Groblog

Welcome to the ongoing story of one man’s journey into the world of indoor growing.

A full house

Well almost full– two of my cuttings haven’t rooted at all yet, the other six are happily getting taller in the other bucket. I picked up 6 more cuttings from my buddy the other day, so now I’m two plants shy of a full house. Although if those last two from the first round don’t show some initiative promptly, I may have to cut them. Literally. BWAHAHAHA!

My friends over at KnowESys came through for me again!

BY THE WAY: I know I’m blogging this on their site, and the whole point is to share my experience as a first time grower using their products, but I have to emphasize that they don’t censor me at all. In fact, they encourage me to be brutally honest, because apparently the readers (you folks) like the brutal stuff. You monsters!

Anyway, the nice people over at KnowESys hooked me up with a pH probe and a fluid level sensor. Now instead of pulling off the lid and displacing the plants (or as I subsequently learned, using a long ladle and displacing at most one plant), I just pull out my phone and it tells me: 6.1 pH BOOM!

I had to calibrate both sensors, which was only slightly easier than it sounds. Basically, the way calibration works is you put the sensor into two “known” states and then it can use those reference values to figure out what any other value is for that sensor. So, for the pH probe I dunked it in 7.0 pH solution and entered “7.0”, then I dunked it in 4.0 pH solution and entered “4.0”. I told the app that the minimum pH is 0 and the max is 14, and presto it was calibrated. Similarly, with the fluid level sensor, I set the empty bucket reading to 0 and then added six inches of fluid. Easy enough setup, really.

But, WOW! Once I had it set up, I couldn’t figure out how I made it nearly A WHOLE MONTH without it! I never have to wonder about pH or fluid level anymore. I have an app for that!

Hurry up and wait, part II

So apparently, there’s a lot of waiting around involved with this growing indoors thing. Am I too impatient? On the other hand, I am already getting tired of checking pH and PPM every day. And I don’t even know what to make of the readings because the pH really seems all over the board and I don’t want to mess up and overcompensate like I did that first time. A couple drops here and there seems to be working. The plants haven’t died at any rate. They actually seem a little taller! PPM seems OK. If the plants are drinking anything, I can’t tell by the fluid level, which I also check every day. I think it’s time to talk with the KnowESys folks again and see if we can take my setup to the next level. I’m ready for some automation!

Oh, and we’re gonna need a bigger light.

What a week!

Wow, what a difference one week makes!

That one plant with the quarter inch rootling? Three days later it was downright bushy on the bottom! I set up a second bucket exactly the same as the first but with the “grow” nutrient mix instead of water, and (after spending half an hour learning valuable lessons about pH down and pH up and the importance of getting it right the first time and not overcompensating multiple times and then having to start over from scratch) I transferred my first rooted clone into the bucket.

I’ve transferred a plant a day since then too! I guess I’m doing something right!!!

We’ve got root, we’ve got ROOT!

After nearly two weeks of fretting that my plants were never going to take off, I’ve spotted the first tiny little root. Just a quarter of an inch but white and healthy looking! Little white nubs have formed on some of the other cuttings as well. Four of the eight have nothing at all, though. Am I doing this right?

The grobot has actually been super fun to play with and show off to friends. I can see how this thing could be useful once I have more than just a bucket with cuttings sitting there not doing much of anything at all!

First off, I can be at the grow shop, whip out my phone and show off my cuttings, and that’s cool. I have the grobot up close to the bucket for now, so the picture’s cropped and you can’t tell that’s the whole grow, LOL! He knows, though, since he’s the same guy that sold me the stuff in the first place. Still, his eyes got pretty wide when he saw the Cyborgro dashboard with the camera, temperature, humidity, motion and light displayed and the 24 hour graphs, etc. When I told him there was no server in the middle and that my phone was talking directly to the grobot with end-to-end encryption, he asked me if he could sell them in the store! I pointed him to this website and dropped some names to use if he gets in contact.

Watching nothing happen on CCTV

Well, I was warned that cloning is slow and that nothing happens for at least a week. It’s been a week, and guess what? That’s right, nothing happened. So to temper my impatience, I headed over to KnowESys HQ to discuss my early impressions with Dean and Marc:

 


Dean: So I hear you have your grow room all decked out and your first cuttings are rooting?

Me: Ummm, presumably yes.

Marc: Presumably?

Me: Well, they look exactly the same. Are you sure they’re supposed to look exactly the same?

Dean: Yes. That’s actually the best case. They’re not yellowing or drooping. They’re not dead. One week in if they don’t look pretty much the same you’re doing it wrong.

Marc: They’re pretty forgiving at this stage, though. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t get too hot or too cold. Are you using any nutrient solution?

Me: No, not yet. Just plain water.

Dean: You might see some slight yellowing by week two, but some growers claim the roots push out faster when they don’t find the nutrients they’s looking for.

Marc: Have you installed your grobot yet?

Me: Ummm, no.

Dean: OK, check this out… (Takes me over to the “Official Grobot Demonstration Station” at the other end of KnowESys HQ) This is the mounting bracket (Holds up a mounting bracket). Two screws mount it to the wall. You drop the bot into the bracket, point it in the direction of your plants and plug it in. That’s it.

Me: Isn’t there some computer-y mumbo jumbo to perform with dark magic incantations to recite? I’m excited to try this thing out, but I’m a little intimidated.

Marc: Don’t be. To set it up, just plug in a network cable and run the Ninja Smoke app on your phone. Your grobot will show up as available, just tap it, enter the username and password we sent you and you’re connected! Once connected, just tap the “seup wifi” button and enter your network ID and wifi password and you’re good to go!


 

 

So that’s what I did. Now I can watch my plants do nothing from the comfort of my living room.

And then there were plants

So I have a small bedroom in the house with no outside walls (hence, no windows) and a dropped ceiling. It’s small and we’ve used it for storage for years, so I figured it would be the perfect spot for an indoor grow! I tarped over the entire floor with enough of a lip running up the walls that even if there’s a pretty serious spill it won’t damage the floor. I took out the dropped ceiling and now there’s a full 8 foot clearance.

I’ve dedicated the corner around the closet to be the grow zone and the rest of the room will be the bloom zone. I picked up a roll of that heavy-duty 10 foot wide plastic sheeting from the gardening section of the hardware store, and used it to create a light barrier between the two zones. Very effective!

So in the corner all by themselves in my little makeshift cloning bucket under my little 200 W lamp, are eight perfect little cuttings. Let’s see if I can manage to not kill them for a while!

Where to start?

A close friend has promised me some cuttings, but I don’t even have anything to put them in! Time to get cracking!!!

First up, a cloning bucket. But what kind? I decided that for my first cloner, I would go with a standard round 5 gallon bucket from the local hardware store. I also picked up a 317 GPH pump from the pet store, some 1/2″ PVC and a PVC coupling from the hardware store and one of those spinny-sprayer thingies from the grow shop to act as the mechanical innards of my bucket. Also at the grow shop: 200W grow lamp, 3-part nutrient solution, 2″ net pots and 2″ neoprene disks. And about eight bottles of various solutions that I didn’t even know I would need. That guy spotted a newbie from a mile a way. He was super nice and super helpful, and I suppose I don’t mind that I came home with slightly more stuff than I set out for. Besides now I know some things about the local water and nutrient upkeep that I didn’t before– Even after months of researching online!

I used a 2″ drill bit to cut the 8 holes in as uniform a circle as I could about 1/4″ from the outside edge of the lid. Then I cut a hole big enough to pull the pump’s cord & plug through, assembled the pump and sprayer, put it all together, added some water and plugged it in. Wow what a mess!!! I unplugged that bad boy just as quick as I could. After cleaning up, I put 8 discs into 8 net pots, which I then put into the holes in the bucket lid. There was much less sprayage. There was still some sprayage around the hole in the lid for the pump’s power cord, so I snugged the cord up with one of those 2″ neoprene disks and from then on most of the water stayed mostly inside the bucket where it belongs. The net pots fit a little loosely into the bucket lid holes and the water was pushing through at the edges. I could live with it, but SUBOPTIMAL!

When I told the folks at KnowESys what I was up to, they suggested that rather than using disposable 2″ net pots, I should use permanent lipped inserts that I can just drop 2″ neoprene disks with cuttings into. Since I have access to a 3D printer, they just sent me the file and I printed out 8 of them. Nice! The 3D printed inserts fit nice and tight so there’s no sprayage coming from the lid holes like I was experiencing with the net pots.

Whew! And I don’t even have any plants yet!

Episode IV – “A New Grow”

So today I started my new grow. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and since my motto is, “work smarter, not harder” I decided to use the Cyborgro system to help me understand what my plants are experiencing and expressing better. The folks here at KnowESys have been super helpful and have asked me to blog about my experiences as a new grower here on their site.

So tune into this blog over the next several months, as i (hopefully) learn the exciting art of indoor growing!