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DIY vertical LED top fed, recirculating hydro... thing

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    DIY vertical LED top fed, recirculating hydro... thing

    What's up Vertville!

    I've been a fan of vertical growing since reading these forum legends and teachings of folks like Heath Robinson, DHF, Bobblehead, and others.
    I've been kinda bummed lately with the lack of posts here in "Vertville", so I figured it's time I start my own little thread here for other vert fans entertainment.

    I'm just a small scale hobby grower, doing it for the love of the plant, and the fun of working to continuously improve my own product, and garden setup.

    The veg area is a 2x4 tent with up to 360 watts of DIY LED fixtures- a 120w horizontal veg light, and a 240w vertical preflower light. The plants are in small net pots or sawed off 2 liter bottles, in a flood and drain tray.

    The flower tent is a 3x3, with a DIY 480w vertical LED strip fixture. All fixtures are 3500k, Chinese Samsung LM561C, and were built about 3 years ago.
    The tent (barely) holds 8 plants in 2 gallon pots, nested in sawed off 4 gallon water cooler bottles.
    The reservoir is a ~17 gallon cement mixing tub.
    Water is pumped from the rez via a 1200gph submersible pump up through a central manifold, top fed to the 8 sites, down through the water cooler bottles, through a 2 inch PVC drain manifold, and back to the rez. Timer is set to a minute on, an hour off.

    What goes in the water is pretty simple, if I can help it. Currently, it's just Megacrop, pH down, and pool shock.
    I had been using orca and enzymes, but my water is regularly 80-90f+, and they just had too hard of a time keeping up.
    I never lost anything to root rot, but I've switched to pool shock for a change.

    Strains I run vary as much as possible, but generally all share the same rez and feed strength. I like all different effects, depending on time of day and mood. The stuff I've been running lately includes varieties from Bodhi, Schwaggy P, Bad Dawg, and some personal crosses.

    I guess that's about all the pertinent details I can think of for now, but if I skipped something important, lemme know.

    Now onto a few pics, but fair warning, I don't have a bunch of beautiful flower shots like a lot of you guys... Mostly some boring ass veg and early flower shots for now

    Here's the veg area until recently... Moved a bunch of stuff, and currently it's pretty pathetic and empty... Time to pop more beans I guess lol

    And here's a shot of the flower tent. You can't see everything obviously, but to give you an idea, strains are as follows; counter clockwise, starting with the front left, furthest along, which is a Bodhi Dread Bread. Next is a small Heavenly Hashplant, then Sky Lotus, both by Bodhi. Rear left is a Knights Templar V2 by Motarebel. Rear right is a cross I made, that I call Spring Training. It's a Florida OG crossed with an Ace Golden Tiger. Right side rear is a Skunky VD by Schwaggy P, then a Pillow Book by Bodhi, and another Skunky VD in the front right bucket.

    Here's a few closer shots of Dread Bread, Sky Lotus, Knights Templar (C99BX1 x Herijuana), and Spring Training in that order...

    Ugh, nevermind...5 pic limit, pain in the ass uploading, cursor jumping to the top of the page when trying to type at the bottom, text loss with page refresh...I guess I see some reasons people don't bother posting much here. I thought somebody recently updated this fucking dinosaur?

    Anyway, there's a couple pics and a half assed thread attempt. Enjoy!

    Ok, so here's the individual pics. I lost track of Dread Bread flower time. She could've gone in as early as the beginning of May, which would make her almost 12 weeks. She's still throwing white pistils, and her trichomes aren't amber, but she's also still stacking calyxes, starting to foxtail more. These could be from heat and light stress though, as she's real close to the light, and it's regularly over 90f. Just keeping an eye on her for now.

    The rest of the plants are about a month old in the pics.

    Dread Bread
    (Mangobiche x Old Mother Ghani)

    Sky Lotus
    (Skywalker OG x Snow Lotus)

    Knights Templar v2
    (C99BX1 x Herijuana)

    Spring Training
    (Florida OG x Golden Tiger R1)


      Gotta love them what do more with less......Killer lil DIY setup yas got there Bro.....Welcome to the asshole of the earth......Vertville......Look s like you`re a bit of a strainwhore as well huh ?.....lotta variety in that lil grow area......nothin wrong with that tho ......and yeah......

      Some foxtailing can be straight genetic , but most likely caused from being too close to the bare bulb as well as the combo of increased heat , and I`ve run shit before that NEVER ambered up and kept spittin white pistils to the bitter end , so after 12 weeks if you got all cloudy glands , I`d say take a branch to check potency but I`d be willin to bet it`s on the downslope converting THC and degrading to narcotic tendencies which is to my liking , but most folks like it racier with higher THC stated above.....

      Welcome and thanks for your time......

      Peace.....DHF..... .......
      Knowledge is power.....Adapt or perish....


        Thanks for the thread MM . It's good to see more people growing this way. Personally I veg flat to get some stretch going but whatever works.
        After ten solid years growing vert, I'm still amazed its not more popular and double shocked manufacturers dont cater to this skewed method.
        Kudo for the D.I.Y... way to do it


          Hey thanks for stopping by fellas!

          Fred, I'll freely admit that yes, I am a bit of a strain whore... About 20 strains in rotation, yet still never enough! Lol

          Speaking of never enough, that Dread Bread had to come down... The jars were running low. Snapped a daylight chop pic with her twin in the background. She's waiting to flower under the sun, in a 2 gallon pot. Hopefully she gets her blooming done in under 12, cuz winter won't wait on her if she doesn't!

          The foxtailing in the tent could definitely be heat and light intensity related. Ever since my dimmer took a shit, they've been crammed in that 3x3 with the 480 watts running wide open, sometimes just a couple inches away. I really should get another dimmer in there...

          Hayday, I love the vert too, and like you, don't get why more folks don't try it. I veg under a horizontal light at first too, but they shift to the right, and veg vertically before they hit the flower tent. I figured I'd do it that way specifically because most vert guys didn't, and I wanted to see how it worked. Whether flat or vert, my plants don't seem to want to stretch enough under these LEDs. It's actually a problem come flower time. There's only been a couple times that I've filled most of the available space. These newest plants are way too short, but empty space and schedule dictated that they get their asses in there and start flowering lol
          This round will probably only be around a gram per light watt, but I've seen potential for way more, when I actually filled the space.

          Here's that daylight shot of the Dread Bread, and her younger sister is the background... And a little of the outdoor vert garden I've been playing with this year...


            Back when I learned howta "properly"use bare bulbs vertically oriented , the rule of thumb was to ALWAYS veg horizontally with "back then" the most logical and available fixtures were 400 watt metal halides with lower wattage to be able to get the lights closer to the veglings in order to suppress veg stress and stack internodes as tightly as possible while promoting lateral limb building as well so that when......

            They went in the bare bulb rooms , they blasted off like rockets during stretch which is 40% of the flower cycle with the bottoms of the bulbs set at top cola height and raised every day till complete end of stretch and true hormone changes occurred and swellage begins till end of cycle......and then.....

            We dropped the bulbs down where the top of the socket was at top cola height and the bulbs were dropped the length of the bulb to blast sideways at the canopy with 50 watts per sq said.....

            Why NOT to veg vertically although many many people choose to do so......IF you want your plants to benefit completely from the watts per sq ft , then of course the first thought is to put the bulbs "beside" the plants , but what happens is due to the fact damn near all the elite and popular strains are far more indica dominant than sativa like it used ta be , and then when you veg vertically the plants grow sideways toward the light stimulus rather than straight up like we usedta grow..... but.....

            Not sure how LED`s figure into this equation other than light is light , but we all know that`s bullshit with different spectrums causing different end results , although the consensus with flat grows and LED`s is that they do in fact retard stretch compared to HID setups , so there hasta be something to this , although I`m not sure more stretch with no budsites between and growing stem ever increased yield per plant HID or LED but the judges are still out on that 1 so I digress.....

            Regardless.....Good luck with your plants bro.....wayta think outside the box unlike most sheeple in this world.....Vert rules and all else drools.....LOL.....anyways.... .

            Take care and......

            Peace.....DHF...... ......
            Knowledge is power.....Adapt or perish....


              This looks cool and it looks a great solution for mother plants for me. Has anyone tried this on a 12/12 schedule?


                I'll tag along. I grew vert for years. Great to see leds used in vert.


                  I feel like there's definitely a learning curve with these new LEDs, and I'm still dialing in, for sure.

                  Flower is getting better all the time, so now I'm trying to focus on getting the veg plants big enough, fast enough. If I could fill the area, I'd be killing it!

                  To give you an idea, the flower tent is a 3x3x6, with an 8 plant capacity. That gives a tightly packed ~18"w x 4'h area per plant. The light fixture is 10" diameter, so that leaves 13" to the walls, for foliage to fill in.

                  The veg area is a 2x4x4 or 5 high tent. Half the area is under a horizontal light, as high as 30" away, but usually closer. So, they have some opportunity for stretch, at the beginning, anyway. They move over to the vert light as they need to, and hopefully to stack nodes. They do grow toward the light, but they're also normally fanned out, and tied back to a trellis as they do. They've just been moving along fast this round, so the ones in the veg pic posted don't have any training or trellises now.

                  They have a potential area of about 18"w x almost 4' high to fill out around that light, before they hit flower. Now the focus will be back on veg, trying get them to fill that area ASAP, so that even if they're heavy Indica, they won't need to stretch much to fill their flower space. Strain dependant, of course. Sativas won't need to be that big, but even they don't stretch like you'd expect them to normally.

                  Now I've been trying to pinpoint the right combination of nutrient level, and light intensity for optimal growth in veg.

                  For a long time I fed Megacrop at 4 grams per gallon, lights dimmed down, probably around 50% power, never measured.

                  They were doing well, so I decided to bump the lights up a little. Then they started showing purple petioles, stalk steaks, and eventually lower leaves yellowing, and dropping.

                  I decided to bump the food to 5g/gal, and they looked better... So I bumped the lights up again... Same thing lol...I think if I ran the lights at full capacity, the plants would probably take 6g/gal no problem, but I'm trying to find the sweet spot with less light intensity and food, if possible.

                  I designed this system based on principles from guys like you and Heath, with the goal of the most efficient and productive system possible for someone to provide themselves with quality product...
                  So I really appreciate you stopping by to chat!

                  It's definitely coming along, and I think it could get where I originally pictured with a little more attention and training in the veg area, and proper use of space available.

                  The best I've done so far was with a couple of Golden Tigers, that hit almost 6 oz a piece, and filled most of their allotted area. Got up to the ceiling, but could've fit more buds down below.

                  Here's a pic of the veg area at capacity, and a couple to show how they're normally trained and trellised...


                    ReikoX's Workshop
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                      Originally posted by ReikoX View Post

                      Hey Reiko, thanks for stopping by!

                      I just found your latest workshop, but need to read the whole thing still. I'm digging the over engineering though!

                      I've got no dimmer on my flower light, since my potentiometer died after a couple years. I need to get something in there to adjust the light level, but was thinking of something a little more advanced than a knob, if it's not crazy expensive. Got any recommendations?
                      Maybe one of those things with the digital readout, telling how much power it's using? I dunno, haven't researched it as much as I probably should have yet. Maybe a bag of potentiometers would still be cheaper? Lol


                        Originally posted by Medicine, Man View Post
                        Maybe a bag of potentiometers would still be cheaper? Lol
                        Most definitely. I like the ones from RapidLED, they are tested and have a case around them. Only $6 too. A cheap Kill-a-watt meter can help you to adjust them, they can be found for about $35 USD on Amazon. They are pretty handy to have around the house too.

                        The fancy controller I use ran me $200 USD.
                        ReikoX's Workshop
                        2017, 2018, 2019, 2020,2021
                        Afropip's Durban Poison Repro Tester
                        WWxBB Auto Tester


                          Originally posted by ReikoX View Post
                          Most definitely. I like the ones from RapidLED, they are tested and have a case around them. Only $6 too. A cheap Kill-a-watt meter can help you to adjust them, they can be found for about $35 USD on Amazon. They are pretty handy to have around the house too.

                          The fancy controller I use ran me $200 USD.

                          Awesome, thanks! I saw the pricey one you were using last, and while it looked great, it would significantly increase the overall price of the fixture. I was hoping there might be a middle road somewhere, so thanks again! I'll check em out. Gotta reduce the wattage, and hopefully increase the grammage per wattage lol


                            Reading up about vertical grow, is this the end game?

                            This is the plan view or looking down at the grow area, the right side indicates the placement of the DIY LED's

                            This is the front elevation or looking at it standing in front of the plants.

                            Kinda sorta the plants have LED on top shining down and shining from the front towards the wall.
                            I have some 4 inch wide DIY LED which i could use the fill in the sides if its worth the effort.

                            The LST training should be like this??

                            Looking at the plant from the front??

                            Looking at the side elevation it should be like this??

                            Thoughts , comments ????????????
                            Last edited by roybart; 08-04-2020, 20:27. Reason: make it pretty


                              You could do it like that, but ideally you wouldn't want or need the overhead lighting to be a true vert grow.

                              The top thread up in the vertical sections stickys called "LED vertical scrog" by Ichabod Crane is a good example of a 1 plane vertical grow. He does it like your drawing, but I don't think he has the overhead lighting.