Pot for PenniesBy Pat and Mike MUD
Edited by Chris Eudaley
High Times/Trans-High Corporation
$19.95us, 83 pages
The burning book
Cannabis Culture was recently contacted by Hans Wright, author of the book Sea of Green, published by High Times, as well as producer of other pot gardening and cooking videos. Hans wanted us to alert neophyte indoor cultivators about a book which he claims is “the most dangerous marijuana grow book I have ever seen.”
Pot for Pennies is a slim volume which claims to provide “easy-to-follow instructions” on building a low-cost hydroponic system. It tells the tale of a pair of growers and their experiences producing cheap hydro set-ups using household and found materials. Their main system uses inverted 2-litre pop bottles attached to PVC tubing as their plant containers. Although the book does contain some innovative ideas, it also has potentially lethal flaws.
On page 52 of Pot for Pennies, the reader is instructed to make a “homemade timer,” which is “intrinsic” to all the set-ups described in the book. This mechanism is made by taking apart a “cheap clock,” and placing super-glued wooden parts and switches into it. The book suggests “appliance cord” be used as timer wiring.
The instructions indicate that the third wire ground is not present on the clock leads, which supply electricity to the device. A secondary plug which goes to a pump, and is soldered inside the mechanism, is also indicated as not having a third safety ground.
The timer has a wooden cam, which is made of plywood, and super-glued to the minute hand. This comes into contact with a metal box, a mini roller-lever switch which is super glued to a piece of plywood. If any of the glue points were to come undone, the system would become a fire hazard.
Hans explained “There are a number of things that could go wrong with this set-up, causing electrocution or fire.
In any grow room, only heavy-duty timers and wire should be used, not appliance cord. Two-wire lamp cord may not handle the flow of electricity, and overheat. It is imperative that all electrical items have a safety ground wire in use. All modern wiring uses this third wire ground, it is there to reduce the chances of fire or electrocution.”
All wiring must be properly insulated, especially in the wet environment of a hydroponic grow-op. Electricity and water together are a very dangerous situation. Neither the text nor the diagram in the book indicate that the two sets of three wires, each soldered and attached to the clock, are to be covered or made safe in any fashion. They are left totally bare.
Other reputable grow authors explain in their books the necessity of ground wires. Mel Frank’s Marijuana Growers Guide and Jorge Cervantes’ Indoor Marijuana Horticulture both describe how to make unsafe two-wire connections into safe three-wire connections, and both also suggest the use of at least 14-gauge for a ground wire.
Some might find these kind of wiring problems to be trivial or obvious, yet the book is specifically aimed at the “inexperienced grower.” Improper wiring can easily lead to fire, electrocution and death, and it is essential that it be done safely.
Unless you are a skilled electrician, making your own grow-room timers is a very bad idea. Excellent timers can be bought for a reasonable price at many locations.
Off the market
When questioned about the book’s flaws, publisher John Holmstrom told Cannabis Culture that High Times was no longer promoting the book, and that they had taken it off the market “several months ago.” Holmstrom added that they were now in the process of “field-testing the set-up.”
Yet the book has been on the market for almost two years, and was vigorously promoted by High Times during that time. Even if HT has stopped advertising the book, it is still being sold on the market. I hope that this review will encourage High Times to run their own article, alerting readers to the book’s potentially lethal problems, and how to remedy them.
? Hans Wright is the author of Sea of Green, Perpetual Harvest, published by High Times Books (1999). He is also the star of all four Sea of Green videos.