I am a dedicated soil grower, but have recently reaped the benefits of additional coco coir in the soil mix. The increased drainage and aeration has boosted growth rates, but requires somewhat more attention to keep the soil from drying out when using small containers (I prefer to run a small “sea of green” using one-gallon pots).
For short term absences from the grow room, I need to be sure that the plants are getting enough water to hold out for a week, especially in the summer when the temperature – and the resulting transpiration of water – runs high.
Recently, we were all going to be away for a week, and needed an easy solution to get the plants through with enough water to keep them moist, but without the danger of over-watering.
The solution turned out to be quite inexpensive and very effective. I picked up a dozen “Blumat” – cleverly designed clay spikes with plastic caps and water tubing attached made by an Austrian company.
They are simple to set up and use. Just soak the clay spike for about 15 min to saturate it with water. I found it useful to submerge the cap and tubing, as well, and get any air out of the tubes to be sure they work most efficiently. You then push the clay spike into your soil, and dangle the tubing into a reservoir of water that is placed lower than the clay spike. This is key! If you place the water bucket higher than the spikes, you’ll create a siphon and flood your plants. Keep the spikes above the water level, and they work using capillary action, drawing water up from the reservoir as the soil dries.
It took a bit of trial and error ahead of time to get it set for our absence, but it turned out that two of these spikes per one-gallon pot kept the soil moisture just right under 250 Watts of lighting. I figure that most of you budget home growers are using 250 watts or less, in which case this setup should work just fine. Keep in mind that these “clay spikes” max out at 80-100ml of water per day, but will also deliver less if your plant requires less. They react to the dampness of the soil and draw accordingly. Not bad for a cheap, easy solution.
You can pick them up in a pack of 3 on eBay or Amazon for about $12.
Writer Glenn Panik’s “How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana Growing”, is available on iTunes here, for the Amazon Kindle or via Smashwords here. You can also order the ‘stealth title’ of our information-packed ebook for the Kindle here.