Stevehman's 780W LED - DIY 4 in PVC Recirc - Caramlicious Grow

Thread starter #1
Ok, here goes my first attempt at a grow journal. This will be my 3rd (ish) grow overall. The first grow was an unknown seed from the freebies that came with my order from AMS. The second grow was Caramelicious from seed. Grow 3 is the clones from grow 2's moms.

Here is a synapses of the first two grows:

Grow 1. Unknown seed, growing under (1) 180w LED from Advanced LEDs. Using a fogponics setup in 5 inch square fence post material. Space is a 2x4x4 space. Ended up with a little over a QP for the effort and decided that fog was a no-go for future grows. One of the issues was with the fog getting into everything, and fouling fans and charcoal filters with fogged nutes/salts.

Some pics of grow one.

Grow 2. Caramelicious seeds, germinated 6 out of 6 (great germ rate, saved the other 4 for later). Vegged them for 3 weeks and then took 4 clones of each. Based on 50% female, that would have given me 12 healthy clones to use to fill out the grow. Ended up with 3 females and killed the males.

I changed setups and went with an aeroponics setup using 4 inch round pvc and some spray heads aimed at the root zone. I had these vegging under the Advanced 180w waiting for my (2) 300w LEDs from GLH. They vegged longer than I planned (by 2 weeks) and became unruly beasts in the space. I had planned on putting some of the clones in with them, but by this time they had overgrown the space.

This system seemed to work very well once the 300s were in place, still in the same 2x4x4 space. I netted 3/4 lb of dried and cured bud from this grow.

Here are some pics of grow two:
Thread starter #2
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Before I forget, I am using the following nutes and supplements:
Cutting Edge Solutions, 3 part
Cal/Mag plus
Silica Blast
Great White
R/O water

Now on to Grow 3:
I decided on simplicity. No more timers, no spray heads to clog, just a pump an airstone and some PVC. I also expanded the space by 2 feet. I know it's not a lot but it gives me 2x6x4. It's not meant to be a stealth grow, but is out of lack of space. I have plenty of room in my attic, but can only go 2 feet wide and no more than 4-5 feet high, so that dictated the size of the grow.

I have a 4 inch fan ducting any heat and smell directly out a roof vent. I own the house, so not worried about landlords etc. I also have a res chiller to keep the temps down

So, on the the grow.

I took clones off of my caramelicious moms and had 24 for 24 root. I took the best looking of the lot (18) and tossed the rest. I hated to do it, but don't have the space.

The new grow is in 4 inch pvc drain pipe, with holes cut to accept 2 inch net cups. I have a 260 gph pump flooding one end of the pipe that then drains into the res. Not sure if this is technically an NFT system or a recirc DWC. Whatever you want to call it, it is simple.

The res is a 27 gallon tote from Lowe's, the pipe itself holds about 7 gallons (about 15 feet total). I have an Airhog airstone with a Sunleaves heavy duty airpump feeding it. There is also a small res chiller that I plan on replacing with a 1/10 hp model. The one I have is one of the electronic units, it is underpowered and once spring shows up, it will get moved to a smaller area for the moms.

18 clones in their new home. I have the (2) 300w LEDS in the first 2/3rds and the 180 in the last 1/3 of the space. I know it is probably overkill on light for a space this small. I am considering moving the 180 to the middle.

Nutes returning to the res. This is a 4inch downspout adapter. It helps keep the level up in the tubes.

I've added a piece of flexible pvc pipe, cut in half and wedged in place to raise the level up a little bit. This brings the level about midway up on the net cups.
Thread starter #3
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

here is a quick shot of the res

And the clones put in place on 2/24

I use some 12 inch bungee cords from Harbor Freight to hold the net pots in place. I do not have any media inside the pots, just the neoprene collar holding the plant in place and the bungee keeping the whole thing from moving.

On the 27th I added some insulated bubble wrap I had left over from having our A/C system installed last summer. I figure it will keep the nutes cooler and reflect some light.
Thread starter #4
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Here are a couple pics this morning.

And the roots

So, I am a week into it so far, the clones have taken off and the roots look pretty healthy. I forgot to mention I also put a little Liquid Karma in there. The brown stuff in the roots is from the Liquid Karma and Hygrozyme. It looks like the new growth is very healthy.

The only nute/supplement that I am using on this grow from grow 2.0 is the addition of Great White. I figure a little beneficial bacteria and fungus can't be too bad.
Thread starter #5
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

I am at 1200 ppm and 5.8 pH. I barely kept track of those reading last time, and almost neglected/abused them on grow 2.0. Caramelicious is a good beginner strain as it performed great without much attention. I never did a res change, just partials. Topped up every other day and only had a 5 gallon res going--in the grow box. So no telling how hot it got.

This time around I am keeping track of res temps (68 deg f) and the pH and PPM. I sprang for the higher end Hannah waterproof multimeter with auto adjust for temps and will be keeping up on res changes.

My goal for this grow is to net a lb out of it. I netted 3/4 out of a 2x4 space, so upping the watts by 180 and adding 2x2 more in space (a 50% increase in space). I think a 305 increase in yield is reasonable.
Thread starter #6
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

I should also mention I went straight from the cloner to 12/12. I am trying to keep the monster bushes in check. A total of 18 clones, if each produces an oz.....

Grow 2.0 finished bloom on day 56, I don't know if going straight 12/12 will extend the time to finish, but we'll know in 50 days (I'm on day 6 of 12/12).
Thread starter #9
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Day 7 in bloom. Clones were 2 weeks old when transplanted. (clones were taken 21 days ago, transplanted once they had good roots going).

Today's numbers:
pH 5.84
ecm 2310
ppm 1156
Temp 77
RH 55%
res temp 66

I added 3 gallons of R/O water to top up res. It looks like they are drinking about 1.5 gallons a day.

The system is basically a U-shape with nutes feeding one end and draining out of the other. Here is the bend. Clones aren't looking too bad for being 21 days from being cut away from mom.

Almost a foot tall and starting to bush out. I topped the clones when I took them hoping to get more colas sites. My first attempt at topping a plant.

A shot down the length of the grow chamber. The lights are about 24 inches above the tops. I have them in angle iron mounts otherwise I would not be able to get them 2 inches from the ceiling. The downside is they aren't easily raised or lowered. I am hoping that they stretch just enough to get within 12 inches of the lights. If not I will make another cross-brace to lower the lights down (easy fix).

My basic plan is to create a fire-and-forget system. Something that doesn't take more than 10 minutes a day to monitor. Just check nute levels, temp, pH etc... and maintain. Res changes every two weeks will only take 15 minutes. Really trying to make this as simple as possible. I started off trying to be all hi-tech but that takes way too much effort, too many variables and opportunities for failure (power going out etc...).

With this system I can top off the res and leave for a 4 day weekend and not worry, even if the power goes out for a few hours, the 4 inch pvc holds enough nutes to keep things alive.

I have a few mods I will be making throughout the grow and will keep you posted. My plans are:
Better reflective material all around
1/10 hp res chiller (to replace the electronic one)
buying an R/O system (tired of filling up 5 gal bottles every few days)

I am already designing my system for Grow 4.0 which will give me an additional 8 inches of vertical space, but that will have to wait 7-9 weeks.


New Member
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

What is the spacing between plant sites? How large are the baskets you are using? How do they stay upright with no media? How do you keep the nutes level in the res? Dont the plant put thing into the water that will lead to your ppm going up but nutes going down? I read your other post about plants not putting waste out through roots but nothing comes out that way? Isnt 5.8ph low? pH adjuster will throw your ppm reading off (mine goes off chart when I add some) so how do you deal with that?

Nice setup and thread, I have 1 180 flower and 1 180 all blue from advanced and have been happy so far. I started mine from seed and they are about 5 weeks from germ, going to make the switch to 12/12 soon but I feel I need another 180 for my 2x4' flower area.
Thread starter #11
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

The plants are 7 inches on center apart, in 2 inch net cups. The plants are in the neoprene collars that they were cloned in and bungee cords hold them in place so they don't move (you can see them in the pics). As far as I know, 5.8 is in the range for Hydro setups, and it pretty much stays around that number just by adding the nutes to R/O water. I keep an eye on the levels to ensure it doesn't go too high or low.

As far as I have found out from researching several websites, plants do not excrete anything from their roots, all of the waste goes into vacuoles in the plant and remain there until they die (please confirm this on your own, I don't want to be responsible for misinformation).

I had (1) 180 in my first grow in a 2x4 space, really needed 2 in there. I put it on a mover to get extra coverage, even though it only traveled 12 inches it made a big difference. I had originally ordered 2 more 180s from Mike at GLH but he was out of stock so I got the 300s at a good price. A bit overkill for the size of grow I have, (3) 180s would have been the ticket.

Good luck on your grow!
Thread starter #12
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Forgot to answer the question on the nute level in the res. The return pipe into the res has a downspout adapter on it that keeps the level of the grow tubes the same. As long as there are nutes in the res to pump, the grow tubes will remain at a constant level. A little insurance in case of pump failure or power outage. You can see the return pipe in the pics above.


New Member
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Yah I'm a total newb pretty much only know what I have read on this site and the few videos I have watched. I guess i was thinking of soil being 6.2-6.8. My post makes me seem illiterate but I swear I read it twice! What I meant about the res was how do you keep the nutrient concentration constant but I guess you have answered that already. I like your attitude and your setup, I will be following your thread.

After I do a dirt grow or two I want to try hydro, basically same reasons as you, I want a less hand on approach. Aero looks really cool tho...

It looks like your root mass is pretty long, by the time they grow to full size aren't they entangled?
Thread starter #15
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Here's some more bud porn for you.

Keep in mind this panel is one of Mike's 300w, it is 13 inches wide, that will give you some perspective of the size of these.

I wear an XL glove (6''4" 220) so these are not little hands.

I would say not too shabby for a newbie at growing. Just proves that if you do your research and read a lot you can do pretty well on your first go.
Thread starter #16
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

It looks like your root mass is pretty long, by the time they grow to full size aren't they entangled?
The system has a gentle flow back to the res, all of the roots grow downstream and they might get a bit tangled, but I don't think that is going to be an issue. The res is 3 feet downstream from the last plant, so the roots would need to get pretty long to reach it. I guess my biggest concern would be the roots being too healthy and clogging the whole pipe. If that happens, I will go with fewer plants next time. (the goal here is to net at least 1 oz from each of the 18 clones)

I think the constant water movement will be an advantage this grow. Last grow I was doing an aero setup with the pump on a cycle timer. The roots ended up growing both directions, getting matted and tangled. And they stunk when I pulled them out after the chop< I don't think it was root rot, just a buid up of Liquid Karma and nutes, which will be rinsed away this time by the constant water movement.

I'll take some color corrected pics tomorrow with my DSLR so the true colors will show better.
Thread starter #18
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

The plants are doing great. It looks like the system is working as planned, although we won't know for sure for another 7 weeks. Here are some up dated pics.

This is the plant closest to the res, and the door, and easiest to take pics of. So by default she will be my "benchmark plant". I haven't given her a name, so if any one has a suggestion I am listening.

She has grown 2 inches taller since Tuesday and is getting quite bushy.

I've also had questions about how the plants are held in place in the tubes (since I am using 2 inch net cups, bottoms cut out and no media). Here is a close up of the bungee cord holding the plant in place as well as the roots and water level.

And here's a pic of the return to the res. It's about a 3 foot run to the res from the last plant. I wanted enough room to keep the roots from making their way into the res. Total length of the system is 17 feet, but like your intestines, fits in a much smaller space.

The duct above the return is the fresh air intake, there's one on each end of the box with 2 CPU fans at each vent pulling air into the system. I love CPU fans, low voltage, quiet and cheap. A pack of 4 4" fans costs $12 at the local Frye's.

Last shot of the day, kind of a family photo.
Thread starter #19
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

This is the biggest girl in the family. All of the clones were taken the same day, and were about the same size. Some are getting very big and some are about average and 2 or 3 are runts. I don't know where, or from which parts of the mom they were cut from, but there is a distinct difference in their growth rates and appearance. Has anyone done a test on clone viability and growth rates dependent on location of where the clone was taken?

I'm thinking the bigger girls were taken from the tops of the moms (I had three moms that were all cloned sisters from my biggest producer on grow 2.0, so all are the same genetics).

Over 12 inches tall, the shortest runt is just about 6 inches.

Getting bushy. I had topped all of the clones prior to putting them into 12/12 to increase top bud site. I just took a wild guess at it and looks like it is doing ok.

She's getting little hairs every where--going through puberty. Soon she will blossom into a beautiful, full-figured woman. :)
Re: stevehman's 780w LED, DIY 4 in PVC recirc, Caramlicious Grow

Incredible grow room & plants stevehman!!
Welcome to the future! Your garden looks like a NASA project or something...Very space age and very cool!! :Namaste: