Uniformity is a huge perk when growing clones

GREETINGS TO EVERYONE along The Highway with me today. Our path today is basically a rundown of cloning (rooting cuttings) using Aeroponics style rooting. I like this style the best—and I have used them all—because, it is very light maintenance, inexpensive, and stupid-simple once you get what not to do; trust me man, this is the way. I also like the fact that you can go all DIY and build yourself Bubble Cloners. Bubble and Aero are both Aeroponic, regarding style. Now when I say stupid-simple, I seriously mean that, you just gotta tweak your environment to be within certain parameters, where the cloners are located at. I like using a really cheapo grow-tent to house cloners as my first choice, but I also have them out in the open too. I keep my cloners in my vegging space, nice and warm, but never hot. Let’s jump in…

Clone King Aero Cloners

A cloner in service

You will notice the Dry-Erase board in front of the cloner in the photo. Simply draw the template in permanent marker, then use the dry-erase pens to fill in temporary data as cuttings come in and go out. I don’t usually do straight runs in my cloners, instead I am usually putting in and taking out any number of cuttings, so it’s a continuous cycle of cuttings going in, and rooted clones coming out, a few at a time. Makes the workload much easier and spread out as well—wink.

I buy my own cloners, and these guys (Clone King) make a pretty damn decent cloner for well under $100.00 and my support for them is due to having been using these cloners for over several years now, and being truly impressed; so, in other words, no bullshit, heh heh. I like the 36 Site size for these cloners; I have a couple of them, and here’s how I would set myself up if I were you.

Extra water pump

I always recommend getting an extra water pump for any aero cloner, because if one fails on you, it can be devastating. I have never had to replace my water pump (stock) on either of my cloners yet, and I have been running them 24/7 365 for several years now. But I still have an extra one. Also, running two cloners further protects me should one fail, I always have my cuttings spread out between the two cloners. But as I said, I have yet to experience failure with these units—two thumbs up.

Extra sprayer heads

Get at least 50 extra of these, and I would get 100 myself. From time to time they will clog up with some algae or organic debris. They are easy to clean with some hydrogen peroxide and water, just blow through them to make sure they are clear. But when you see you need to replace a couple it’s always nice to have them on the spot. I only run my sprayer heads finger-tight, and that’s all you need to do; no need to power screw them in. I just save up clogged sprayer heads until I have 10 or 20 and wash them all at once.

MAINTENANCE

These cloners are so easy to maintain, as long as you run them the way I recommend below in this article. I clean my cloners out about three times per year. My sprayer heads will clog at a rate of about 2 per month, per cloner. I just top off my water levels in the cloners about once per week, using a mixture of reverse osmosis filtered water and tap water—I’ll explain that more below—and here’s the really important part, ready? NO additives, no rooting hormones, don’t worry the plants produce their own rooting hormones—imagine that! No B vitamins, or Superthrive, nothing but water and a couple small tweaks to that water.

The sprayer heads in action

The big problems that arise when using all these additives, is that inside your cloners there will be massive microbial colonization, and anytime you have a lot of microlife you end up with that biproduct of “bio slime.” This will mercilessly clog up fine sprayer heads and mess up water pumps regularly; not to mention, depending on what types of microlife are present they can wildly swing the cloner’s water reservoir regarding pH. As long as you are willing to do thorough cleaning of your cloners and pumps every 10 days, then by all means go ahead and use all that extra stuff like rooting powders and other liquid additives. All I’m saying is why not make it easy on yourselves, and still get fast, healthy rooted cuttings with very little maintenance. Work smart, not hard, whenever possible.

LINK to Clone King 36 Site Cloner on Amazon: http://a.co/2Vdhodw

The Water Solution

This is very simple, and I use basically a blend of 50/50 municipal/city tap water and reverse osmosis (R/O) filtered water. I actually like the chlorine (chloramine) in the tap water because my cloners are a place where I don’t like a ton of microlife present. My water after mixing ends up about 30-40 PPM (on a TDS meter) and this is a great PPM level for this application. My cloners hold about 3 gallons of water each, and if I didn’t have R/O water handy I would just go buy some distilled water to replace it. If you don’t have easy access to chlorinated city tap water, you can use distilled or R/O water mixed with well water or bottled spring water, just keep your PPMs down around where I suggest, so your mixing ratios may vary depending on how high the PPMs are in your tap or well water.

If using well water without any chlorine/chloramine in it, simply add an additional two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) per 3 gallons (per cloner) and always run your cloner for 24 hours before placing any cuttings into it. One more addition, I use a liquid mineral product called CaMg+ with no nitrogen in it. It is just calcium and magnesium, and adding this will not cause the microlife to grow rapidly, like adding any nitrogen would indeed do. I use 1 tablespoon of this liquid product per cloner (per 3 gallons).

Earth Juice pH down crystals

As your cloner runs through it’s water over time, simply top off with your water mixture and add a little additional calcium/magnesium and you are golden. Now one more tweak, and as an old hydroponics grower I know how important a pH swing is using that style, and the same goes for aeroponics style growing or cloning. What I do is add a pinch of these crystals per cloner, and I continue to do this about once per week always. This organically drops the pH of the cloner water (using citric acid like from fruit) and it will slowly climb back up over the course of the week. This allows nutrients to be absorbed over a wider range rather than limiting nutrient uptake with a static pH. Try it you’ll like it; I was a seriously kick ass hydro-cropper for decades, ya know what I mean? I know a bit about what I speak.

LINK to pH Down Crystals on Amazon: http://a.co/97rA6Hz

Lighting Humidity and Temperatures

Simple 20-Watt lighting using LED bulbs

Many times, I see peeps fail when trying to root cutting because their lighting source is too powerful and/or too close to the tops of the cuttings. These plants have no roots, so you can’t rev up their metabolisms with intense lighting or they will burn out from not being able to keep enough water/nutrients processing. Let’s keep it simple, use a LED bulb (normal household style) that emulates a 40-watt bulb (actually more like 20 watts), and make sure it is: DAYLIGHT SPECTRUM. On the bluer side of the lighting spectrum around 5,000 – 6,000 Kelvin; or so. If using a cheap grow-tent you can keep this bulb in a reflector (see photo) at a distance of about 2 feet from the plant tops. If not using reflection like a tent provides your distance will be closer to 18 inches or so. I use an 18/6 photoperiod for my lights (18 ON and 6 OFF) and I don’t bother keeping cuttings or vegging plants in strict darkness during their lights off periods so I don’t ever have to open and close this cheapo tent.

Plenty of roots to take hold and grow in soil

Ambient temps should be cozy warm mid 70’s to low 80’s is perfect and if you are cloning in an area that gets a little cold at night, simply go to your local pet store and get an aquarium heater for 10-gallon tanks, they are very small and fit well in the bottom of the cloners on the floor. Make sure the heater is not touching the plumbing, or the water pump, or sides of the cloner. Set it to the lowest setting at about 68 degrees F. and don’t set it higher. This works awesome and I use these in the winter months myself. Make sure the humidity is around 50% – 70% because too dry is very bad. Boom, there it is there, your guidelines for being a cloning maniac yourself. My clones take about a week or 10 days to fully root, and they only need a little “hardening off” before placing them under more intense lighting.

HARDENING OFF

Plant clones GENTLY into a weak soil mix with a lot of perlite in it, like any good quality bagged soil cut with additional perlite. I use 3-inch pots to plant them in and I only use bottled spring water on them for their first couple of times being watered. NO FOOD just water for at least 10 days. You will also need to get them used to more intense lighting by simply placing them at a greater distance from any intense lighting for the first few days, if they get wilted move them farther from the lights and they should perk back up in a few hours. There you have it my esteemed homeskillets—see ya next time, Revski out.