The Roots & Harmony Method
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
- Why it’s important: Ganja can grow in almost all climates, but it thrives in a warm (70-85 degree) environment. Ideally, you keep the temperature in your grow environment relatively stable and within this range. When your plants are thriving and going through osmosis and photosynthesis in an optimum balance, cold water (< 60 degrees, roughly) disrupts this process by hardening the cell structures and hence slowing osmosis and then photosynthesis. Cold enough water will bring this process to a crawl, turning your beautiful dark green babies into lime green sicklings.
- What to Watch For: Light green leaf material and a “raisiny” look to the leaf surface (like when you’re fingers have been in the bathtub too long). The light green color indicates that photosynthesis and nutrient uptake (osmosis) are not happening. The raisiny look indicates the cell shrinkage and damage from being given too much cold water.
- How to Keep it Right: Use a heater in your water resevoir and fish-tank thermometer to watch the temperature. Many water heaters have an automatic setting that will bring the water to that temperature and hold it there. We recommened 70-80 degrees… nice and warm, a little above room temperature. Do not water plants with water above 85 degrees in temperature.
#2 – PH, or Acidity/Alkalinity
- Why it’s important: PH is the acidity/alkalinity level of your water. If you water is too acidic, it will disrupt the plant growth processes much the same way that cold water does… it damages the cell structure, slowing or halting osmosis and photosynthesis. If your water is too alkaline, the same will occur… This is because important chemical processes that guide osmosis and photosynthesis rely on a certain balance of molecules in the water, and PH determines this balance. Some PH imbalances can cause severe physical symptoms to the plants, others can be deceiving and will stunt your growth without giving you a visual clue that something is wrong. Ideally, your PH is in the low 5′s. 5.2 – 5.5 for your P and K uptake. Nitrogen 5.8 – 6.5 for vegging for uptake nitrogen. Constantly check and adjust because ph goes up overnight as the water absorbs the nutrients. Roots & Harmony in the articles
- What to Watch For: Indications that cell growth has been disrupted. Stunted growth, leaves that wilt even though you are watering, indications of cell damage (raisining, shriveling) even though the water temperature and volume of application is correct. Basically, if you are confident that you are’t over watering and you know your water is the right temperature, check your PH.
- How to Keep it Right: Use a $5 PH tested from your local hardware/fish supply/grow store. A wide array of easy to apply (and even organic) products are available to help you bring your PH into check if it isn’t. Some folks we know get perfect PH’d water out their well or city tap, others have to adjust it for it be ganja-healthy. Before you water in a new location, test the PH of the water and follow the instructions on your PH adjusting product. After mixing into your resevoir, test the PH again and verify the proper adjustment. Then you are good to go. Repeat with each fill of your resevoir. Takes about 3 minutes.
#3 – Nutrient Content
- Why it’s important: Hydroponically feeding your plants (using water as the food delivery medium) has a ton of benefits. It basically is like feeding a person through an IV… much of the possibly harmful processing systems are bypassed and the food is delivered right where it is needed… the cells. Of course, no one needs to be convinced that you want to add food to your water… but how much? And what are the indications of an imbalance? Most liquid nutrient manufacturers encourage extreme overuse of their products in order to bring people back to the grow store more often. These people then wonder why their plants are growing as the should, so they buy even more of this stuff, exacerbating the problem.
- What to Watch For: Indications that your plants are growing slowly or not according to schedule, a “burned” appearance, similar to the way light-burning appears to look, including a dry or flaky leaf-edge and bright white or yellow spots on tops and edges of flowers and leaves, even wilting if overfeeding is extreme. Plants don’t know how to stop eating… if there is a food source available, they keep absorbing it until cells burst and die. This happens at the outermost extremities first and works its way in. The bright yellow (halting of photosynthesis) and the physical damage (dry edges and tops) are the combined effect of this process.
- How to Keep it Right: Unfortunately, this is a guess-and-check process, but you can rest assured with the following guideline for a starting point: For the first week, whatever percentage the bottle tells you to use, use exactly half that. With each watering, slowly increase to the recommended amount, checking each day for response. If you notice any burning (it will only be very mild, and this actually indicates maximum nutrient uptake, so it’s OK), go ahead and roll back the amount you used the day before. From their, go ahead and increase nutrient volume in accordance with plant growth, checking for plant reaction each day. Once you have a system down you know works, stick to it. Most of the liquid nutrients we’ve worked with actually achieve maximum uptake at about half the recommended dosage. The more the plants can use, the more they need, so watch it carefully and keep adjusting.
#4 – Quantity
- Why it’s important: Fundamental physics. A plant has x amount of cells. X amount of water will fill those cells. Too much water will overfill them, causing them to burst. When you way over-water, this happens on a massive scale, effective drowning the plant. Too little water will cause the plant to wilt, because not enough cells are being filled with water to provide a turgid and solid plant structure, which is necessary for effective osmosis and photosynthesis.
- What to Watch For: Wilting is the obvious sign of under-watering. Raisining, bending over at the stalk, and a yellow color are signs of over-watering.
- How to Keep it Right: Check the weights of your buckets! Each bucket should be heavy too lift… i.e., when you pick it up, it should not be really light and just “come off” the bed like a piece of paper… if it does, then it’s too light and needs water. If the bucket is heavy to lift and there is no visible water gathered on the surface of the soil, then it’s just right. If there is water on the surface, resting there, and the bucket is heavy, it’s over watered.
So that’s the water rundown! Keep these four things in mind and your plants will love your water!