Review: HTG Bubble Boy Hydroponics Kit
I’ve been growin’ weed in dirt for over 40 years. Indoors and out. The last 15 years strictly indoors in dirt. All kinds of dirt. Backyard dirt, store bought potting soil. Even Miracle Gro dirt with time release nutes and some local worm poop dirt.
If I fed them properly, the plants always did pretty well. None of these dirts would support a plant on it’s own, even the Miracle Gro stuff. Gotta give it the nutes it needs. However, the yields weren’t quite up to my expectations. Waiting 3 months for an ounce of dried bud didn’t make sense.
That being said, I decided to jump into the hydroponics game. Although not a new technology, I had never desired to try anything but dirt. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But the price of quality hydroponic units and accessories had dropped, and it seemed time to make the transition.
Northern Lights AutoFlower from Nirvana Seeds.
I had bought 10 of these seeds and tried to grow 9 of them in dirt with mixed results. Not the dirt’s fault. Found out later that there were problems with the strain, and they were pulled off the market. All germinated, but after that they had a mind of their own. One grew to 3 inches tall and never got any taller. It didn’t get sick, it didn’t die, it just stopped growing. Almost all had problems flowering. Most showed signs of flowering at or around 60 days. A few did flower, the rest didn’t.
Anyway, on to hydroponics. I wanted to start out with something simple to understand and use, so I bought a kit called the Bubble Boy on eBay from HTG Supply. 3.5 gallon bucket, single net pot, bubbler stone, dual outlet air pump, hose and clay pellets for under 50 bucks shipped. Also bought a pH meter and a TDS meter, at about 50 bucks for the 2 shipped. If you don’t already have them, 3 quarts of General Hydroponics Flora Series, highly recommended nutes, will run you about 40 bucks.
So, I managed to get set up for about $150. More than what dirt would have cost, but if it worked right, it should pay for itself in no time.
Because of the small grow space I had available (2’ x 3’), it wasn’t feasible to use high wattage HPS lights. Yes they are the best source of light, but the heat they generated could have cooked dinner on any given night. (yes, you can install equipment to deal with the heat, but who wants to spend a few hundred dollars to do so?). So 8 years ago I went with CFL. I give each plant 16,000 lumens of light. Have had no problems, with the plants’ growth rate pretty close to HPS. Without the heat and cost.
Yeah, but how many watts? Watts don’t matter. The number of lumens a light puts out does. A single plant needs a minimum of about 10,000 lumens. It’ll grow with less, but the yield will suffer. I will eventually replace some of the bulbs for the higher output, thereby reducing the number of bulbs needed per plant.
My current setup for a single plant:
2 ea. 23w (120w – 1800 lumen output ea.) CFL spotlights 2500K = 3600 lumens.
2 ea. 42w (200w – 2800 lumen output ea.) CFL spirals 2500K = 5600 lumens.
2 ea. 55w (250w – 3600 lumen output ea.) CFL spirals 5000K = 7200 lumens.
Total 16,400 lumens.
Why all the different sizes, you ask? Supply, and the fact they last for years. The 23 and 42w I could buy locally (live in a small town) and the 55w online. Doesn’t matter what sizes you use. As long as the lumens add up.
NOTE: Turning CFL bulbs on and off with a timer will reduce the life of the bulb. Be sure to check the lamp package, which will indicate if the lamp is not intended for use with electronic timers or photocells. Most aren’t. Some electronic timers and photocells contain parts that are incompatible with compact fluorescent light bulbs; using these bulbs in incompatible products will result in a shorter light bulb life. To find out if an electronic timer or photocell is compatible with compact fluorescent bulbs, check with the manufacturer of the timer or photocell. I use an Intermatic Digital Timer model DT17 with no problem. Cost me around $40.
CFL comes in 2 colors: 2500 Kelvin (yellow) and 5000 Kelvin (white). The yellow is best for flowering, the white for vegging. If you don’t want to change them when needed, run a mixture of both as I do. Then you can use the same bulbs throughout the grow cycle.
I ran my lights 18 hr on and 6 off for the first 30 days or so. Then 12 on 12 off to push flowering.
So, after all that and 30 days vegging, here is what I got:
Not bad, huh? 13 in. tall and 15 wide. Note the dwarfism due to it’s autoflower genes. Looks pretty happy. Actually, it’s a little TOO happy. It’s beginning to crowd the space I’ve got. A problem I didn’t have with dirt. But I’ll live with it.
This is by no means a sophisticated grow setup. Your setup will vary. It was built with economics in mind, what was available and the fact cannabis will grow no matter what you do with it. It’s a very hardy plant, and if you feed it right, it will give you the best quality accordingly.
Since this plant comes from the last seed of bad autoflowers, I won’t know if it buds like it should. I’ve already started an
Aurora Indica plant in a second Bubble Boy. It’s not autoflower. We’ll see how it does. I’ll post another blog on these plants in time.
CO2: As we should know, plants exhale oxygen and inhale CO2. So it’s important to give the plants as much CO2 as possible. They like it. At a minimum, you should keep the air circulating, especially in a small grow environment. Replacing the air gives the plants fresh CO2. This last grow I am using a CO2 generator called Exhale CO2 bag. A mycelial mass generates enough CO2 for 4 plants for 6 months. Naturally. In a bag. And it works. Plant seems to love it. (Note: If you are using a ventilation system, keep in mind that it will also remove the CO2 this bag or any other CO2 generator puts out.)
Changing Water: I change water and nutes once a month, although it is recommended to do so every 10 days. Seems either will work. To make this easier, get a clean 5 gal. bucket and use it to set the Bubble Boy lid with plant and roots into while making the change. You won’t damage the roots and it will prevent you from standing there with the lid in your hands and not knowing what to do with it.
|10 Days Old||15 Days Old||20 Days Old|
The HTG Bubble Boy is a great product for beginners with hydroponics. The unit is well built, the air pump is quiet (as quiet as that type of contraption can get), and everything is included to get you started. And the price is right. The bucket will accept lids from 5 gallon buckets (it’s really just a short 5 gal. model), and is black to block out light that can cause mold and mildew. They also sell any accessories you need, including light kits, light hangers, tents, filters, fans and more. Shipped and received in 3 days. Me thinks I may be buying a third…..
Note that in no way am I affiliated with HTG. I just think they make a good product for a good price and wanted to share that with you. You can get equal results from any of the hydroponic units out there.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.