Just completed a batch of autos. White Widows, Cheese, and some Girl Scout Cookie plants. Made it through the grow alright, but I know the results can be better. I noticed a few things I’d like to ask about.
Roots… I can’t seem to get the roots to go much further into my 3 gallon air pots. Only the first 3-5 inches for the most part. The plants themselves were a bit on the stunted side too. Not sure what the cause might be. I also noticed it doesn’t appear like the deeper soil in my pots is seeing water. Could that be why my roots are all at the surface? I had a habit of overwatering in the past, so I’ve been cautious about it this time around. Dirt was bone dry. Humidity issue perhaps?
Speaking of stunted growth, I’m also wondering if perhaps I’m playing with the soil too much. I’ve used some great soil (Foxfarm) , but also been mixing almost 50/50 with peat moss along with extra perlite to fill more pots. I do add water when mixing so the soil is dry, but moist throughout the pot at the beginning. Could I be thinning the good soil too much, shorting the plants of nutrients? This past grow, I had em all looking great for the most part until the began to flower. Seems like that’s when they started turning to the dark side. I was expecting them to stretch more than they did and ended up with a bunch of short plants about 18" - 20" tall. Temps in the tent were in between 75 - 85 for the most part during the grow. I also held off on the nutes first 3 weeks and then I only used at about 1/4 of what was recommended. FoxFarm nutes.
Is my incredibly dry soil a symptom of not enough humidity in the tent during veg? One reason for stunted growth? I have yet to have a grow with the pots full of roots like I’ve seen on very healthy plants. Could it be drying too quickly from the additional peat moss & perlite in the mix?
My lighting is an HLG 480 watt led with the LM301H in a 5X5 tent. Fans blowing in fresh air at the bottom and drawing it out at the top. Both fans set to low with the tent sides slightly pulled in.
Kept my lighting up high to avoid burning the plants and raised as they grew.
I don’t have pics. Just curious if you wise folks may have some insight into what’s holding me up from having some much happier plants. I got a yield from what I did, but I know they can be at least 2X better than what I pulled in if not more. This is my third real tent grow. I’m learning more with each one. Hoping to make my next one live up to my expectations when I start again in the next couple weeks. Any suggestions you might offer are appreciated!
I suspect that over watering early on is the cause of the meager root growth. I grow in 10-gallon fabric pots and get a full root ball that I must work out of the pot by stepping on it sideways and rolling it.
I make certain that the soil is fully hydrated when I transplant into the fabric pots so the roots will have a reason to grow down and out as the upper soil dries out.
Well… I have been guilty of overwatering in my past grows, but I took real care to not go that route this time. As mentioned… I was going well throughout veg, but once they began to flower, is about when they began looking like they weren’t going to get much bigger. Seemed like they wanted more water then too, so I confess I may have given too much then, but I still kept it much lower than past grows. The very dry soil in the pots bothered me a lot when they got pulled. Was really hoping to see a much better root-ball filling the pots. Ok… Well, I think I’m going to use less peat moss next round and make certain the soil is quite moist at planting. I am seeing improvement over my beginning attempts, I’m wondering if the air pots might be drying them out too quickly also. Perhaps I should spray the outside of the pots also when watering so some moisture makes it in the sides. Thanks for your suggestions!
The root growth is set up by early watering practices and transplant practices and technique.
It sounds like you did great during the seedling stage. When the plants are placed in their final pot, the soil must not be too dry. I literally soak my soil before transplant but the plants in the 1-gallon pots are on the dry side. I then water the soil around the plant just a bit but not too much because I want the roots to go looking for the water in the new soil in the 10-gallon fabric pot.
This may not be what has happened to you but I have certainly seen it myself. Watering was the trickiest thing for me to get figured out. Because we want to have fairly dry soil before watering, the soil can become hydrophobic if we wait a bit too long. You must be mindful of this because roots will not grow into dry pockets of soil.
I don’t remember if you mentioned what kind of soil you use. I use Fox Farms Ocean Forest with add worm castings and perlite (about 20% each). When I mix the additional worm castings and perlite is when I add quite a lot of water as I fill the new pots for transplant.
I hope that you find a bit of useful information in this rambling post.
Ha! I was born a ramblin’ man, meself. No worries!
You hit on a point I was thinking probably happened. I’m confident that the soil further down just dried out and wasn’t taking water. I did moisten it all when planting. No transplants either. I planted directly into 3 gal pots since they were autos. My understanding is they don’t like transplanting, so I started and finished in the same pots. Most likely a contributing factor. Maybe that’s why they seemed to hit the wall when they began flowering. They wanted more water, but instead of it flowing down, it just flooded the roots where they did manage to grow. Just guessing here.
You’ve given me some things to chew on here.
Next grow will be no added peat moss, but I do have worm castings. So… FF soil with the worm castings as you mentioned. Some more perlite, and I will ensure the soil is well hydrated. I think if I can keep moisture in the soil, most of the battle will be won.
Two things. If the bottom soil is dry that tells me you are not watering enough to obtain a good amount of runoff. Water more less often. When young, make sure you water down the center of the pot . This will help drive the roots deeper. Then circle out to increase root mass.
Did you have any ph related problems? Watering without adequate runoff can often lead to ph issues.
Apologies for taking so long.
I got to thinking about everything and made some big changes to the way I was trying to control the climate inside the tent. Part of the dryness was the way I had air flowing through it with an intake and exhaust fan. I’m realizing humidity or lack of humidity was an issue that was drying everything up so much, so I cut out the exhaust fan and only have a fan inside the tent moving air around and one hooked up to a heater that blows warm air in automatically to keep it between 72-75 degrees. I also built some wooden stands to elevate the plants off the floor where I have two large aluminum trays filled with water. This setup gives me 60-75% humidity in the tent.
I’ve had it up and running since Dec. 7 and so far, it’s been a major improvement. I’ve had a couple past grows where I had similar issues, but also a few times where I wasn’t sure about ph issues or nutes, or me overwatering. Probably a combination. I’m using organic nutes this time and I think the combination of changes looks much better. The higher humidity looks like it’s allowing the soil to maintain moisture and dry out slower. I can feel the moist air when I open the tent now also, so it’s much better. Here’s a pic. 3 Blueberries front row. One’s a runt, but should be fine. 2nd row are 3 Gorilla Glue Autos, middle was a dud, planted another. back row is 3 Zkittles autos.
Forgot about PH… I water with PH at 6.5 with or without nutes. Not sure what the soil’s PH is. I’ve never checked it.