagging, but coming into its own. What I do find interesting though, is the cotyledons of the larger one. I haven’t grown canna that many times, so don’t know if branching at the coty nodes is that uncommon or not, but it’s new to me. I think there’s some genetics issues going on as well. OK, autoflowers, so duh… but when the one helmeted, I popped another seed, since it looked pretty grim for a couple days. That was over 10 days ago. The first 2 popped in 12 hours, the 3rd took days. It’s only just now opened it’s cotyledons, and the first leaves are just barely sprouting. It needed help getting out of the rockwool too. So I dunno. We’ll see what happens in the weeks to come.

Mechanically speaking though, everything else is running as expected. Not much to work out until the roots gets going. Draining was pretty direct, with a tap into the chiller line, it just pumped itself out without a mess. Still the same ol’ bucket problem with a little left in the bottom, but I’m able to drain them pretty low, so I won’t be sweating the small stuff on that one. Worst case, I just dump a bucket of plain water into each grow bucket to super-dilute whatever is left and pump that out too. As far as lighting goes, I’ve upped it a couple times and am about to 500 ppfd. Once I hit 600, I’ll switch to 18/6 that day, but I’m waiting to see how they green up. I think they’ve had enough stress so far.

So, here’s hoping for a more event free week. If there’s something else I could be doing to green them up, feel free to holler!


So week #3 since the seeds cracked…
The nute change worked well and things are finally under way. I did add 2ml/g more gro earlier in the week. I did a full change yesterday, which normally would have been my first full change, but, here we are. I adjusted the ratios slightly (2ml/g calmag/6 micro/5 gro/5 bloom - last mix ended up at 2/5/7/5), but kept the EC pretty close. It’s currently at 1.5 (was 1.4) which is about right for this stage, but I’d never normally start a seedling at that strength. This strain I will though, now I know. I worked the pH down to 6.0. I’m still a little unsure about the meter, since it’s so far off from the drops. The drops are saying mid to low 5’s, so I’m unsure what to trust at this point. If I hadn’t recently decided to retire early to care for an elderly parent, I’d just add the Apera to the collection and have some better data comparisons.

The right plant has one leaf that’s either damaged or diseased. I cut it off after taking the pics. The rest of the plant seems unaffected, so I’m not going to overthink it just yet.

The left is still running behind, but it’s making good headway. The water table in the right one is at it’s permanent level, but the roots in the left are a little slow too, so it’s got maybe one more step before it’s ready to be dropped all the way. Probably Wednesday.

Lighting is up to 45 DLI on the full spectrum setting of the Photone app, but it’s only 34 when switched to full sun. I’ve read that full sun is the closest to accurate, but that’s also on an apple with a diffuser iirc. Since I have an android (Samsung S7), I’m unsure which to use, and have nothing to calibrate it with. Since the light itself is only pulling about 200 watts, and the plants aren’t showing any light stress even when they were smaller, I’m guessing the full spectrum setting is reading low, since I’ve normally ran hotter in the past. For now, I’ll just have to pick a number and stick with it so I have a benchmark for using this app in the future I guess. Given the signs, I’m guessing the full sun setting of 34 is probably the more accurate one.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but enough jabbering (I changed my camera lighting a little for better representation of the actual greenness)…

The straggler on the left:

The right one with the leaf damage:

Almost forgot, I used this Kill-A-Watt for setting my light wattage before I learned about the Photone app (Thx ILGM!), so rather than let it sit in a drawer, I plugged it in at the start of this grow. Everything; light, pumps, chiller, fans, is all plugged into this. I punched in my local electricity cost and bada-boom… a bit under $15/month. That’ll go up once the light gets cranking, but it’s fun to see the money fly out the window :laughing:


Earlier I mentioned I dropped an extra seed when one of the first pair helmeted, and how it’s been really runty. Well here it is, still alive but oh so small and stunted. No idea why, it’s just always been really slow. Just wanted to show it because I went from plain water with no nutes, straight to full strength 5/5/5. So yeah, these babies are eaters when they’re young. Don’t know how it’ll be when they get big, but they sure were hungry babies! Of course it could be back to me wondering if my nutes are going bad, but I’m pretty sure that’s not it. Always closed and in the dark, even if they are a couple years old. They worked great in last years grow, and still work for the vegies. They haven’t crystalized or done any weird separations or anything, so I’m just thinking this strain has hungry babies is all.

Don’t mind the salt buildup. This is just a repurposed vegie seed starting mini bucket and the bubbler was a bit too high at first.

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Well this ought to be interesting. Little Cinderella here really wants to go to the ball, so I’ll see what I can do. My veggie pipe system is idle anyway, so let’s play How low can you go! It’s a 2x4 footprint, but only 24 inches high. The lights are HLG’s and are my only other grow lights, but they’re only 65 watt blues meant for veggies. I’m certainly not expecting yield from this, but thought it’d be good practice for my training techniques, especially on an auto. My luck it’ll probably start flowering tomorrow. Oh well, I certainly can’t just throw it away, right? Besides, I had all the parts and it was pretty much just plug 'n play.


It didn’t, but this one did. Ok, just sexually mature, not really flowering, but this Right one is going strong. No signs on the Left one yet, and it’s still lagging, but growing well. I was hoping for bigger plants before they turned, but it’s about that time, and there’s still a ways to go before actual flowering starts I think.

I just upgraded my microscope to the tubular phone app one that’s been floating around the forum lately and was really itching to try it out for real. Hooks up to Android super easy and seems to work pretty good at this setting, which is barely off the 50x end of the dial. The coloring seems a bit washed, probably from the built in light I’m guessing. Maybe I’ll play with that a little next time.

Something else I found yesterday, was more spots. Right away when I woke up, there were quite a few more blemishes on the lower, older leaves of both plants, more so on the left. It’s got all the signs of early Phosphorus deficiency, so I added 2ml/g more Bloom and trimmed some bad stuff. The spots were advancing surprisingly quick throughout the morning, but by evening it had slowed and this morning things look about the same, so I hope fixing the P levels was it. :crossed_fingers: They’re starting to drink some now, so I’ll probably do another weekly nute change tomorrow and up the nutes to try and stay ahead of their hunger.


Another Monday, another weekly entry. I feel like I’m supposed to write Dear Diary

So as I was saying last entry, the nutrient struggle continues. I added another 1ml/g of Bloom, and there’s still a little oddness in the older leaves - may just be age for an autoflower - but for the most part the right one is doing alright.

The left one is still really lagging, and seemed to take the nute def harder than the right. I woke up Saturday and the Left was overall just really droopy. I’d defol’d a couple of leaves that were either over 50% bad, or were just too big on top of new growth since they’re so bushy… but nothing to cause that kind of stress. I added a gallon of straight RO since they’re drinking now and helped dilute the EC down a hair. It was better by the end of the day, but even after yesterdays dump and fill (3cm/6m/5g/7b 1.6ec 6.0pH), it’s still subpar, although still trending better.

As pH slowly rises and I bring it back down a couple times each week, I’ve been gradually trusting the pen over the drops more and more and am now dipping below 6.0 when I lower. I’ll be running pretty much the standard ‘drift’ of 5.8 to 6.2 moving forward.

As far as lighting goes, I dug up what I could find for a PAR map on my discontinued HLG 600 Rspec and calibrated the Photone app on my Samsung Galaxy S7. I think it’s working, I guess. I really have no way of knowing if I did it right or not. My readings were apparentlly low before, but node length has always been kind of a driver for my lighting control, and I still think I used too much. I can’t train a shrub very well. Anyway, I’m running about 30DLI at the tops of the plants right now. They’re getting bushy enough now where I’ll be adjusting the height this week. It’s only 12" from the tops of the plants right now, which was fine when they were little, but the bushier they get, the more coverage I lose. Time to raise the light and up the wattage. The workers at the electric company gotta eat too right?

Let’s see, what else… I put a couple gallons of straight RO in the holding bucket. Since they’re drinking now, it’s time to put that into action. I’ll use some variation of nutrient mix when they drink enough to warrant it, but for now just straight RO should be fine. I’ll be monitoring the TDS and take it from there for nute changes.

Oh, I tried doing some LST, just bending the top over. It kinda worked, but took the wires off for some pics. They’re pretty locked in now anyway, awaiting more vertical growth to work with. It’s a little to thick and rigid from its bushiness to do much, but the branches are growing out more now, and am thinking this week I’ll be tying those back instead. Not sure if it’s from bending the top over or not, but I’d like to think it helped at least.

Lastly, the stigmas are definitely in action on the Right, but like everything else are lagging on the Left. I think I see them, but not making the call just yet. So since they’re hitting puberty, that might explain the P deficiency last week? I suppose I’ll need to be increasing that a little moving forward. They look like they’ll be pretty small plants compared to my last couple grows, but they sure eat a lot.

Well that’s about it I guess. I try to name the pics accordingly with at least an L and an R, so if you can see the pic names, that should help when things (hopefully) start gettin’ busy.


Right (First 2 pics are exact same except for lighting. Just thought it was interesting how much difference there was with a “full spectrum” light on it vs a cam flash.)

Side by Side


It’s been a week since the runt was put in the tote, so I figured I might as well do a weekly on her too. Maybe it’ll help in keeping me in a routine of some kind with this new retirement thing.

There’s not really much to say. Since I started out of the gate with the full nute strength, there hasn’t been any issues at all other than the obvious stunted start and runti-ness.

Topping and laying flat is the plan here of course, so I made my first attempt at a FIM. Not really sure I understand the concept, other than trying to mutate the growing tip by cutting it in half, instead of completely off. This is all experimentation anyway, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully it vegges long enough to put out some branches, but I have no expectations for this plant, and I’d be surprised if it ever even covers the tote. The netting looks rather silly in scope, but it was the fastest, easiest thing to set up just for a leftover. I suppose a lot will probably depend on if the flowering timetable is still on schedule, or is stunted in parallel with the growth.

I also added a third light. It’s a spare so it’s the same as the other two and with a little makeshifting, fits right between them. It’s on full power and the side two are dialed back to around half I suppose. That makes 195 total watts of 301h power on 18/6, but all still in the 4000k blue spectrum that falls off pretty hard at about 640nm.

The roots look great. I cut a hole when I put this together, so I could drop a little pump down for change overs. Siphoning would also work for this bench-type setup, but the bigger hole makes it easy to stick a meter in.

I guess that’s about it until Monday, thanks for stopping by!


Just swapping tags w/ @OGIncognito . Meant to do so earlier, but got too busy scrolling through 7k+ entries in his! That’s a pretty wild looking storage cabinet man :+1:

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Roots are on point Grow Bro :muscle::muscle:, 1/2 of the 7K post are Growmies just BSing :joy::joy:. Man the mistakes I’ve made and look back and say what the hell were you thinking or doing​:joy:. Thank the cannabis gods the farmers and community here had my back :joy::love_you_gesture:


Just another shout out @BloomingGhost .
A lot of soil growers around here, but I’m not great with plants. Hydro seems to work better for me, although that aero rig did look pretty cool.


Week #5
Everything seems to be chugging away just fine. No real new stigma growth to speak of. A little here and there, just pre-flower stuff still. Something I have noticed though, is how small the bracts and stigmas are compared to the couple others I’ve grown.

So by the time Friday rolled around, they’d drank over 2 gallons of plain water and the EC was down to 1.2. I’d been doing change overs on Sunday, but didn’t want to wait that long this time, so I went ahead and did it. I upped the nutes a bit to 3cm/7m/5g/8b and also mixed up an additional 4 gallons for the fill res. The check res was enough to go a couple days in the 2 bucket RDWC, but I want the fill res connected for 2 plants. lt was also a good time to do some root maintenance, and since this aspect is kinda what this particular test grow is all about, I’ll ramble on about that for a minute…

------- Caution: Long boring backstory ahead ---------
It started when I did a DWC a couple grows ago. I was just coming off of a Stir-Ponic type of system for veggies in a 5x5, and was seriously downsizing. I did a single Afghan auto in a 2x4 that filled the whole tent, and when I saw how large the root ball was getting, I knew I needed to get some kind of circulation going. So I plumbed another bucket in and made an overflow RDWC, like how the water flows now, just with a single bucket.

It worked better than I could have imagined. I wish I still had the pics. The root ball was the size of a 3 gallon bucket and was so thick it stood up on its own. The really great part, was I could have the water capacity of a DWC, and the constant water level of an RDWC without gooseneck pipes or other res’s, not to mention all the other checking, draining, etc. benefits of an RDWC.

The overflow was just the bulkhead hole inside the bucket with no filter screen. No real roots grew into the hole, because the root ball had already formed in the DWC bucket it came from, and new growth was downward and basically sealed off from the surface. The next grow I started with the same RDWC 2 bucket setup right from the beginning. It didn’t take long to discover I’d need to either start them in DWC until the root ball got big enough, or try and screen out the roots until it was. I just stuck a 2" net pot horizontally, over the bulkhead hole, and pulled it tight through the 2" of drain tubing with a zip tie and paperclip. It got the job done, but needed work.

Now the idea with the 2x4 tent size in the first place, was to run dual plants. I could actually run dual, 2 bucket RDWC’s (4 buckets total), but that seemed awkward. I decided to try this dual bucket system, so I tried it on some tomatoes and just reused old system buckets with new holes. I also tested around with the DIY chiller project at the same time. Those poor tomatoes went through hell! I took what I learned from that, and some new buckets, and made this current system from scratch. The adjustable water levels and vertical net screens are probably the biggest alterations this version, which if I come full circle, is kinda the current theme of this particular journal I guess.

So there ya’ll have it. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing the way I’m doing it at this current point in time, but I’m sure a lot will change before it’s all over!
-----End of long boring backstory------

Now if you, the reader, made it through all that, then the pics make more sense when you see the roots growing through. It’s expected, and is part of the process being worked on. They’re very easy to maintain at this point, and just sliding the lid back and pulling them back works fine. If a few break off, no biggie. Last time I’d just pull them out through the res as single random ones would find there way in there. So anyway, we shall see if there’s a reasonable solution to this, or if starting in DWC, then moving the lid to an RDWC is a better alternative if I want to pursue this backflow technique.

Moving on… Last night I figured it was about time to start tying some stuff out and opening the Right one up a little bit. I’ll leave the Left one to fill out a little more still, probably another week. I tightened up all tie downs this morning, and worked on hollowing out the underdeveloped tips and leaves in the middle. She’s still doing some twisting and turning, but is rebounding quite well. I took some before and after pics, as well as this morning after she recovered a little.

I guess that’s it. No root shots of the Right one for a few weeks I guess, until it woodens up a bit and I can relax the tie downs. I’ve got enough slack to slide the lid over still, but lifting it out of the water ain’t happening for a little while now.

Left struggling straggler

Right - before LSTing

Right - after LSTing

Right - now

Roots and drains

Oh yeah, I also added a couple more fans and moved the ACI ones. There’s pretty much a circle of airflow around each plant now and there’s slight flutter in leaves pretty equally around all sides.

Ok, I have to go stain a deck… Until next time!


Interesting read Grow Bro and dig that set up, good ole tomato Ginny pigs for the prototype :joy:. Well done Brother :muscle::muscle::love_you_gesture:

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Thanks man! Hopefully it keeps working well through to the finish line. They actually all hit flower the next day (yesterday), so I tied back the Left one right away as well. I knew it had to be getting close, since the nodes started staggering maybe about a week ago. Hope I’m all set for the stretch now. They look like there’s enough bud sites that if it develops well, I should get a few oz’s anyway. I’d be happy with a 1/2lb between all 3, but this strain just seems to grow smaller. Stalks are strong and bigger than my thumb though, so I’m optomistic.

Hey, thanks for reading along! I could grow to be 100 and still feel like a rookie at hydro, but I think I’m getting the feel of most of it. Something I am really horrible at though, is everything cannabis from LST onward. Training, drying, curing. That’s where I feel I need the real work, so if you see anything going awry, or if I should be doing something different, please… shout it out!

Now if you’ll excuse me, last years harvest ain’t gonna smoke itself! :pinching_hand: :grin: :+1:

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I hear ya! On point at your spot Grow Bro :love_you_gesture:


I was hanging a light in my “water closet” just now and it reminded me of some discussions of RO in the threads, so I figured I’d make an entry on my thread here in case of any future reference need. Nothing really related to my current grow, but, well kinda it is I guess…

This closet in my finished lower level walkout (aka: The Basement) backs up to the bathroom, and behind that sheet of OSB is the sump, lift pump, elec outlet, and water supply (NOT my design! It was all sheetrocked over when I got here… then the float switch went out, oh my.) Oh, and the little bladder tank that comes with these under-sink RO kits is back there too.

It’s all just 1/4" ice maker type tubing, so it’s pretty easy to plumb, and a handful each of quick connect valves and elbows detailed the installation out to my OCD liking. The picture sums it all up pretty well… What you can’t see is a float valve just like the res one, attached to the PVC that passes through the bung cap on the right, and a PVC drop tube in the left bunghole, attached to a filter and RV pump powered by a transformer. It holds about 50 gallons in the drum, and another ~2 in the bladder tank. There’s about 25’ of food grade hose between the pump and the valve for use directly in the grow area, or just filling a 1g jug, or the 7 gallon blue water jugs I use to mix nutes in. There’s no switch for the pump, it’s self activated whenever the valve is opened.

It’s worked flawlessly for almost 3 years now. My well water is only ~250ec, so I went 2 years before changing the filters out, and they weren’t too bad. All but the RO one that is, it’s still good for another couple years they say. I’m always in low single digits when I check it, so it’s been working well.

But this isn’t just for plants. I use this for all my coffee and cooking water also, so it gets plenty of turn over and the water is always fresh. Another facet of this, is that we lose power often enough in this part of the woods that it fosters a bit of a “self-preparedness” mindset, so with this, I’ve got water for quite a few days with either a hand pump or car battery.