Why Mitch prefers hydroponic cannabis cultivation 

By Cheri Sicard
December 20, 2023

I have known Cannabis Cheri's grow editor, Mitch Mandell for decades and he has always been a big proponent of hydroponic cannabis cultivation, even long before it was on most people's radar.  

When he first started experimenting with hydroponic cannabis cultivation there were no proliferation of hydroponics stores like there are now.  You also couldn't get hydroponic growing kits, like those from The Bud Grower or Grow Ace.  Back in those days Mitch made his own hydroponic cannabis cultivation system from recycled plastic 2-liter bottles, PVC pipes, and buckets.  And he used to grow some amazing weed with that system.

Mitch first experimented with growing cannabis hydroponically as a young man living in his Los Angeles apartment.  There was no outside space save the balcony which got little sunlight and was in full view of the neighbors.

He found that growing hydroponically had several advantages that will appeal to a broad spectrum of cannabis growers, but especially living in apartments:

  • No soil meant no dirt coming into the home and no dirt to dispose of after the harvest.
  • All the nutrients and fertilizers are liquids which are generally neater.
  • You could grow a large plant in a smaller space.
  • Crops grew faster than in soil.

Mitch says hydroponic cannabis cultivation is like growing on steroids.  As the nutrients go directly to the roots without the buffer of soil, their effects are felt quickly.  Both goods effects and bad.  The one crop Mitch ever lost was due to a pH imbalance.  This is one factor you will need to check daily when growing cannabis hydroponically.  You have to monitor pH when growing in soil too, but not quite as diligently.

Mitch also compares hydroponic growing to driving a finely tuned race car, meaning that tiny changes can have big effects, so you have to take care with anything you do to the plants.

Likewise, there is a small learning curve to get started with hydroponic cannabis cultivation, but once you learn what you are doing, Mitch says it gets easy and just becomes a process or rinse and repeat.  And he says your cannabis plants will grow faster and grow bigger.

Even though he no longer lives in a concrete jungle apartment, Mitch grew to love hydroponics so much, it's still his preferred growing method after all these years.

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Types of Hydroponic Cannabis Cultivation

Once you decide you want to try your hand at hydroponic cannabis cultivation, you will need to choose between two styles:

#1 Deep Water: Deep water hydroponic systems keep the plants' roots submerged in water during the entire growing process.  An air stone, the same kind you would use in an aquarium, keeps the water oxygenated.  Deep water is probably the simplest and easiest way for a beginner to dip their toes into hydroponic growing as it's a simple system with few moving parts, especially if they get a complete grow kit like those from Bud Grower that comes with EVERYTHING you need (except seeds or clones).

#2 Ebb and Flow: In an ebb and flow hydroponic system the plants roots are flooded with water that then ebbs away.  No air stone is needed as the roots are exposed to the air between waterings.  The process continues on a loop until harvest time.  We are currently checking out the ebb and flow grow kits from Grow Ace, so stay tuned for more info on that.

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About the author

Cheri Sicard is the author of Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women, and The Easy Cannabis Cookbook.  Her online courses at Cannademy.com have educated 1000s of students about marijuana, cannabis cooking for home cooks, and making infused topicals.

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