GANJA OVER GUNS – the new mixtape hosted by CHRONIXX
GANJA OVER GUNS – the new mixtape hosted by CHRONIXX
The Growilla Way
or, Farming Naturally with the Mandro Method
by Silverback Gorilla
The Growilla method, also known as the Mandro method, is a based on a really simple concept: dirt, water, nutrients, & light. For this article, we’re going to assume you already have a suitable space setup with 600 or 1000 watt lights (1-2 per lbs of material you are hoping to yield), adequate air flow (a strong fan hooked up to a charcoal filter, suitable intake), and appropriate humidity (a dehumidifier if you need one in your area/season). Other than that, we need to discuss the dirt, water, and nutrients, which is the heart of the Roots & Harmony Mandro method.
‘Mandro’ is simply our term for man-powered hydroponic feeding, otherwise known as dumping the appropriate amount of nutrients in your water reservoir and then manually applying the water to the soil. As well, a big part of the Roots & Harmony philosophy involves heavy use of our Growilla Bud TM Flowering Formula top-dress. (Note: after months of requests, we’ve finally gone ahead and packaged a limited-edition first run of the stuff, available soon at www.rootsandharmony.com). By using a particulate food product (dry top dress), a time-release delivery medium (soil) and liquid nutrients (in small measure, in your water), we believe we are able to improve on the yields and quality of pure hydroponic growing while reducing the risks and potential harmful elements. In addition, the Growilla method relies on organic products and nutrients, ensuring the cleanest, healthiest smoke you can produce.
Before you can get started on any successful growing method, however, you need to have the right environment and space. Mites, funguses, mildews, and other unwanted stuff can be largely eliminated between rounds with a clean environment and proper setup.
Keep It Clean
Almost out of necessity, and regardless of your method, your space gets dirty between rounds, and that’s not good for your stuff. We want avoid adding foreign substances like sulfur powder and pesticides to our crop if we can, and the easiest way to do that is ensure the clean conditions of your environment.
Most important is having clean air with proper humidity. A filtered intake, filtered outtake, and a dehumidifier is the easiest way to stay on top of this… minimizing mites and particles that come in, cleaning them out of the air on the way out, and keeping the humidity low, so that your room is not a hospital environment for molds and mildews (like grey-mold and power mildew).
Make sure you constantly move and recycle the air in your small space. For most small spaces, a decent filter/fan setup, an oscillating fan 6-16″ in diameter (depending on the size of your room or closet), and a 6-16″ inch intake hole will do the job. Remember, in more casual setups, your intake can be the sum total of any source of air that is allowed into the room (basically, all the openings, cracks, holes, crevices, etc). In my personal closet, a small curtain blocks the light while the door is left slightly ajar to allow for an instant wealth of air intake. This works fine, because it’s a true indoor environment and I’ve learned through experience that I don’t have a lot of mites or spores coming in. You might find differently for your space, and need a separate, filtered intake.
Finally, it’s really important to do the actual surface cleaning whenever you can (i.e. between rounds). Indoor operations have tons of surface area for funk to collect in high concentrations, so giving the space a fresh start is crucial. Use a broom and vacuum to remove all the particulate matter, dust, dirt, remnants, and other funk left over. If you are using beds like we’ve built on the Roots & Harmony blog, or pre-fab water reservoirs, or anything else that has collected funk during your cycle, make sure you wipe it down as well and get it as clean and hygienic as possible. We recommend a solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (instead of bleach), at a ratio of about .5 oz to every 3-4 gallons of water for all your surface cleaning; beds, walls, ceiling, floor, etc.
Lightly dampen a clean rag with some of your cleaning solution (peroxide/water or bleach/water) and wipe down the in and outside of your light hoods, your fan blades, fan housing, and anything else that shouldn’t be sprayed but has exposed surface area. Wipe it dry with a dry, clean rag.
The essence of cleanliness is yield quality. We try to handle the presence of pests, mildews, molds, and anything else that disturbs your harvest the old-fashioned way… by keeping everything very clean.
Next, we are going to walk you through the most important distinction of the Mandro method… soil in pots, baby! That’s right! True hydroponics can work great if you are into that, but we here at Roots & Harmony love to experiment. New strains, new phenotypes, and new environments are what we are all about. In this kind of constantly changing scenario you need a reliable and safe growing medium that provides a necessary cushion so you can watch your babies react. So without any further ado, get some empty pots, roll up your jeans, and prepare to soil yourself!
Soil is Awesome
There are many methods to grow any plant, some more popular than others. Most pop-farmers today (I think I just coined a term) pretty much roll with the program… you buy $$$$ worth of hydro gear, you pay a heady electrician to set it all up, and you go on the grow-store prescription, constantly returning to the grow store for $$$ worth of nutrients every month or week or what have you.
Well, we here at Roots & Harmony are all about doing things our own way… we believe in the ecosystem, in natural and organic produce and foods, and low-footprint farming methods that recycle, reduce, and reuse. After over 20 years of farming various things various ways (we’ve tried all the techniques for growing anything from summer squash to sour diesel), we believe we’ve arrived right back at what nature intended… soil, water, food and light. Today I want to discuss some of the reasons why soil farming is the way to go, and maybe even (yeah right) convert some of you hydro-noobs out there, and get you off on the right foot.
Soil farming is eco-friendly. Soil ensures your plants use only the water and nutrients they need, thereby avoiding toxic or otherwise unseemly water waste. Soil also requires no constant electricity, so you are able to reduce the power footprint required by your setup.
In addition, soil has a slower uptake than hydro systems (it’s like eating a hamburger vs. injecting burger grease into your veins). Because of this, mistakes such as under-watering and overfeeding can be corrected easier and will not have as much of an impact on your plants or veggies. It also acts as a reservoir in it’s own right, so you have more lenience with watering and feeding, although we don’t recommend you use it… it’s just there when you need it.
Soil can also be the most productive medium. It depends on how you use it. Soil is its own ecosystem, it can harbor many beneficial microbes and fungi that hydro systems cannot. This ecosystem needs food though, so you need to adjust your feeding techniques appropriately. We believe that by using a reasonable amount of liquid nutrients and an organic soil top dress(like our Growilla Bud Flowering Formula) you can actually more effectively, safely, and efficiently feed your plants without need for expensive trips to the grow store.
So how should soil be done then? The key to good soil is using organic, nutrient rich soil that has a proper density and moisture level. Soils that are all dirt will hold on to too much water and make soggy plants. Soils that are all pearlite and wood chips will not hold enough water. We swear by one and only one soil product… Fox Farms Sea Forest. It has just the right density, structure, and nutrient content to make a perfect growing environment.
We begin by mixing 4 bags of Fox Farm with 8 ounces of Growilla Bud and 4 more ounces of pearlite. Blending it gently, we “ribbon” the feed and pearlite throughout the soil medium, not completing mixing it in, but making sure that the food is spread throughout the medium much like fudge in vanilla ice cream. Filling 7 gallon pots (essential for voluminous root growth), we leave about 2 inches of room at the top. Mix as much soil as necessary to fill all your pots, we get about 10 pots worth out of this recipe.
Transplant your babies from the 4-inch cups into these pots, making sure your babies are healthy, 6-10 inches tall, and otherwise ready for transplanting. You’re all set! You now have a healthy, natural home for your babies… and they are already loving it. Most of our colleagues report incredible vegetative growth during this first week after the transplants have begun partying in their new homes
We all need it, even our little babies. Well, especially our little babies. Watering properly is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure the health and yield of your crop. We’ve noticed out mingling that many many casual and personal farmers just water away, without really knowing what’s is going into their plants. Let’s discuss the four main aspects of your water; temperature, ph, nutrient content, and quantity, and why each are important to check and maintain.
#1 – Temperature
#2 – PH, or Acidity/Alkalinity
#3 – Nutrient Content
#4 – Quantity
So that’s the water rundown! Keep these four things in mind and your plants will love your water!
SPRING IS COMING – TIME TO THINK ABOUT…. light dep.
To depro your greenhouse is quite simple really. To induce flowering, you just need to block out all light for 12 hours, which in most cases, will consist of simply blocking the sun via some sort of heavy tarp or fabric.
We call it a “blackout tarp”, and this is how we make it:
Tools and Materials Needed:
1 roll of greenhouse tape
1 roll of duct tape
1 roll of 10′ x 100′ (black on white visqueen) panda plastic
60 feet of braided nylon rope (.5″)
3 8′ bamboo stakes
24 4″ Spring Clamps
2 ladders (8 ft pref, 6 ft ok)
Step 1 – Prep your material
Cut two 10′ x 20′ pieces and one 4′ x 20′ piece of the panda plastic (black on white visqueen). You are going to assemble these 3 pieces into one large sheet that is 22′ x 20′. Lay out your 10′ pieces parallel to each other, with a 2 foot gap between them. Then lay our 4′ piece centered over the top of this gap, again parallel to but on top of the other two pieces. Then tape the seems all the way down. Flip the entire 22′ x 20′ piece over and tap the remaining seems along their entire length.
Step 2 – Make a stiff edge on one end
Take 3 8′ pieces of bamboo and duct tape them together so they extend to 20′. Try to select thin and evenly tapered pieces of bamboo. On the 22′ end of the plastic, run the bamboo pole along the edge, entered, andthen fold the plastic over the bamboo. Use greenhouse tape or duct tape to fasten the edge, using a few inches of tape every few feet. Then tape the entire seem twice to create a strong hem. Right above the pole, you are going to poke 2 tiny holes, each about 6′ in from the end, so that you can attach ropes later.
Step 3 – Attach ropes
Take 2 30′ pieces of rope and tie them onto the poles using the holes you created in the last step. You now have a large sheet of plastic capable of blocking the entire top, front, and back surface of your greenhouse, which can be easily pulled over the surface of the entire greenhouse, from back to front, using the ropes attached.
Step 4 – Affix your cover to the back of the greenhouse
Take the 22′ side with no pole and attach it to the exterior of the back wall along the top, over lapping the existing back wall by about 18 inches. Using 4 of the 4″ spring clamps attach the cover to the top bar of the back wall of the greenhouse structures, evenly spacing your clamps along the bar. Then use 1 clamp on each side bar to pin down the 18″ of overlap on the sides.
Step 5 – Make the side pieces
Measure the ends of your greenhouse, remembering to add an extra foot to the top and bottom for overlap. You are going to cut two pieces of panda plastic, each 10′ by approx 12′, to cover the ends of your greenhouse. You can cut off the diagonal corners if you want but it is not necessary. After pulling your top cover over, you are going to use 4″ spring clamps to affix the sheets of visqueen to the bars of the greenhouse frame, using approx 10 clamps spaced evenly around the outside.
Step 6 – Cover your greenhouse
Before depro, it is important to remember to have all your oscillating fans on low, your outtake fan turned off, and your dehumidifier(s) on. Then, using your handy ropes, throw them over the top of the green house, and then have a friend help you easily pull your cover over the entire top surface of your greenhouse. Then, as mentioned in the last step, use your remaining spring clamps to affix your end pieces.
Step 7 – Start your flower cycle
12 hours later, remove the end pieces, toss the ropes back over to the other side, and use them to uncover your greenhouse. At this point your flower cycle has begun. For the next 90% of your flowering cycle you are going to cover your greenhouse every night at bedtime (whatever bedtime is, usually before dark) and then uncover it 12 hours later, give or take 30 minutes.
Straight from the greenest corners of the East Coast, this original variation on the classic Chem Dog strain delivers yield, flavor, and a classic sativa buzz, creative and inspired yet functional and non-drowsy.
What is it?
Chem Dog is – supposedly – the original and best of the Chem Dog strains, acquired almost 20 years ago by the legendary breeder and grower Chem Dog himself, reportedly handed over in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead concert in 1991 (long live Jerry!). Because of this, we refer to it as the ’91 for short. Developed over many years from land-raised strains, the premise is simple: this is the Chem Dog. Most of you know Chem Dog by what has come from it, including a long lineage of diesels and other popular strains that are now ubiquitous, but the classic Chem Dog still has a huge appeal, especially back east, and is always a solid yielder. In addition, this strain is nearly impossible to come by, and we waited for it for over 10 years, despite our strong connections to the best breeders.
How is it grown?
The plants we worked with exhibited a single phenotype across several different gardens, which is a good indicator of solid genetics. The plant takes approx 63-70 days to mature, or 9-10 weeks. The kolas are large and dense, reaching as much as 4-6 inches in diameter, even in an indoor environment. Because of this, being careful to avoid gray mold is important. The plant also has a slight susceptibility to powder mildew. Proper neeming and sulfur treatments are adequate measures for avoiding these problems. Keep humidity below 60% and avoid direct contact of water on the buds. Even a late, heavy spraying/foiler feeding is not recommended with this dense of flowers. This strain responds extremely well to a technique we call “sativa back topping.” This technique is an extension of the traditional idea of topping your plants. After taking a center top, the plants will grow into a candelabra formation as expected. Usually 2 or 3 of the main branches will take a lead on the others, and begin to grow taller. We cut or “pinch” these leads off at the internode closest to the height of the majority of the plants main branches, leaving the top-most flower site. This often creates an additional lead at this location, and the two together grow with the others that are at the same height. We continue this process until 3 1/2 or 4 weeks in to the flower cycle. To some this sounds crazy, but we’re confident that on most sativa strains you’ll see many more flowers than if you would have let those leads grow. The other benefit is that the smaller leads that would’ve suffered in the larger branches shadows grow more evenly and receive a better exposure to the light canopy. This technique worked very well with Chem Dog 91, with many plants seeing as many as 10 thick kolas that were 8-12 inches in length, in a seven gallon container.
Chem Dog has a definitive look, smell, and taste. The appearance after drying is a lime green with a golden hue and an infusion of red hairs and a good coating of sugary crystals. This strain can herm but only under extreme light deviations or temperature stress. The plant will also “bolt” or stretch and grow “fingers” in the buds as a response to excessive heat or humidity. Even when this happens the flowers are still perfectly usable, which is another good indicator of a sold strain – toughness. Does the plant endure quite a bit and still do what it’s supposed to? If so, it’s because the plant has evolved those characteristics, which is a good sign that this strain has some history. The taste is sour and sweet, with diesel fuel overtones, herby and rich, a real classic “skunk” marijuana flavor. The yield is probably one the strains most distinguishing aspects… it yields extremely well.
If you do end up with a flowering crop of Chem Dog, take the time to flush it well to really manifest that great flavor and aroma. There is nothing particular required to finish this strain, it will wrap up on it’s own schedule in 9-10 weeks, but don’t cut any corners… the material is worth putting your best work into.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line on Chem Dog 91 is that we are convinced. A lot of different bud ends up with the name “chem dog”, but the second we tasted this stuff we knew it was the real deal. The flavor and aroma are there, the classic look and smooth smoke are there, and the yield is what it should be. Hopefully this version of Chem Dog will take hold and become the dominant Chem Dog strain once again.
If you get your hands on some Chem Dog 91, give it some love, water and food and watch it grow. Remember to always to keep it organic. If done the right, the flavor is impossible to beat.
Curing, as much as any stage of cropping, is an important step in the process that is often overlooked by beginning farmers. Even after weeks of hard work ensuring a bountiful harvest, many young gardeners overlook this crucial last step; a mistake that often ends up hurting the final potency, flavor and smell of their fruits and flowers. Although it does take a little extra time, proper planning and a little patience will give your flowers a chance to lock-in the flavor and smell you’ve work hard to get, and will often “bring out the nose” of material that was dried too quickly or otherwise wasn’t exhibiting a strong aroma at time of harvest.
What Curing Does
Curing does three important things that work together. The first goal of curing is to equalize the material’s moisture level. At the end of 7-10 days of drying, when your stems are snapping, the moisture that remains is mostly stored deep in the flower material. The outer most layers of the buds will be dry to the touch. Upon breaking a flower open however, you’ll notice that the center is still rather moist. If you then allow the plant to continue to dry, the center of the plant will reach an ideal finished moisture level after the outer most layers of the plant have become far too dry and brittle, leading to the breaking off of material that creates the “duff” and “shake” we see in the bottom of finished bags of material. This hints at the second goal of properly curing your flowers, which is durability. A properly cured flower will contain just enough moisture, evenly spread throughout, that it resists crumbling or breaking-apart, yet is easy to work with and use. We call this “bag stamina,” and it refers to the ability of the flower to stay intact and not crumble despite being handled and rustled in a container. Lastly, and possibly most important, is flavor and aroma. The moisture stored inside your flowers carries essential oils and sugars that need to be expressed evenly throughout the material to get a great finished smell and appearance.
The only real preparation required for curing is to have the right amount of the right size of containers and the right environment to store them in. If you are working with longer, thicker branches, you’ll want to use storage totes, approx. 18-20 gallons in size. If you are working with shorter, thinner branches, then it’s possible that smaller food-grade containers or even turkey bags will work for you. For totes and containers, home improvement stores and places like Target and Wal-Mart will have a variety to choose from. Some people will need a half-dozen small containers or a half-dozen turkey bags. Others will need 2-dozen 18-gal large storage totes. It just depends on the quantity and average girth of your material. After you’ve chosen your ideal container, make sure you get plenty of them, as you’ll only be filling them halfway. So, if you have enough material that it will all fit in 6 totes, get 12, so you can spread the material around.
Clear the space necessary to store your containers in a room that you can keep at approx. 65 degrees with approx. 65% humidity. This will ensure a relatively neutral environment that allows the plant to breath and sweat naturally without being excessively dried or being overly moistened.
Curing and Checking
After your space and your containers are ready, take your full branches of material (it’s best for it to cure on the vine if possible) and pile them loosely and evenly in the totes until they are filled halfway. The branches should have plenty of room for air to flow in and out between them and for moisture to escape, but close enough together that they can spread their moisture around amongst each other. If you just stack them loosely and don’t compress them (or bury them under too much of their own weight) then you will be fine, and you’ll notice lots of 1-3 cm airways between your branches and all the flowers.
Now we’re going to “sweat” them. After you are finished loading your totes, tightly fasten the lids on each of them. In 12 hours, check them by removing the lids. If the stems bend again instead of snapping, and the flowers squish instead of crumbling, then you know you’ve done some proper sweating. Leave the lids off for 6-12 hours for this moisture to dry away, and then repeat the process. If there is no change, check them again in 12 more hours, approx. 24 hours after the lids first went on. If you notice a change at 24 hours, then leave the lid off for 24 hours, and repeat the process. Some material will cycle through the sweating process quicker and some will do it slower, so it’s important to check at 12 and 24 hours to determine the right “rhythm” to breath and sweat your plants by. Either way, the goal is to alternate in even intervals between having the lids on and taking the lids off. When the lids are on, the air supply is cut off which slows the drying. The moisture inside the material spreads around throughout each branch and from branch to branch. When the lids are off, the drying continues and the newly released moisture is dried away. This process, when repeated, slowly extracts the remaining moisture and oils, drying away the moisture and leaving the flavor and aroma spread throughout the material and condensed on the surface of the plant. It’s important to remember that his is not an exact science, some environments with relatively higher or lower humidity or temperature may require an intermediate approach, where the time cycle is closer to 6-12 hours and the lids are put on but left askew or slightly cracked for air flow.
Finishing the Cure
After repeating the sweating/drying process several times, you’ll notice that little change has occurred since the last interval. This is your indication that your plants are done curing, although some farmers insist that good flowers are never done curing, and if properly stored, will get even better and better over many months! In reality most of us can’t wait that long, so if you are noticing little change between sweating and breathing, it’s time to trim your flowers off the vine and bag them up. If you are keeping some of your harvest for yourself, or have grown an especially important “head stash”, then take the time to store it in mason jars or some form of glass container. Either way, when choosing your final container to store your finished cured medicine, make sure that the air-to-material ratio is rather low, i.e., don’t put a small amount of material in a large container. Loosely fill a container all the way, this will prevent the finished material from further drying. For personal stashes, consider a container that you can fill with enough medicine to last for 1 month. You can continue to breath and sweat it (you will naturally every time you open it for a sample) and you’ll notice that after a few more weeks it is even more potent and aromatic than before. Like fine wine, this process will continue for months and months, resulting in an aroma and flavor you just can’t get any other way.
If you have any tips or techniques you use for curing your flowers, let us know, and leave a comment! Keep it organic and keep growing!
The Art of Propagation
Sounds heady, right? Well it kinda is. Cloning plants is one endeavour where having the mythical “green thumb” will certainly help you. Some people take to cloning instantly, with little trouble, and successfully propagate their plants of choice for years to come. Others however, often experience a tough start finding a technique that will work for them, and are forced to resort to other means, like purchasing clones at a garden store or taking cuttings from a friend. As any pest expert will tell you, the first way to prevent mites and other parasites from taking hold in your garden is to control where your plants come from. The clones found at garden stores are exposed to the elements, the whims of their proprietor, and the bugs, spores, and microbes that are trafficked in by the public at large. For these reasons as well as many others, many professional gardeners prefer to propagate their own favorite plants. We have a sure-fire technique for cloning almost any plant that we’ve documented here, in order to help any cloning noobs out. As you are about to find out, it’s much easier than you may think.
Supplies and Setup
Before starting, you’ll need the following supplies. 1) Oasis rooting cubes are the brand we prefer. 2) Fresh clean razor blades. 3) Cloning trays with domes at least 10 inches high. 4) Rooting gel (we prefer Clonex), 5) a heating mat for keeping the roots warm, and 6) and a mild bloom solution with a little nitrogen in it, like a 5-10-10 or a 2-5-5. You’ll also need a cutting board and some clippers.
Put your cubes in a tray, prepare a mild and tepid (70 degrees) nutrient solution using your bloom formula, at approx. 1/4 the strength of the recommended amount. Soak the cubes in your tray, filling the tray so that the water is level with teh top of the cubes.
In order to ensure vigorous clones, you also need to make sure your mother plant is as healthy as possible. We do this by feeding the mother plant 3-5 days before cutting with a healthy dose of an evenly balanced nutrient, like a liquid 5-5-5.
It’s also important to setup your cloning space, because you’ll want to put your finished clones directly into their new home when ready. Make sure you find a space that can accommodate two flourescent four-foot lights, and one to four cloning trays. Place your heating mat on the shelf or surface, and hang your light so that it is approx. 4 inches above your dome. Make sure you use a timer or other device to regulate the temperature of your heating mat. We turn ours on for 30 minutes, then off for 30 minutes. Some heating mats will come with a thermostat and can be set to an exact temperature. Either way, use a hygrometer to watch the temp and humidity levels of the dome and the root zone in order to make sure you aren’t over or under heating your babies.
When choosing which branches to cut off of your mother for cloning, think about how you want to manicure and manage your mother plant. If your plant is getting tall, take the tops from the lead branches. Think of your mother plant as a banzai tree. This will encourage your plant to produce more branches in a shape that is desirable for you. As well, when selecting branches, look for material that needs to be thinned from the plant in order to encourage air flow and reduce sites for molds, mildews, and buggers.
To take your cuttings, you’ll need a small pair of shears and a shot-glass full of Clonex. Make sure you are cutting from thick, healthy branches, with at least 5-7 inches from the lowest node on the stem. Cut the branch from the plant, making a nice clean cut as close to the attaching stem as possible. Use your razor to make nice clean cuts along the stem, cleaning up small branches and leaf sites except for the last two good leaf formations. Cut the remaining leaves back so that the entire radius of the finished clone is approx. 2 inches. Make a 45 degree cut, 1/4 inch below the lowest node/internode, dip your stem (approx 1+ inches worth) in rooting gel, and then insert into the hole on the oasis cube, firmly pressing the stem far enough in to keep it stable, but not all the way through the bottom. Your clone should have a nice, clean stem, approx. 4-6 inches long, emerging from the medium, with 4-8 leaves on top, each cut down so that the entire clone, when looking down on it, is approx 2 inches wide. This ensure nice airflow throughout the tray and dome. When you are finished, you will have a tray with several evenly spaced clones, ready for a dome and placement under a light and onto a heating mat.
Now that your clones are ready to go into their environment, make sure your domes have the vents open, or if necessary, cut vent holes into the top of your dome. Place the dome onto the tray, and place the tray on your heating mat. If necessary, take the time now to adjust the height of your lights. Lastly, now that your trays are sitting comfortably, rotate the dome very slightly, so that approx 1 inch of the dome overhangs the tray. This ensures a natural air convection from the bottom to the top.
Once a day the dome should be remove for 5 minutes in order to exhange the air completely. In addition, while the dome is off, go ahead and flush the nutrient solution by flooding and draining your tray, then filling again with a fresh mixture of 70-degree diluted nutrient solution. Repeat nutrient flushing every 2-3 days. After approx. 7-10 days you can remove the dome completely and shortly after you should have vigorous root growth.
Trimming is the bane of every grower’s existence… meticulous work that just doesn’t come with any shortcuts. Although there are a number of automatic trimmers on the market, most growers (understandably) just aren’t willing to trust their valuable harvest to a machine. Many gardeners and farmers believe that properly manicured flowers require a human touch. This doesn’t mean however that you’ll be spending the next 45 days in solitary confinement until your thumb is cramped into a ball… it just requires some planning and a one-step-at-a-time approach.
The first step is to plan your attack. Depending on what you are growing and how much of it you grew, you might need more than one person for a successful trim. Break down your quantity into managable numbers and approximate. If you have 4 lbs of freshly cut fruit or flowers, and it takes one person 8 hours to properly manicure 1 lb of your flowers, then you’ll need 4 people to get the job done in one day. If you have 8lbs, you would need 8 people, and so on. If your produce requires 1 person half a day to prepare 1 lb, then you can get 4 lbs. a day from 2 people. The point during this step isn’t to magically guess the numbers perfectly, but to avoid overwhelm and plan a quantified attack. For large outdoor harvests of leafy varieties, you will need a large team to get things done in a timely fashion. For personal indoor gardens, usually 1 or 2 two people is enough to finish the job in 1 or 2 days. Once you have a clear idea of how much work you have, you can then coordinate with workers and plan a schedule.
Most gardeners that have worked with a few trimmers before will keep a roster of their favorite workers. Approx 1 or 2 weeks before harvest you will want to start calling your crew and organizing work days that fit everyone’s schedule. It’s best to just work during normal business hours in order to accomodate the most people and to avoid undesirable traffic in your neighborhood after hours. Once you assembled a team and schedule, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need. You’ll need scissors; the fiskars snips for fine detail, regular short and long blade scissors for rough material, and the big clippers for cutting larger stocks. You’ll also need turkey bags, approx. 1 bag per pound of flowers. For large harvest food-grade storage totes will work as well. Most workers will prefer gloves, make sure to use the powder-free, and the most ecological variety you can find. Rubbing alcohol, olive oil, paper towells, lighters, snacks and beverages (something with caffiene), plenty of light, fans, and good tunes will be everything else you need. Comfortable seating and tables are also necessary as the work will continue for long hours.
The Real Work
For trimming wet material, you’ll want to take it directly to your workers as you harvest. We prefer to just take enough down to give everyone something to do for one hour. This avoids the wilting that will slow down your trimming work. Start by breaking down your material, if necessary, into 7-10 inch stalks. This will make your material into easy-to-manage individual units. Proceed by removing the fan leaves, usually the largest, outer-lying leaves that contain little or no medicine. Be careful not to leave stem bases or torn leaves, which dry up into unappealing “crow’s feet” on your finished produce. As well, be careful not to try to remove too much during this phase; getting over-zealous can result in accidentally tearing buds from the stem or otherwise damaging your flower material.
First use your fiskars snips to go in after the largest remaining leaves, where the leaf stem attaches to the larger branch. After removing all fan leaf material, place in plastic trash bags or containers for disposal. Next, using your hands to rotate the flowers and your short-blade scissors, you’ll want to look across the bud, pick a plane to cut along (almost as if trimming hedges) and then choose a cut, attempting to cut as many leaves along that plane as you can. Rotate the flowers in your hand as you cut, to keep the plane close to the material, “wrapping” your cut around the flowers as you go. Repeat this method on the smaller leaf material until the flower has an even, uniform appearance with no protruding or scraggly-looking leaves. Lastly, use your fiskars snips again to target any remaining leaves or unwanted material that remains. Do this trimming work over a tray or a table to collect the trim. This finer level of trim is useful for making concentrates.
For wet trimming, the finished manicured flowers will go onto wire hangers, hung from the last bud or branch on the stem. Pack the hangers loosely so the buds are barely touching and hang the hangers to dry, approx. 4 inches apart from each other, to allow for at least an inch of airflow between buds
For dry trimming, you’ll want to use the above method, except for you won’t be taking wet flowers directly to your workers. Instead, you’ll be bringing in your hangers full of almost dry branches, and the workers will work directly into your turkey bags or food-grade totes. Usually, for dry trimming, you’ll want your workers to remove the flowers from the stem directly into bags. Be careful not to let your material get too dry before trimming, or it will be too delicate to handle effectively.
While you are working, and especially after you are finished, you might have quite a sticky mess. Our preferred method for cleaning is to use olive oil and table salt. Approx 1 tablespoon of olive oil, when mixed with one teaspoon of coarsely ground salt, when rubbed between the hands, will emulsify the resin and it will easily rinse away with hot soapy water. For larger jobs, even your carpet may require cleaning, so consider who you will call or where you will rent your favorite scrubber.
For more information and more tips, make sure to keep reading RootsandHarmony.com and check out our 2010, 2009, and 2008 medical gardening calendars. If you have any questions or tips on trimming, please post comments here and keep the discussion rolling!
Climate is one of the most misunderstood factors for beginning and intermediate growers. The key to good climate control is understanding the relationship between your plants and nature, and how you mimic and manage that relationship when you go indoors or into a greenhouse to grow. The three big aspects of climate control are temperature, air movement, and humidity. Other factors, such as CO2 concentration, can also be considered and managed.
Temperature is often one of the most difficult things to manage for new growers. It is so crucial to the development and lifecycle of plants that it can’t be overstated. While most new growers tend to air on the side of overheating, overcooling your garden is an equal concern. Either extreme will cause your plants too shut down and stop growing, and in the most severe cases, even die altogether.
First, in order to prevent guessing, get yourself a decent hygrometer. This is a handy little device that will tell you the temperature and humidity of your environment. The common ones available in garden stores today have a minimum/maximum feature, which will tell you at any given time the highest and lowest temperatures recently recorded, as well as the corresponding humidity levels. The magic numbers are 75 degrees during the day (when your lights are on) and 68-70 during the night (your plants expect a slight cool down when the sun isn’t out).
Anything above 80 degrees is getting towards the dangerous end of the scale for most indoor fruits and flowers. Transpiration (water leaving the leaves due to evaporation) will begin to exceed the rate of hydration (water entering the plants roots), therefore drying your plants out, no matter how much water you give them. As you approach 90 degrees, this will start to have a noticeable effect on the health of your plant. Dry, brittle, yellow fan leaves, and dead, shriveled old growth will begin to appear. If you notice that your high/low is getting up to 90 or more, and you are witnessing these symptoms, you should first address your temperature problem. You may in fact be under-watering as well, but you’ll never know until you get your transpiration/hydration balance in check. There are other problems that can come with high heat; certain pests and parasites, including mildews and mold, thrive in warmer temperatures, and unhealthy plants are at a distinct disadvantage in trying to naturally to fight them off. As well, your plants will manifest strange growth patterns in an attempt to cool and aerate it’s fruit. Stretching stems and flowers, airy or “fluffy” fruit development, and overall low yield will result. In addition, extreme temperatures can even trigger hermaphroditic behavior, which is a natural defensive reproductive reaction the plant has to shock or stress.
Extreme lows can be equally problematic. In colder climates and winter months, night-time temperatures indoors can easily reach 30 degrees or lower without the aid of a heater. When plants become too cold, the rate of transpiration slows so much that there is no need for hydration (there is literally no room in the plant for more water) which dramatically slows the uptake of nutrients and essentially brings the growth process grinding to a halt. This can shock the plant into thinking an early winter has arrived, and that it needs to pollenate itself, which will result in male flowers and eventually seeds. As well, cold temperatures tend to encourage high humidity and moisture in the plant and growing medium, which will invite mold, mildews, and pests.
Humidity is the other most crucial factor in protecting the health of your growing environment. Even after beginning growers learn to control their temperature, they often experience powder mildew, botrytis (brown/grey mold), and funguses and other yield-threatening problems. The culprit? High humidity, almost every time.
Humidity is a measure of how much moisture (water) is in the air. This is important for three reasons. One, the moisture level of the environment has an important influence on the moisture balance your plants. If the environment’s humidity is extremely low, plants will loose moisture faster, and certain pests like spider mites benefit. If the humidity is too high, the plants won’t loose moisture fast enough, and powder mildew and botrytis benefit from that environment. The trick is keeping it right down the middle, at around 45%. This is best achieved through the use of a commercial dehumidifier which you can get at any home improvement store. Lastly, the moisture in the air is vector (delivery system) for parasitic spores and microbes itself, so it’s important to keep it in check.
Keeping it in Check with Airflow
Heaters and dehumidifiers are nice, but without a good, comprehensive airflow system, they are just fighting an uphill battle. The biggest thing a grower can do to manage both temperature and humidity, as well as exposure to unwanted foreign particles and parasites is to carefully manage airflow. Ample intake and outtake CFM (cubic feet per minute) are necessary for managing heat, humidity, and cleanliness of your environment. For larger rooms, 10′x10′ or more, consider a 12″ or larger outtake fan that will provide at least 1000 CFM or more. Smaller rooms can use smaller fans, all the way down to the 4″ models that are carried at many garden stores.
The key with airflow is maintaining a good ratio of flow to temperature. Too much incoming outdoor air, when lights are off, will cool a room down too low, and may not be needed. Too little outgoing air, when lights are on, will let heat pile up. Some growers dial this in with timers, others carefully adjust using a manual method, and others use temperature-based controllers to turn the fans on and off. These are our favorite, as they allow the room to “breath” with the temperature and bring in cool air when needed, turn it off when it isn’t, and stop exhausting when the room isn’t hot. 4 or 5 oscillating fans keep the air in the room moving in between bursts of in and outtake air activity. If you do use a timer to turn on your fans, make sure you set the timer to run long enough to actually completely exchange the air in the room. This should take 1-5 minutes to happen.
For keeping your intake air clean, it is important to use HEPA certified intake filters. Ask your garden store to recommend a filter size for your room. Remember that an intake filter will slow down the airflow in, so it’s important to get a fan and filter with enough combined CFM to compensate. Your outtake filter is another very important part of keeping your air clean. That activated carbon filter you have is the same stuff they use to keep hospital air clean, so it will work for you. Make sure again that your output filter and fan are large enough, that with the combined CFM between them they are able to quickly (< 3min.) clean and replace the air in your room.
Lastly, make sure that your intake CFM and outtake CFM are roughly equivalent. This will keep air moving and prevent vacuums and pile-ups of dirty air.
Remember that every grow space is it’s own environment and will require monitoring and adjusting. By carefully measuring your room however, and consulting with your local garden store, you can make sure you have the recommended amount of CFM both in and out when you start. Add in a dehumidifier and a basic space heater and you are good to go!
Controlling it All
Now that you have the basic elements of your climate control system in place, it’s important to consider how you’ll run it all. There are dozens of products on the market that will help you do this, from single-device, thermostat-based controllers to large, elaborate “brains” that will run your lights, your heater, your A/C, your dehu, and more. Some of these new systems even come with an ethernet connection so you can access your information from the internet, your PC, and even your iPhone! For more information on this, it’s best to consult your local garden store. A knowledgable owner will know what item is appropriate for the budget, scale, and concerns of your garden.
Keeping a grow calendar or a diary is one of the most crucial tricks of the trade for saavy farmers. A properly setup calendar and diary system will allow you keep track of growth trends, stay prompt on feedings, waterings, and pest/parasite treatments, as well as provide a simple way to keep track of where you are in your cycle. We’ll discuss the three main aspects of this here… planning, execution, and review.
When you begin a grow calendar, there are several important dates you’ll want to note on the calendar immediately. Start by identifying the day you will trigger flowering followed by the day you should anticipate harvest for your strain. This will usually be 8-10 weeks or so.
Next, go ahead and write out a basic feeding schedule. It’s important to not be overly specific, as you’ll just be crossing stuff out later. Be general but thorough… the word “neem” written every 4 days for the first 4 weeks is a good idea as a reminder. For liquid nutrient feedings that will occur daily/weekly, pick a regular day of the week and mark it with an F or something similar. Remember also to indicate any changes in feeding that will occur that week. For instance, in week 1, you might mention “8oz nit 4oz phos”, and then in week 2 you might indicate it’s time to change to “7oz nit, 5 oz phos.” These values are simply used here for example. You might be indicating much more complicated or even simpler nutrient specifications.
Lastly, if you have more periodic applications, such as a top dress, sulfur burning, or other things, note those as well. For instance, around week 3 or 4, you might note an “S” for sulfur on every day of the week for seven days. If you are applying Growilla Bud Food or another top dress product, you will want to indicate that on the calendar when necessary as well. Finishing moves like switching to pure water, adding molasses or your favorite sugar source, and using a flushing agent should be noted 2-3 weeks before your harvest date as a reminder as well. Any other important parts of your program or regiment not mentioned here should be indicated as well. Remember that keeping track of everything that you do to your plants is the point.
The goal of the planning stage is to create a script that you can literally just run though and execute in order to complete a successful grow.
It is very important to execute on your calendar accurately. If you are using a growing method you have used regularly, then it is even more important. For new growing methods, flexibility and constant review and calendar updating may be required as you feel out your new method. The important thing is keeping track while executing. If you neem on a neem day, cross it off to indicate it was done. If you change your feeding ratio and then feed, again, cross that off to indicate it was finished. This is important because we all get busy and forget things… if you see a problem developing, you can look back at your calendar, and determine which things you didn’t cross off to eliminate or pinpoint problem causes. This only works however if you are diligent about keeping your calendar current with respect to what you have and haven’t done. Lastly, make sure you let your plants be the authority. Most known methods if calendared properly will work according to the timeline. But things happen… cold spells slow uptake, hot spells speed uptake, and climate can influence humidity and pest/parasite levels as well, so it’s important to know when to adjust, delay, or altogether skip a task on the calendar… and it’s equally important to note that you skipped it and why. This gets into our next topic, using your calendar to review your progress and keep a diary.
Now this is the part where the green thumb really develops. Keep careful notes of your plant’s reactions, climate information about your room and water (temp, humidity, ph, nutrient strength, etc) on a given week, and any changes you’ve made to the schedule to address sudden problems or concerns. This is invaluable for troubleshooting problems. It also creates a roadmap for how to possibly adjust your planning phase next time. Often times careful review will lead to changes in the immediate schedule, requiring you to do some new planning on the fly and then execute on that. Be judicious though, many problems are only exacerbated by well-intended over-reactions. Instead, use your calendar to review and identify what you may have missed, correct one problem at a time, and watch and review your results.
The Bigger Picture
This calendar system is important for keeping track, on a day-to-day basis, of individual growing cycles. There is a bigger picture, however, which is the yearly calendar, and when you want to start/stop growing cycles. We here at Roots & Harmony like using the lunar calendar for determining these dates. Using the moon as a natural guide for when to begin and end growing cycles has been a popular practice amonst farmers around the world for thousands of years. For more information on the lunar calendar, pick up the latest Roots & Harmony Medical Calendar or click here to review our entry on lunar growing.
So that’s about it… the essence of the grow calendar. Hit us with questions or comments… let us know what you do, and how you do it, to keep track of a successful grow!
Germinating seeds is becoming a lost art for some, but not for us here at Roots & Harmony. Despite the popularity of cloning, which we agree is very effective, we realize that many times the only way to acquire a new strain or to introduce new strains to an area is to germinate them from seed. With this easy guide, you’ll be germinating your own seeds in no time.
Start with Good Seeds
Working with seed is just like working with anything else, you need to be reasonably certain that the seeds you have are still viable (usually whoever you get them from will vouch for them). Be careful with seeds from disreputable Internet sources; the phenotypes can vary greatly and you never what you are going to get. A good seed will be large, resembling the size of a peppercorn, often dark brown with black tiger stripes. Some seeds can vary from light-brown to black depending on the strain.
Soaking your Seeds
Fill a glass (approx. 8 oz.) with distilled or reverse-osmosis water, and place your seeds so they are floating on the surface. Let the seeds soak for 24 hrs in a dark space that doesn’t go below 62 degrees F or above 90 degrees. Optimal is 75. We like to do this in a cabinet above the stove. After 24 hrs some seed should have sank to the bottom. Some may require a little push, poking the seed under the surface. If the seeds sinks, it’s a good one. It’s ready to go into the next phase. If after five days your seed is still floating, toss it out. It’s a dud.
To begin, get a container that will comfortably house your seeds and 5 or 6 paper towels. You’ll want to fold the towel up nice and thick so they are at least 6 to 12 layers thick. Place your seeds in the middle layer and soak the paper towel completely, draining off any excess water from your container. If you want to give the seeds a kick-start you can add one ml or drop of a liquid-gel (we use cloneX) rooting hormone per 8oz. of water. Put the container again in a dark place that will not go below 62 degrees or above 90 degrees, again optimal is 75 degrees F. Check the seeds every 24 hours, re-moistening the towel if it begins to dry at all. After 1 or more days, you will start to see a small shoot growing out of the seed. When this shoot is approx. a quarter-inch or more in length, the seed is ready to plant. After 10 days, if a seed has not sprouted, it should probably be discard as it will not be a vigorous plant.
Use a planting flat from your nursery (should have several seperated 1×1 inch square containers) and fill each section with soil. The soil should be heavily aerated and amended with extra pearlite. Moisten the soil thoroughly, without soaking it. Place the seed shoot-down deep enough that the head is approx. 1 quarter-inch deep in the soil after the seed is covered. Cover the seed with soil, and then apply a final moistening to make sure the additional soil is wet. Drain any excess water from this tray thoroughly and then place on a heat mat or heating pad, something that can regulate the temperature to around 75 degrees. This tray should then have a humidity dome placed over it, and a flourescent light source should be applied as close to the dome as possible. This light source will tell the plants which way is up and begin their growth. This light source will be sufficient for the first two weeks of growth. At this point the plants should be thinned again, discarding any unwanted or non-producing seedlings. As many as 50% of the plants may be discarded when carefully choosing the best phenotypes; i.e. the ones with the largest leaves, the thickest stalks, optimal internode spacing, and otherwise optimal characteristics. At this point, the seedlings need to be moved into 1 gallon containers.
Again mix some soil, amended with a light dose of Growilla Bud Food (1 cup per 1.5 cubic feet of soil) and Pearlite (1 to 2 gallons per 1.5 cubic feet of soil). Fill 1 gallon containers about three-quarters full, place your seedling into the soil and cover it, leaving an extra inch of space above the filled soil line. Water this in first with a light sprinkling only trying to moisten the first two inches of soil. Wait 15 to 30 minutes, then repeat the watering, this time wetting the container just long enough to see drainage. These seedlings can now be placed under a metal-hallyde or HPS bulb at approx 36″ distance from the light source. This light can be dropped to approx 18 to 24″ over the course of a week. Repeat your thinning and releasing of unwanted plants throughout your vegetative cycle, finding optimal mothers and fathers for your next round of polination.
Happy growing, keep it organic.