There is an old expression that states,“ The things we own…end up owning us ” and that can certainly be the case when growing Cannabis plants. Watering our garden frequently is an essential part of growing top quality flowers and keeping plants healthy and happy. In this article, we explain the best ways to manage your garden whilst away for a short or longer period of time, covering various irrigation system solutions, mistakes to avoid and top tips.
How to take care of a cannabis plant when you go on a trip or on vacation
The idea of being away from an indoor or outdoor crop is a scary thought for many home growers. The idea of relaxing on an exotic beach for 7-14 days with their partner or family, can become a major distraction, as you are anticipating the worst back home.
The main problem with having a secret indoor garden is the fact that no one else knows about it. Those who work with a small circle or by themselves have become masters of discretion. The idea of asking a stranger or friend to tend to your complex garden system whilst you are away, can be an anxiety ridden time.
Who will water the cannabis plants?
This is the moment of truth and the answer most people are faced with is nobody else. On the other hand, there are hydroponic growers who work with only timers and irrigation systems that are not dependent on hand watering.
It is necessary to adapt to a hydroponic format whilst you are away. If you are planning a trip away over the Summer, then a 1-2 week vacation can make or break your unattended crop. Outdoor plants may endure heat stress and drought conditions during a pinnacle point in the plant’s life cycle, and indoor plants may seriously suffer from excessive transpiration.
How often should an outdoor cannabis plant be watered?
Before we cover the various solutions to allow you to become self-sufficient, and to keep your indoor garden’s remaining secret, is to think about how frequently plants should be watered? What is the maximum amount of time the plants can go without any water or nutrient solution? How quickly will evaporation without watering occur? It is best not to find out the hard way and to think ahead. Not all drip irrigation systems need to be complicated, and be attached to sprinklers and outdoor taps.
Are hydroponic systems not complicated and use chemical nutrients?
In the event that you are away on a short or long trip, then using plain water and no nutrients will be the best solution. There is no need to start using chemical fertilizers, checking E.C and pH levels, and instead feed only water to an organic growing medium.
Electric-based irrigation systems
For any indoor or outdoor grower with many plants, then electric-based watering systems will be the best solution. Using a timer, pump, and reservoir that holds the water, you can rest assured your plants will be consistently administered a regulated frequency of plain water or nutrient solution.
There are two options you have to work with here, and they are either the amount of time the drippers are on for, and the volume of water the drippers produce.
Automatic irrigation system
Timers can be bought as 15 minute segment devices and allow plants to be fed a regulated and consistent amount of water daily. Simply connect the pump to the timer and set to feed once or twice based on the dripper head and size of the plants. Alternatively, you can connect the lines to the bottom of the pots and bottom feed.
Drip stakes or valves can come in all shapes and sizes, meaning you can choose how much water per hour is used. These can range in size from 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 liters of water per hour. These will slowly drip water out, so there is no need to worry about over watering. An excellent solution for high volumes of indoor or outdoor plants.
Battery-powered irrigation systems
If the idea of using electricity puts you off, then you can use battery powered irrigation programmers. You may have noticed these in garden centers and have a heavy-duty appearance.
A programmer is designed to connect to your outdoor tap, hose, and dripper lines and then to be programmed to allow water to pass through as and when desired. They are also well worth the investment and not only are a great way to keep outdoor plants well hydrated, they also last for a long time and are a well-designed product.
Other non-electric irrigation and care systems
For those who have a limited budget, and need a short-term solution, then below are various options that don’t require electricity or batteries. There are pros and cons to each, however may be a good solution for those away for 7 days maximum, and have a trusted friend that can be given a house key.
Gravity irrigation Designed to hold around 10-15 liters of water, and connected to a drip line with smaller drippers, these are a brilliant way to water plants. However, they do need a person to fill the water or nutrient solution back up each day. An ideal and hassle-free solution if you have a trusted neighbor or family member close by.
Capillarity irrigation A very slow release way to feed plants, that essentially uses a wicking action to determine the amount of water required. These systems have recently become popular and seem very effective, especially for organic gardens. Depending on your indoor set up, the reservoir may need to be hand filled again.
Irrigation gels Sold in grow shops, these clear water retaining gels are nutrient free and can be used to optimize moisture levels in the soil. They may be a good solution for small-sized plants not exposed to intense lighting, such as clones or seedlings.
An inverted bottle These handy devices are wonderful to recycle old plastic bottles, and drip feed your plants individually. The only downside is you need a person to refill each bottle and set them up for each pot, which may become time-consuming and laborious.
3 Top tips to consider
Top Tip #1: Do not feed your plants excessive amounts of water or nutrient solution before going on vacation, under the impression a large amount now will balance out whilst you are away. This will only cause toxicity or deficiency issues and will encourage soil pathogens.
Top Tip #2: If you are using a pump and drip lines, never put organic nutrients inside the reservoir. Over time, the nutrients will sit and turn anaerobic, as well as blocking the drip lines and pump.
Top Tip #3: Work out exactly the volume of water you want to feed your plants when you are away. If you are use to feeding for example 1 liter per hour, use a dripper that produces 1 liter per hour. Do not use any sized dripper and make sure it is the exact amount you feed now.