Seemingly little things can make big differences in cannabis quality. One of the best “little” pieces of advice I can give any cultivator is to set yourself up for success before growing even begins. For hydroponic growers, this means to start by calibrating your pH meter and ensuring your EC/TDS pen is working properly.
EC and TDS meters measure the electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids in water. Together with pH, the readings give cultivators valuable information about how the growing medium is performing and whether they’re feeding their plants too little, too much, or just enough. Like any other scientific instruments, the meters require recalibration every so often to ensure they give accurate readings. Measuring nutrients with out-of-whack gadgets is a waste of time.
One of the best ways to calibrate equipment is to maintain a working meter and a backup meter and check them against each other. pH meters also require calibration solution. Your local hydro supplier should be happy to provide help if you need assistance.
Always have your water tested for contaminants prior to starting a new site for a grow or purchasing any products. Have a professional evaluate the sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium content of the water; high concentrations can lead to salt buildup and wreak havoc on a hydro crop. Testing water for heavy metal contamination is imperative, especially if you’re using well water. Never assume water is “good,” regardless its source. Roots don’t discriminate against hazardous substances, so it’s best to be informed about everything in a plant’s growing environment.
Rely on tests rather than guesswork or assumptions, and you’ll find yourself destined for consistency and success.
Originally from Seattle, Steven Lee co-owned and operated a medical collective and delivery service in Washington state and managed two I-502 commercial cannabis cultivation facilities prior to joining the operations and technical support team at Solstice Garden Supply, distributor for VEG+BLOOM.