Photo: a standard pH kit for hydroponics includes a liquid pH tester, pH UP (potassium) and pH DOWN (nitric or phosphoric acid) for adjusting the pH range. Alternatively, vinegar can be used on some growing mediums to reduce pH if mineral salts are undesirable due to their effect on the EC of the nutrient solution.
Test the quality of your water by checking the pH and EC range. Take into account any unusual colour or smell of the water. Make a chemical analysis at a pharmacy if you think your well water or tap water is heavily contaminated.
“Incorrect pH belongs to the most serious nutrient disorders in organic-soil gardens. Many complex biological processes occur between organic fertilizers and the soil during nutrient uptake. The pH is critical to the livelihood of these activities.” (Marijuana Horticulture, Jorge Cervantes)
Ideally your water quality should be good enough so that no or only minimal adjustment to the pH is required for a fresh nutrient solution.
Purchasing the correct fertilizer for your water quality helps in stabilizing the pH in your system. Several companies offer hydroponic fertilizer for either "hard" or "soft" water.
Take appropriate action if the water quality is low: a high EC or very low/high pH are indicators (i.e. pH below 6 or above 8). A household osmosis filter is the cheapest long-term solution to improving water quality if you have no other clean water source.
Usually a household osmosis filter is sufficient to clean water from common impurities such as calcium, magnesium, and low levels of salts. The cost of 100,-$/Euro is worth the investment and cheaper than buying bottled mineral water. An osmosis filter system can last a lifetime and you only need to exchange the filters every once in a while. An osmosis filter is essential if your water has a high EC . Generally an EC above 0.7 mS/cm (or 700 µS/cm) is problematic, especially if you need to fertilize indoor or have a hydroponic system. Mixing your water approx. 50-50 with pure osmosis water solves this problem.
For a general assessment of your water quality test the pH and EC range with your essential kit. Also look at the colour of the water and if it has any strong smell. If you notice anything out of the ordinary you can give a 1L sample to the pharmacy for a chemical analysis. The pharmacy sells sterile bottles for this purpose. The analysis usually costs 50-60$/Euro and provides details of common harmful contaminants. This is especially recommended for testing well water. It helps to say that you need an analysis for drinking use and watering plants so that specific contaminants are tested for. If you need to install an osmosis filter for heavily polluted water you will need this analysis to purchase the correct osmosis system and filters.
Germination is the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Whether you’re planning an indoor cultivation or outdoor grow, it’s best to germinate your seeds indoors. It’s easier to maintain proper temperature, light exposure, and moisture inside, and you can protect your seeds from the elements. Indoor germination, whether using soil or paper towels, will ensure your cannabis seeds have the best chance for survival.
The downside of water germination is that once they’ve popped, you’ll need to maneuver them into their growing medium manually. This is a delicate process, as germinating seeds are extra fragile, and any harm risks the development of your plants. Make sure to place the seed roots down in the soil when you transfer to a pot.
When a seed enters an environment with enough moisture, it will increase in size and slowly break out of its shell. A seedling or germ forms from which roots will emerge, helping the baby plant absorb nutrients from the soil. Seeds naturally develop roots facing down and stems stretching upward, allowing the young cannabis plant to simultaneously feed off light and earth.
Monitor your soil every day and keep it moist. Within four to seven days, you should see tiny stems sprouting from the soil.