Automatic watering system for Cannabis

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DIY automatic watering system for indoor growing

Hi there and welcome (back) to Free the Tree!

Today we’re going to cover different ways to make your own Automatic Watering system. We will mainly be covering drip systems, that irrigate slowly but surely your soil.

For the past couple days we’ve been testing out different techniques to do so. We figured, might as well share it with our fellow growers 🙂

Watering your cannabis plants is one of the most time consuming aspects of growing. This is especially true if you want to have an even watering across the whole medium.
This is the main reason why we started doing this, watering these 6 babies growing right now is too time consuming.

The thing is, we didn’t have the money for this so we looked for the cheapest, most efficient ways to do so. We found a way to do it for 20 bucks or less !

Here’s what we’re going to talk about:

Automatic Watering System - Table of content

Pro’s and con’s of a Drip Irrigation System

Creating a Drip system actually has a lot more pro’s than cons. Whether it’s the time saved of watering or the amount of water used, there’s hardly no down sides to using a drip irrigation system.
Let’s look at the pro’s and con’s closer

  • The top levels of the soil isn’t bothered by the weight of the water (generally the case when using a container to pour it)
  • The water filters down slowly spreading by capillarity
  • Water will spreads much more thoroughly within the medium, increasing its irrigation
  • Much less water is needed. Since the medium is irrigated slowly and the water covers the whole ground you will not have 20% of access water
  • Time saved on each watering.
    Prepare your mix and let the drip begin
  • Pretty simple to set up
  • Must be careful that each plant get the same amount of water.
  • You cant adapt the mix to each plant. If some plants show specific deficiencies you’ll have to water them manually and stop the drip system flow to that plant.

Water Line Drip Irrigation System for indoor cultures

In this section were going to cover how to set up a drip system using water lines and drip systems. You’ll have to make a little investment (tops 15/20 bucks) for the materials.
After that in about an hours time you’ll have a system ready to go 🙂
To regroup here’s the different steps:

  1. Group your materials together
  2. Visualize where the water lines will go
  3. Install the water lines and drippers
  4. Test if everything works
  5. Do your first drip watering run 🙂

Let’s go through the process

1. Group your materials together

The materials for this systems are pretty cheap, for 20 bucks or less you’ll be able to set it up. Here’s what you’ll need:

What is needed for an Indoor Drip Irrigation System?

  • 1 Container – The size will depend on how many plants you have and how long you want it to last. On our end we went for a 15L one.
    If possible get one where you can shut off the water flow, it’ll be useful.
  • 2 meter of watering line per plant (to be safe).
  • In-line drip systems. This will also depend on how many plants your have but our advice would be 3 drips per plant.
    This will allow you to water evenly across the medium.
  • Something to keep the water lines steady over the soil

And that’s it! Once you’ve grouped it all together you’re good to go!

2. Visualize where to place the water lines

It’s important to imagine where you’re going to place your water lines and drippers before hand. This will help you cut the right sizes of water lines, you’ll see that it’s not very flexible so cutting the right lengths is important.
The top image is our first version with using only end on line drippers which didn’t really work out.

3. Installing the Water Lines and Drippers

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of what you’re here for, setting up the drippers and the water lines, here’s what to do step by step:

Setting up an Indoor Irrigation System:

  1. Cut a first piece of water line long enough to go from the container into your grow room.
  2. On one side of that line take some duck tape and tape it around the tip..
    You want to get the water line thick enough to fit into the tip of the container. In later steps we’ll secure it to the container.
  3. Set up the water lines inside the grow room.
    We recommend that you set up 3 drippers around the soil and at about even distance from each other.
    We noticed that the soil is has a much more even irrigation that way. We’re actually going to update our current system in order to do so over each plant.
  4. Tape the tip of the tip of the container and the water line together (keep in mind that it’ll move when you open and close the water flow)
  5. Test it out. If you see some water droplets make their way out, cut the water and add some tape around to reduce as much as possible the points of weaknesses.
    On our end we still have a very small amount of water exiting so we added some toilet paper around it which catches the little water that exits.

4. Test out your Watering System

Once you’ve set up all your drippers and connected the water line to the water container you’ll want to run your irrigation system.
During this watering pay close attention to the water flow going to each plant, you’re most likely going to need to adapt the output of water on each dripper until you find a setting that waters evenly all your plant.

Once you’ve got the optimal setting you’re done! 🙂 From now on watering your plants will be limited to preparing the mix in the container and opening the water flow!

This is also a pretty good solution if you’re leaving for a while from home, set up a very very slow water flow, which will water the soil by capillarity over time and keeping the soil humid for much longer!

Drip irrigation system – Step by step in 4 pictures

Here’s a recap in 4 pics, as always, click on the picture to see the full version

See all these pics in the permanent story called “tips” on our instagram 

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Bottle Watering systems - Technique n°1

In this section we’re going to show you how to make your automated indoor irrigation system with a simple bottle of water.
We’ll cover the classic vertical bottle planted in the soil, the jug of water placed within the soil and our own little invention, the horizontal bottle dripper.

If you want to skip right to the irrigation system you’re looking for:

Bottle Irrigation System

The bottle watering system planted in the soil has been popular for a while now. Simple, easy to implement, and slowly irrigates the soil.
You should be implementing this technique before your plant has developed her root system, you don’t want to break any while planting the stake into the soil.

Step 1. Make wholes in the cap of the bottle

The first thing you want to do is make a couple small wholes in the cap of the bottle. The number of wholes will control how fast the water will exit the bottle.
I think that 3 holes is enough, you want the water to exit slowly for the bottle so it can irrigate as much as possible.

If it exits the container too fast the water will just race to the bottom of the soil, leaving the soil dry when it is too far from the watering system.

Image credit to wikihow

Step 2 .Cut the bottom of the bottle

Once you’re happy with the whole you’ve made in the cap, the water releases at a speed you’re good with you’re going to want to cut the bottom off of the bottle.

This will allow you to poor the water into the bottle once it’s secured in the soil.

Step 3. Plant the bottle of water

Now things get interesting, this is also why we said that you don’t want to be doing this once your plant has taken place in the pot. To be explicit, only do this in the pot you’re going to transplant your bud in or if you’ve just recently placed her in the soil.

The idea here is pretty straight forward, bury the bottle top down into the soil. You want to get it about half way in to it can handle the weight of the water.

Image credit to wikihow

Step 4. Test you irrigation system out

Test it out! All the preparation steps are now finished, so prepare your mix and poor it into the bottle.
Since this is a slow irrigation system you won’t need to water as much as before, buy buy 20% run-off.
The water being introduced slowly into the soil allows it to irrigate by capillarity, meaning that it won’t just irrigate vertically but horizontally also, humidifying all dry area’s.

Watering plants with slow drip irrigation system

Image credit to wikihow

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Bottle Drip System - Technique n°2

So this one isn’t really a DIY solution but it’s definitely worth considering, especially if you’re going on vacation for a little while, the vertical Bottle Drip System.
On average they’ll cost you about 3 USD’s a piece and you’ll have to find a plastic bottle, of any kind.

Step 1. Get everything together

So the first thing is to get everything together.
You’ll need 1 drip system per plant as well as 1 bottle per plant.  Choose whatever size you want, just keep in mind that the bigger it is the longer the drip will last (make sense)

Step 2. Putting together the Dripper

The dripper itself will most likely be in pieces and you’ll have to put it together.  It’s pretty simple, all you need to do is place the circular piece inside the cone and close it.
When you close it make sure the 2 wholes in the top piece are aligned with the exit so that the numbers actually match the drip intensity.

Step 3. Cut the bottom out of the bottle

This step is pretty straight forward, you’ll want to cut the bottom of the bottle out in order to be able to pour water into the bottle once everything is set up.

Step 4. Install the Drip System into the medium of your plant

While installing the bottle system into the soil be careful of the following points:

  • Don’t break roots: If you’re plant is already well developed install the container holder carefully.
  • Keep the top of the container holder higher than the water dripper.
  • Make sure the drip system doesn’t touch the soill
  • Keep the dripping water towards the center of the pot.

And that’s it! Depending on the setting and container size you’re good for 5 to 20 days 😉 

bottle attached to the drip system

Self Watering Container | The Hybrid between a Hydro and Soil grow

This next DIY watering system is pretty interesting, personally going to try it out next grow on one of our plants. The idea it to place a large container, with small wholes, within the soil letting just the top show.

Regularly place water within the jug which will in turn irrigate the soil from within. Once the plant has grown enough, her roots will grow into the container and chill in the water directly receiving the nutrients, pretty cool no?
Here’s the step-by-step followed by a video made by someone who set it up for an outdoor grow

Steps to make your own self irrigating container

  1. Make some wholes on the side of your water bottle
  2. Make a whole deep enough for you bottle to fit in.
  3. Place the water bottle within the whole and cover it up.
  4. Test it out by poring water into the top of the bottle.

Couple recommendations

  • Don’t make the wholes too big, you don’t want the water to just poor out.
  • Don’t do this when you’re plant already has a vigorous root system. As you’ll see in the video below you will most likely damage them.
  • Test out how fast of a water release you have before transplanting, you might want to adjust.

Here’s a video that’s sums up all these steps on an outdoor garden, I find that it’s always easier to picture what to do with some good images 😉

If you’re looking to go all the way on the Hydroponic side check out this awesome post by My Garden Plant, it goes from the history of Hydroponics to the advantages/disadvantages, passing by different types and parts you need to build your own 🙂

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Drip Watering System Videos

If you didn’t find all your answers in our step by step guide or if you want to explore other ways of automatizing the watering system check out these couple video’s we found

Outdoor Drip System

This video shows an outdoor watering system, but the idea is exactly the same if you want to set it up indoors, you just won’t need to protect it from the sun 😉

As you can see he kind of went all out on his water tower.. and not everyone has a saw available at home, but the video gives you a pretty good indication on how to set up the water container and the irrigation lines.
If you’re interested in the PDF he mentions it’s over here but it’s 11 USD’s in order to receive it.. Which seems real expensive when you’re trying to build something yourself.

Automatic watering using an Arduino

This one is for the techies and/or data loving folks, and you should love it. Here’s a system using an Arduino (pretty sure you could also use a Raspberry) and a couple sensors (light/air humidity/soil humidity) in order to automatically start your watering using specific parameters.
On top of perfectly timing your waterings, you’ll be able to collect all the data and find precise watering points for each strains, pretty cool no?

Honestly I think I’m going to be starting a similar project as this as soon there’s some spare time and money. Just being able to get all that  data would be awesome!
Of course, if/when this is happening we’ll post it all here to share the insights 😉

Bottle Watering Systems

The following system will show you different ways to water your plants with bottled systems.

Personally we’ve only tried the capillarity watering system and what we can say is that it takes awhile for the water to travel. Although, to the defense of that technique, we might of used a little too much cotton cloth, giving the water a lot of distance to travel.
We’re going to try the “water bottle under the soil” technique in our next grow to see how Marijuana likes it, so within 3 months we’ll have some feedback on that also!

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Alright that’s all for now folks!
In the upcoming days we’ll add different water bottle systems that can also be used in order to irrigate your soil.

Until then,
be safe and grow easy

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