BUCKET PLANT GUIDE
It is better to flower early than late. As a rule of thumb, give your plant about one month of veg before flipping to flower. You can veg for more, sure, but that can also mean a taller plant inside the bucket. Cannabis plants can get really tall really fast in the first weeks of flower, something we usually call "the stretch". Fight the stretch with all the tools you've learnt and you will have a good harvest. Different strains have different heights, but you should always try to keep it as short as you can. That means that you need to train your plant early and hard: I apply LST after the second week, and also at least one topping. Supercropping can be a great way to limit the stretch while strenghtening the plant. As a rule of thumb, don't let your bucket use more than 4 or 5 spacers. If you go higher than that the lighting won't be optimized, and you will have a poor yield with popcorn buds.
Growing different kinds of plants will teach you a lot about gardening. As you already know, Cannabis is a very popular choice between bucketeers, but the reality is that most plants work great inside the Space Buckets. I've grown cherry tomatoes with great success, and also tried dill, chives and basil. Hot peppers is a great choice and a good plant to start!
Yield is variable and hard to predict. This depends on many factors, such as your grower experience, the plants genetics, soil and nutrients used, amount of veg time and more! That being said, a typical good bucket harvest is 1oz. You can realistically expect about 20 grams for your first cycle, that number will go up once you get to know how this wonderful plant grows and reacts to different situations. The current bucket record is over 3oz with a supersized setup.
Use a separate pot with handles inside your setup. This is so you can remove your plant to train or water. I use 10L mini-buckets as my pots because they fit perfectly inside the 5gal buckets. You can use the main container as a pot (I've done it), but it won't be very comfortable for you, and it will limit the amount of soil you can give to the plant.
First hand experience is the best way to learn. Once you've read all the resources you may still be a little lost, and that is fine. The absolute best way to learn how to grow is to... start growing! Don't be afraid to kill up your plants. Dive into this hobby with the right attitude: be a curious, fearless micro DIY gardener. We have all killed many plants, and that has taught us a lot. Every cycle will be better than the last, as you won't repeat the same mistakes over and over.
So your bucket garden is finally finished! And now what? How to proceed once the build has been completed is one of the most common bucketeer doubts. In this article we will try our best to cover the basics of bucket plant growing. The text does not have a unique author, it features great answers and advice from the /r/SpaceBuckets community. This guide is a constant work in progress and is open to suggestions.
bacon_flavored: I have never had a seed fail to germ on me. My house is usually between 70F and 80F degrees. I place the seeds on a paper towel that has been folded in half then half again. I soak it with water and then place into a ziploc bag. I blow into the bag to puff it up and then zip it shut. I place it into a cabinet and every day I open it and add a tiny bit of water, then puff it up and close it then return to the cabinet. Within a few days it pops and after a couple more the taproot is long enough to plant. I then make a hole in soil roughly 1.5x the depth as the taproot is long and wide enough for it to lie almost sideways. Cover with soil and gently pat down and give a little water. Put under lights and a few days later I have a well established seedling.
bravoechonovember256: Place the seeds in a glass of water in the dark until they put out a taproot (that should be about 24-72 hours). After that, put them into an expanding peat pellet or directly into soil at 80F in a humidity dome under a smallish CFL. You can regulate the temperature very easily by adjusting the distance from the light. The peat pot can be planted once the taproot emerges from the bottom. I think the paper towel method was originally just a proofing method for testing large batches of seeds for viability. It works, but it's a step that you don't really need when you know you've got good seeds.
SuperAngryGuy: Use the generic two-knuckle rule. Does the soil feel dry sticking you index finger to the second knuckle in the soil? Add water. I personally use a moisture probe and take multiple daily readings in different parts of the soil since I cover the top of the soil with a one inch layer of fine gravel. This is to keep fungus gnats away. This can be a problem with the soil I use. Experienced growers also go by container weight. Feels lite, add water. It is harder to do this with gravel on top.
Ekrof: The problem is not how much water you put in, but how often you're watering. Plants like cannabis love a well drained medium (that is why the perlite is so important in soil). If you have proper drainage, you don't have to water much until you see runoff. I water every 3 or 4 days, depending on what the plant tells me. I don't follow a rigid schedule. The dryness of the soil is a good indicator, weight of the bucket is useful too. If it feels very light is probably time to water.
SuperAngryGuy: I use pH test strips. Use the 5.5-8 version if you use them. Strips are inexpensive, accurate enough to get +/- 0.1 or so under proper lighting and a little experience which is all the accuracy you need, require no calibration, can measure a single drop or less unlike the electronic bulb meters so can directly measure wet soil and require no special storage or cleaning techniques unlike electronic bulb type pH meters.
I gave up electronic meters in favor of test strips which I've been using for close to 20 years. If I were to go back to meters it wouldn't be the cheap glass bulb version which will likely be destroyed if the bulb sensor dries out, it would be the ISFET version since they require no special storage and can also measure a single drop. I would stay away from the pH soil test kits since they are actually the most expensive option long term since you typically only get about 10 measurements out of them. I get about 150 tests out of a roll of test strips.
Tree_Eyed_Crow: The main reason that pH is important to plant health is that the nutrient elements like Nitrogen or Magnesium, that need to be absorbed into the plants roots from a liquid water solution, are only soluble in water in a certain range of pH. Most the nutrients needed by plants are soluble and readily available to the plants roots at about 6.0-6.5 pH. If the pH is higher or lower by even a small amount, some of the essential nutrients that the plant needs to survive start to either precipitate as solids in the soil or bind with other elements, both of which means the roots can no longer uptake the nutrient.
Tap water is around 7-8 pH (depending on your location), so it sometimes requires adjustment before feeding to plants or there will be nutrient deficiency issues. If the pH of the water is too high, you can add an acid like Nitric acid, and if the pH is too low you can add Sodium Hydroxide (you'll only need to use a little of each to adjust the pH of a small amount of solution). Most nutrient solutions that are meant to be used with cannabis will lower the pH slightly so always adjust the pH after you've added the nutrients. If you're using RO water or distilled water, you're going to need calmag at the very least.
SOIL AND NUTRIENTS
bravoechonovember256: A good organic soil with healthy mycorrizae will take your plant from seedling through early bloom without any fertilizers required. They tend to be Nitrogen rich, with sufficient amounts of p-k-trace for veg. At bare minimum, I would add a bit of perlite and some dolomite lime to the mix before planting to prevent Ca/Mg deficiencies and drainage issues, while stabilizing the soil pH. As long as you monitor soil pH and don't over-water, you're going to avoid almost all plant health issues early in life when they're still fragile. For flowering (starting in week 2-3 of flowering), the plants needs change and you need to address them, but even that can be accomplished by just re-potting near the end of veg into a larger pot with a mix that's a little more geared towards flowering. Rock phosphate and kelp meal added to your original soil mix is the simplest way to go to address the additional P & K demand. Other than that, ensure your water is pH corrected, and add a little molasses to it to stimulate the microbial action and you have a very low stress, hands-off feeding schedule that keeps everything simple.
Robobug: For nutes, avoid anything "time release". Also avoid miracle grow if you can. You don't have to go to a hydro shop to get decent stuff. If your town has a nursery I'd head there for nutes (and soil for that matter). Look for veg nutes with a NPK ratio of about 6-4-4 that's what fox farms veg nutes are. Get as close to that as you can. For flower look for something in the 2-7-4 ratio or there abouts.
SuperAngryGuy: Remember with fertilizers it's always better to give too little than too much. Too much can just burn your plant, drop the pH and create possible osmosis issues. Osmosis is what causes tip burn and why they turn white before brown: the nutes are being sucked out of the leaf tips from higher salt build up in the rest of the leaf and then the cells die. White leaf tips means too high of fertilizers. But too little nutes is easy to diagnose for specific problems and correct. It's can be hard to correct too much nutes in some situations because some nutes like phosphorus are not very mobile in soil.