First of all, we love Hightimes Magazine – quality content & advice. We enjoyed this article by High Times “Bigger Plants, Better yields”, as it has some good information and will help many growers think about how they plan their growing operation and then how to work their plan. We did want to add some more thoughts to growing as to how we obtain “bigger plants and more importantly better yields”. Our team has worked and managed both commercial growing operations in the USA & Australia over the last few decades so many of our thoughts are influenced by these experiences. We’ve also been working in Coco Coir R&D for over 15 years and done our fare share of cannabis cultivation.
The thought about container/pot size affecting the amount of yield is undoubtedly correct but the saying “size doesn’t always count” is true here & with our experience, we’d like to add a little to the thoughts of this article by the High Times crew – simply offering a different perspective to obtaining bigger yields.
Roots are important; in fact they serve as a serious baseline for your plants ability to yield its best result. Roots do three things – support the plant; absorb water, nutrient and oxygen; and are a method of reproduction in some species. For support you can stake the plant or trellis it and this can reduce the need for support to almost nil and for this discussion I think we can dismiss reproduction. Now as for absorption the size of the root area that is needed is greatly influenced by availability of the water, nutrients and oxygen. We have seen 4 tomato plants in one grow bag, which is about 20 liters (5 gallons) in volume, for 12 months and never show signs of nutrient deficiency, flagging from lack of water or look unhealthy from lack of oxygen. These plants yielded 80 kg per square metre (11 square feet). We have seen 6 rose plants grow in that same size grow bag for 5 years producing 60+ flowers per square foot per year and never show any signs of ill health. These results were achieved by professional growers & it is their business to get the best return per square foot of area used.
The above results all have to do with the delivery of the water and nutrients plus the growing media that is used by the growers, which in both of the above scenarios was coir. If you can give your plants more water and nutrient you don’t need a large root system & thus, you don’t need a large container or pot. With the proper water and feed regime you could grow a very large plant & achieve bigger yields in a 1 gallon pot.
It is not only how much water and nutrient you give the plant but when it is given. The frequency is of vital importance – what is the right time & how do I know when to add water & nutrient? It has been said the best time to water is 5 minutes before the plant wilts, difficult to know but still worth thinking about. Many growers will give about 80ml of water per plant at each watering. In hot weather they may water every 20 minutes. You can grow in any media or pot; you just have to figure out how to water under your circumstances. He who controls the water controls the crop. Too much at one time can waste water and nutrient plus increase the possibility of being too wet and cutting of oxygen from the roots then increases. A good growing media will allow you to water as much as you need when you want and not hurt the root system.
There are some necessary conditions that need to be met but this applies to any crop & growing situation Your feed solution needs to be well balanced, your growing media has to hold water but not water log for long periods after watering (lets say 30 minutes for the purpose of this response) and you need to closely monitor your watering regime. The need for monitoring and how you monitor your watering regime is another whole discussion that we covered in our blog in another article “Keeping data on Watering”
The lesson here is simple science – If you give the plant everything it needs in a timely manner the roots will never stray very far from the dripper or watering source. Just like most living things. If we are fed the right amount at the right time, we won’t go hunting for food by need. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to growing but supply the root system with what it needs & you will get the yields you desire – large or small pot.
Thanks High Times – Awesome article. Hope you enjoy our perspective and please do give California Substrates Coco Coir a shot & let us know what you think 😉