Posted – August 12th, 2017
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Posted – July 1st, 2010
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The Art of Breeding
By Soma

In the breeding of cannabis, a gardener can come up with an endless number of combinations. Every once in a while, everyone who smokes weed gets a certain kind that they really like. If we were able to get a live plant of that same kind, we would have the start of a mother garden. Using this method continually, we would end up with several female plants that we know for sure we like. It would be a room full of mother plants without any rejects. Cloning these mothers and growing the plants to maturity will bring you tastes and smells that cannot be bought. I have been using this technique for a decade, and now have over 35 different mothers.

“Cloning these mothers and growing the plants to maturity will bring you tastes and smells that cannot be bought.”
I breed seeds and I wanted some even newer combos. I have a strain I’m working with called the NYC Diesel. It is a blend of a Mexican sativa and Afghani. It tastes like ripe red grapefruits. Everyone who smokes it, loves it, so I thought it would be a great male to use. I planted several of my seeds and came up with 3 males, each one showing a slightly different phenotype.I then read that using more than one type of male from the same genetic pool can give more genetic depth to a species.

With this new information, I set out to try a genetic experiment. I placed 15 different types of female plants in my grow room and crossed them with two of the male NYC Diesels. Each of the males showed slightly different phenotypes. One had internodes closer together with wider leaves and the other had more stretch to the internodes with thinner leaves.

I put the females into a 12-hour cycle one week before I put the males in. This gives the female plants a head start, allowing them to put on a little resin before getting pollinated. This way, at the end, when all the seeds are taken out, the material left over will make excellent water hash. I put both males in the room with the females, and as the pollen flew, the two of them pollinated all the plants.

It takes the male cannabis plant about 3 weeks to start throwing pollen. When it does give off the pollen, it does so for about 3 weeks. Female calyxes that are the first to get hit, make the first seeds. The females continue to make new calyxes, and as they become ripe, the male pollen touches them and seeds start to form there as well. The calyxes that get hit last, don’t get a chance to finish the seeds and they come out white.

The first time you cross two different kinds of cannabis together, you get a phenomenon that’s called ‘hybrid vigor’. This causes the new crosses to have an extra strong growing strength. Making mothers from seeds like this can give you plants with an almost super strength.

In my quest for the best medicinal genetics, I am constantly trying new techniques and genetics, constantly learning about this sacred plant and all the gifts she holds. Spreading seeds of this quality around the world has brought me many new friends and adventures and I truly think that it changes not only the topography of planet Earth, but her soul as well.

For so many years I grew only seedless ganja because it smokes the best, but sometimes I have daydreams about what would happen if every ganja smoker grew one seed crop and spread them around….

I now have a forum on my website: www.somaseeds.nl. If anyone has questions that they want me to answer about any aspect of cannabis, you can reach me there. Until next time, keep it GREEN.

Love and Light,
Soma


Posted – July 1st, 2010
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Here are some information to what Tom Hill has been working with thus far.

"Pine Tar Kush"- A relatively unworked Pakistani inbred line. Lime green pine/skunk, one of my heavier yielding pure indicas. A very nice smoke of average potency with a rich flavor & chatty high. Some folk say it taste just like juicy fruit gum. Outdoors it finishes the second week of October, indoors about 60 days.

"SCBBXPTK"- This is an untested hybrid where the Salmon Creek Big Bud clone was hit by the Pine Tar Kush. I expect variable offspring of average potency, but there should be some very heavy yielders in there. Flavors should range between the PTK and the musky skunk of the SCBB.

This is really just a step in a longer proccess of finding a suitable male to kick up the yield of my short fat indicas. They should finish outdoors by the second or third week of October, indoors about 60 days.

"Cripple Creek"- An F1 hybrid- (Pine Tar Kush X Deep Chunk) I like this one a lot. Super rich flavor with an excellent high. It is higher yielding than the Deep Chunk, and may be a contender as a high grade commercial bud. This one takes me back to the days of cut-off shirts, leg warmers and the roller rink. An old-timey California skunk bud. Outdoors-first or second week of October, indoors- less than 60 days.

"Deep Chunk"- This one is probably my favorite pure indica of all time, select individuals can be very potent. It's a relatively heavily worked inbred line- goes a long way back in northern California. This extremely broad-leafed hash plant is originally from Afghanistan. Potency & flavor has been the driving force behind my selections, & this plant has consumed the majority of my efforts. The smoke is real "thick" & the flavor ranges from skunk to hashy pine. It is relatively lower yielding, but, IMHO is a very high quality indica. Outdoors late September to early October. Indoors less than 60 days.


Posted – July 1st, 2010
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here are several factors to consider when deciding where to plant, including sunlight, microclimate, availability of water, and condition of the soil. But the garden's security should be your first consideration. No matter what size your garden, rip-offs and confiscation are constant threats. But these risks can be minimised by careful planning and common senses. In some countries, law-enforcement agencies take a tolerant attitude toward small gardens, and people grow Cannabis in their backyards. In other areas, police are not as enlightened and place an emphasis on cultivation busts. In either case, the larger the garden, the greater the potential danger.

In Hawaii and California, where marijuana growing has become a booming business, helicopters have been a problem for commercial growers. Aircraft outfitted with visual or infrared equipment, dogs, and finks have all been used to seek out illicit plots. Aircraft equipment is least effective on steep slopes and where the vegetation is lush and varied. Where aircraft are a problem, growers prune marijuana to obscure its distinctive shape. The plants are difficult to detect from a distance when intercropped with bamboo, sunflowers, sugar cane, soybeans, or tall weeds (see Figure 60). Commercial growers often plant several small dispersed stands or many single marijuana plants, which are more difficult to detect and serve as insurance against total loss.

But rip-offs rather than the law are more of a problem for marijuana growers. From every section of the United States, reports confirm that marijuana theft has reached epidemic proportions, and even well-hidden plant fall prey to unscrupulous people. These lowlifes often search near hippie communities and popular planting areas. Their best ally is a loose lip; so keep your garden on a "need to know" basis.

Where to Grow

Given the value of marijuana, many people think they'll grow an acre or two. But it is much harder to find spots suitable for large-scale farming than to find small garden plots. Large gardens require more planning and commitment, and usually a remote area. They may need a lot more time, energy, and investment in materials and labor-saving machinery than smaller gardens.

A small but well-cultivated garden, say, ten by ten feet, can yield over four pounds of grass each crop. By planning realistically, you'll harvest a good stash of potent grass rather than a lot of disappointment.

Moat people who grow marijuana plant it in their backyards. They hide the plants from curious neighbours and passers-by with walls, fences, arbor, or similar enclosures. Some people plant Cannabis as part of their vegetables garden, pruning the plants to make them less conspicuous.

Gardeners often use ingenious ideas to keep their gardens secret. A woman on Long Island grows over thirty large plants in containers in her drained swimming pool. Although some of the plants reach a height of 12 feet, they can't be seen over the enclosing fence.

A couple living near Nashville, Tennessee, took the roof off their three-car garage and painted the walls white to create a high-walled garden. Other growers use sheds with translucent roofs.

Guerilla Farming

Many growers feel safer planting away from their property. Should the garden be discovered, they are not in jeopardy. On the negative side, they usually lose the close contact and control that a home gardener has.

Urban gardeners use makeshift greenhouses, rooftops, vacant lots, and city dumps. Vacant lost that are overgrown with lush weeds can support a good crop, if the marijuana plants get a head start on the indigenous weeds.

Fields, forest clearings, railroad rights-of-way, stream banks, runoff and irrigation ditches, clearings beneath high-tension lines, deserted farms and quarries, overgrown fields, and abandoned houses have all been used as garden spots. In areas where hemp is a problem weed, people plant seeds from high-potency marijuana in the same fields where the weedy hemp grows. Growers harvest the plants in late July before they flower and before the fields are watched or destroyed by law enforcers.

Larger growers often look for rough, unpopulated terrain that is accessible only by plane, helicopter, four-wheel-drive vehicles, or long hikes. They avoid areas which hunters and hikers are likely to use before harvest.

Serious growers often find unusual places to start gardens. A grow in Chico, California, hacks through two hundred yards of dense underbrush and bramble to reach his clearing. In Oregon some growers maintain fields which are a gruelling eight-hour uphill hike from the nearest road. Some Florida farmers commute to their island and peninsula gardens by boats. A master gardener in Colorado lowers himself by rope to a fertile plain 50 feet below a cliff.

A farmer in Hawaii wrote, "The main concern is to grow in an undetectable place where the plants can still get enough sun. This is becoming very difficult to find and some very elaborate subterfuges have been developed. People on Maui are growing plants suspended from trees and on tree platforms! Around here some people carry small plants in buckets far out on the lava fields where there is a light shading from Ohia trees and you don't leave tracks. Also people go into the sugarcane fields, tear out some cane, and put in their plants. I am sure many other things are being done."

Light

Marijuana is a sun plant. The plants will grow in partially shaded areas, but about five hours of direct sunlight are needed for development into a lush bush. Marijuana does best when it has direct sunlight all day. If it grows at all in a heavily shaded area, it will be dwarfed and sparse – a shadow of its potential.

Try to choose a place that maximises light. Flat areas get the most sunlight, but many growers prefer to use slops and hillsides which help to hide the plants. Southern slops usually receive more sun and stronger light than eastern and western slops, which are shaded in the afternoon and morning, respectively. Northern slopes are rarely used, since they get the least sunlight and are also the coldest. Steeper slops are shaded sooner than gradual slopes, and lower areas are shaded earlier than high ones.

Sunlight at high altitudes is more intense, because of the thinner atmosphere and the usually lower pollution. The atmosphere and pollutants at lower elevations absorb and scatter some of the solar radiation.

Backyard gardeners usually compromise between the need for maximum light and the need for subterfuge. An area that gets several hours of direct sunlight and bright unobstructed daylight for the rest of the day will do well. A garden exposed to the south usually gets the strongest light and is the warmest. Overhanging vegetation should be pruned so that the plants are shaded as little as possible.

Most marijuana strains are acclimated to tropical and semitropical latitudes, where the daytime is relatively short (10 to 14 hours, depending on season), but the sunlight is quite strong. At latitudes in the United States, the sun is not as intense (although in the summer the difference is small), but the days are longer, and the plants can grow extremely fast. It is not true that intense sunlight is needed to grow great marijuana. However, a summer characterised by clear sunny weather will usually produce a larger and slightly more potent crop than if the season is cloudy and rainy.

Sunlight can be maximised by adequate spacing and orientation of the garden.


 
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Many growers think that to be a successful indoor grower you have to go hydro. I would like to present an argument for my organic system.

First of all you should refer to Bushy's Indoor organic tips for beginners in the basic grow room.

All knowledge is practical and has worked well. It is a very simple organic system that is much easier to master quickly than Hydro systems. No meters required, hand watering allowed. This system is cheap and easy to set up but it requires some space, some electricity, and some work.

First the grow room should have at least a 400 watt metal halide light and a few fluorescents for clones and/or seedlings. A 1000 watt MH is preferred depending on the size of your flowering room.

400 watt in the grow room is minimal for a 2500 watt flowering room to stay maximized. Under the 2 or 3 (4 ft. fluorescents start your seeds/clones) keep the growing tips about 1-3 inches max from the light tubes if they are regular 40 watt flor tubes.

I start mine in about 1 Qt pots as seedlings or clones ( I do both) I usually start about 10 every 2 weeks. The perpetual harvest is never all at once, it is more of a production line system, with continual harvesting. As the seedlings reach about 8 inches they are moved into the bigger grow area with the 400 watt metal halide light. Soon they are big enough to transplant into 3-5 gallon pots, depending on size plants desired.

After transplant into big pots the plants need to veg for about another 1-2 weeks until fully or mostly rooted. Rushing this process will hurt eventual yields. I like bigger plants, this is nothing like SOG. If you want to make hundreds of clones and go hydro then SOG is a high yielding system but I like killer larger buds.

The plants spend about 5 weeks in vegetative stage. When moved to the flowering room they are rooted into large pots and usually about 2 feet tall (this varies with your set up, head room, genetics, etc.)

If you have used good soil mix (refer to Basic Tips) and the plant is healthy it should be shooting in fast growth as it goes into flowering. Amazing beautiful bud growth will be seen if all is well. Healthy plants will stay dark green until late in flowering, keep feeding them organic ferts with some Nitrogen in them like Pure Blend or add grow fert to the no Nitro fert if the plant gets yellow.

Make sure you add some co2 to the air twice a day at least in flowering. I water every other day usually and I feed them every other feeding generally. Keep them happy and large yields can be obtained in a 3 month total grow and veg time. 3 oz per plant is not uncommon. Under a 2600 watt flowering room about 24 plants of this size can be grown. This means 4 plants per week to harvest. Ideally it is possible under about a 4k system to grow 10 oz of organic dried bud per week!

It takes work but the product can be unsurpassed! There is nothing about hydro that makes the pot better. So if you are growing for quality but think indoor has to be hydro, think again! BOG is my Advice

——————
BushyOlderGrower


 
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Title: THE EFFECTS OF ULTRAVIOLET-B RADIATION ON THE GROWTH, PHYSIOLOGY AND CANNABINOID PRODUCTION OF CANNABIS SATIVA L. (MARIHUANA, SECONDARY PRODUCTS, DELTA-9 THC)

Author(s): LYDON, JOHN
Degree: PH.D.
Year: 1985
Pages: 00117
Institution: UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND COLLEGE PARK; 0117
Source: DAI, 47, no. 04B, (1985): 1386

Abstract: The concentration of cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa L. is correlated with high ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation environments. (DELTA)('9)-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid and cannabidiolic acid, both major secondary products of C. sativa, absorb UV-B radiation and may function as solar screens. The object of this study was to test the effects of UV-B radiation on the physiology and cannabinoid production of C. sativa.

Drug and fiber-type C. sativa were irradiated with three levels of UV-B radiation for 40 days in greenhouse experiments. Physiological measurements on leaf tissues were made by infra-red gas analysis.

Drug and fiber-type control plants had similar CO(,2) assimilation rates from 26 to 32(DEGREES)C. Drug-type control plants had higher dark respiration rates and stomatal conductances than fiber-type control plants. Transpiration, mesophyll conductance, leaf area, leaf dry weight and specific leaf weight were not significantly different between drug and fiber-type controls.

The concentration of (DELTA)('9)-tetrahydrocannabinol ((DELTA)('9)-THC, but not of other cannabinoids) in both vegetative and reproductive tissues increased with UV-B dose in drug-type plants. None of the cannabinoids in fiber-type plants were affected by UV-B radiation. There were no significant physiological or morphological differences among UV-B treatments in either drug of fiber-type plants.

The increased level of (DELTA)('9)-THC found in leaves after irradiation may account for the physiological and morphological insensitivity to UV-B radiation in the drug-type plants. However, fiber plants showed no comparable change in the level of cannabidiol (CBD). Thus the contribution of cannabinoids as selective UV-B filters in vegetative C. sativa is equivocal. Nevertheless, drug-type plants may experience more reproductive success in high UV-B environments due to the additional protective screening of floral tissues. Alternatively, cannabinoids may function as defense chemicals against herbivory.

Resin stripped from fresh fiber-type floral tissue by sonication was spotted on filter paper and irradiated continuously for 7 days. Cannabidiol (CBD) gradually decreased when irradiated but (DELTA)('9)-THC and cannabichromene did not. The lack of the photochemical conversion of CBD (in its resin concentrate) into (DELTA)('9)-THC indicates that such conversions are not responsible for the trace amount of (DELTA)('9)-THC found in many fiber-types of C. sativa.

SUBJECT(S)
Descriptor: BOTANY
Accession No: AAG8614253
Database: Dissertations


Posted – July 1st, 2010
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Marijuana likes lots of food, but you can do damage to the plants if you are too zealous. Some fertilizers can burn a plant and damage its roots if used in to high a concentration. Most commercial soil will have enough nutrients in it to sustain the plant for about three weeks of growth so you don't need to worry about feeding your plant until the end of the third week.

The most important thing to remember is to introduce the fertilizer concentration to the plant gradually. Start with a fairly diluted fertilizer solution and gradually increase the dosage. There are several good marijuana fertilizers on the commercial market, two of which are Rapid-Gro and Eco-Grow. Rapid-Gro has had widespread use in marijuana cultivation and is available in most parts of the United States. Eco-Grow is also especially good for marijuana since it contains an ingredient that keeps the soil from becoming acid. Most fertilizers cause a ph change in the soil. Adding fertilizer to the soil almost always results in a more acidic ph. As time goes on, the amount of salts produced by the breakdown of fertilizers in the soil causes the soil to become increasingly acidic and eventually the concentration of these salts in the soil will stunt the plant and cause browning out of the foliage. Also, as the plant gets older its roots become less effective in bringing food to the leaves. To avoid the accumulation of these salts in your soil and to ensure that your plant is getting all of the food it needs you can begin leaf feeding your plant at the age of about 1.5 months. Dissolve the fertilizer in worm water and spray the mixture directly onto the foliage. The leaves absorb the fertilizer into their veins. If you want to continue to put fertilizer into the soil as well as leaf feeding, be sure not to overdose your plants.

Remember to increase the amount of food your plant receives gradually. Marijuana seems to be able to take as much fertilizer as you want to give it as long as it is introduced over a period of time. During the first three months or so, fertilize your plants every few days. As the rate of foliage growth slows down in the plant's preparation for blooming and seed production, the fertilizer intake of the plant should be slowed down as well. Never fertilize the plant just before you are going to harvest it since the fertilizer will encourage foliage production and slow down resin production. A word here about the most organic of fertilizers: worm castings. As you may know, worms are raised commercially for sale to gardeners. The breeders put the worms in organic compost mixtures and while the worms are reproducing they eat the organic matter and expel some of the best marijuana food around. After the worms have eaten all the organic matter in the compost, they are removed and sold and the remains are then sold as worm castings. These castings are so rich that you can grow marijuana in straight worm castings. This isn't really necessary however, and it is somewhat impractical since the castings are very expensive. If you can afford them you can, however, blend them in with your soil and they will make a very good organic fertilizer.


Posted – July 1st, 2010
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Source: Phloem.org, Updated by THCseeds.com

Identifying male cannabis plants early is very important because if they are not removed your plants will be using their energy to produce seed instead of bud. Finding out which sex cannabis plants are can be tricky and requires some knowledge of the anatomy of Cannabis flowers. Several illustrations are presented here which should make this task easier for the untrained eye.

Find Out Which Sex the Plant is Before it Enters Flowering

Until the cannabis plant reaches maturity and starts to flower you cannot identify the sex of it. For most people this is very frusturating because you have to invest resources into your plants only to throw them away as soon as they go into the flowering room. There is two ways to identify the sex of the plant before they go into blooming:

Because a clone is an exact duplicate of the parent in each and every way, you can take a cutting from the plant and place it in the 12 hour room. Within a week the tiny cutting will start to show the sex of its parent. Make sure you label both the parent and the cutting. Unfortunatley if you only have a small space and don't have two seperate rooms this may not work for you.

Another way to determine sex before flowering is to place a bag with an elastic over one of the branches for the last 6 hours of the day. This will force only a single branch of the plant to start blooming because it is recieving 12 hours a light a day instead of 18. Make sure the bag is opaque ( not clear ) and that that the elastic is tight enough to make it airtight but not tight enough to strangle the branch of nutrients.

The Hidden Sex
A cannabis plant has basically three different sexes: the pistillate (female), staminate (male) and the hermaphrodite (both female and male genes expressed in the same plant). In science lingo, cannabis is a dioecious plant. In english: cannabis plants usually express only single sex. The actual expression of sex in any cannabis plant is an very complicated outcome of intricate play of environment on a set of genetic rules. In other words, the plant has the tendency towards expressing its sex in an environment and in the same time has the possibilities for evolving into any of the three sexes.

First, lets take a look at the best way of determining the sex of an cannabis plant, the physiology of the inflorescences. Take a close look at the picture of the male flowers. Dozens of tiny sacs hang from the limbs of the flower, some of the sacs already a bit open, ready to spread the pollen, and the genes of the male. Robert Connell Clarke describes male inflorescence in Marijuana Botany:

In male flowers, five petals (approximately 5 millimeters, or 3/16 inch, long) make up the calyx and may be yellow, white, or green in color. They hang down, and five stamens (approximately 5 millimeters long) emerge, consisting of slender anthers (pollen sacs), splitting upwards from the tip and suspended on thin filaments. The exterior surface of the staminate calyx is covered with non-glandular trichomes.

In most strains of Cannabis the female plants express their sex before the males once the environmental cues that cause the flowering in the particular strain have been triggered. Tiny flowers, called primordia, appear quickly in females after the daylenght has sufficiently shortened. But the male flowers usually finish flowering and shed their pollen before the females have fully developed flowers. In other words, witten by Clarke:

"Staminate [male] plants tend to flower up to one month earlier than pistillate plants; however, pistillate plants often differentiate primordia one to two weeks before staminate (male) plants"

The Pistillate plant
Female plants is what most cannabis cultivators are after. Although the primordia of the two different sexes appear very similar at first, female primordia often quickly display what is the most distinctive feature of the pistillate flowers: the two white pistils.

The Calyx is the reason for the cultivation of myriad of cannabis plants – the calyx is covered with glandular trichomes, small spikes that exude resin that contains THC. A good place to start looking for the first signs of sexual differentiation of cannabis plant is at the nodes (3) , intersections, right above where a branch or the stem of a leaf (petiole) is attached on the stem of the plant. During the primordia-phase these flowers are miniscule, just visible to the naked eye, in size less than few millimeters. Under the right conditions female calyxes may grow in sizes of centimeter or so in diameter.

Lets see what that wise botanist fellow R. C. Clarke has to say about the female primordia:

The females are regognized by the enlargement of a symmetrical tubular calyx (floral sheath). .. The first female calyxes tend to lack paired pistils (pollen catching appendages) though initial male flowers often mature and shed viable pollen. .. The female plants tend to be shorter and have more branches than the male. .. The female flowers appear as two long white, yellow, or pink pistils protruding from the fold of very thin membraneous calyx. .. the calyx measures 2 to 6 millimeters in lenght.

So its either hanging tubular balls or pointy pale pistils. In any case, a magnifying glass is very useful tool for the wanna-be-cannabis-botanists.

Products of the environment
Finally, lets take a closer look at the genetics and sexual behaviour of the cannabis-plants. Like I wrote earlier, cannabis is dioecious plant, meaning that only one sex is expressed per individual. But I also wrote about three sexes, mentioning the hermaphrodite. I feel that hermaphrodites are the key to understanding the behaviour of cannabis.

Like all known life, cannabis contains set of genes. These genes 'express' themselves in the plant, but only when a certain or certain group of environmental conditions are true. For instance, when the daylenght is sufficiently short its the genes that tell the plant its time to flower, to reproduce before the winter comes. Or, for instance, if certain cells in the outer surface of the plants are exposed to the correct environment they'll differentiate into roots. This is how life works on this planet.

Hermann A. Köhler's Cannabis in an beautiful chromolithography [RIGHT].
According to R. C. Clarke, an cannabis under average conditions and 'inductive photoperiod' will produce equal numbers of staminate and pistillate plants with a few hermaphodites. In my experience, I've noted and understood that each plant has a certain tendencies towards one sex or another. For instance, some strain might produce 75% female, 24% male and 1 % hermaphrodite population in a certain environment. This is very complex behaviour and I am certain it is ruled by many sets of genes. Before I go on, I'd like to note that a cannabis plant can also 'change' its sex from male or female to hermaphrodite if the environmental cues for that particular strain exist. Hermaphroditism can also be induced artificially, with an plant-hormone called gibberellic acid for instance, and if an individual of low tendency towards hermaphroditism is crossed with itself in this way, I need to add, theoretically this does not affect the genetic, inherited tendency (plant crossed with itself in this way is effectively an 'genetic carbon copy' plus some minute errors caused by the way DNA duplicates).

Any kind of stress or what could be interpreted by the plant to be a sign of impeding doom (winter) may and will cause increased male and hermaphrodite ratios. One needs to realize that the way that a cannabis plant sees its environment is very different from ours. It can sense the lenght of the day (photoperiod), direction of the light and gravity, temperature and air humidity, and the amount of the nutrients in the water the roots are in contact with. It probably has some other ways of determining which way the earth lies down. But always it will interpret any changes in the environment as if it was in the nature and as if the changes themselves were caused by changes in the nature (seasons for instance). So if the temperatures go down or the day lenght is shortened, it can mean only one thing: the winter is coming – FLOWER QUICK!! If the water is short on nutrients or the light is being shadowed by something it means – FLOWER NOW!! So to produce higher quantities of females the cultivator needs to be sure that the environment is stable and that it provides the plant with all it needs to survive. More or less an comfortable setting for the plant to grow on in. The cultivator, like noted above, also needs to make sure that the strain has full tendencies towards the expression of female character.

To conclude: The easiest way to determine the gender of an cannabis plant is to examine its flowers. To initiate flowering, most strains require 12 hours of day (=light) and 12 of night(=uninterrupted darkness). Female or Pistillate flowers are easily distinguished from the males by the long white 'pistils' protruding from the calyxii (bottom far right on the last picture). Male or Staminate inflorescences are like tiny bells hanging on the limbs of the flowers (bottom far left on the last picture).


 
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Growing marijuana indoors is fast becoming an American Pastime. The reasons are varied. With the increased interest and experimentation in house plant cultivation, it was inevitable that people would apply their knowledge of plant care to growing marijuana. Many of those who occasionally like to light up a joint may find it difficult to locate a source or are hesitant to deal with a perhaps unsavory element of society in procuring their grass. There is, of course, the criminal aspect of buying or selling grass; Growing marijuana is just as illegal as buying, selling, or smoking it, but growing is something you can do in the privacy of your own home without having to deal with someone you don't know or trust. The best reason for growing your own is the enjoyment you will get out of watching those tiny little seeds you picked out of you stash sprout and become some of the most lovely and lush of all house plants.

Anyone Can Do It

Even if you haven't had any prior experience with growing plants in you home, you can have a successful crop of marijuana by following the simple directions in this pamphlet. If you have had problems in the past with marijuana cultivation, you may find the solutions in the following chapters. Growing a marijuana plant involves four basic steps:

1. Get the seeds. If you don't already have some, you can ask your friends to save you seeds out of any good grass they may come across. You'll find that lots of people already have a seed collection of some sort and are willing to part with a few prime seeds in exchange for some of the finished product.

2. Germinate the seeds. You can simply drop a seed into moist soil, but by germinating the seeds first you can be sure that the seed will indeed produce a plant. To germinate seeds, place a group of them between about six moist paper towels, or in the pores of a moist sponge. Leave the towels or sponge moist but not soaking wet. Some seeds will germinate in 24 hours while others may take several days or even a week.

3. Plant the sprouts. As soon as a seed cracks open and begins to sprout, place it on some moist soil and sprinkle a little soil over the top of it.

4. Supply the plants with light. Flourescent lights are the best. Hang the lights with two inches of the soil and after the plants appear above the ground, continue to keep the lights with two inches of the plants. It is as easy as that. If you follow those four steps you will grow a marijuana plant. To ensure prime quality and the highest yield in the shortest time period, however, a few details are necessary.

Soil

Your prime concern, after choosing high quality seeds, is the soil. Use the best soil you can get. Scrimping on the soil doesn't pay off in the long run. If you use unsterilized soil you will almost certainly find parasites in it, probably after it is too late to transplant your marijuana. You can find excellent soil for sale at your local plant shop or nursery, K-Mart, Wal Mart, and even some grocery stores. The soil you use should have these properties for the best possible results:

1. It should drain well. That is, it should have some sand in it and also some sponge rock or pearlite.
2. The ph should be between 6.5 and 7.5 since marijuana does not do well in acidic soil. High acidity in soil encourages the plant to be predominantly male, an undesirable trait.
3. The soil should also contain humus for retaining moisture and nutrients.

If you want to make your own soil mixture, you can use this recipe: Mix two parts moss with one part sand and one part pearlite or sponge rock to each four gallons of soil. Test your soil for ph with litmus paper or with a soil testing kit available at most plant stores. To raise the ph of the soil, add 1/2 lb. lime to 1 cubic foot of soil to raise the ph one point. If you absolutely insist on using dirt you dug up from your driveway, you must sterilize it by baking it in your oven for about an hour at 250 degrees. Be sure to moisten it thoroughly first and also prepare yourself for a rapid evacuation of your kitchen because that hot soil is going to stink. Now add to the mixture about one tablespoon of fertilizer (like Rapid-Gro) per gallon gallon of soil and blend it in thoroughly. Better yet, just skip the whole process and spend a couple bucks on some soil.

Containers

After you have prepared your soil, you will have to come up with some kind of container to plant in. The container should be sterilized as well, especially if they have been used previously for growing other plants. The size of the container has a great deal to do with the rate of growth and overall size of the plant. You should plan on transplanting your plant not more than one time, since the process of transplanting can be a shock to the plant and it will have to undergo a recovery period in which growth is slowed or even stopped for a short while. The first container you use should be no larger than six inches in diameter and can be made of clay or plastic. To transplant, simply prepare the larger pot by filling it with soil and scooping out a little hole about the size of the smaller pot that the plant is in. Turn the plant upside down, pot and all, and tap the rim of the pot sharply on a counter or the edge of the sink. The soil and root ball should come out of the pot cleanly with the soil retaining the shape of the pot and with no disturbances to the root ball. Another method that can bypass the transplanting problem is using a Jiffy-Pot. Jiffy pots are made of compressed peat moss and can be planted right into moist soil where they decompose and allow the passage of the root system through their walls. The second container should have a volume of at least three gallons. Marijuana doesn't like to have its roots bound or cramped for space, so always be sure that the container you use will be deep enough for your plant's root system. It is very difficult to transplant a five-foot marijuana tree, so plan ahead. It is going to get bigger. The small plants should be ready to transplant into their permanent homes in about two weeks. Keep a close watch on them after the first week or so and avoid root binding at all costs since the plants never seem to do as well once they have been stunted by the cramping of their roots.

Fertilizer

Marijuana likes lots of food, but you can do damage to the plants if you are too zealous. Some fertilizers can burn a plant and damage its roots if used in to high a concentration. Most commercial soil will have enough nutrients in it to sustain the plant for about three weeks of growth so you don't need to worry about feeding your plant until the end of the third week. The most important thing to remember is to introduce the fertilizer concentration to the plant gradually. Start with a fairly diluted fertilizer solution and gradually increase the dosage. There are several good marijuana fertilizers on the commercial market, two of which are Rapid-Gro and Eco-Grow. Rapid-Gro has had widespread use in marijuana cultivation and is available in most parts of the United States. Eco-Grow is also especially good for marijuana since it contains an ingredient that keeps the soil from becoming acid. Most fertilizers cause a ph change in the soil. Adding fertilizer to the soil almost always results in a more acidic ph.

As time goes on, the amount of salts produced by the breakdown of fertilizers in the soil causes the soil to become increasingly acidic and eventually the concentration of these salts in the soil will stunt the plant and cause browning out of the foliage. Also, as the plant gets older its roots become less effective in bringing food to the leaves. To avoid the accumulation of these salts in your soil and to ensure that your plant is getting all of the food it needs you can begin leaf feeding your plant at the age of about 1.5 months. Dissolve the fertilizer in worm water and spray the mixture directly onto the foliage. The leaves absorb the fertilizer into their veins. If you want to continue to put fertilizer into the soil as well as leaf feeding, be sure not to overdose your plants.

Remember to increase the amount of food your plant receives gradually. Marijuana seems to be able to take as much fertilizer as you want to give it as long as it is introduced over a period of time. During the first three months or so, fertilize your plants every few days. As the rate of foliage growth slows down in the plant's preparation for blooming and seed production, the fertilizer intake of the plant should be slowed down as well. Never fertilize the plant just before you are going to harvest it since the fertilizer will encourage foliage production and slow down resin production. A word here about the most organic of fertilizers: worm castings. As you may know, worms are raised commercially for sale to gardeners. The breeders put the worms in organic compost mixtures and while the worms are reproducing they eat the organic matter and expel some of the best marijuana food around. After the worms have eaten all the organic matter in the compost, they are removed and sold and the remains are then sold as worm castings. These castings are so rich that you can grow marijuana in straight worm castings. This isn't really necessary however, and it is somewhat impractical since the castings are very expensive. If you can afford them you can, however, blend them in with your soil and they will make a very good organic fertilizer.


 
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GROWING OUTDOORS Copyright 2002 by Jorge Cervantes

Tom, an American, is one of the most successful growers I have ever interviewed. His methods are extremely simple and easy. He is a smart, lazy man who pays attention to Mother Nature. Tom’s complete and simple understanding of plant growth makes him a very successful guerilla grower. These simple concepts are key to assimilating guerilla growing.

………..Wild marijuana plants are vigorous, aggressive, competitive weeds. Some varieties have a large root system which helps them survive moisture stress and poor soil. Plants spaced at least 10 feet apart will grow to a height of 3 – 5 feet in dry climates. Cannabis is a survivor. Given control of a growing area of 4 to 12 square feet, in poor soil, mature plants will grow to about 5 feet tall with a strong terminal main bud or cola. The yield is relatively heavy considering the amount of cultivation work. Add a little more effort during soil preparation and planting to grow several times more dope. Loosen the soil, amend it a little and throw in a handful of polymers*.

Cover the soil around the plant with a thick layer of natural mulch to attract condensed water and to keep soil moisture from evaporating. Just these simple measures may double the yield. *polymer crystals are small crystals that expand to about 15 times their size when moistened by water. They are added to soil to prolong time between watering.

Reasonable soil will grow a plant that is 7 – 8 feet tall with roots that spread 5 feet across and 6 feet deep. This plant will yield 2 – 10 times more marijuana than if planted in poor soil.

Polymer crystals hold water and gradually release it as the soil dries out. Polymer crystals cut watering frequency dramatically. To prepare an outdoor garden, remove the weeds in the fall, dig planting holes and prepare the soil. The soil will absorb rainfall and be well mixed the next spring. Cover each planting hole with a layer of mulch to protect it from winter rains and temperatures. This layer of mulch is very important. Do not leave soil bare all winter.

Transplant seedlings or clones in spring and grow marijuana plants as you would tomatoes. If growing in poor soil, give each plant a hole that is 4 feet deep and 4 feet in diameter and refill with your best compost/potting soil/planting mix. Break up the soil in a wide 6-foot radius, only 6 – 8 inches deep, because roots branch out. To water cheaply and effectively, cut a 3/16th hole in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket. Mix an inexpensive all purpose water-soluble fertilizer with 5-gallons of water in the bucket and put the hole by the stem of the plant. Growing like this, only with 4 – 6 buckets of water will last all summer. Water with one bucket every 10 days during hot weather. Watering with this regimen, the plants will grow as well as if they had lots of water.

If plants receive no water, a small bud grows on top of plant. A 5 foot tall plant may produce from 1 – 6 ounces of smokable bud. This same plant, given just a little water, will grow much better and produce more high quality smoke.

Grow a plant that takes 20 – 40 gallons of supplemental water per growing season, or grow a plant that gets an infinite amount of water and achieve very near the same weight at harvest. Why?

First the plant must use all water in the soil. The plant must get all the nutrients it needs that naturally occur in the subsoil. If you slightly increase the water and nutrient supply, you get a much stronger and robust plant. How much water is there in the soil already?

Reasonable soil has one inch of water per foot of area. There are about 30 gallons of water already in the soil in 4 x 4 x 4-feet area of reasonable soil. Look for big green stands of vegetation. Kill green vegetation in the fall and grow the garden the following spring. One of the main things to look for is an adequate water supply. Many parts of the US and different parts of the world get rainfall in the summer growing season to support a dry land crop. The rainfall you need is from ¼ to 1 inch per week. It is very important that it rains regularly during the spring and summer months. Dry fall weather is the best for harvests. Heavy rains and high humidity will cause bud mold.

==============================

Site Preparation and Soil

Preparing three sites required three different strategies. The small greenhouse needs a little bit of heat to speed growth. Easy ways to warm a greenhouse include natural heat generated by the sun and artificial heat from electricity or burning fossil fuel. To conserve the natural heat from the sun, Vansterdan lined the bottom of the greenhouse with two inches of Styrofoam. He also placed a one- inch-thick lining six inches high around the bottom perimeter of the greenhouse. He constructed the greenhouse from Filon, a corrugated, translucent fiberglass. The low-slung greenhouse looks like a small storage area because you can’t see inside. Filon transmits enough light for vegetative growth even when low levels of natural sunlight are available. To add more heat, Vansterdan used duct tape to fasten heating cable to the Styrofoam floor and covered it with a thin piece of sheet metal to transmit the heat evenly.

Marijuana blends and is camouflaged by many different back yard plants. Look for plants with similar leaf shapes that grow fast.

Vansterdan is an avid vegetable gardener and has been adding manure and compost to the raised beds in his backyard garden for more than 10 years. His neighbors are used to his fanatic gardening and do not suspect him of growing marijuana. Every spring he spreads three cubic yards of finished compost and manure over the garden. He adds dolomite lime to raise and stabilize the acidic pH and rototills it into the soil. Once vegetables are planted and growing well,

Vansterdan transplants hardened-off clones into the garden plot. “The soil is so rich and fertile, I don’t even need a shovel to dig a planting hole. I just open the soil with my hand, put the clone in and press soil around the root ball before watering it in” said Vansterdan with the pride of a confirmed organic gardener.

Raised Beds

The soil in cool coastal regions is heavy clay that warms slowly and drains poorly. Raised beds turn both of these detriments into compliments. Beds need to be raised 6 – 8 inches to provide the benefits of warmth and improved drainage. Using raised beds, Vansterdan plants from two weeks to a month earlier than other gardeners. If poor drainage is the only obstacle and making raised beds too difficult because of a remote garden location, smart growers loosen clay soils with a pick and shovel before cultivating in granulated gypsum to break up clay soil.

Compost

The basics of composting are simple: collect organic matter: grass clippings, chopped up branches and vegetative matter, pile it up and let it rot. The pile must be at least one yard square to hold more heat than is dissipated. “It’s easy to make compost,” said Vansterdan. “In the summer, professional gardeners cut grass and other yard debris and haul it away. I asked one of them to dump the debris at the end of my driveway. He gives me about three cubic yards a week. By the end of the summer, I have more than 40 yards of grass clippings and garden debris. I mix it with wood chips to provide carbon and air. The following year, I have 3 to 6 cubic yards of the best compost in the world!”

“I know one hard core grower that plants spring crops on top of compost piles. He piles the compost up two or three feet high, making a raised bed. Next he throws 3 or 4 inches of good dirt on top and plants foot-tall clones, aye. By the time the roots penetrate down into the compost, it has cooled down and doesn’t burn. The compost keeps the clones warm and he puts a greenhouse on top to protect the foliage. If he’s lucky and the weather cooperates, he harvests a spring crop.” said Vansterdan with a bewildered grin.

Mountain and Bog Soil.

“Most of the soil around here is full of Douglas fir needles and is very acidic. The pH is around 5, which makes plants grow slowly, aye. I look for patches where pasture grass grows. The soil is normally a little poor, lacking nutrients, so I have two strategies. The first one, I use for low lying areas. To plant in marshy, grassy areas, I cut a square yard of moist sod from the ground with a shovel, turn it over, and plant in it. This way I can transplant about 50 clones in a day. The marshy ground supplies enough water and I just add a bit of time-release fertilizer when I transplant, aye. I add another handful of flowering time-release fertilizer when I go back and check them the first week in August. Sure, the plants don’t grow as big as the ones in my back yard, but I don’t work too hard, aye.”

To plant in marshy, grassy areas, this grower cuts a square yard of moist sod from the ground with a shovel, turns the entire piece over (180 degrees) and plants in it.

Vansterdan has been planting in the mountains for 12 years in secret gardens only accessible by foot or mountain bike. He harvests about half of the clones he plants. The rest are lost to humans and other animals, insects, fungus and weather. “Growing in BC is different than growing around Toronto, aye. The weather here on the Lower Mainland is mild in the summer, with occasional rain showers. The heavy rains start in September. If your crop isn’t out of the ground by the middle of September, the buds get wet and moldy, usually gray mold (botrytis), sometimes powdery mildew starts earlier on leaves. Toronto is in the middle of the continent and a lot hotter and more humid. Plants grow faster, but still need to be out of the ground before the frost,” said Vansterdan, with a strong Canadian accent.

If the weather coperates and Vansterdan plants early in the year, clones establish a dense root system and don’t need much water during the growing season. A heavy layer of mulch helps conserve water and combat weeds.

Hardening-off Cuttings and Seedlings

After clones have rooted in rockwool cubes for three weeks, Vansterdan transplants them into 4-inch pots full of organic soil mix. He handles root cubes carefully and waters transplants heavily so roots grow into the new soil. He leaves the cuttings under a 400- watt HP sodium lamp for two weeks before moving them outdoors to harden-off in the greenhouse. He keeps clones in trays (nursery flats) so they are easy to handle. Since there is not enough room for all of the transplanted clones in the greenhouse, Vansterdan fills the greenhouse three different times. The first crop of clones is transplanted into the soil or 3-gallon pots and set out in the back yard garden after they have hardened-off for two or three weeks. The second crop of clones is moved in to harden-off and later transplanted to the local mountain plots. The third set of clones is moved into the greenhouse and grown until they are about 18 inches tall before he prompts flowering. Vansterdan covers the greenhouse to induce flowering with 12 hours of darkness.

Transplanting to the Mountain Site

The clones he transplants to the mountain site are grown in a tall container to promote a strong deep root system. The containers Vansterdan uses to clone the plants in are 6 inches tall and 3 inches square.

“I learned this trick when I worked for the Forrest Service, aye,” explained Vansterdan, “They grow tree seedlings in tall containers so they will have a deep strong root system. The deep, dense root system makes a strong plant, aye. I won’t be able to water or give much care to these babies. A strong root system makes up for the lack of care”.

Clones in tall containers with a deep root system have the best chance of survival in remote, low maintenance gardens. A clone buried deep in ground will grow roots along the stem in a few weeks. Planting the root ball a few inches deeper makes plants easier to maintain.

Other growers transplant foot-tall clones with smaller root systems. They remove the first few sets of leaves and bury the root ball deeper in the ground, leaving only six inches of foliage above ground. The clone will grow roots along the underground stem in the next few weeks.

“I try to go back and check on the clones two or three times after I plant them. Every time I go back there I pee around the plants to scare the deer and rabbits away. I also save urine in a bottle and sprinkle it around them, because I run out,” said Vansterdan with a grin.

Seed Germination and Care

Cannabis seeds need only water, heat and air to germinate. Seeds, without light, properly watered, will germinate in 2 – 10 days, in temperatures from 70 – 90 degrees F. Germination is faster at higher temperatures but declines if temperatures climb above 90 degrees F. When the seed germinates, the outside protective shell splits and a tiny, white sprout (tap root) pops out. The seed leaves emerge from within the shell as they push upward in search of light.

One popular way to germinate seeds is placing seeds in a moist paper towel or cheesecloth, in a warm room, (70 – 90 degrees F.) and make sure they are in darkness.

Germinating seeds between moist paper towels virtually ensures success.

At germination, a seed sprouts, sets roots, grows roundish cotoleydon leaves and the first set of true leaves.

Water the cloth daily, keep it moist and let excess water drain away freely. The seed germinates in a few days. The seed contains an adequate food supply for germination and watering with a mild mix of liquid fertilizer will hasten growth. In humid climates, water with a mild bleach or fungicide solution (2 – 5 drops per gallon) to prevent fungus.

Plant seeds once the white sprout is visible. Do not expose the tender rootlet to prolonged, intense light or wind. Plant the germinated seed ¼” to ½ " deep in planting medium with the white sprout tip (the root) pointing down. Lay the seed on its side if confused about which end is up.

The second popular germination method is to sow the seed in a shallow planter (flat), peat pellet or rooting cube and keep the planting medium evenly moist. Transplant 2 – 4 weeks after the seedling emerges from the soil. Use a spoon to remove the root ball and keep it intact when transplanting.

A heat pad or heat tape under or in soil will accelerate germination without drying the soil too fast. A common problem for novices when germinating seeds is over-watering. Keep the soil uniformly moist, but not soggy. Plant seeds in a nursery flat and put them in a warm (not hot) place like on top of the refrigerator. Put a wet piece of paper on top of the soil to retain the moisture. Remove the paper as soon as seeds sprout through soil. Leaving the paper on the soil will inhibit growth. Often seeds only need one initial watering when this method is used. A shallow flat or planter with a heat pad underneath may require daily watering, while a deep, one gallon pot needs water every 2 or 3 days. When the surface is dry (¼-inch deep) it is time to water.

Remember, there are few roots to absorb the water early in life and they are very delicate.

Seedling (cotyledon) leaves are the first to appear after the seed sprouts above the soil. Within a few days, the first true leaves will grow. During the seedling stage, a root system grows rapidly and green growth is slow.

The new root system is very small and requires a modest but constant supply of water. Too much water drowns roots, causing root rot or damping-off. Lack of water dries the infant root system. As the seedlings mature, some will grow faster and stronger.

Others will be weak and leggy. Vansterdan thins out weak plants the third to fifth week and transplants seedlings without any damage.

Soil Temperature

Root cubes, made from rockwool, peat or OasisTM, are convenient and encourage a strong root system. Peat pots are small compressed peat moss containers with an outside expandable wall. The flat pellets pop-up into a seedling pot when watered. Place the seed or cutting in the wet root cube and keep it evenly moist. For clones, make sure to crimp the top in around the stem so firm contact is made between the stem and the growing medium. When roots show through the sides of the cube it is time to transplant. Slit the side and remove the expandable nylon shell of peat pots before transplanting. When completed properly seedlings and clones suffer no transplant shock. Check peat pots or root cubes daily. Keep them evenly moist, but not soggy. Root cubes and peat pots contain no nutrients. Feed seedlings after the first week and clones as soon as they are rooted with ¼ to ½ strength fertilizer.

Inexpensive heat cables double root growth and are easy to use.

The seed intensive method:

Planting many seeds in a small area is also an option. In loose fertile soil, plant seeds from ¼ to ½- inch deep. Some growers set up small 3 x 3 square foot sites, planting three rows with a seed every few inches. Growers with 4 or 5 small patches are virtually guaranteed a harvest. They grow 2 to 5 small plants in various sites. Infrared photography is less effective against small patches. To make more space, growers cull out weak plants at 4 – 5 weeks and remove males as they appear. =========================

Site Selection

Big Steve is too smart to plant on his own land. He rents a country cabin and always plants on public property or other people’s property. Each year he plants in new locations. He likes to plant in low-traffic spaces among small trees and bushes.

Steve also found two different farm fields that have been out of production for a few years. He has had good crops along rivers and streams, but lost crops to floods twice in the last 10 years. When he planted along rivers, he made sure the plants were not visible from the river. Some years….

……Steve planted in buckets in rocky inaccessible terrain. He doesn’t need to prepare the soil, he just brings in grow bags and fills them with soil on the way. The plants don’t grow as big, but are seldom seen because they are growing where nobody goes or would expect them to be. Plants receive good sunlight on rocky hillsides in untillable soil. A site in dense, short bush, like sticker bushes, is another favorite spot. The sticker bushes grow high enough to prevent people from seeing through them and also serve as a deterrent from people and large animals wandering into the site.

“One of my favorite tricks is to plant where there are lots of mosquitoes,” said Steve with a snicker,

“If I can find a place with wasps, too. That’s a double whammy. I think the best site I ever found was next to a skunk’s den, around a skunk spray. I had to smear the inside of my nose with Vicks Vapor Rub to keep from smelling the skunk spray. Nobody went around there!”

“I plant deep inside patches of poison oak, poison ivy or my favorite: stinging nettles. I save seeds and broadcast them. I just cover any exposed skin with a slick rain suit and gloves to protect me. I wash the suit afterward to get rid of the oils. It’s a great way to keep lightweights away from the patch!” said Steve with a smirk, “if there’s a thief that wants my plants, it will cost them!”

Ideal “trails” are “invisible,” have dense undergrowth and lots of sunlight. Growers walk up river and creek beds to avoid detection. Rapid plant growth will erase any damage to the vegetation between trips. Some growers lightly fertilize their trail if they use it more than a few times, but are careful – wild plants are easy to overfertilize. Other growers never take the same path to their gardens and do everything possible to avoid damaging foliage. In late summer and early fall, damaged foliage usually will not regrow. Big Steve always asks himself: Can I see the trail I just made? If not, great, if so hide it! The more difficult it is for you to get to the site, the less likely someone else will try.

Growers who think ahead bring any supplies they need – lengths of PVC pipe, gasoline-powered pumps, water tanks, soil, etc. – early in the spring before underbrush has matured and hide the supplies until needed. Sheltering also protects lightweight plastic from ultraviolet light damage.

Good soil can be in short supply on remote hillsides and is often the richest where grassland vegetation is found. Grasslands recycle nutrients in the soil and form rich fertile topsoil. (See “Soil” in Appendix).

“I order bricks of coconut fiber from out in California. Those bricks are great. They are compact and easy to carry. When I break them up and add water they expand to several times their size,” said Steve, showing me how he loads them into his backpack.

A nearby water source makes a grower’s life easier and safer. Growers trample foliage and risk being spotted when hauling water. The more trips, the more noticeable the trail. Look for a summertime water source that does not dry up. Water consumption is determined by the weather. Dry land crops are possible if it rains once every one to four weeks.

Growers flower summer crops by covering small greenhouses to give plants 12 hours of darkness daily. Crops are ripe in 8-12 weeks. Sunlight is less important yet essential. Five hours of direct midday sunlight per day is necessary for acceptable growth, the more the better. Growers who scout sites during winter months visualize how trees will shade the landscape and the higher path the sun will make in the spring and summer.

Flowering females stand out like a neon sign if surrounding foliage dies back before harvest.

If you can have exclusive access to your marijuana patch by boat, you can cut potential traffic substantially.

Security

The police find hundreds of thousands of cannabis plants annually with aerial surveillance and infrared photography. Large plots are easier to spot than small gardens.

Many communities receive federal funds to eradicate marijuana crops. Some police departments sell the property they confiscate and buy new high tech surveillance equipment, firearms, vehicles and other toys to seek out and destroy marijuana and grower’s lives. Marijuana laws in many states are extremely severe. Law enforcement officials lie, cheat and steal to achieve their means. Do not trust them under any circumstances.

“Report a marijuana grower” programs with a cash reward are common in the USA. Six armed and dangerous narcs came to search my home on the word of a snitch. The narcs would not tell me who squealed on me or why, or if the weasel even existed. If anyone knows or even suspects you are growing marijuana, they have tremendous authority over you. A vindictive enemy can also turn you in with no evidence, even if you are not growing! Growers avoid jealous lovers, family members or malicious “friends”. One of the saddest cases I saw was a daughter that extorted money from her father. The father grew marijuana to ease the pain of his glaucoma. His daughter threatened to have him arrested if he did not sell some of the crop to pay her off. When selecting a site, remember there might be hunters (archers, black powder, rifle and shotgun) as well as mushroom and marijuana hunters or other passers by. Check all the regulations if hunting is popular in your area. The patch will have to be hidden from other wilderness users. There also might be dirt bikers or four wheel vehicles lurking.

Site Preparation

Security is the number one concern in site preparation. Well concealed gardens are harvested, detected plants are not. Prepare growing sites up to 6 months before planting. For best results, let your amended soil sit for at least a month before planting. If the site is on an incline, planting holes must be terraced into the hillside. Make sure the terrace is large enough to catch any runoff water. Make extra gulleys to catch runoff water and channel it to the growing plant. Make a dish around the planting hole to retain water. In heavy brush, clear a few patches so plants get enough sunlight and plant 3-6 plants in each location. When preparing the soil, I cut back all roots from competing plants and till the planting holes 2 – 3 feet square. Soil along a riverbank is almost always fertile sandy loam. Hide the potential garden from river traffic as well as hikers and fishermen. More sunlight is available near the tops of the trees in dense forest. Ingenious growers use deer/elk hunting stands to grow in trees. They set up a pulley system to lift a large container and potting soil up to sit on the plant stand. Install an irrigation hose from the bottom of the tree directly to the plant. The grower passes by weekly with water and manual or battery operated pump to lift water to the plant high in the tree.

A partner is necessary to work on the ground while the other person works in the tree. Smart growers use a safety line and belt and do not spend more than 4 hours off the ground in one day. Accidents happen to tired climbers.


Posted – July 1st, 2010
under CannaLogic
1 comment
 
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Breeders who preserve and enhance genetics are heroes who keep cannabis alive and vigorous.

Ever wonder what happened to the strains of yesteryear? Hawaiian Elephant, Oedipus and Polly are just a few of the strains popular only 15 years ago that have seemingly vanished from the cannabis gene pool. Even large scale commercial strains available through Dutch companies in the late 80's, such as William's Wonder or Friesland Indica, are rarely seen today except in the occasional hybrid.

There are several reasons for this unfortunate scenario, all of which are amplified by the current illegal status of cannabis. Many of the old-timers who were lucky enough to possess the germplasm of the older varieties have drifted away from the cannabis community, or have seen too many busts and ripoffs in their time to talk about growing or share genetics with other growers.

The largest factor in the demise of Sativa strains like Hawaiian Elephant is their lack of commercial profitability. Growing to astounding sizes and yielding loose buds of low weight, these Sativas lend themselves to neither grow room nor outdoor garden, despite their many positive qualities. As a matter of economic necessity these strains have been heavily bred with Indicas over the years, losing much of their original characteristics such as taste and high-quality effect.

Over recent years of more lenient attitudes towards the sale of marijuana seeds, many of these treasures have once again become available. The hard work and perseverance of the few brave pioneers who have maintained their old strains through the war against them is to be commended.

Breeders like DJ Short with Blueberry and Flo, or the many unnamed others responsible for strains like Hawaiian Sativa or Mighty Mite, have proven what can be accomplished despite the oppression placed upon our culture. Yet marijuana still remains illegal, and strains like Blueberry could very easily go the way of the super Sativas of the Seventies, unless measures are taken to preserve these genetics. Until the legal status of our favourite plant is changed, this responsibility lies on the shoulders of the underground cultivator.

Preserving our future

The main reason for the current Indica-ized status of today's popular strains is quite simple: legal implications for both personal and commercial growers dictate that they must produce the maximum amount of bud in the minimum amount of space. Once marijuana finally achieves full legalization many growers will likely reconsider their choice of strains, both to fill niche markets as well as personal taste.

We must plan so that when legalization happens, the few strains that have been bred with quality as a primary concern are still with us. For outdoor growers, strains that have been acclimated for years in their locale are indispensible. Many of these growers have spent decades perfecting a strain for their exact climate, yet all of this work can be lost instantly as a result of a bust or simply not having anyone to pass them down to.

Cannabis genetics can be maintained for many years simply by keeping a clone alive, however this doesn't do much for preserving the genetic diversity of a strain. Ideally, seedlines should be both preserved through long term storage and being grown out and seeded each year.

Inbreeding depression

Much myth and misinformation is spread in marijuana literature regarding inbreeding depression in cannabis populations. As a result, much of the genetics on the market today is merely a collection of cross after cross of different varieties with little effort towards stabilizing unique traits. Proof that marijuana can be successfully inbred lies in examples of inbred lines like Skunk #1 or Northern Lights, which have shown no signs of inbreeding depression after decades of incestuous crosses.

Understanding how marijuana has evolved helps to explain this. In countries where marijuana originates it has evolved alongside humans, often being maintained in small family gardens amongst other food and medicine crops. Much of today's gene pool originated in Afghanistan, where cannabis was grown like this in small family plots for generations, until the advent of large fields in the 70's and 80's. Plant phenotypes varied slightly from one valley to the next, and the pollen carried by wind from the slightly different gene pool of cannabis in the next valley maintained population vigour and prevented inbreeding depression. We can reproduce this scenario easily ourselves by maintaining several lines of the same strain, crossing them into each other every few years.

For example, when you grow out a pack of ten true breeding seeds pick the nicest female and seed it with two or more different males (marking which branch was pollinated by which male). Seed from each cross must be kept separate, and future generations kept from crossing with other lines. Every third or fourth generation these lines are crossed together and new lines brought out of the resulting seeds. Some of the seeds from each generation should be saved for long-term storage in case of accidental cross-pollination or crop loss down the road.

Isolation distances

Whether growing indoors or out, isolation distances are something that you should always be aware of. Marijuana is a wind pollinated plant, meaning that pollen is carried by wind from the male to the female recipient, sometimes over very long distances.

The recent legalization of hemp, although a major step forward, has caused some concern for marijuana growers. These fields consist of thousands of plants which generate an immense amount of pollen, which will seed marijuana just as easily as it will hemp. Other growers in your area and other strains which you yourself may be trying to keep pure are also possible contaminators to breeding projects.

Isolation distances will vary depending on geography, wind currents and vegetation coverage. However a safe rule of thumb is to isolate outdoor crops from each other and hemp fields by at least a half mile. Indoors this is not as much of a concern, as males can be watched carefully and covered with a paper enclosure to prevent pollen from drifting to other plants.

A question of latitude

The most popular theory of the evolution of cannabis is that all cannabis originated in the Himalayas and spread gradually throughout the world. Under varying human and environmental pressures cannabis has evolved into all ends of the spectrum from low THC long fibered hemp strains to couch-locking Indicas.

Latitude has definitely played a key role in this matter, influencing THC levels as well as ratios of THC to CBD. Most drug strains originate between 37° North and 35° South of the equator, with some of the highest quality strains coming from very near the equator (most notable Southeast Asia at 10-20° North).

As you get up into the more Northern latitudes (like Russia), cultivated and feral cannabis leans more towards the hemp end of the spectrum, with low THC and high CBD. This makes the job of maintaining marijuana varieties outdoors at common North American latitudes of 44-50° North a little more complicated. Without selection for high THC parents, pure strain marijuana can drift towards phenotypes of its hempen cousins.

Put simply, as the latitude is not exerting pressure on the gene pool to uphold its high THC traits, human influence must step in by diligently selecting the most potent plants as parents for future generations. Legendary strains like Matanuska Thunderfuck (bred outdoors in Alaska) and Friesland Indica (outdoors for Northern Holland) are living proof that this high THC trait can be maintained at Northern latitudes.

Common vegetable seed saving techniques, like open pollination and collecting seeds from many different plants then mixing them together, must be avoided. This could likely be the reason for the low THC nature of many of the strains coming from large Swiss fields in past years. Up until recently these fields were grown out and seeded freely with little goal in mind other than acclimatization.

Long term storage

As seeds are living things they have a life span and decline in vigour as they age. For medium term storage an air-tight container in the refrigerator works well. Long term storage is the best way to preserve these special strains for tomorrows growers, and for this freezers work great, provided a few rules are carefully followed.

Most important is that the seed be dried below the 8% moisture level, as above this the water in the seed will expand upon freezing and burst the cell walls. This drying is done with the use of silica gel and an airtight container. The gel can be obtained from any vegetable seed company and many gardening stores. The seeds and gel are sealed in the same container and the gel will change color, indicating the moisture that it has absorbed from the seed. Seeds should be wrapped in tissue paper and sealed in an airtight container before being put into the freezer, as frozen seeds are very fragile and the paper will protect the seed from shattering if bumped.

Seeds stored like this will retain vigour and high germination ratios for long periods of time. When thawing seeds for use, allow them to fully adjust to room temperature before opening the container. This will prevent unwanted condensation from forming on the seed surface.

Allow the seeds to regain most of their original moisture level by sitting open for a few days before being germinated.

Stand Tall

Once a cross has reached the F5 or F6 generation it can be considered an inbred line and can be relatively easily maintained using the above techniques. Many of the strains listed in catalogues are inbred lines and may or may not be indicated as such. If this is a strain that a seed company has put years of time and work into bringing to this point it is considered unfair to reproduce their work and sell it yourself, but there is nothing wrong with preserving their genetics for yourself or to pass on to future generations should it no longer be commercially available.

Preserving cannabis genetics under the current legal climate is as honourable a pastime as there is. So stand up, be proud, just don't get counted.


Posted – July 1st, 2010
under CannaLogic
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American marijuana cultivators are the most sophisticated, scientific farmers in the world. In just a few years they have mastered the techniques of breeding, hybridization, sinsemilla cultivation, and curing. They have doubled and redoubled the yield and potency of their crops.

Although the media usually concentrate on outdoor “farmers,” most outdoor growers these days raise only their own stash, or operate in a limited area using a controlled environment — i.e., a grow room. The high cost of marijuana and the risk involved in its cultivation have constantly challenged the cultivator to develop techniques that use space most efficiently. The potential for a high profit has also given growers the incentive and ability to experiment, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the indoor garden.

I have seen the super grow rooms (SGRs), and I believe. These growers have succeeded. SGRs are based on the idea of limiting factors. The plant’s rate of metabolism — and subsequently its growth rate, maturation time and yield — are governed by environmental conditions that are linked together in a chain. Metabolism can proceed no faster than permitted by the five limiting factors: light, heat, water, nutrients, and carbon dioxide.

Super grow rooms meet these necessities, automatically or semiautomatically, by using timers that regulate irrigation, lighting, and CO2 enrichment. Recently I had the pleasure of seeing two automated grow rooms. The first was lit naturally, with supplemental lighting from metal halides. The corrugated sheet-steel roof had been replaced with Filon, a transparent corrugated plastic sheet made especially for greenhouses.

Exec, as he wishes to be called, grows uniform commercial crops which vary according to the season. He has two growing areas: a starting room and a main growing area. His spacious starting room is divided into a germination section, lit by fluorescents, and a seedling section lit by two halides. Seeds are germinated in 4” pots and transplanted 10 days after germination into a 2½ quart container

Exec has designed a planting schedule that matches each plant varieties’ seasonal habits with day length. Here is his planting and control schedule:
In November, Exec starts equatorial seeds. He prefers a Nigerian-Santa Marta hybrid. He repots 10 days after germination, keeping the germination room lit 24 hours a day. The plants are removed to the large growing area about 3 ½ weeks after germination. This area is completely roofed with Filon, and has 10 halides for supplementary light. Total area is 1,000 square feet.

When plants are moved to the large growing area, they are repotted again, this time into 2-gallon containers. The lighting is set at 12 hours, to coincide with natural light. These lights burn only when the sun is out, so that suspicion is not aroused by the lit Filon roof.

To control the flowering period, Exec has strung rows of removable incandescents, each 100-watt light bulb illuminating about 9 square feet. For the next three weeks he turns these lights on for 1 minute (the minimum time on his short-range timer) every 90 minutes. This prevents the plants from starting to flower. Around the middle of January, he turns off the incandescents. A week later he turns the halides down to 10 hours, where they remain until the end of flowering. Exec claims to have had varieties that would not ripen until the light was down to 8 hours.

Around March 1 the new crop is planted. This time he uses either a Southern African-Afghani or Mexican hybrid. These plants are replanted around March 15 and then, around April Fool’s Day, they replace the earlier crop, which is now ready to be harvested. Exec cuts the plants up and hangs them to dry in his starting room, which he now keeps entirely dark. He manicures them only after they are dry. Exec has a busy schedule transplanting the new residents of the growing area into 2-gallon pots. He keeps the halides on for 13-14 hours and then once again he uses his incandescents nightly, this time for two weeks, until about April 15, when he turns the halides down to 11 hours and covers the roof with long shades made from agricultural shading material. He manually opens and shuts the shades, closing them at dusk, as the lights go off, and opening them late in the morning as the lights come on. In late spring he sometimes uses only sunlight during the brightest part of the day.

On May 15 Exec plants another new crop. This time it is definitely an Afghani-Southern African, which flowers at 14-16 hours of light. By June 15 the Southern African-Mexican hybrid is ready, and the Afghani-Southern African plants are placed in the main garden. They are given only a natural-light cycle, and the halides supplement the natural light only on cloudy days. On July 15 they are shaded, to put them into harvest cycle, receiving no more than 14 hours of light. The plants are ready by August 30, and Exec replaces them with a Northern Mexican-Kush cultivar, or sometimes an Afghani-Kush hybrid that he’s planted a month earlier. He uses flashing incandescents until September 30, when he lets the light cycle drop back to day length. The plants are ripe by December 15, a nice bit of Christmas cheer.

Exec gets four crops a year, uses a minimum of electric light, and is able to grow in a large area, arousing few suspicions regarding spinning electric meters.

He uses a propane heater during the cool months. This enriches the air with CO2 while providing heat. At other times he uses CO2 from a tank. During the hot months he uses a ceiling fan and several high-powered window fans, but even so, at times the room gets a little too warm for optimal growth. Cannabis grows fastest when the temperature ranges between the 60s and the 80s. If the temperature gets higher, photosynthesis stops; if it is lower, photosynthesis slows down.

With about 500 plants per crop, Exec has no time to water them. Instead, he has a drip emitter attached to each container, and each day he waters his plants by turning on a valve for a few minutes. First he determines how much water the average plant needs. Then, using a simple formula — amount required ÷ flow per hour x 60 — he arrives at the number of minutes needed for watering. His emitters flow at the rate of one gallon per hour (gph). If the plants require 8 ounces, 8 ± 128 x 60 3.7 minutes. When he is not around to take care of things manually, he estimates the plants’ needs and then sets his short-term timer, which regulates a solenoid valve.
He adds soluble hydroponic nutrients and other fertilizers and minerals to the water solution several times a month.

These plants are only a month old. They are thriving in a near perfect environment, nutrient, water, and CO2.

The second garden I visited, administered by Elf, was lit entirely by halides and sodium vapor lamps. Elf’s area totals about 225 square feet, of which 175 constitute growing space. He cultivates about 80 plants per crop and claims that he can grow five to six crops per year, but works at a more leisurely pace.

Elf too has a separate starting area. He can start a crop every two months, using the germination area for about one month before setting the plants in the main garden. Plants are started in 2½ quart containers; when they’re moved, he transplants them to 1½ gallon containers.

Sometimes he starts from clones, which takes longer than starting from seeds, but is ultimately less effort since there are no males to deal with. Three weeks after the plants enter the main growing area, its light cycle is reduced to 13 or 14 hours from constant light. Six weeks later, the plants are ready to harvest.

Equatorial varieties take longer to mature, but Elf prefers them to the stuff he sells, so he has a growing room for his own stash. It is stocked with exotics.

Elf ventilates his area with two duct fans and open windows (which are covered to seal in light). CO2 is injected into all three rooms from a CO2 tank with a timer.

Elf waters his plants by hand, using a 5-gallon container and a ½ gallon pitcher. This takes less than an hour. At maturity the plants require about 1/2 gallon of water every four to seven days, depending on temperature. This saturates the container and partially fills the tray underneath it. Each container holds a mixture of vermiculite, perlite, Styrofoam, and foam rubber. Plants that are bigger than most receive extra water between irrigations. Smaller plants receive less water. He uses a combination of soluble fertilizers, and contends that his own urine, either fresh or fermented, is the best source of nutrients available. His plants were healthy and had no nutrient deficiencies. But the taste…

Artificial Light

 

Features
 
 
Florescent light is the most effective and efficient source of artificial light readily available to the home grower. Florescent lamps are the long tubes typical of institutional lighting. They require a fixture which contains the lamp sockets and a ballast (transformer) which works on ordinary house current.

 

Tubes and their fixtures come in length from four inches to 12 feet. The most common and suitable are four- and eight-foot lengths. Smaller tubes emit too little light for vigorous growth; longer tubes are unwieldy and hard to find. The growing area must be large enough to accommodate one or more of these fixtures through a height of at least six feet as the plants grow. Fixtures may hold from one to six tubes and may include a reflector, used for directing more light to the plants. Some fixtures are built with holes in the reflectors in order for heat to escape. They are helpful in areas where heat builds up quickly. You can make reflectors with household materials for fixtures not equipped with reflectors. Try to get fixtures that have tubes spaced apart rather than close together. See 5.5 for further suggestions.

The tubes and their appropriate fixtures are available at several different wattage or outputs. Standard or regular output tubes use about 10 watts for each foot of their length – a four-foot tube has about 40 watts and an eight-foot tube about 80 watts.

High Output (HO) tubes use about 50 percent more watts per length than regular output tubes and emit about 40 percent more light. An eight-foot (HO) runs on 112 to 118 watts. Very High Output (VHO) or Super High Output (SHO) tubes emit about two-and-a-half times the light and use nearly three times the electricity (212 to 218 watts per eight-foot tube).

The amount of light you supply and the length of the tube determine the size of the garden. Marijuana will grow with as little as 10 watts per square foot of growing area, but the more light you give the plants, the faster and larger they will grow. We recommend at least 20 watts per square foot. The minimum-size garden contains a four-foot fixture with two 40-watt tubes, which use a total of 80 watts. Dividing total watts by 20 (watts per square foot) gives 80w divided by 20w/sq. ft=four sq.ft. (an area one by four feet). A four-tube (80 watts each) eight-foot fixture would give: 320w divided by 20w/sq. ft. = 16 sq. ft. or an area the length of the tube and about two feet wide.

VHO and HO tubes in practice don't illuminate as wide an area when the plants are young, because the light source is one or two tubes rather than a bank. Once the plants are growing well and the light system is raised higher, they will illuminate a wider area. Figure about 25 w/(ft*ft) for HO and 35 w/(ft*ft (or foot squared)) for VHO to determine garden size. A two-tube, eight-foot VHO fixture will light an area the length of the tube and one-and-a-half feet wide.

The more light you give the plants, the faster they will grow. Near 50w/sq. ft. a point of diminishing returns is reached, and the yield of the garden is then limited by the space the plants have to grow. For maximum use of electricity and space, about 40w/sq. ft. is the highest advisable. Under this much light the growth rate is incredible. More than one grower has said they can hear the plants growing – the leaves rustle as growth changes their position. In our experience, standard-output tubes can work as well as or better than VHO's if four or more eight-food tubes are used in the garden.

The yield of the garden is difficult to compute because of all the variable that determine growth rate. A conservative estimate for a well-run garden is one ounce of grass (pure smoking material) per square foot of garden every six months.

In commercial grass, the seeds and stems actually make up more of the bulk weight than the useable marijuana.

The grass will be of several grades depending on when and what plant part you harvest. The rough breakdown might be 1/3 equal to Mexican regular, 1/3 considered real good smoke, and the rest prime quality. With good technique, the overall yield and the yield of prime quality can be increased several fold.

Sources

When sunlight is refracted by raindrops, the light is separated according to wavelengths with the characteristic colours forming a rainbow. Similarly, the white light of electric lights consists of all the colours of the visible spectrum. Electric lights differ in the amount of light they generate in each of the colour bands. This gives them their characteristic colour tone or degree of whiteness.

Plants appear green because they absorb more light near the ends of the visible spectrum (red and blue) and reflect and transmit more light in the middle of the spectrum (green and yellow). The light energy absorbed is used to fuel photosynthesis. Almost any electric light will produce some growth, but for normal development the plants require a combination of red and blue light.

Sunlight has such a high intensity that it can saturate the plants in the blue and red bands, though most of the sun's energy is in the middle of the spectrum. Artificial lights operate at lower intensities; so the best lights for plant growth emit much of their light in the blue and red bands.

Fluorescent Tubes

Several lighting manufacturers make tubes (gro-tubes) the produce much of their light in the critical red and blue bans. (Plant-gro (GE), Gro-Lux (Sylvania), Agro-Lite (Westinghouse), and gro-lum (Norelco) are examples, and they look purple or pink. Vita-lite and Optima (Duro-test) produce a white light with a natural spectrum very similar to daylight. Duro-test blubs are more expensive than other tubes but they last twice as long. {See spectrum for "The action spectra of chlorosynthesis and photosynthesis compared to that of human vision. Adapted from IES Lighting Handbook237"}

Theoretically, these tubes should work better for growing plants than standard lighting tubes. However, some standard or regular fluorescent tubes used for lighting actually work better for growing plants than more expensive natural-spectrum tubes and gro-tubes specifically manufactured for plant growth. The reason is that regular fluorescent produce more light (lumens), and overall lumen output is more important for growth rate than a specific light spectrum. To compensate for their spectrums, use them in combinations of one "blue" fluorescent to each one or two "red" fluorescent (Box B).

Manufacturers use standardised names such as Daylight and Sofwhite to designate a tube that has a certain degree of whiteness. Each name corresponds to a tube that emits light in a particular combination of colour bands. For example, Cool White emits more blue light than other colours and appears blue-white. By combining tubes that emit more blue light with tubes that emit more red light, the tubes complement each other and produce a more natural spectrum for healthy plant growth. More "red light" than "blue light" sources are needed to foster healthy growth, so use two red tubes to each blue tube.

The best combinations are either Warm White or Soft White (red) tubes used with either Cool White or Daylight (blue) tubes. These four tube types are common, much cheaper, and when used in combination, will give you a better return than any of the more expensive gro-tubes or natural-spectrum tubes. Any hardware store carries these common lighting tubes, and the cost may be less than a dollar each.

Do not use tubes with "deluxe" in their designation. They have a more natural spectrum but emit considerably less light. Preferably, buy "Cool White" since it emits 50 percent more light than "Cool White Deluxe."

Incandescents and Flood Lights

The common screw-in incandescent bulb produces light mainly in the longer wavelengths: far-red, red, orange, and yellow. Higher-wattage bulbs produce a broader spectrum of light than lower-wattage bulbs. Incandescents can be used alone to grow marijuana, but the plants will grow slowly and look scraggly and yellow. Incandescents combined with fluorescent work well, but fluorescent are a better source of red light. Fluorescent tubes generate slightly less heat per watt. With incandescents, heat is concentrated in the small bulb area, rather than the length of the tube, and can burn the plants. In addition, incandescents have less than one-third the efficiency of fluorescent in terms of electricity used. If you decide to use incandescents in combination with fluorescent, use two times the wattage of incandescents to blue source fluorescent, that is, two 40-watt Daylight tubes to about three 60-watt incandescents, evenly spacing the red and blu sources.

The common floodlight has a spectrum similar to but somewhat broader than incandescents. Because they cast their light in one direction and operate at higher intensities, these lights work better than incandescents, both as a single source and to supplement natural or fluorescent light. {Figure 33. Supplement natural light with floodlights. Use foil curtains for reflectors.}

The best application for floodlights and incandescents is to supplement natural and fluorescent light, especially when the plants get larger and during flowering. Incandescents and floodlights require no special fixtures, although reflectors increase the amount of light the plants receive. These lights are easy to hang or place around the sides of any light system, and their strong red band promotes more growth and good flower development. Some of their energy is in the far-red band. Most purple gro-tubes and white fluorescent are deficient in this band, and addition of a few incandescents make them more effective. Agro-lite and W/S Gro-Lux emit adequate far-red light and need no addition of incandescents.

Several companies make screw-in spotlights specifically for plant growth. Two brand names are Duro-Test and Gro n'Sho. Although they are an improvement over incandescents as a single source, these lights don't perform nearly as well as fluorescent. A 150-watt bulb would grow one plant perhaps four feet tall. Two eight-foot fluorescent tubes (160 watts) will easily grow eight six-foot plants. For supplemental lighting, the incandescents and floodlight work as well and are cheaper.

HID Lamps. Metal Halide (MH) and Sodium-Vapour Lamps (HPS)

HID's (High-Intensity-Discharge) are the lamps of choice for serious indoor gardeners. HID lamps commonly illuminate streets, parking lots, and sports stadiums, and they emit very intense light and produce more light, more efficiently than fluorescent. All HID's require specific ballasts and fixtures to operate, so purchase complete systems (fixture, ballast, reflector) along with the lamp. High Times and Sinsemilla Tips magazines (p. 332) feature numerous ads by retailers of horticultural HID systems. Contact the advertisers, and they'll send you brochures with enough information to make an informed choice.

Ordinary metal-halides (MH's and HP's) may emit dangerous UV and particle radiation of the bulb envelop breaks, cracks, or develops a small hole. Broken MH bulbs may continue to operate apparently normally, and exposure may cause serious eye or skin injury. Make sure to purchase MH bulbs designed with a safety feature (such as GE Sat-T-Gard or Sylvania Safeline) that causes the bulb to burn out immediately if the outer envelope ruptures. OR purchase fixtures that shield the bulb in protective tempered glass.

HID's come in many sizes, but generally, use only 400 and 1,000 watt sized lamps. The largest size (1,500 watts) is not recommended because of its relatively short bulb life. Sizes less than 400 watts do not return as much marijuana considering set-up costs and ease of operation. The only exceptions are certain "self-contained" mini-units of 150 and 175 watts (see 4.1). These mini-self-contained units have a horizontal fixture and built-in ballast, which is easy to set up. The horizontal fixture directs up to 45 percent more light to the plants than conventional, vertically positioned lamps with reflectors. The intense light encourages excellent growth and bud formation with modest electrical consumption. They are the best overall light system for small, personal gardens such as closet set-ups.

Position 400 watt HID lamps 18 to 30 inches above plant tops, and 1,000 watt lamps 30 to 42 inches above the tops. During flowering, flowers may "run" rather than form in compact buds if lamps are positioned too close to the plant tops, particularly when using HPS's.

Heat is the main problem with HID's, and the room must be well-ventilated. Use exhaust fans to draw heat out of the room. The fan doesn't need to be large, just active enough to create a strong, ventilating draft.

Light Balancers

Sophisticated gardeners use light balancers which employ a small motor to move reflectors and HID lamps held on tracks or mechanical arms slowly across a garden in either a linear or circular pattern {(see p. 88 Figure 38b)}. Light balances save considerable power and bulb costs because they dramatically increase the effectively illuminated garden size, while using less the 24 watts per balancer. With the lights moving on a balancer, all of the garden becomes equally illuminated for modest running costs. Instead of adding another 1,000 watt HID, a light balancer increases the garden size without measurably increasing power consumption, an important consideration when electricity consumption or costs are of concern.

With multi-bulb HID gardens, use one MH to each HPS lamp on a light balancer, and hang the lamps about one foot closer to the plant tops than usual. MH's favour blue light, and HPS's produce more orange-red light. By combining the two, the spectrum is more balanced, and you'll get a better return of well-formed buds.

Low Cost HID Systems

By far, the most efficient and effective set-up for a modest artificial light garden is to use fluorescent lamps set on a long photoperiod for germination, growing seedlings or to raise clones; use another room,, or part of the room separated by a light-tight curtain or barrier, for flowering with (HPS) lamps in horizontal reflectors kept on a short photoperiod to induce and promote flowering.

For example, separate and average sized room into two growing areas by hanging an opaque curtain to block light between the two sections. In the smaller area, grow seedling or clones (see 18.5) for two to six weeks under fluorescent set on a constant light. In the larger section, keep HPS lamp(s) on a 12-hour light cycle for flowering. Move larger seedlings under the HPS lamp(s) for about 9 to 15 weeks to initiate and complete flowering. Meanwhile, start more seedling under fluorescent. It's easy to maintain both sections of the room be constantly replenishing either area with new plants. This setup is very productive for a modest investment in both costs and labour – no time or costly light and electricity is wasted on empty space, and you'll find yourself continuously harvesting mature buds.

{A no frills setup with an HID. Notice that the ballast is insulated from the floor with pieces of wood; the fixture is supported by rope and not the electric cord; plastic protects the floor; there is a timer, a reflector, and fan.} {Figure 34 and 35 for light-output from two and four 40 watt white fluorescent and comparing effectiveness in footcandles.} Using this setup, the initial long photoperiod and small area necessary for seedlings or clones is illuminated cheaply by fluorescent. Seedlings grow, and cuttings root, better under fluorescent than HPS's. The larger, more costly flowering section is kept under a short photoperiod of 12 hours of daily light and the strong red light is necessary for good flowering.

For example, the whole operation could draw less then 650 watts: 160 watts by four, four-foot fluorescent set on constant light to start the seedlings; one 400 watt HPS set on 12 hours daily light for flowering; two timers and a venting fan for automating the lights and controlling heat. It's possible to harvest four to six, fully mature crops each year, or continuously harvest. (See Mel Frank's new Marijuana Grower's Insider Guide by RED EYE PRESS for much more information on efficient, low cost, indoor systems and greenhouse gardening.)

Setting up the Garden

Under artificial light, marijuana grows from three to sic feet in three months, so the height of the light must be easy to adjust. Fixtures can be hung from the ceiling, shelves, walls, or from a simple frame constructed for the purpose. If you are hanging the lights from the walls or ceiling, screw hooks directly into a stud. Studs are located in every room corner and are spaced 16, 18 or 24 inches apart. Light can be supported from lathing using wingbolts, but plaster is too weak to hold a fixture unless a wooden strip held by several wingbolts is attached to the walls or ceiling first to distribute the pressure. Then hang the fixture from a hook in the strip. Closets have hooks and shelves or clothes rungs that are usually sturdy enough to support the fixture. People have gardens under loft beds.

Chains are the easiest means of raising and lowering fixtures. Two chains can be suspended from a solid support from above, and attached to an "S" hook at each end of the fixture. Raise the fixture by inching the hooks to higher links on the chain. Or tie rope to the fixture, pass through an eye hook or pulley in the ceiling or frame, and tie-off at a hook or boat cleat anchored in the wall or frame.

You can also hang the lights permanently and lower plants on a shelf or plywood. The shelf could be suspended or lowered by supporting the shelf with progressively smaller block. This arrangement is often used in "growing factories" where plants are rotated to larger gardens and grow for only a few weeks in each space. One garden may have fluorescent for starting plants and another garden for maturing plants under HID's. With HID's and skylights, lowering the plants may be your best option. Use lightweight soil components or hydroponics rather than heavier soil, and the operation is easier.

If you plan to use six or more fluorescent, remove end sockets and ballasts from fixtures. Mount end sockets and tubes on a frame of one-by-twos or plywood. Space sockets so tubes cover the garden evenly (see Figure 37 and 38). This arrangement illuminates the garden more evenly and drastically reduces the suspended weight since ballasts make up most of a fixture's weight. Keep ballasts off floors and away from water. Mount the ballasts on a nearby wall or on a wooden box. Wet ballasts could actually explode, and at best, are electrically dangerous when wet.

Always buy fixtures with reflectors. For HID's, companies make their own reflectors, but the best reflectors are for horizontally positioned lights no matter which company. Horizontal reflectors focus much more useable light than either parabolic or cone reflectors. HPS's can work in any position, but MH lamps are made to work in either a horizontal or vertical position, and you must buy bulbs that correspond with the fixtures.

For fluorescents, you can make an overhead reflector from the cardboard cartons in which tubes and fixtures are packaged. Cut off the end flaps and form the cardboard into a "U". Face inner side with aluminium foil or paint them white. Leave enough space so the foil or cardboard does not contact end sockets. Staple or tape the reflector behind the tubes to the fixture or from to reflect light toward the plants.

Surround all garden with reflective surfaces, but not so tightly that air can't freely circulate. Even in window gardens, reflective sheets set adjacent to the plants make a marked difference in growth. When artificial lights are high, reflectors from the floor on up keep lower branches actively growing. Mylar, with its mirror-finish, is popular for facing walls. A flat white paint (super or decorator white) reflects better than glossy white or aluminium foil. Flat white has about three percent more reflecting capacity than aluminium foil, and reflects light more uniformly. The difference is slight, so use whatever means is most convenient. Paint walls that border the garden a flat white or cover them with aluminium, mylar, or white plasterboard. {Figure 36. Reflectors can be made from sturdy paper faced with aluminium foil. Make them with staples, tape, or tacks. Figure 37.}

Natural-light gardens also benefit from reflectors. Make them out of cardboard painted white or faced with aluminium foil. Once the plants are past the seedling stage, surround them with reflectors; otherwise only one side of the plants will be fully illuminated.

Covering the floor with a plastic dropcloth (about $1 at any hardware store) will protect your flor and your neighbour's ceiling from possible water damage.

Marijuana grows well in a dry atmosphere, but heated or air-conditioned homes are sometimes too dry during germination and early growth. Enclosing the garden in reflectors will contain some of the moisture and insure a healthy humidity. White sheet plastic is available to enclose open gardens. Do not completely enclose the garden. Leave some open spaces at the bottom, top and ends of the garden to allow air to circulate. Air circulation will become more important as the plants grow larger.

Don't rely on training your pets to stay out of the garden. The garden will attract them, and they can easily destroy young plants by chewing on leaves and stems. Soil is more natural to their instincts than the sidewalk or kitty litter. Protect the garden from pets and toddlers; surround it with white plastic or chicken wire. Large plants are more sturdy and animals can do them little harm. The jungle ambience and an occasional leaf are irresistible to most cats, and they'll spend hours in the garden.

Electricity

For most growers, the amount of electricity used is of little concern. A four-tube, regular-output, eight-foot fixture draws about 320 watts per hour or about the same as a colour TV. The cost increase to your electric bill will be about two to six dollars a month, depending on local rates.

Farmers who devote entire basements or attics to their gardens are sometime restricted by the amount of current they can draw. Older homes or apartments may have only one 15-ampere circuit but more often have two, for 30 amperes total. Newer homes have either 60 or 100 amperes available through four to six circuits. One 15-ampere circuit can safely accommodate three, two-tube VHO fixtures or six tubes for 1,290 watts, or 16 regular-output, eight-foot tubes for about 1,280 watts total. This allows for a 20 percent safety margin of circuit capacity, which is necessary considering heat loss, starting voltages, etc.

In kitchen and basements the circuits may be rated higher, at either 20 or 30 amperes. You can find out the amperage of the circuit by looking at the fuse rating on the face of the fuse. Determine what room or rooms each circuit is feeding by removing the fuse and seeing which outlets are not working. The wattage capacity of any circuit is found by multiplying volts time amps. Standard United States voltage is 110 to 120 volts.

Fluorescent light fixtures are sometimes sold unwired or without a line cord, and the job is left to you. Follow the diagram on the ballast which shows the wires marked by their colour. Simply attach the wires to the sockets as diagrammed. New sockets have small holes which automatically make contact when the bare end of the wire is pushed into them. Older fixtures have sockets with conventional screw terminals.

Indoor gardens may have aluminium foil, chains, reflectors, and wet floors, all of which are good electrical conductors. Coupled with hanging lights, these conditions could lead to dangerous electrical shocks. Never touch a reflector, fixture, or ballast while watering or standing on a damp floor. Eliminate the chance of serious shocks altogether by turning off the lights whenever you work in the garden. An HID ballast on a damp floor is very dangerous. Raise HID ballasts on wood blocks off the floor.

Reduce the risk of dangerous shocks by using fixtures grounded to the power source. A fixture with a three-pronged plug connected to a three-wire outlet is grounded in a properly wired house. You can also ground a fixture by connecting a #12 or #14 gauge wire to any bare metal screw (not an electric terminal) on the fixture housing to the screw that holds the cover plate on the electrical outlet your using.

{With two prong outlets, connect an adaptor plug with a terminal (top left) or third wire (top right) from the plug to the screw that holds the cover plate. This converts two-wire outlets to three wire grounded systems when a three-wire electric cord is used, an important electrical safeguard which grounds the light system.}