Important Information Regarding Growing Containers
A month or two ago, I did an article about growing containers, and I got some emails from those of you that were not super clear on the importance of the container dynamics like the design and/or modifications, to make the containers (mucho) better places for the living roots. Since about early 2019, I have been “on a mission” of sorts, exploring the various containers for growing cannabis. My (empirical) conclusions are based on repeated side by side experiments using clones to limit variables. If you want to be a true bad-ass cannabis grower, in containers, you need to possess this knowledge.
Today in this article I am going to make sure you guys get what I am laying out here, because this is critical knowledge regarding your choices for growing containers, at every stage; and especially, those of you utilizing the living soil. I also know some serious hard times have befallen many of you out there due to the zombie apocalypse, buying new containers would be foolish now for you. Have no fear, I’ll show you guys how to DIY your containers you have easily, to do the job well.
Sadly, some of the best growing containers I have ever found are no longer being manufactured—what a world—these were made by Gro Pro and called Plant Warrior pots. The one in the photo is a 3-gallon size, perfect for flowering under 300- to 400-watt lights, in my experience. But that’s okay, there are still plenty of kickass growing containers on the market. I’ll show you how to make the ones you have now, into good growing containers.
Roots Don’t Drown So Much as They are CO2 Poisoned
I’m sure you have seen those movies that use frozen CO2 (Dry Ice) placed in water to create that eerie fog that creeps along the ground. That fog is literally CO2, and behaves just like CO2 in the air. CO2 is heavier than air, this is why that “fog” created by it hugs the floor/ground.
Why is this so important? Because this is exactly how it works in your growing containers when you water them. When you water, billions of life forms go to work, and along with the roots of the plants, start using up the fresh air in the soil, rapidly. The microlife expels tons of CO2, just like you and I do when we breathe. This CO2 amount is a lot, and builds up in the containers rapidly to toxic levels (like within 30 minutes) without a way for it to “drain out” of the containers, and be replaced with fresh air.
Air Pots, or any of the fabric type pots, are awesome with regards to CO2 “drainage” and aeration of the soil. The only drawbacks to them I have ever found are two-fold. FIRST: I don’t like not being able to really lift up the pots to see how light they are for watering purposes. SECOND: You need to use fairly large growing container sizes when choosing these fabric pots. They dry out uber fast in hot and dry growing rooms, and they can get so bad you may need to water them twice per day. So, rule of thumb is, if you would normally use a 2-gallon sized grow pot, use at least a 3-gallon size fabric pot.
Your Three Basic Requirements for Awesome Growing Containers
Catch Trays: to catch the runoff water from your growing containers right after watering. These are an absolute MUST HAVE amigos, bigtime! You will lose way over 50% of your growing containers’ food supplies—and so, the plants’ food supplies—in the soil; it will literally pour out of your growing containers with the runoff water. With well designed (or well modified) growing containers, you can have the runoff water sit in these catch trays for 24 hours, or longer, easily.
Drainage Holes Galore: not only is it important there are many drainage holes in your growing containers, it is just as important as to where they are placed, and that they are relatively large in size. Optimally, you want some of the holes to be in actual contact with the surface of the catch tray, and you want some at an elevated level, within channels allowing air to flow freely from side to sides. Additionally, you want some holes up on the sides of the containers, just above the highest water level the container experiences in any given watering session.
Made from Food Grade Materials: This is a biggie you should be especially concerned about, if you are going to DIY your own growing containers. Using containers food was originally stored in, is a good move. Essentially, you don’t want a growing container that will leach out harmful chemicals into your soil over time. Food Grade plastics are awesome here. Plastic cups, yogurt containers, 4-gallon buckets, and the list goes on, all work fine when customized using catch trays and drainage holes.
Three Great Growing Containers for Cannabis or Any Plants
Self-Watering Style Growing Containers: You can find these easily at anyplace that sells growing containers—even Wallyworld carries them in the springtime—and these growing containers work beautifully. As you can see in the photo above, only some of the container goes below the waterline of the built-in catch tray. This keeps most of the container up above the waterline to effectively “drain” building CO2 levels after watering. Just use these like regular containers watering from the top. Runoff water can sit in these trays for 2 days, literally, without harm to the plants.
Cone Style Growing Containers: This style of growing containers are my very favorite ones. They have unmatched aeration and allow for full CO2 “drainage” even when sitting in their runoff water. Look for these at nurseries and better grow shops. Make sure these grow pots also have drainage holes in contact with the catch tray, and have elevated drainage holes up on the sides. Cannabis plants LOVE these growing containers and this is an outstanding design—try them you’ll like them!
Slashed Sided Growing Containers: Some containers are just awesome the way they are, like the little one in the photo above with the greener, happier clone plant in it. This style of container just extends the drainage holes up the sides of the growing containers a bit. This allows for ample CO2 drainage when the container sits in runoff water in the catch tray.
You Can Use Hemp Twine or Whatever to Create Contact Between Soil and Catch Tray
Capillary Action is what I’m talking about here. You may be familiar with a system of growing called “The Wick System” and this modification is needed on some containers to ensure all the catch tray water gets sucked back up by the soil and roots. When growing containers of this type, ones with actual legs that lift it up off the floor, with twine like in the photo below, are placed into catch trays and then watered, the twine will drink back up every last drop of runoff water.
Your real goal here once you have awesome growing containers, is to find out how much water any given container size needs to be fully watered when dry. A rule of thumb says about 1/6th of your container size. Using this formula, a 3-gallon growing container would need about ½ gallon of water to fully satisfy it when thirsty. You want the water in your catch trays to be sucked back up within 24 hours, otherwise you are watering too much.
I hope you guys understand these things I have shared with you today. Having great growing containers is for sure a game changer, you’ll see if you put my advice into practice. Hope you are all well out there during the zombie apocalypse. Stay safe, and I’ll catch ya all back here at SKUNK next week. Cheers.
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I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.