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Vortex's Lab: 4x4 Secondary Garden & Experimental Thread


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
"And Here... We... Goooooo!!!1!1!!" - Joker

Welcome one and all to my little space where I'll document my follies with my "lab" grow space where I tinker around with things I'm not well versed in, haven't tried, or just need the extra space to grow more plants. This will be an on-going thread so that I can keep the information in a single spot, and everyone is welcome to join in and banter about.

The worst case scenario is you'll have something to like the bird cage or cat box with, right? :laugh::laugh::laugh:


So how did we get here? Well, there's a story behind this grow space: it wasn't supposed to exist. Yet, here we are and off we go.

If you want to catch up, have a look:

Readers Digest Version:

Have a 4x2 tent. Got some free auto seeds with an order in early September for my new, over-complicated RDWC monstrosity that I'm building.

Knowing it was going to take me a bit to get it all put together, I thought I'd throw down the freebie auto seeds and mess around.

Started with the following auto's: (1) Sweet Tooth, (1) Quarter Pounder (both from Canuk Seeds) and (5) Lemon Drop (Oasis Genetics.)

I dropped the Sweet Tooth and a Lemon Drop. Nothing. Dropped the QP and two Lemon Drop. Nada, zip, zilch. So now I've got my mind set that while I'm building the RDWC I want to do an auto run, and I place an order. That order has issues, so I place another one with a different bank. Second order arrived, all is well.

In the mean time, I upgraded my primary 4x4 tent, so took the original one and moved it to the backup position, and now the 4x2 is a spare for whatever.

So, what is the Lab running? Let's have a look.

Hardware Setup:

Basic 4x4

Lights: (2) 250w @BudgetLED panels: Each one has (1) R-Spec and one Full Spec board. These are AWESOME.

Ventilation: 6" AC Infinity S6, 6" Vivosun Carbon Filter (run through a custom external box)

Misc: (2) 6" USB oscillating fans, (1) 9" USB floor fan, 6" USB fan for initial low-flow extraction, power strips, digital programmable timer, kill-a-watt monitor

Inaugural Run:

Promix HP (US)

Pots: 7gal, round fabric pots, risers, saucers

Nutrients: Mega Crop

Strains: Fast Buds -
  • Six Shooter
  • Blue Dream'matic
  • Mexican Airlines
  • Green Crack


So here we go, aight?

What we have here is very simple. After the issues previously, I decided to shy away from the jiffy pellets for now and use up some of my rapid rooters instead. The short of it is I'm doing the subcool method with them, upside down, seed straight in, no dicking around.

I dropped two of each of the above strains just to be on the safe side. Not that I have any doubt to the quality of FastBuds, but I figure I had better play this one safe and I will keep the strongest performer of the two.


The dome went on top, the heat mat is plugged into the controller, and then I put a box over it to help keep it warm and dark. This box will be removed tomorrow afternoon/evening so the lights can take over. I may continue the box when the lights are out, just to help keep the temps up since the room air is running pretty steady at 68* for the most part. Fine for plants, not quite so much for efficiently sprouting seeds.

But wait, there's more...


What was going through my head when this popped up? Ol' Gunny in Full Metal Jacket when he finds that doughnut in Private Pyle's footlocker. "What is that! What the fuck is that!!"

If you made it through the drivel of the busted seeds previously, you may recall I lit off the last two Lemon Drops (Super Lemon Haze autos) that I had left, just to see what would happen. Well, I went to get things situated yesterday in preparation for today, and there she was. To say I was surprised is an understatement. So I put the lights to her and she perked right up. My best estimate is she popped up sometime late Thursday night, maybe early Friday morning, and was 2.5" up by the time I got to her Friday after noon. She was also a tick pale still, so maybe just getting through, and greened right up with the light. For tracking purposes, I'm going to play it safe and call it Thursday (Oct 31st.) FWIW, the first true leaves are just starting to pop, and you can see them if you zoom in enough.

Of course this creates quite the little conundrum; what in the world am I going to do with her? Well the answer was obvious, "grow that bitch!" Off I went this afternoon to the gardening supply store and picked up a 3gal fabric pot, riser, and saucer. I'm going to squeeze her in there somewhere. Even if I have to break out a spare light and put her in the back corner. If she starts to look like shit, I'll ditch her since she's no longer a focus. I do love some super lemon haze though, so hoping it all works out. All being auto's, I think we'll be just fine on space with the right training.

Speaking of training, if the plants are thriving by the end of week 3 they will be getting quadlined, followed up with LST. If for some reason a plant is a little lacking, I'll go with a spiral LST and see where it goes.

So what's the experimental part of all this?

a) Auto's

b) Mega Crop

c) USB powered equipment

I have not run any auto's and I'm curious. Not really in it for huge yields, but would like to see how the quality is compared to their photo cousins.

I'm also jumping onto the Mega Crop wagon. I like the simpler concept, and not needing 5 bottles of extra stuff on top of the 3 or 4 bottles of base nutrients. Not to mention that for a 30 gallon RDWC the nutrient cost is averaged out to $1.15/week, and the bag I picked up would last for approximately 65 weeks of just RDWC use.

Finally, I"m going to be putting some USB gear to hard use. I have some 6" USB oscillating clip-on fans, a 9" USB floor fan, and a 6" USB stationary fan. I can run all of those and I'm still under what just one little plug-in clip-on oscillating fan uses in power. If you can save a watt here and there it all adds up to saving a little cash, and who doesn't like to save money? :19:

My goal for all of that is to run a full 4x4 grow, without skimping, for less than 600 watts. Right now, that looks to be right on target.

Light Power - (knob position) watts, per light:
- (Low) 16w
- (1/4) 34w
- (1/2) 105w
- (3/4) 235w
- (Full) 249w

Note: this is the knob position, not a percentage. The potentiometer on low is about the 1-1:30 position, and full is about the 10-10:30 position. Thus, the 1/4 and 3/4 knob positions do not differ as much from low and full.

Both lights, at full power, consume 500watts. This is the big ticket item, and will be on any grow.

Each oscillating fan, as well as the floor fan, consume 2.5 watts each. That's 7.5 watts total, and we're up to 507.5 total.

The extraction fan uses up to 40 watts. If you're keeping score, that's 547.5 watts total.

I also have a humidifier that pulls 30 watts on max, but never run it on more than it's lowest setting. Even still, that's 577.5 watts total, and all there is.

For a 4x4 tent, that's not too bad at all. Figure back in the day there would have been 1000w HID, 90w (or more) between two oscillating fans and a floor fan, etc. and it's already double what this little setup is pulling. I'm also not skimping on lighting and using top of the line QB-style lighting.

This doesn't take into consideration things which do not run frequently. Like my 15w UVB light bar, for example. running the last few weeks of flower, and only for about 20 minutes total per day, not worth counting.

It doesn't take into account if a heater would be used, nor does it account for seedling mats and such. However the other things aren't really running at that time and if they are it's on minimal settings.

I'm quite interested to see how this all shakes out, so here we go.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Gave a quick look this morning, situation normal and all is well. Our little pestguest is doing well, first set of true leaves a little bigger.

Was at the store earlier (needed a couple 90*'s for the RDWC build) and picked up 3 levels for $2 each. Nothing fancy, but measure in each direction as well as crossways. Not bad for $2, and they're a nice size (about 8", give or take.) Oh, for what you say? I put one on top of each light to make sure they're level. Yes, I realize I can use just one and check them only when they move. Easier for me to just have one sitting there for a quick look. :)

Tent temp is 70, RH is 48%. With a plant going now, I'll probably turn the humidifier on and let it run with the lights.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020

Day 3, and here we are. First set of leaves have doubled in size. The little ring of water I gave it when I placed the peat pellet into the pot. I did soak the bottom 2/3 of the mix when I placed it in the bag, so down lower it's moist. Not saturated, mind you, but more for settling in than anything.

I will probably start very, very light Mega Crop with an initial light watering sometime in the next day or two, and thus far she looks to be springing forward.

Light is on at about 40% power and roughly 18"-20" above. May up it to 50% in a few days, but hey, if lower in height and power works, that's a win win.


Here's an above shot of the light and the little levels. They're light weight, so no worries there. (The back light isn't on at the moment, doesn't need to be.) Humidifier in the back, running on low and has the RH up to close to 60%. You can also see my little seed incubator. Yep, it's a box over my clone/seedling dome pictured above. Keeps it dark, and helps the heat mat keep things warm. Plus the light warms the box too, so that's that.

Checking the seeds underneath at least every 8 hours. Don't want to miss a pop and get the light going as soon as possible. I thought I might take it off this evening, but since nothing popped, I figured I'd leave it on overnight at the very least to take advantage of the insulation for the temps since the overnight is a tick cool for seeds.

Speaking of temps...

I ordered up a little 200w space heater, and another heat mat temp controller. The controller can take the length, and has a max of 15A/1875w. Needless to say, the little 200w heater won't be a thing. That will be here Tuesday, and I most likely won't be able to get it set up until Wednesday afternoon due to other commitments. We'll see.

The bad news is that it's 200 watts. The good news is that it will not be running constantly, but it still probably takes me over that 600w limit I was trying to stay under. With such a low overall total, even if it hits 700w or so, I can easily run everything through a single power strip/surge protector. That's good as it means I can use the kill-a-watt to track everything combined, and see exactly what I'm pulling. That way, maybe I actually can see if I stay under the goal or not. :D

Honestly, I'm betting that even in full flower, since not everything will be on at the same time, it's going to be real close.

Now think about this, again. Even as little as 3 years ago, would you have thought you could do a no-compromise grow in a 4x4 for 600w or less? The biggest part of that is the lights, and being able to do such a great job!

What about hydro? I bet a ebb/flow setup, or hempy/dutch bucket style would still be close since you don't need a huge pump, and it only runs for very brief periods a few times a day, maybe even a flood/drain with the right pump. Probably not DWC, or RDWC, but you could if the goal was 700w.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Re: Seed order #1 (that has been lost)

The following Fast Bud strains (Two 5-packs each):
- Blackberry
- Six Shooter
- Tangie'matic
- Mexican Airlines

I rang up True North last week, and have been given the option to reship or refund. While I do have the second order already (from Neptune) and they've been dropped, I went ahead and decided on trying a reshipment of the order. Mainly because of the Blackberry and Tangie seeds, and not to mention that each 5-pack was effectively 50% off, I figured what the hell, they'll keep.

If it goes missing again, then I will take the refund and be done with it.

If it weren't for the Blackberry, I probably would have just taken the refund as that was the only strain I really, really wanted but didn't have in stock from Neptune. Tangie was a second choice in place of Green Crack, and Six Shooter was a second choice in place of Blue Dream, when I went to make the original order. As those have been sourced in the second order, the only real disappointment is losing out on the Blackberry.

So, we'll see how the reship goes. Fingers crossed. (Not that I'll germ them anytime soon, but once there is room after this run grows out, I may run a couple of the blackberry under just one of the panels or something.

Maybe see if I can work up a little hempy/dutch bucket style setup or something to play with.

Checked the sprout box this morning, nothing yet. Start of Day 4 on the lemon drop, and she seems happy so far. Tweaked the light from 40% to 50%, and measured the distance. It's 26" right now, so that should be OK with only half power. If I were to go any lower it would impact the sprout setup, so I think it will be fine. I may go in after bit and tip spread on the LD, just for shits and grins.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Took the box off the top of the seedling dome to give it some light, just in case. Will put it back on late tonight for the overnight and dark period to help keep them up.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
I did put the box back over the seedling dome last night, and things were rockin along at 79 this morning. No sprouts yet, but I imagine they're not too far off.

I took it back off this morning for light, just in case.

Day 5 for the little lemon drop baby, and seems to be doing well. I'll grab a picture later, just to document her. She looks like a baby seedling, yep.

I even got her into my calendar for when each week starts, and the corresponding day. I went out 12 weeks, but she'll be done before that, or should be anyway.

So I'm thinking on a list of experimental grow setups I would like to tinker with. I think the next one on my list will be dutch buckets. Not sure how I'll roll with those yet, though. I may try them with a couple tomato plants outdoors next year first, or maybe inside before that. Dunno yet, but we'll see what happens between now and then.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
"Mercy sakes. Mercy sakes. You put about eight and a half on me, blowin' my windows out. Bring it on."


Here's Day 5 for the Lemon Drop. Not the greatest shot. It's blurry which twerked the colors a bit. Oh well. She's fine, and getting bigger by the minute.

Will be time for a nice soak tomorrow. Pots light from the initial, so that's the main thing. The additional humidity would be welcomed as well. :) (Humidifier has it at 58% right now, running on it's lowest setting. Not bad considering the input is 44%. :D

Now what do we have here?


You're damn right. We have both of the Six Shooter seeds just about to break! Nice little surprise on the afternoon visit. :D


That's how I'm rolling for the moment. Got a little 6" fan doing some light exhaust work, a little oscillating fan stirring the air up above plant level (for now), a humidifier, and a bad ass light at 21" and 40% ish power (105w).

Looks like this will be changing pretty quickly too as the Six Shooter is popping through! :D

Guess this means the insulation box won't be going back on for the overnight. So I put the extension on the seedling box, swapped my 1x2 heat mat out for the 2x2, and thankfully the heater will be here shortly. I have other commitments tonight, but will be setting the heater up when I get back around 11. Just in time for lights out.

You can't tell in the pic, but there is a Blue Dream that is only a few hours behind the Six Shooters. Not enough to move it's little piece of rooter cover, but it's really close. I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the same shape as the Six's when I get back tonight.

I imagine the Mex and Green aren't far behind as well.

Not bad for no soak, no scarification, no nothing special. :laugh:


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020

A little better shot of the lemon drop.

And, as predicted, dreams of blue coming through...


Now for the rant. I'm pissed. Post man was running late tonight, didn't deliver until almost 8pm local. So what do they fucking do?

Take the lazy way out and put my package down as an alert because the mailbox or porch was inaccessible.

Oh really? Is that so?

Well first off, they put mail in my fucking mail box, so that's bullshit.

Second, they never came close to my porch as I have it covered by video and it never detected any motion at the door. However, it did detect motion at the mailbox, and that mother fucker never got their lazy ass out of the truck. Fuckin post assholes. No wonder they can't make a profit.

So, no fucking heater, and I'll have to wait up for the lights to be ready to go off so I can put the box back on for the overnight to try and help keep the sprouting temps up. Then it will have to wait an hour in the morning for me to get the box back off. They'll be fine, but it's more the point of the matter than any real issue.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
As seen from last night, one of the six shooter's completely popped. This morning the blue dream is also popped through and out. The other six shooter should be fully above ground shortly.

Still waiting on anything from the other side to do the same, but I suspect it will not be long before they start to show the same.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Well well well. Had a little chat with the post office, and found out some interesting information. Maybe it helps someone else out sometime too.

First off, even though the "status" said they attempted to deliver, but had no access... it doesn't exactly mean that. It can, but it's also a general "status" for when they just can't get it to you that day. So if it falls behind the seat, or the mail carrier is running out of time and has to stick to mail only (which is what happened with this) because of a no overtime policy, or whatever the case may be. So it's also their general use code for "we fucked up and couldn't get it to you today."

Which is what happened. For whatever reason, the carrier got behind on their route, and they have to be done by a certain time. They have to stick to that, unless there is an overtime authorization. In this case, apparently there isn't, and I bet that's only during high package times (like December, etc). So when that completion deadline time is in jeopardy, they have to stop packages and are only allowed to handle mail.

(Which is interesting, because aren't packages also mail?)

Whatever. I had to dance around it a bit, and while annoying I think we were fine overnight.


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Day 6 for the little lemon drop, and starting to get its second set of true leaves. Gave her a drink with a little taste of Mega Crop mixed in.

One each of the Six Shooter and Blue Dream have just started their first set of true leaves now. The second seed of each is maybe a day behind the first two, and just coming out of the rooter. They should be straight up by the time I look in on them in morning. My guess is these two are the ones to be culled, but we will see how it goes over the next few days. Maybe these two come on real strong, and it times better with the Mx and Grn, I dunno. Time will tell.

Still no Mexican Airlines or Green Crack popping through, but they're coming and should be making their appearance in the next day or two.

Breeder estimates are:

Six Shooter: 9 weeks (up to 55" tall)
Blue Dream: 9-11 weeks (up to 45" tall)
Mx Airlines: 9 weeks (up to 50" tall)
Grn Crack: 8 weeks (up to 35" tall)
Lemon Drop: 9-11 weeks (up to 40" tall)


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Both Six Shooters and Blue Dream are up and into their first true set. I will be making a selection later to see who wins the lotto to become full plants. :)

One of the Six Shooters may have a twin. I noticed that earlier is looked like another one was coming up. Cool, but it's the slower of the two rooters and probably destined for the unemployment line.

Setting up the fabric pots/promix for a Six Shooter and a Blue Dream this morning. Got the pots filled, soaked in, dripped out, and have went back and gave a tick more water with a little rooting hormone and 1/2g per gallon of MC. Once done dripping, then I will be placing a Six Shooter and Blue Dream in their final home. Still not sure how I'm going to arrange everybody, but they'll fit just fine.

No Mex Airlines or Green Crack yet, but one of the Green Crack is on its way to making an appearance from the peek I got earlier. I may check the others later to make sure I didn't get the cover piece of rooter foam too tight. I don't think I did, and checked when I dropped them, but maybe I missed or something.

I could let them be in the rapid rooters for a couple more days, but I like to plants into the new homes a tick early. I've found that for me they do better if the roots can go from the rooting medium to the next medium without delay. In the past I've used some seedling transplant nutes which are designed to help facilitate transplanting without shock, and those have worked well. I say that as I haven't had any transplant issues, but cannot say if I would have without it. So it didn't hurt by any means.

Once this little dance has completed, I will also be doing a little more work on my RDWC build, since I now have the part I needed.

As this is the "lab" thread, I'll make note that while I was at the store I picked up a few odds and ends as well. The short of it is I picked up the rest of the stuff I needed to do a dutch bucket build. Got (4) 4gal square buckets and lids, (4) milk crates, some pipe and fittings. Already have the rest of it (about 2/3 of a supply list if building from scratch) so that worked out well.

A setup like that in a 7ft tent probably would be best with short plants, as the top of the medium is going to be somewhere around 24", leaving maybe 4ft for plant height. I'll have to measure it out, but that's before plant training and all of that. So in a few months it looks like I'll do some more autos, but we'll be going dutch. :laugh:

Why the height and riser and blah blah blah?

The milk crates get the bottom of the bucket 10" in the air. Subtract 2" for a 1.5" pipe, and that's 8", which leaves just enough room to slope the pipe (measuring from the bottom) about 2" and hit the duct port just right. But the main reason is because the res needs to be below the bottom of the buckets so that gravity can drain off the buckets. Needless to say, you need a short-ish res, that's long and wide. (Which is why recirculating dutch buckets can be tricky in a tent.)


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Welcome jack! Plenty to line everybodys cat boxes and bird cages in here. :laugh:


Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020


Not sure why the above two pics are sideways, but whatev. They're full shots of the lab tent as it's configured after putting the Six and Blue into their spots.

Clockwise from top left:

- Six Shooter (Day 2)
- Blue Dream (Day 2)
- Lemon Drop (Day 8)
- Seedling dome (Mexican Airlines and Green Crack sprouting in progress)

- (2) 250w Budget LED's with one each of their r-spec 3000k and full spec boards
- 200w heater (sitting behind seedling dome and set for 70 to help sprouting temps)
- humidifier at back middle
- one USB oscillating fan (black)
- one USB stationary fan doing light exhaust work


Six Shooter on the left, Blue Dream on the right.


A blurry shot of the Lemon Drop. Getting an odd coloring in the picture, maybe from the blur. I'll try to get a better pic tomorrow.

Looks like both of the Green Crack seeds should be popping up tomorrow. You can just see the start of the stem trying to bend up and out. Mexican Airlines still going, and still waiting.
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Grow Journal of the Month: Mar 2020
Yep. As predicted we have a baby Green Crack this morning. :)
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