Posted – July 1st, 2010
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Nutrients

There are about 15 elements known to be essential to plant life. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are absorbed from air and water. The remaining 12 elements are absorbed primarily from the soil, in mineral (inorganic) forms such as NO3- and K+. They constitute a natural part of soil that becomes available to the plant os organic matter decays and soil particles such as sand and clay dissolve.

Soil elements that are necessary for normal growth are called nutrients. The elements nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) are considered major nutrients. The three numbers that appear on all fertiliser packages give the available percentage of these three nutrients that the fertiliser contains; and always in the order N-P-K. For example, 10-2-0 means 10 percent N, 2 percent P (actually, 2 percent P2O5), and no K (actually, no K2O). Fertility is often measured by the amounts of major nutrients a soil contains. Relatively large amount of N-P=K are needed for lush growth.

Three other elements – calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), and magnesium (Mg) – are called secondary nutrients. Plants require less of these nutrients, and most cultivable soils contain adequate amounts for good growth.

Six remaining elements are called trace elements or micronutrients. As their name implies, they are needed in very small amounts. Commercial soils contain enough trace elements to sustain normal growth. The trace elements are also present in manures, humus, ash, and limestone.

Nitrogen

The amount of nitrogen a soil can supply is the best indication of its fertility. Nitrogen, more than any other soil nutrient, is inextricably linked with the living ecosystem. Nitrogen is continually cycled through living systems: from soil to plants and back to the soil, primarily by the activity of soil microorganisms. Nitrogen is essential to all life. Nitrogen is a key element in the structure of amino acids, the molecules which make up proteins. These, and all other biomolecules, are synthesised by the plant. Chlorophyll, genetic material (for example, DNA), and numerous enzymes and plant hormones contain nitrogen. Hence, N is necessary for many of the plant's life processes.

Cannabis is a nitrophile, a lover of nitrogen. Given ample N, Cannabis will outgrow practically and plant. Ample nitrogen is associated with fast, lush growth, and the plant requires a steady supply of nitrogen throughout its life. Marijuana's requirements for N are highest during the vegetative growth stages.

Phosphorous

P is a constituent of energy-transfer compounds such as NADP and ATP, and molecular complexes such as the genes. The energy compounds are necessary for photosynthesis, respiration, and synthesis of biomolecules. Cannabis takes up large amounts of P during germination and seedling stages. During flowering and seed set, Cannabis' need for phosphorous is also high.

Potassium

K influences many plant processes, including photosynthesis and respiration, protein synthesis, and the uptake of nutrients. Just as with P, K uptake is highest during the earliest growth stages. K is associated with sturdy stems and resistance to disease in plants.

Calcium

Ca functions as a coenzyme in the synthesis of fatty compounds and cell membranes, and is necessary for normal mitosis (replication of cells). Plants take up much more Ca than the small amount necessary for normal growth. Ca is not added to soil as a nutrient; is added to adjust the soil's chemistry or pH.

Sulfur

S is a constituent of certain amino acids and proteins. It is an important part of plant vitamins, such as biotin and thiamine, which are necessary for normal respiration and metabolism. (Plants synthesise all vitamins they need.) Most soils suitable for growing marijuana contain plenty of S.

Magnesium

Mg is involved in protein synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates. Mg is the central element in the structure of chlorophyll molecules and hence has an important role in photosynthesis. Most mineral soils and commercial soils have a good supply of Mg.

Trace Elements

The trace elements (Fe, Mn, Mb, B, Cu, Zn) are particularly important in the coenzymes and catalysts of the plant's biochemistry. Many life processes, particularly the synthesis and degradation of molecules, energy transfer, and transport of compounds within the plant, depend on trace elements. Trace elements are not used in large quantities to spur growth, but are necessary in minute amounts for normal growth. Indoor soils rarely require an addition of trace elements.

All the nutrients are needed for normal growth. However, most of them are supplied by the potting soil. Ca, S, and the trace elements rarely present any problems. For most growers, fertilising will simply require periodic watering with a complete fertiliser, one that contains N, P, and K.

Application: Fertilising

To grow to a large size, marijuana requires a steady supply of nutrients. These can be added to the soil before planting or anytime during growth. Bulk fertilisers are added while the soil is mixed, as described in section 6. These include manures, composts, humus, and concentrated fertilisers, such as rose food. Once the plants are growing, never condition or mulch indoor soils with bulk fertilisers. they promote moulds and fungi and attract other pests to the garden. Concentrated fertilisers can damage the plants if they come in direct contact with the stem or roots.

While the plants are growing, nutrients are given in solution; they are dissolved in water, and the plants are watered as usual. Soluble fertilisers can be either organic or inorganic (chemical), and come in a wide range of concentrations and proportions of nutrients. Two organic fertilisers are liquid manure (about 1.5-1.0-1.5) and fish emulsion ((Some fish emulsion may contain whale by-products.)) (about 5-1-1). Chemical fertilisers commonly may have 20-20-20 or 5-10-5, or may contain only one nutrient, such as 16-0-0.

A 10-5-5 fertiliser is 20 percent soluble nutrients and 80 percent inert ingredients. a 30-10-10 has 50 percent available nutrients and 50 percent inert ingredients. There is approximately the same amount of N in one tsp. of 30-10-10 as in three tsps. of 10-5-5.

Actually, you can almost use any fertiliser, but the nitrogen content should be proportionately high, and there should be some P and L also present. For example, a 20-20-20 would work fine, as would a 12-6-6 or a 3-4-3, but not a 2-10-10 or a 5-10-0.

How much fertiliser to use and how often to fertilise depend primarily on the fertility of the soil and the size of the container relative to the size of the plant. Small plants in large pots usually do not need to be fertilised. Even in small pots, most plants do not need to be fertilised for at least the first month.

As the plants grow, they take nutrients from the soil, and these must be replaced to maintain vigorous growth. During the vegetative stage, even plants in large pots generally require some fertilising, particularly with N.

The rate of growth of indoor plants is usually limited by the amount of light and space, once adequate nutrients are supplied. At this point, an increase in nutrients will not increase growth. Your goal is to supply the plants with their nutritional needs without overfertilising and thus toxifying the soil.

Most fertilisers are designed for home use and have instructions for fertilising houseplants. Marijuana is not a houseplant, and it requires more nutrients than houseplants. The extra nutrients that it needs may be supplied by the use of large pots and a fertile soil mixture. In many cases, you will need to fertilise only in the dosages recommended on fertiliser packages for houseplants. For instance, Rapid-Gro (23-19-17) is popular among marijuana growers; use one tablespoon per gallon of water every two weeks.

A typical program for fertilising might be to fertilise during the fifth week of growth and every two weeks thereafter until flowering. Then discontinue fertilising (or give at one-half concentration) unless the plants show a definite need for nutrients. It is better to fertilise with a more diluted solution more often than to give concentrated doses at longer intervals. (For instance, if instructions call for one tablespoon of fertiliser per gallon once a month, use one-quarter tablespoon per gallon once a week.)

Make sure that a fertiliser is completely dissolved in the water before you apply it. Put the recommended amount of fertiliser in a clear glass bottle and mix with about one cup of water. Shake vigorously and then allow it to settle. If any particles of fertiliser are not dissolved, shake again before adding the rest of the water. If you have difficulty getting all the fertiliser to dissolve, first add hot top water. If the fertiliser still does not completely dissolve, you should use another fertiliser.

Never fertilise a dry soil or dry Soilless medium. If the medium is dry, first water with about one-half quart of plain water per pot. Let the pots sit for about 15 minutes so that the water is evenly dispersed in the pot. Then fertilise as usual.

It is difficult to give instruction for fertilising that will cover all garden situations. You want to supply the plant with its nutritive needs, but overfertilising con toxify the soil. Fertilising according to instructions for houseplants (both in frequency and concentration) should not toxify the soil. However, the plants may sometimes require more frequent or more concentrated fertilising. A good way to judge the plant's needs is not to fertilise one plant, double the fertiliser of another plant, and give the rest of the plants their normal dose. If the unfertilised plant grows more slowly, or shows symptoms of deficiencies, then probably all the plant are depending on soluble fertilisers and must be fertilised regularly. If the plants receiving the double dose grows faster than the other plants, increase the other plants' supply also. On the other hand, if there is little difference among the plants, then the soil is providing the plants with enough nutrients, and they either should not be fertilised or should be fertilised with a less-concentrated solution.

Because they are grown in a relatively small area, it is easy to overfertilise indoor plants. When plants are vigorous, look healthy, and are growing steadily, don't be anxious to fertilise, particularly if you have already fertilised several times with soluble fertilisers. Slow growth or symptoms of deficiencies clearly indicate the need for fertilising.

Overfertilising

In an effort to do the best for their plants, some people actually do the worst. Overfertilising puts excessive amounts of nutrients in the soil, causing toxic soil conditions. Excessive amounts of one nutrient can interfere with the uptake of another nutrient, or change normal plant-soil relations. Since it takes time for a build-up to occur high concentrations of nutrients generally encourage excellent growth until the toxic level is reached.

It takes less N than other nutrients to toxify the soil; hence there is less margin for error when using N. Too much N changes the osmotic balance between plant and soil. Instead of water being drawn into the plant, water is drawn away and the plant dehydrates. The leaves feel limp even though the plant is well watered. The plant will soon die. This tips of the leaves die first and very rapidly the leaves change colour, usually to gold, but sometimes to a brown or green-grey. This change in the plants is faster, more dramatic, and more serious than for any kind of nutrient deficiency.

You can save the plants by immediately leaching the pots as soon as the condition is recognised. Place the pots outdoors or in a sink or bathtub. Discard the top inch or two of loose dirt. Run lukewarm water through the soil until a gallon of water for each two gallons of soil has passed through each pot. The leaves recover turgor in one or two days if the treatment works.

Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeding ((Nitrogen fertilisers are usually NO3 (nitrate) or NO2 (nitrite), substances which are also used to preserve food. They have been shown to undergo reactions to form carcinogenic substances (nitrosamines). As with eating food treated with nitrates and nitrites (hot dogs, sandwich meats, etc.), there is a possibility that such substances might be ingested by eating or smoking foliar-fed plants.)) (spraying the leaves with fertiliser) is a good way to give the plants nutrients without building up the amount of soluble substances in the soil. After the first month, foliar feed the plants with, for example, fish emulsion or a chemical fertiliser. Use any fertiliser that states it can be used for foliar feeding even if it says "not recommended for foliar feeding houseplants." Use a fine-mist sprayer, such as a clean Windex or Fantastik bottle. Dilute the fertiliser according to directions (fish emulsion at one tablespoon per gallon) and spray both sides of the leaves. When foliar feeding, you should spray the plants with plain water the next day, to dissolve unabsorbed nutrients and clean the plants.

Foliar spraying is also a good way to treat plants suffering from nutrient deficiencies. Some nutrient deficiencies actually are caused by the soil's chemistry, rather than by the absence of the nutrient in the soil. Addition of the necessary nutrient to the soil may not cure the plants' problem, because the nutrient becomes locked in the soil, or its uptake may be limited by high concentrations of other elements present in the soil. Foliar feeding is direct, and if the plant's deficiency symptoms do not begin to clear up, then the diagnosis is probably incorrect.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Before Diagnosing

Before you assume the marijuana plant has a nutrient deficiency, make sure the problem is not due to other causes. Examine the marijuana plant leaves, and along the stem and in the soil.

Even under the best conditions, not all leaves form perfectly or remain perfectly green. Small leaves that grew on the young seedling normally die within a month or two. Under artificial lights, bottom marijuana leaves may be shielded from the light, or be too far away from the light to carry on chlorosynthesis. These leaves will gradually turn pale or yellow, and may form brown areas as they die. However, healthy large leaves should remain green at least three to four feet below the plant tops, even on those plants under small light systems. Under low light, the lower-growing shoots as well as the large leaves on the main stem are affected. Some symptoms of nutrient deficiencies begin first at the bottom of the plant, but these symptoms generally affect the lower leaves on the main stem first, and the progress to the leaves on the branches.

Although some deficiency symptoms start on the lower, older leaves, others start at the growing shoots or at the top of the marijuana plants. This difference depends on whether or not the nutrient is mobile and can move from the older leaves to the active growing shoot. Deficiency symptoms of mobile nutrients start at the bottom of the plant. Conversely, deficiency symptoms of immobile nutrients first appear on the younger leaves or growing shoots at the top of the plant. N, P, K, Mg, B, and Mb are mobile in the plant. Mn and Zn are less mobile, and Ca, S, Fe, and Cu are generally immobile.

A dry atmosphere or wet soil may cause the blade tips to turn brown. Brown leaf tips also may indicate a nutrient deficiency, but in this case, more tissue will turn brown than just the end tips.

Chlorosis and necrosis are two terms which describe symptoms of disease in plants. Chlorosis means lacking green (chlorophyll). Chlorotic marijuana leaves are pale green to yellow or white. Chlorotic leaves often show some recovery after the necessary nutrient is supplied. Necrosis means that the tissue is dead. Dead tissue can be gold, rust, brown, or grey. It is dry and crumbles when squeezed. Necrotic tissue cannot recover.

Symptoms of deficiencies of either N, P, or K have the following in common: all involve some yellowing and necrosis of the lower leaves, and all are accompanied by red/purple colour in stems and petioles. The simplest way to remedy these deficiencies is to fertilise with a complete fertiliser containing nearly equal proportions of three nutrients.

Nitrogen

N is the most common deficiency of Cannabis indoors or out. Nitrogen deficiencies may be quite subtle, particularly outdoors, where the soil may continuously provide a small amount of nitrogen. In this case the opt of the plant will appear healthy, and the plant will grow steadily, but at a slow pace. The deficiency becomes more apparent with growth, as more and more of the lower leaves yellow and fall. The first sign is a gradual, uniform yellowing of the large, lower leaves. Once the leaf yellow, necrotic tips and areas form as the leaves dry to a gold or rust colour. In small pots, the whole plant may appear pale (or lime colour) before many bottom leaves are affected to the point that they yellow or die. Symptoms that accompany N deficiency include red stems and petioles, smaller leaves, slow growth, and a smaller, sparse profile. Usually there is a rapid yellowing and loss of the lower leaves that progresses quickly to the top of the plant unless nitrogen is soon added.

Remedy by fertilising with any soluble N fertiliser or with a complete fertiliser that is high in N. If your diagnosis is correct, some recovery should be visible in three or four days. Pale leaves will regain some colour but not increase in size. New growth will be much more vigorous and new stems and petioles will have normal green colour.

Indoors, you should expect plants to need N fertilisation a few times during growth. Once a plant shows N deficiency, you should fertilise regularly to maintain healthy and vigorous growth. Fertilise at about one-half the concentration recommended for Soilless mixtures. Increase the treatment only if the plants show symptoms again. Once the plants are flowering, you may choose not to fertilise if the plants are vigorous. They will have enough N to complete flowering and you don't want to chance toxifying the soil at this late date.

Phosphorous

P deficiency is not common indoors, but may appear outdoors, particularly in dry, alkaline soils or in depleted soils, or during cool weather. Phosphorus deficiency is characterised by slow and sometimes stunted growth. Leaves overall are smaller and dark green; red colour appears in petioles and stems. The leaves may also develop red or purple colour starting on the veins of the underside of the leaf. Generally the tips of most of the leaf blades on the lower portion of the plant die before the leaves lose colour. Lower leaves slowly turn yellow before they die. Remedy with any soluble P-containing fertiliser. Affected leaves do not show much recovery, but the plant should perk up, and the symptoms do not progress.

Potassium

K deficiencies sometimes show on indoor marijuana plants even when there is apparently enough supplied for normal growth. Often, potassium-deficient marijuana plants are the tallest ((Potassium is associated with apical dominance in some plant species.)) and appear to be the most vigorous. Starting on the large lower leaves, the tips of the blades brown and die. Necrotic areas or spots form on the blades, particularly along the margins. Sometimes the leaves are spattered with chlorotic tissue before necrosis develops, and the leaves look pale or yellow. Symptoms may appear on indoor plants grown in a soil rich in organic material. This may be due to high salinity (Na) of some manures or composts used in the soil. Red stems and petioles accompany potassium deficiencies. K deficiencies that could seriously affect your crop rarely occur with indoor soils. However, mild symptoms are quite common. Usually the plants grow very well except for some necrotic spotting or areas on the older leaves. (This condition is primarily and aesthetic problem, and you may choose not to fertilise. See 19.3.)

K deficiencies can be treated with any fertiliser that contains potassium. Wood ashes dissolved in water are a handy source of potassium. Recovery is slow. New growth will not have the red colour, and leaves will stop spotting after a couple of weeks. In a K-deficient soil, much of the added potassium is absorbed by the soil until a chemical balance is reached. Then additional potassium becomes readily available to the plant.

Calcium

Ca deficiencies are rare and do not occur if you have added any lime compound or wood ash. But calcium is added primarily to regulate soil chemistry and pH. Make sure that you add lime to soil mixtures when adding manures, cottonseed meal, or other acidic bulk fertilisers. An excess of acidic soil additives may create magnesium or iron deficiencies, or very slow, stunted growth. Remedy by adding one teaspoon of dolomitic lime per quart of water until the plants show marked improvement. Periodically fertilise with a complete fertiliser. Foliar feeding is most beneficial until the soil's chemistry reaches a new balance.

Sulfur

S is plentiful in both organic and mineral soils. Liming and good aeration increases S availability. Hence S deficiencies should not occur in soils that are suitable for growing marijuana. However, sulfur deficiencies sometimes can be confused with N deficiencies and may also occur because of an excess of other nutrients in the soil solution. Sulfur-deficiency symptoms usually start at the top of the plant. There is a general yellowing of the new leaves. In pots, the whole plant may lose some green colour. Both sulfur and Mg deficiencies can be treated with the same compound, epsom salts (MgSO4). Epsom salts, or bathing salts are inexpensive and available at drug stores.

Magnesium

Mg deficiencies are fairly common. They frequently occur in Soilless mixtures, since many otherwise all-purpose fertilisers do not contain Mg. Magnesium deficiencies also occur in mixtures that contain very large amounts of Ca or Cl. Symptoms of Mg deficiency occur first on the lower leaves. There is chlorosis of tissue between the veins, which remain green, and starting from the tips the blades die and usually curl upward. Purple colour builds up on stems and petioles.

A plant in a pot may lose much of its colour in a matter of weeks. You may first notice Mg symptoms at the top of the plant. The leaves in the growing shoot are lime-coloured. In extreme cases, all the leaves turn practically white, with green veins. Iron deficiency looks much the same, but a sure indication of Mg deficiency is that a good portion of the leaf blades die and curl. Treat Mg symptoms with one-half teaspoon of epsom salts to each quart of water, and water as usual. The top leaves recover their green colour within four days, and all but the most damaged should recover gradually. Continue to fertilise with epsom salts as needed until the plants are flowering well. If you are using soilless mixtures, include epsom salts regularly with the complete mixture. Because Mg deficiencies may indicate interference from other nutrients, foliar-spray with Mg to check your diagnosis if the plants are not obviously recovering.

Iron

Fe deficiency rarely occurs with indoor mixtures. Iron is naturally plentiful in most soils, and is most likely to be deficient when the soil is very acid or alkaline. Under these conditions, which sometimes occur in moist eastern soil outdoors, the iron becomes insoluble. Remedies include adjusting the Ph before planting; addition of rusty water; or driving a nail into the stem. Commercial Fe preparations are also available. If the soil is acidic, use chelated iron, which is available to the plants under acidic conditions.

Symptoms of iron deficiency are usually distinct. Symptoms appear first on the new growing shoots. The leaves are chlorotic between the veins, which remain dark green and stand out as a green network. To distinguish between Mg and Fe deficiencies, check the lower leaves for symptoms. Iron symptoms are usually most prominent on the growing shoots. Mg deficiencies will also show in the lower leaves. If many of the lower leaves have been spotting or dying, the deficiency is probably Mg. Mg deficiencies are much more common than iron deficiencies in marijuana.

Other Trace Elements

The following deficiencies are quite rare. Trace elements are needed in extremely small amounts, and often enough of them are present as impurities in fertilisers and water to allow normal growth. Many houseplant fertilisers contain trace elements. Trace-element deficiencies are more often caused by an extreme pH than by inadequate quantities in the soil. If a deficiency is suspected, foliar-spray with the trace element to remedy deficiencies. Our experience has been that trace-element deficiencies rarely occur indoors. We advise you not to add trace elements to indoor soils, which usually contain large amounts of trace elements already because of the addition of organic matter and liming compounds. It is easy to create toxic conditions by adding trace elements. Manufacturers also recommend using amounts of trace elements that may be too high for indoor gardens; so use them at about one-fourth of the manufacturer's recommended dose if an addition is found to be necessary.

Manganese

Mn deficiency appears as chlorotic and the necrotic spots of leaf tissue between the veins. They generally appear on the younger leaves, although spots may appear over the whole plant. Manganese deficiencies are not common. Manganese is present in many all-purpose fertilisers. Mn deficiencies may occur if large amounts of Mg are present.

Boron

B deficiency may occasionally occur in outdoor soils. The symptoms appear first at the growing shoots, which die and turn brown or grey. The shoots may appear "burned," and if the condition occurs indoors, you might think the lights have burned the plant. A sure sign of boron deficiency is that, once the growing tip dies, the lateral buds will start to grow but will also die. B deficiency can be corrected by application of boric acid, which is sold as an eyewash in any drugstore. Use one-fourth teaspoon per quart of water. Recovery occurs in a few days with healthy growth of new shoots.

Molybdenum

Mb deficiency occurs in outdoor soils, but rarely indoors. Mb is readily available at neutral or alkaline pH. Mb is essential for nitrogen metabolism in the plant, and symptoms can be masked for a while when N fertilisers are being used. Usually there is a yellowing of the leaves at the middle of the plant. Fertilising with nitrogen may remedy some of the yellowing. However, Mb symptoms generally progress to the growing shoots and new leaves often are distorted or twisted. Mb is included in many all-purpose fertilisers.

Zinc

Zn-deficiency symptoms include chlorosis of leaf tissue between the veins. Chlorosis or white areas start at the leaf margins and tips. More definite symptoms are very small, new leaves which may also be twisted or curled radially. Zn deficiencies may occur in alkaline western soils. Galvanised nails can be buried or pushed into the stem. Commercial preparations of zinc are also available.

Copper

Cu deficiencies are rare; be careful not to confuse their symptoms with the symptoms of overfertilisation. The symptoms appear first on the younger leaves, which become necrotic at the tips and margins. Leaves will appear somewhat limp, and in extreme cases the whole plant will wilt. Treat by foliar-spraying with a commercial fungicide such as CuSO4.

Soilless Mixtures

Soilless mixtures are an alternative to using large quantities of soil. Their main advantage is complete control over the nutrients that your plants receive. Soilless mixtures are also inexpensive and easy to prepare. They have a near-neutral pH and require no pH adjustment.

Soilless mixtures are made from soil components such as vermiculite, sand, or perlite. Soilless mixtures should be blended in such a way that they hold adequate water, but also drain well and do not become soggy. A good general formula is two parts vermiculite to one part perlite. About 10 percent coarse sand or gravel can be added to give weight and stability to the pots. Instead of vermiculite, you can use Jiffy-Mix, Metro-Mix, Ortho-Mix, Pro-Mix and other commercial soilless mixtures, which are fortified with a small amount of necessary nutrients, including trace elements. You can also substitute coarse sand for perlite.

Potting

It is best to use solid containers with soilless mixtures rather than plastic bags. Grow the plants in one- to three-gallon containers. There won't be much difference in the size of the plants in one-gallon or in three-gallon sizes, but you will have to water a large plant every day in a one-gallon container. (The plants can always by transplanted to a larger container.) The pots must have drainage holes punched in the bottoms. Pot as usual, and add one tablespoon of dolomitic lime or two tablespoons of wood ash to each gallon of mixture.

Germinating

Plants may have problems germinating in soilless mixtures. The top layer of mixture often dries rapidly, and sprouts may die or not germinate. Young seedlings also seem to have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients (notably potassium), even though adequate amounts of nutrients are being added. Since this difficulty may retard growth, it is best to start the plants in small pots with soil. Use eight-ounce paper cups, tin cans, or quart milk containers cut in half. Mix three parts topsoil or potting soil to one part soilless mixture. Fill the starting pots and germinate as usual. When the plants are two to three weeks old, transplant to the soilless mixture. First moisten the soil, and then remove the soil as intact as possible. You might handle the transplant like making castles, by carefully sliding the moist soil out of the pot. Or you can cut away the sides of the container while you place the transplant in the soilless mixture. When watering, make sure you water around the stem to encourage roots to grow into the soilless mixture.

Peat pellets that expand are also good for starting seedling. Plant several seeds in each pellet, and place it in the soilless mixture after the sprouts appear.

Fertilising

Soilless mixtures can be treated with a trace-element solution. We have grown crops with no special addition of trace elements, and the plants completed their lives without showing symptoms of trace-element deficiency. In these cases there were apparently enough trace elements in the lime and the fertilisers that were used to provide the major nutrients. Many all-purpose fertilisers also contain trace elements. However, it is a good idea to treat soilless mixtures with a mild solution of trace elements before planting. Large plants can be treated a second time during the third or fourth month of growth. Do not use trace elements more often unless plants show definite trace-element deficiencies.

Iron is the only trace element that is needed in more than minute quantities. Iron can be supplied by mixing a few brads or nails into the soilless mixture.

Use any soluble fertiliser that is complete, that is, that contains some of each of the major nutrients. Choose one with a formula that is highest in N but contains a good portion of both P and K. For example, Rapid-Gro is 23-19-17 and works well for soilless mixtures.

Table 18 gives a formula that has worked well for us. The figures in it are a guide for estimating the amounts of fertiliser to use. When choosing a fertiliser by means of this chart, use N for a guide. For example, suppose the only fertiliser you can find that has good proportions of the major nutrients as a 20-15-15. Divide 5 (the figure for N in the table) by 20 (the figure for N in the fertiliser), and get the result 1/4. That is, the fertiliser if four times as concentrated in N as you need; so you would use one-fourth the amount of fertiliser shown in Table 18. For instance, during the vegetative stage, you would give the plants one-half to three-fourths of a level teaspoon of fertiliser per gallon of water each time you water.

Table 18 – Guidelines for Fertilizing Soilless Mixtures Growth Stage N P2O5 K20 Amount Seedling 5 3 4 1.5 to 2 tsp/gal Vegetative 5 2 3 2 to 3 tsp/gal Flowering 5 5 3 0.5 tp 1.5 tsp/gal It is also not necessary to fertilise in these ratios. You could use a 10-10-10 fertiliser throughout growth; you would use half the amounts listed in Table 18. The most important point is that the plant receive enough of each element, not that they receive specific proportions.

Fertilising according to volume of fertiliser is not very accurate, and also does not take into account other variables (such as variety, light, temperature, etc.) that determine the amounts of nutrients your plants can use. However, it is a simple and useful way of estimating the plant's needs. You can more accurately gauge the plants' needs by giving a sample plant twice the concentration of fertiliser, and another half the concentration. Their performance will give you an idea of whether you are using too much or too little fertiliser. Too much fertiliser is the most damaging condition; so when in doubt give the plants less rather then more. Do not continue to give the plants the recommended amounts of fertiliser if the sample plant that is receiving less nutrients is growing as well as the other plants.

Another way of monitoring the plant's growth is to grow a few plants in a standard soil mixture. This will show you whether the plants in the soilless mixture are growing as fast as they should, and will give you a reference for diagnosing deficiencies.

Besides providing N, P, K, and the trace elements, you must also give your plants secondary nutrients. Ca is added by mixing a tablespoon of lime or two tablespoons of wood ash when preparing the soilless mixture. (Calcium is usually present in water and in many fertilisers as part of the salts that contain nutrients, for example, Ca(NO3)2.) Magnesium and sulfur are both found in common epsom salts, MgSO4. Use one-eighth teaspoon of epsom salts to each teaspoon of 5 percent N. For example, if you are using a 20 percent N fertiliser, you would use half a teaspoon of MgSO4 to each teaspoon of fertiliser. (Actually, enough sulfur is often present, either as part of the soilless mixture or as part of nutrient salts to allow growth.) Magnesium can also be supplied by using dolomitic limestone.

Soilless mixtures are something between soil mixtures and water cultures (hydroponics). With hydroponics, the plants are grown in a tank of water. The fertilisers are added in solution, and the water solution is periodically circulated by a pump.

Another variation on soilless mixtures is to add a small amount of soil or humus to the soilless mixture. Some examples are:

1. 4 parts soilless mixture to 1 part soil; 2. 8 parts soilless mixture to 1 part humus; 3. 15 parts soilless mixture to 1 part limed manure. Overfertilising is less a problem with soilless mixtures then with soil, because of higher concentrations of salts are tolerable in soilless mixtures and because excess salts are easily flushed out of the mixture. A good idea is to flush each pot once after two months of growth, again after four months. Any time the plants show symptoms of overfertilisation, leach the pots immediately. Flood each pot with plain water so that it runs out the drainage holes. Continue flooding the pots until a couple of gallons of water have run through the pot. Don't fertilise for at least a week. Then fertilise with a more dilute solution that was used before. {Figure 51a. Over fertilisation. Leaves turn bright gold and die, starting at the top of the plant.}


Posted – July 1st, 2010
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Pots and Other Containers

In its natural state, marijuana may grow an extensive root system – a fibrous network of fine, lateral roots that branch off a main, carrot-shaped tap root. In dry areas, the tap root can grow more than six feet deep in its search for water. In moist areas with fertile soil (such as in potting mixtures), the lateral roots are able to supply water and nutritive needs and the tap root remains small, often only three or four inches long on a seven-foot-tall mature plant.

The purpose of the growing medium is to provide adequate water and nutrients in addition to anchoring the roots, which hold the plant upright. By watering and fertilising as needed, you could grow a six-foot plant in a four-inch ((Pots are measured by diameter across the top.)) pot or in a three-foot layer of soil over your whole garden; but neither of these extreme procedures is very practical.

Most growers use containers that will hold between two and five gallons of soil. These are a good compromise in terms of weight, space, cost, and labour. They can be moved easily and hold an adequate reservoir of water and nutrients to support a large mature plant.

Some growers use a single large box or several long troughs that hold a six- to 12-inch layer of soil. These have the advantage of minimal restriction of roots and less frequent waterings, but they require more soil and make rotating or moving the plants impractical.

Determine the right size pot to use in your garden by the amount of light per square foot. For a moderately lighted garden (15 to 25 watts per square foot and most window gardens), use one- to three-gallon containers. For gardens with more light energy – over 25 watts per square foot or one-half day or more of sunlight – use three- to eight-gallon containers. The smallest pot we recommend for a full-grown plant is eight inches or one gallon. This is also a good size for starting plants to be transplanted after two months.

Practically any container that can withstand repeated waterings and has a top at least as wide as its base will do. Each pot must have several holes in the bottom to assure drainage. Growers use flower pots, institutional-sized cans and plastic buckets, baskets and small trash cans, milk crates and wooden boxes.

Plastic trash bags are sometimes used when other large containers can't be found. They must be handled carefully, since shifting the soil damages the fragile lateral roots. They are also more difficult to work with when transplanting. However, a roll of trash bags is an available and inexpensive substitute for other large containers. Plastic bags should be double or triple bagged. Small holes should be punched in the bottom to drain excess water. Use masking tape to patch any unwanted tears. The capacity of the bag should be no more than twice as many gallons as the amount of soil used. For example, with four gallons of soil, the bag should be of a five-gallon, but not more than eight-gallon size. Otherwise, it will not form a cylinder, and the bag will remain a shapeless mass.

Use as many pots as can fit in the lighted area to make the most efficient use of space. Many growers prefer to start the plants in smaller pots, transplanting into larger pots when the plants are larger. There are definite advantages to this method in terms of the yield in the garden, given its space and light energy. Seedlings and small plants take up much les space than they will at maturity, so they can be placed closer together. As the plants grow and begin to crowd each other, remove the less vigorous (to smoke, of course) and transplant the rest into larger pots. Start plants which will be transplanted later in four- to eight-inch flower pots, or one-quart to one-gallon tin cans or milk containers. Peat pots or planting pots are made of compressed plant fibre for the purpose of starting young plants. They are available at garden shops and come in several sizes. Use at least a four-inch pot so that the roots are not restricted in early growth. Peat pots are supposed to break down in the soil, but marijuana's delicate lateral roots may not be able to penetrate unless you score or break away the sides while transplanting. Wax paper cup (six to eight ounces), filled with a soil mixture, work as well as peat pots and are cheaper.

BOX C Finding Large Containers Use your ingenuity in finding large containers. Large clay flower pots do not work any better than the large metal and plastic containers discarded by restaurants and food stores. Various milk containers are good starting pots. Many garden shops sell used pots for a few cents each. Wholesalers sell plastic pots by the carton at a discount. Large plastic pots and pails can sometimes be picked up inexpensively at flea markets or variety stores. Any vessel that holds an adequate amount of soil and does not disintegrate from repeated waterings is a satisfactory container.

Properties of Soil

The soil or growing medium serves as a source and reservoir for water, air, and nutrients, and to anchor the roots. Since marijuana grows extremely fast, it has higher water and nutritive needs than most plants grown indoors. The success of your garden depends on supplying the plant with a medium that meets its needs without creating toxic conditions in the process.

There is no such thing as the perfect soil for Cannabis. Each variety can grow within a range of soil conditions. For healthy, full, growth, marijuana prefers a medium with good drainage, high in available nutrients, and near a neutral pH (7.0). These conditions result from a complex set of physical, chemical and biological factors. We will refer to them simply as: (1) texture; (2) nutrients; (3) pH.

Most indoor growers prepare the growing medium using commercial potting mixes. These mixes are usually sterilised or pasteurised and have good general soil properties. Since they seldom list the contents, nutrients, or pH, do some simple test of your basic soil whether you buy or dig for it. Then you can adjust the soil to meet the basic requirements of the plant.

Texture

The texture of the medium determines its water-holding and draining properties. Marijuana must have a well-drained medium for healthy growth. Soils that hold too much water or hold it unevenly can drown the roots, leading to poor growth or death of the plant. In a well-drained soil the roots are in contact with air as well as water. Soils that have too much clay, or are overly rich in compost or other organic matter, tend to hold too much water and not enough air. This condition worsens in time. This is especially true of the soil in pots.

You can determine the texture of your soil from its appearance and feel. Dry soil should never cake or form crusts. Dry or slightly moist soil that feels light-weight, airy, or spongy when squeezed, and has a lot of fibrous material, will hold a lot of water. Mix it with materials which decrease its water-holding capacity, such as sand, perlite, or even kitty litter.

Wet soil should remain spongy or loose and never sticky. A wetted ball of soil should crumble or separate easily when poked.

Soil that feels heavy and looks dense with fine particulate matter, or is sandy or gritty, will benefit by being loosened and lightened with fibrous materials such as vermiculite, Jiffy Mix, or sometimes sphagnum moss.

Soil Conditioners to Improve Texture

Perlite (expanded sand or volcanic glass) is a practically weightless horticultural substitute for sand. Sand and perlite contribute no nutrients of their own and are near neutral in pH. They hold water, air, and nutrients from the medium on their irregular surfaces and are particularly good at aerating the soil.

Vermiculture (a micaceous material) and sphagnum moss contribute small amounts of their own nutrients and are near neutral in pH. They hold water, air, and nutrients in their fibre and improve the texture of sandy or fast-draining soils. Jiffy Mix, Ortho Mix, or similar mixes are made of ground vermiculite and sphagnum moss, and are fortified with a small amount of all the necessary nutrients. They are available at neutral pH, are good soil conditioners, and are also useful for germinating seeds.

Sphagnum and Peat Moss (certain fibrous plant matter) are sometimes used by growers to improve water holding and texture. Both work well in small amounts (10 to 15 percent of soil mixture). In excess, they tend to make the medium too acidic after a few months of watering. Use vermiculite or Jiffy Mix in preference to sphagnum or peat moss.

Nutrients

Nutrients are essential minerals necessary for plant growth. The major nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), which correspond to the three numbers, in that order, the appear on fertiliser and manure packages, and that give the percentage of each nutrient in the mix (see section 9).

Marijuana prefers a medium that is high in nitrogen, and mid-range in phosphorus and potassium. Generally, the darker the soil, the more available nutrients it contains. Commercial soils usually contain a good balance of all nutrients and will support healthy growth for a month or two, even in smaller (one gallon) containers. Many growers prefer to enrich their soil by adding sterilised manures, composts, or humus. All of these provide a good balance of the three major nutrients. They also retain water in their fibre. In excess they cause drainage problems, make the medium too acidic, and attract insects and other pests. A good mixture is one part compost or manure to five to eight parts of soil medium. In large pots (four or five gallons), these mixtures might provide all the nutrients the plant will ever need. {Table 13.}

The many prepared organic and chemical fertilisers that can be mixed with the soil vary considerably in available nutrients and concentrations. Used in small amounts, they do not appreciably effect the soil texture. Many prepared fertilisers are deficient in one or more of the major nutrients (see Table 14). Mix them together so there is some of each nutrient, or use them with manures, which are complete (contain some of all three major nutrients). When adding fertilisers, remember that organic materials break down at different rates. It is better to use combinations which complement each other, such as poultry manure and cow manure, than to use either fertiliser alone. (See Table 22 in section 13 for a complete list of organic fertilisers.

Table 14 – Prepared Organic Fertilisers Type of Percentage by weight of Availability to fertiliser N P2O5 K20 Plant —————————————————————– Blood meal 13 0 0 Rapid/medium Bone meal 0.5 15 0 Medium/slow Blood/bone meal 6 7 0 Medium/slow Cottonseed meal 6 2 1 Slow/medium Fish meal 8 2 0 Slow/medium Hoof and bone meal 10 2 0 Slow Rock phosphate 6 24 0 Slow Wood ash 0 1.5 3-7 Rapid Greensand 0 0 2-8 Medium/slow Chemical fertilisers are made in about every conceivable combination and concentration. Pick one that is complete and where the first number (N) is at least equal if not higher than both P and K. For example, rose foods may be 12-12-12 or 20-20-20, and work very well for marijuana. Others are: Vigoro 18-4-5 and Ortho 12-6-6. The higher the number, the more concentrated the mix is, and consequently, the more nutrients are available.

Don't use fertilisers which come in pellets or capsules, or that are labelled "timed" or "slow release." They do not work as well indoors as do standard organic and chemical fertilisers. Chemical fertilisers seldom list the amount to mix per pot. You can get some idea by the instructions for application per square foot. Use that amount of each one-half cubic foot of soil mixture.

Many growers add no nutrients at this time but rely on watering with soluble fertilisers when they water. These fertilisers and their application are discussed in section 9.

pH

The pH is a convenient measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil medium. It is another way of expressing whether the soil is bitter (alkaline) or sour (acid). The pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7.0 assigned neutral; below 7.0 is acid and above is alkaline.

You can think of the pH as a measure of the overall chemical charge of the medium. It affects whether nutrients dissolve to forms available to the plant or to forms the plant can't absorb, remaining locked in the soil medium.

Marijuana responds best to a neutral (7.0 pH) medium, although in a fertile, well-drained soil, it will grow well in a range of 6.0 to 8.5. The simplest way to check the pH is with a soil-test kit from a garden shop or nursery. Test kits are chemicals or treated papers – for example, litmus papers or Nitrazine tape – that change colour when mixed with a wet soil sample. The colour is then matched to a colour chart listing the corresponding pH. Nitrazine tape is available, inexpensively, in drug stores. Some meters measure pH, but these are expensive. Agricultural agents, agricultural schools, and local offices of Cooperative Extension will test a soil sample for pH and nutrient content. Occasionally, a garden-shop person will check pH for you or will know the pH of the soils they sell.

Highly alkaline soils are characteristically poor soils that form cakes, crusts, and hardpan. Soil manufacturers don't use them, nor should they be dug for indoor gardens. Alkaline soils are treated with sulphur compounds (e.g., iron sulphate) to lower the pH.

We have never seen commercial soils that were too alkaline for healthy growth, but they are sometimes too acidic. The pH of acid soil is raised by adding lime (calcium-containing) compounds. Liming compounds come in many forms and grades. Some are hydrated lime, limestone, marl, or oyster shells, graded by their particle size or fineness. Use the finest grade available, since it will have more of a neutralising potential than a coarse grade. You need to use less and are more interested in immediate results than long-term soil improvement. For indoor gardens, use hydrated lime (available in any hardware store) or wood ashes to raise the pH. Hydrated lime is rated over 90 percent for its neutralising potential. Wood ashes will neutralise soil acids roughly one-half as well as hydrated lime. However, they also contain some nutrients (potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and micronutrients) and are handy and free.

There is no exact formula we can give you for raising the pH. The pH does not have to be exact; it's and approximation. At low pH it takes less lime to raise the pH one point than it does when the pH is near neutral. Sandy soils need less lime to raise the pH one point than soils high in clay or organic matter. In general, add three cups of hydrated lime or six cups of fine wood ash to every bag (50 pounds or a cubic foot) of soil to raise the pH one point. For soils that test slightly acid (about 6.5), add two cups of lime or four cups of wood ash.

Soil that tested below 6.0 should be retested in about two weeks, after thoroughly mixing and wetting the soil. Repeat the application until the pH is in an acceptable range. Check the pH of plain water to see if it is influencing the tests. Distilled water is neutral, but tap water sometimes has minerals that can change the pH. Hard water is alkaline. Sulphurous water and highly chlorinated water are acidic.

If you have already added lime to a soil that now tests from 6.5 to 7.0, don't add more lime trying to reach exactly 7.0. Too much lime will interfere with nutrient uptake, notably of potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

General Soil Characteristics

The texture, pH, and available nutrients of the soil are all related. The most important single factor is texture (good drainage). When soil drains poorly, it creates anaerobic (without air) pockets in the soil. Bacteria or microbes that live without air will begin to multiply and displace beneficial microbes that need air to survive. The anaerobic microbes break down organic matter to a finer consistency, and release CO2 and organic acids to the medium. Drainage worsens, the acids lower the pH, and nutrients, even though present, become unavailable to the plant.

The result can be a four-month-old marijuana plant that is only three inches tall, especially if you use high concentrations of manures and composts, peat and sphagnum moss. If your soil lists manures or composts as additives, add no more than 10 percent of these on your own.f

Drainage problems sometimes develop after several months of healthy growth. It is a good idea to add about 20 percent sand or perlite to even a well-drained soil. You can never add too much of these; they con only improve drainage. They dilute the nutritive value of the soil, but you can always water with soluble fertilisers.

Mixtures using many components in combination seem to work particularly well. This may be because, at a micro-level each component presents a slightly different set of physical, chemical and biological factors. What the plant can't take up at one point may be readily available at another.

Preparing Commercial Soils and Mixes Garden soils (or loams) and potting mixes are actually two different groups of products, although they are frequently mislabelled. Some companies sell soil in large bags and a potting mixture in smaller bags, while labelling them the same. Soils and potting mixtures are usually manufactured locally, since transportation costs are prohibitive; so they differ in each area.

 

Texture and Nutrients

Soils and loams are usually topsoil blended with humus or compost for use as a top dressing in gardens, for planting large outdoor containers, or for the soil part of a potting mixture. They may have a tendency to compact under indoor conditions and will benefit from the addition of perlite or vermiculite. Soils and loams usually contain a good supply of nutrients and may support a full-grown plant in a large container. Commercial soils that are heavy generally work better than lightweight soils. Heavy soils usually contain topsoil, in which marijuana grows very well. Lightness indicates more fibrous content.

For example of possible soil mixtures, see Box D. pre?

BOX D Examples of Soil Mixtures* 1. 5 parts soil 2. 8 parts soil 2 parts perlite 3 parts sand 1 part cow manure 1/4 part 10-10-10 chemical fertiliser 3. 5 parts soil 4. 4 parts soil 2 parts perlite 1 part sand 2 parts humus 1 part vermiculite 1/2 part cottonseed meal 2 parts humus 1/2 part poultry manure 5. 3 parts soil 6. 6 parts soil 1 part perlite 2 parts perlite 1 part sand 2 parts vermiculite 2 parts Jiffy Mix 1/2 part poultry manure 1/2 part blood/bone meal 1/2 part cow manure 1/2 part wood ash 1 part wood ash *Almost all fertilisers are acidic, and need to be neutralised by lime. For the above mixtures, or any similar ones, mix in one cup of lime for each five pounds of manure, cottonseed meal, or chemical fertiliser in order to adjust the pH.

Potting mixes are intended to support an average-size house plant in a relatively small pot. They are sometimes manufactured entirely from wood and bark fibre, composts, and soil conditioners. These mixes are made to hold a lot of water and slowly release nutrients over a period of time, which is what most house plants require. For marijuana, these mixes seldom contain enough nutrients to support healthy growth for more than a couple of months. (Their N is usually low, P adequate, and K usually very high.) They work best when sand or perlite is added to improve drainage, and fertilisers are added to offset their low nutrient content.

The pH

Most commercial mixes and soils are between 6.0 and 7.0 in pH, a healthy range for marijuana. If you buy your soil, it will not be too alkaline for healthy growth, but it might be too acidic. You can minimise the chances of getting and acid soil by avoiding soils with "peat" or "sphagnum" in their names. Avoid soils that are prescribed for acid-loving plants such as African violets or azaleas, or for use in terrariums. With common sense, you can buy a soil, add two cups of lime to each large bag, and not have to worry about the pH. However, the surest procedure is to test the pH yourself.

Probably the best way to find the right soil for your garden is to ask long-term growers. They can relate their past experiences with various mixes and blends. Most long-term growers with whom we have talked have tried many of the mixes available in their areas. A reliable, enlightened nurseryperson or plant-shop operator may also be able to give you some advice.

 

Buying Soil Components

 

 

All the materials discussed here are available at farm and garden stores or nurseries. Many suburban supermarkets sell large bags of soil and humus. Always buy your materials in the largest units possible to reduce the cost.

Large bags of soil and humus come in either 50-pound bags or one- to four-cubic-foot bags. A 50-pound bag fills about six gallons. There are eight gallons to a cubic foot. Perlite is sold in four-cubic-foot bags (thirty-two gallons). Jiffy Mix and vermiculite are sold in four-cubic-foot bags and in 16 pound bags (about 18 gallons). Sand, perlite and vermiculite come in coarse, medium, and fine grades. All grades work well, but if you have a choice, choose coarse. Sand (not beach sand) is an excellent soil conditioner. The only disadvantage is its heavy weight. Buy sand from lumber yards or hardware stores where it is sold for cement work. It will cost from 1/50 to one-half the cost of garden or horticultural sand. Sand from piles at construction sites works very well.

Calculating the Amount of Soil

The maximum amount of soil mixture for any garden can be found by multiplying the capacity of the largest pot you plan to use by the number of pots that you can fit in the garden. In many cases, the actual amount of the mixture used will be somewhat less. Two illustrations follow.

1. A small garden with a two-tube, eight-foot fixture (160W). Using 20 watts per square foot for fast growth gives 160W divided by 20W/sq.ft. + eight sq.ft. The largest pot needed for this system is three gallons, but two gallons would work. You can fit about 10 three gallon pots in eight square feet; so 3 * 10 + 30 gallons of soil mixture are needed (see Box E).

BOX E Examples Showing How Much Soil Material to Buy to Fill a Known Number of Unit-Volume Containers Example 1. For a garden eight square feet in size, Buy Component Which amounts to 3 50-lb (6 gal. ea. ) bags of soil 18 gallons 1 cubic foot of perlite 8 gallons 30 lbs of humus 3 gallons 10 lbs of chicken manure 2 gallons TOTAL 31 gallons Example 2. For a garden 24 square feet in size, Buy Component Which amounts to 4 1-cu. ft. bags of soil 32 gallons 2 1-cu. ft. bags of perlite 16 gallons 1 1-cu. ft. bag of vermiculite 8 gallons 20 pounds of cow manure 3 gallons cottonseed meal 2 gallons wood ash 2 gallons TOTAL 63 gallons 2. A large garden with two two-tube, eight-foot VHO fixtures (four times 215 watts or 860 total watts) illuminating a garden three by eight feet, or 24 square feet.

860 watts divided by 24 sq. ft. = about 36W/sq. ft.

The largest pot size for this system is about five gallons. About 16 five-gallon containers can fit in 24 square feet; so 16 * 5 + 80 gal. of mixture are needed. But you could start many more plants in smaller containers and transplant when they are root-bound. You do not use more soil by starting in smaller pots, since all soil is reused. In many cases, you actually use much less soil.

In this system you could start and fit about 40 plants in one-gallon pots in 24 square feet. When the plants begin to crowd each other, some are harvested, making room fir the others, which are transplanted to larger pots. In practice, a high-energy system such as this one (36W/sq. ft.) will grow large plants whose size is limited mainly by the space available. Twelve large female plants are about the most you would want in the system during flowering and for final harvest. Sixty gallons of mixture is all that is needed for the seedlings and the mature crop. This is one-fourth les than the original estimate of 80 gallons, and you actually will harvest a lot more grass (see Box E).

Mixing and Potting

Mix your soil in a large basin, barrel, or bathtub. Individual pots are filled with mixtures by using a smaller container to measure out by part or volume.

Perlite, sand, and dry soil can give off clouds of dust. When mixing large amounts of these, wear a breathing mask or handkerchief over your nose and mouth.

To pot any of the mixtures, first cover any large drainage holes with a square of window screen or newspaper to prevent the mixture from running out. Place a layer of sand, perlite, or gravel about one inch deep to insure drainage. Fill the pots with soil mixture to within three-fourths of an inch from the top of the pot. If your mixture contains manures or composts, cover the last inch or two in each pot with the mixture minus the manure and compost. This will prevent flies, gnats, moulds, and other pests from being attracted to the garden. Press spongy soils firmly (not tightly) to allow for more soil in each pot; otherwise, after a period of watering, the soil will settle and the pot will no longer be full.

Some growers add a few brads or nails to each pot to supply the plant with iron, one of the necessary nutrients. Water the pots and allow them to stand for a day or two before planting. As the soil becomes evenly moist, beneficial bacteria begin to grow and nutrients start to dissolve. {Figure 40.}

Digging Soil

Most growers prefer to buy their soil, while some prefer to dig it. Marijuana cannot tolerate heavy clays, mucks, or soils that dry to crusts. Choose a soil from a healthy garden or field, or from an area that supports a lush growth of annual weeds.

Fields that support a good crop of alfalfa, corn or other grains will support a good crop of marijuana. Fields with beets, carrots, and sugar cane indicate a well-drained soil, with near neutral pH. Red clover, sweet clover, and bluegrass have soil requirements similar to those of marijuana. Garden soils are usually fertile and well-drained, but often need lime to counteract soil acidity.

Take the topsoil layer that starts about two inches below the surface debris. Good soil will look dark, feel moist, and small clean and earthy. Use all of the topsoil layer that maintains its dark colour and is interlaced with roots. Your hands should be able to easily penetrate the underlying topsoil if the soil is in good condition. When the soil changes colour, or roots no longer apparent, then you are past the fertile topsoil layer. Abundant worm, millipedes, and other small lifeforms are a good indication that the soil is healthy. A rich layer of topsoil collects by walls, fences, and hedges where leaves and debris collect and decay to a rich humus. Sift the soil to remove stones and root clods. Also, shake out the root clods, which are rich in nutrients.

Soil that is dug should be tested the same way as already prescribed. It should be adjusted with at least 30 percent sand or perlite (vermiculite for very sandy soils), since potting will affect the drainage of even well-drained soils. Never use manures or composts that are not completely degraded to a clean-smelling humus.

Soil that is dug must be sterilised to kill weed seeds, insect eggs, and harmful moulds and fungi. Some chemical treatments (e.g. formaldehyde) are mixed with water and poured over the soil to sterilise it. Soil can be sterilised in a pressure cooker at 15 pounds pressure for 15 minutes, or by baking wet soil in a large pot at 200 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Be advised that baking soil will release some formidable odours.

Growing Methods As we said before, there are probably as many growing methods as there are marijuana growers. These methods are personal preferences or adaptions to fit particular situations; one method is not necessarily better than any other. However, the value of a garden is often based on the amount of high-quality grass it yields. Since indoor gardens are limited in size, you want the plants to quickly fill the garden with lush growth in order to use the garden efficiently. Otherwise, for the first couple of months, the lights are shining on empty space.

 

Secondly, the possession of small quantities of marijuana will probably be decriminalised nationally within the next few years. Decriminalisation for personal possession will open the way for decriminalisation for cultivation for personal possession. But small quantities are more difficult to define for cultivation than for simple possession, which is done by weight. Several possible ways to limit the amount for cultivation have been raised: by the number of plants, by the area cultivated, or by the number of plants at a particular stage of development. The outcome may determine whether you try to grow the largest plants possible or the most plants possible in a given area.

There are several ways to increase your garden's yield.

1. Pinch or cut back the growing shoots when the plants are young. This forces each plant to develop several strong growing shoots and generally yield large robust plants. 2. Plant a number of plant in each pot. 3. Start many plants in small pots and transplant the best plants to larger pots when the plants crowd each other. 4. Use different light systems to grow plants at different growth stages. Here are some examples of how to carry out each of these four methods.

1. Fill the growing area with large containers (about five gallons each). Start several plants in each pot but thin the seedlings over a period of six weeks to two months, until one plant is left in each pot. During the fourth or fifth week of growth, pinch back the plants to about equal heights. Cut the growing shoot at about the fourth internode. Each plant will develop a sturdy stem which will support four to eight growing stems and will quickly fill any empty space in the garden. The whole garden is the treated like a hedge. After another month or two, you cut back the growing shoots again to have plants of equal heights. Remove the male plants as soon as they begin to release pollen (or before any male flowers open for sinsemilla). This will leave more space and light for the females to develop. By the time females flower, they've been cut back two or three times or more, and form a dense growth of growing shoots that fill the garden with a cubic layer of flowers. Some growers maintain the plants for up to a year before the final harvest.

{Figure 41. Plant clipped at fourth internode.}

2. This method also requires large pots. Instead of thinning the seedlings to leave one per pot, leave at least three. After a few months of growth, remove any plants that lag far behind or any plants that show male flowers. The value of this method is that the odds are at least seven to one that any pot will have at least one female plant.

Most of the plants you'll grow will fill out with branches by four months at the latest. Often the branches develop young seedlings. The plants may begin to look like small Christmas trees by the second to third months of growth.

Generally, you don't want to have more than three or four plants in a five-gallon container, because growth will be limited by competition for light and space.

{Figure 42. Basement growing factory in Atlanta.}

Some varieties never do fill out. The branches remain small, only two to three inches long, and yield very little grass. We've seen plants like this grown from grass from Vietnam, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Africa. These plants are also quite short, being four to six feet tall fully grown. With varieties like this, it is better not to pinch tops, and to start about six plants per square foot of garden space. At harvest, the garden will be crowded with top stems that are laden with flower clusters.

Of course, you don't know what varieties will look like until you've seen them grow. For most varieties, each plant will need at least one square foot or space at maturity. It is much less common to find varieties that naturally grow small or especially thin, and, therefore, are those of which you would want to plant more than a few per large pot.

3. Another popular way to grow is to start plants in a large number of small pots. As the plants crowd each other, some are removed and the rest transplanted to larger pots.

4. To get the most for your investment requires conservation of light and soil. When the plants are young, a large number fit into a small place. Some growers take advantage of this fact by having several light systems, each with plants at different growth stages. The plants are rotated into larger gardens and pots. This method conserves space, materials, and electricity, and yields a harvest every two months. Using this method, "growing factories" turn out a steady supply of potent grass. {Table 15.}


 
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What are the Benefits of Aerated Compost Teas vs. Classic Teas?

Aerated compost teas are the latest in scientific organic research today. In many ways, aerated teas offer greater immediate benefits than classic compost, manure, or other homemade foliar teas. Just by applying a cheap aquarium air pump to a 5 gallon bucket of tea, you can get amazing results. (Cheap, inexpensive aquarium airstones are also recommended to be applied to the hose in the water. This produces a better distribution of smaller air bubbles to make the aerobic soil/comosting microbes breed better.) Instead of just brewing teas for quick valuable water soluble nutrients from the compost or manure, you can breed a larger population of beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi in the tea. It is the microherd in our soil, compost, and teas, that is really more important in soil development and disease control than just the soluble nutrients. Aerobic microherd populations reduce offensive smells in compost piles, the compost teas, and the soil. Aerobic microherd also break down bad poisons and pathogens into safe nutrients in hot compost piles and aerated compost teas. Diluted anaerobic compost or manure teas are great liquid fertilizers and disease controllers also. Many people prefer the anaerobic teas better because they are simpler and easier to design and apply. However, recent research has proven that the aerobic microherd populations fight diseases and bad soil and plant pathogens better and supply more power to your soil's total health and texture. Keep in mind that all types of organic and natural foliar teas are designed to complement and enhance, not replace, basic composting, green manuring, and organic mulching techinques in your garden. The soil microherd continue over months and years to eat up insoluble OM in the existing soil and the extra soil amendments and break them down into more available soluble nutrients for plants later in the year.

Technically even in un-aerated teas there is still some aerobic action taking place for several days. All fungi is aerobic. Some bacteria are totally aerobic, some bacteria are totally anaerobic, and some bacteria can act both aerobic or anerobic based on the soil or tea environment. Un-aerated teas can continue to keep alive some aerobic or aerobic/anaerobic microbes, for up to 10 days in a watery solution. After 10 days, the whole un-aerated tea will contain only anerobic microbes.

You can expect different microbial population levels in your tea based on weather, climate, temperature, seasons, etc. In the summertime you can expect your teas to brew faster and get to your optimal microbial levels faster than in cooler fall weather. Also tea odors, color, and foaminess on top of the tea, will vary based on temperatures too.

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There are several different levels of teas as well as different recipes and styles. Here is the simple steps as outlined by one of our own GardwenWeb members who is an expert on teas and compost. This is a brief description of the different strength levels of tea making as outlined by "BILL_G" :

Level 1: Put a shovel full of good compost in a 5 gallon bucket of water, wait one week, and apply to garden or lawn either full strength or up to a 1:4 water ratio. This is an excellent source of ready available soluble nutrients. NOTE: If you stir your brew daily or every other day, it helps get more oxygen to the mix for better decomposition and better aerobic microbial population growth.

Level 2 : Do same as above, but now add to the recipe a few cups of alfalfa pellets or some other cattle feed. Now you have extra nitrogen and trace elements from the bacterial foods.

Level 3: Do all above plus now add the air pump bubbler. Now you have more aerobic microbes to add to your soluble nutrients in the tea.

Level 4 : Do all the above and now add a few tblsp of molasses or other simple sugar products. Now you really maximize the aerobic microbes in the tea, which in turn produce even more extra soluble nutrients from the bacterial foods.

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Here is my suggestions also. You can add more high nitrogen foods in the tea. Remember the only main ingredients that are necessary to make a good bacterial and soluble nutrients tea are: aerobic compost and sugar products. Everything else is optional. Your teas can be as creative as you are. Let's assume a 5 gallon tea recipe for our example:

1. Add 1/2 bucket of finished hot compost. This supplies most of the beneficial aerobic microbes and soluble nutrients. Some people use slightly immature aerobic compost because it has more fresh nitrogen in it, but less microbes than finished hot compost.

2. Use 2-3 tblsp molasses, brown sugar, or corn syrup. This feeds and breeds the aerobic bacteria. Sugar products are mostly carbon which is what the microherd eat quickly. Add about 1-2 more tblsp of molasses for every 3 days of aerobic brewing to make sure the sugar is digested before touching the soil at application time, and to guarantee that the aerobic bacteria population stays strong throughout the brewing process. Molasses also contains sulfur which is a mild natural fungicide. Molasses is also a great natural deodorizer for fishy teas. For a more fungal tea don't add too much simple sugar or molasses to your aerobic teas. Use more complex sugars, starches and carbohydrates like in seaweed, rotten fruit, soy sauce, or other fungal foods.

3. Add 1-2 cans of mackerel, sardines, or other canned fish. Supplied extra NPK, fish oil for beneficial fungi, calcium from fish bones. Most commercial fish emulsions contain no fish oils and little to no aerobic bacteria. Fresh fish parts can be used, but because of offensive odors, it should composted separately with browns like sawdust first before adding to the tea brew. NOTE: For those organic gardeners who prefer vegetarian soil amendments, you can skip the fishy ingredients, it's not necessary. There is plenty of NPK in alfalfa meal and other grains that you can use.

(NOTE: If you use canned fish products, you may want to let it decompose mixed with some finished compost, good garden soil, etc. in a separate closeable container for a few days before using. Since most canned meat products contain preservatives, this will guarantee that the good microbes in the tea will not be killed off or harmed in brew making.)

4. Add 1 pack fresh seaweed. Supplies all extra trace elements. Seaweed can contain about 60 trace elements and lots of plant growth hormones. Seaweed is a beneficial fungal food source for soil microbes. Liquifying the seaweed makes it dissolve even faster.

5. Add 1-2 cups of alfalfa meal, corn meal, cattle feed, horse feed, catfish or pond fish feed. Supplies extra proteins and bacteria. Corn meal is a natural fungicide and supplies food for beneficial fungi in the soil.

6. Add rotten fruit for extra fungal foods. Add green weeds to supply extra bacterial foods to the tea.

7. Good ole garden soil is an excellent free biostimulant. Garden soil is full of beneficial aerobic bacteria, fungi, and other great microbes. Some people make a great microbial tea just out of soil. Forest soil is usually higher in beneficial fungi than rich garden soil.

8. Fill the rest of the container with rainwater, compost tea, or plain de-chlorinated water to almost the top of bucket. You can make good "rain water" from tap water by adding a little Tang (citrus acid) to the water mix before brewing. Urine water is also an excellent organic nitrogen source for teas (up to 45% N).

9. Some people like to add 1-2 tblsp of apple cider vinegar to add about 30 extra trace minerals and to add the little acidicity that is present in commercial fish emulsions. Many fish emulsions contain up to 5% sulfuric acid to help it preserve on the shelf and add needed sulfur to the soil. You can add extra magnesium and sulfur by adding 1-2 tblsp of Epsom salt to the tea.

10. Apply the air pump to the tea. NOTE: Some organic tea brewers prefer not to use the air pump method. You can get some extra oxygen in the tea by stirring it daily or every other day. The air pump just makes the oxygen levels in the tea happen faster than by hand, thus greatly increasing the rate of aerobic microbial growth in the tea. If you prefer to use the air pump, let it bubble and brew for at least 1-3 days. (NOTE: The 3 days limit is just a good guideline. The real test of brewing time is by your own sight and smell test, because everybody's tea is different due to the various microbial species and breeding activity that takes place during the brewing process.) The aerobic tea is ready to use when it has either an earthy or "yeasty" smell or a foamy layer on top of the tea. If not satisfied with the look or the smell of the tea, go up to a week of brewing. The extra brewing time will help the microbes digest more of the insoluble bacterial and fungal foods in the tea and make it more available for your plant's or your soil's nutritional needs.

Apply this tea full strength to get full nutrient levels per plant, or dilute it from a 1:1 down to a 1:5 water ratio to spread the beneficial microbes over a 1-acre garden area (mix 5 gallons of tea per 25 gallons of rainwater).

To reduce straining, you can place all your ingredients in a closed panty hose or laundry bag during the brewing cycle (don't use a too fine mesh bag or the beneficial fungi can't flow properly through the bag).

Here's another method to avoid straining and to maximize the amount of microbes in application: Simply turn off the air pump, stir the entire mixture real hard, and then let the mixture sit still for about 30 minutes. Scoop off the top juice straight into a watering can for application.

You can apply with a watering can, or simple cup, or in a sprinkling system. All compost teas can be used as a foliar feed or soil drench around plants. They also make great compost pile nitrogen and bacterial activators to heat up the pile for faster finished composting. Always take the remains for teas and recycle them back into your compost piles.

As stated, you can use your homemade tea as a foliar feed or as a soil drench or both. Soil drenches are best for building up the soil microbial activities and supplying lots of beneficial soluble NPK to the plant's root system and the topsoil texture. Foliar feeds are best for quick fixes of trace elements and small portions of other soluble nutrients into the plant through its leaves. Foliar feeds are also good for plant disease control. Foliar feeds work best when used with soil drenches or with lots of organic mulches around plants. You can poke holes in the soil around crop roots with your spade fork, to get more oxygen in the soil to further increase organic matter decomposition and increase microbial activity in the soil.

Aerated teas can also be used to greatly speed up the decomposition process of hot compost piles. The extra aerobic microbes in the tea will breed and cooperate with the aerobic microbes in the organic matter in the compost pile.

You should not use any liquid soaps as a spreader-sticker agent in a fertilizing/biostimulant tea like this. It can hinder or harm your aerobic microbes that you just grew in the tea. You need to use better products in your tea like liquid molasses, dry molasses powder, fish oil, or yucca extract as a spreader-sticker.

A good aerated tea is very economical. 5 gallons can be diluted to biostimulate an entire acre of garden via foliar spraying only. If you soil drench only, it takes at least 15 gallons of tea, before diluting, to cover an acre of garden soil. Also there is enough aerobic bacteria and fungi in a good 5 gallon batch of aerated tea, that is the equivalent of about 10 tons or 40 cubic yards of regular compost!

These homemade aerated compost teas are just as powerful, maybe more powerful, than any commercial natural or organic fertilizer or soil amendment on the market today. And they are a lot cheaper too! So have fun, be creative, and keep on composting!

Happy Gardening!


bogway 
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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


tomhilln 
– go to post

Author: ETHAN HUNT 420

Ok- To grow good medical cannabis, you needn't be a genius, but there are things you must do and guidelines you must follow in order to grow really good medicine- and these, as with anything else, require patience, and basic common sense. Once again, i'm just starting out, but by following these principals, and guidlines, and listening to seasoned growers advice, i was able to grow some high quality medical grade cannabis.

*Things You Need to Grow*

These are listed in order of importance-

Genetics- First and foremost, you need to be using a seed or a clone from a good strain- mexican or other low grade strains are pointless for growing. There is a common myth that you can turn one of these low grade seeds into high quality cannabis. This is FLAT OUT WRONG!!! The level of THC and other cannabinoids, as well as overall quality of cannabis is controlled by it's genes. You can grow a 3% THC mexican strain out if you want- and you can make it LOOK like a million bucks (i.e. crystals, color, smell) but its STILL ONLY GOING TO BE 3% THC. This is a basic fact, and you will find this out anywhere on the net, or, for yourself if you happen to be wasting your time growing a low grade seed. If you can't get really good medical grade cannabis where you live, buy some seeds from a mail order seed catalog- search for 'cannabis seeds' at any search engine and you're bound to find some good seed distributors- emeryseeds is the best. If you start out w/ good quality, strong genetics, you're on your way to good quality cannabis.

Light- This is very important- you CAN NOT SCRIMP ON LIGHTS- I see posts here, of people using fucking aquarium lights for vegetation, and possibly for flowering!!! NO NO NO NO NO c'mon people! That light doesn't even put out anywhere near the right spectrum of light (blue) for vegetation, and forget for flowering (red/orange). Seriously Folks- you gotta have good light- Also, distance from the light must be optimal- for flourecents, 1-2 inches- for Metal Hallides (100 – 200 watt) 6-12 inches(assuming good cooling) for HPS (400watt) 8 – 12 inches minimum, though w/ some devices explained blow, closer distances can be obtained, allowing for greater light intensity, and more useable light– REMEMBER light intensity decreases greatly w/ just a few inches, so make sure you got them as close as they can be w/o burning the tops of the plants. Here are the types of lighting you will want to use for both cycles-

Vegetation- When a plant is in this stage (first 4-6 weeks for a seedling, first 2 – 6 for a clone) it is growing new leaves, and growing taller, bushier, and starting to develop tops, or, nodes, where flowers will begin to develop in later stages. In this stage, cannabis uses/requires a light rich predominately in the Blue Spectrum. Lights under this spectrum include Flourecents, Compact Flourecents (small curly phillips bulbs), and Metal Hallides. Metal Hallides are the best out of all three, but also the most costly to purchase/run. Plants grow faster under Metal Hallides than they will under flourecents- HANDS DOWN- HOWEVER- the growth is only advanced by about a week, and you can't put them as close to the plants as flourecents. I choose to use Compact Flourecents and tubes (home depot). Both put out a blue spectrum, very clean light. I mostly used compacts from "Lights of America" They will fit into any standard light socket. I chose the 200watt bulbs, which put out 200watts worth of light, but only consume 45watts of power. Very cost effective to run, and to grow with- You can place them 1 – 2 inches from the tops of your plants, ensuring close internodal growth, for tight thick buds. Also cuts the amount spent on electricity by more than half, and lessens the chance of detection.

Flowering- During this stage, the plant uses more orange/red light. Now if you're using metal hallides, or flourecents, to veg, neither will be good for flowering- using these to flower makes for loose, airy, whispy buds not worth smoking Here is where you will want an HPS system. I use the 400watt Pro ultra-lite from HydroFarm. Very good light, and great reflector- Currently i'm using it w/ a 19 dollar 400watt HPS Bulb from phillips, purchased at homedepot- there are MUCH better more expensive bulbs to get, which are aimed at growing, but many growers have used and reported great results with this in-expensive bulb- Myself included – You can't just go out and buy an HPS bulb, and stick it into a socket you got lying around.. Doesn't work that way. H.P.S (High Pressure Sodium) requires a ballast that supports this type of bulb. Better to just splurge 200 bucks for the entire system from Hydrofarm. Well worth it. 400watt HPS will flower out 3 – 5 plants beautifully, given the plants are within 12 inches of the light. 4 being optimal. Thats all I grow, so thats cool for me. some of you might have something bigger planned- for this , go w/ the 1000watt system- can't go wrong here you can grow about 8 plants comfortably packed together under the 1000watt lights, (given a good reflector) for anything more than 8 you'll obviously need a multi-lamp setup consisting of multiple Tubes for veg'ing and multiple 1000watt HPS lamps for flowering.

Soil/Medium( moisture, pH Levels ect)- The soil, or medium you use to grow your plant is a MUST- you cannot scrimp here either- the dirt from your mom's flowerbed just won't cut it You're going to want to get some good potting soil, preferabbly organic w/ added compost- You can find this ANYWHERE they sell soil. NOTE: For ease of use, make sure its NOT pH balanced (set to 7.0) – THis means you gotta lower the pH which takes longer than raising it, which you will need to do w/ soils that haven't been balanced. You can Raise your pH using organic limestone, and you can Lower your pH by using organic sulphur. pH Level for growing cannabis is a must- you won't ever get anywhere near the full yeild, or quality of the plant w/o keeping the pH and nutrient levels at peak for cannabis. Optimal pH level for growing cannabis in Soil is 6.2 – 6.5, depending on strain- Sativas will definately want closer to 6.2, while indicas will to nicely around 6.4, 6.5 for a hybrid? Just go 6.3, can't go wrong Now, you can also buy a pH test meter when you buy your soil, and sulphur/limestone, since the place will most likely carry it. Test the pH of your soil, use the appropriate additives to raise/lower it, depending on your needs… get it to around 6.2 to 6.5 on the meter, and you're ready to plant your seed, or clone. For Hydroponic applications using rockwool or growrox, 5.5 to 5.8. pH, once again, is VERY important- the pH level in your growing medium is controlled by the levels of nutrients in it. If one nutrient is outta whack, this leads to a compounding, or dominoe effect and will cause real problems if not total crop failure- so pay attention to the pH in your soil regularly, and your hydroponic solution/medium DAILY!!!!!!!!!!!

Environment-Another important aspect of growing is your overall growing environment- this pretains to Cleanliness, Basic Air Quality, air circulation, temperature, humidity. Always be clean- dirty conditions mean dirty end product, and perfect place for moulds, and insects- CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN Basic air quality is the most basic part of good a good environment- if you have stale, dusty air, you're gonna have problems, and this is where good cirulation comes in. Good air quality can be achieved by having a clean grow area, and using purifiers.

Circulation can be/is acheived by using fans, and intake/exhaust blowers. You will always want to have air blowing on your plants– you can use small uni-directional fans, or larger oscillating fans, depending on space- for closet applications, as w/ mine, i use the smaller type. mine have clips like a clipboard has for mounting to a curtain rod This is important to help your plant dispose of toxins that it prespires through the pores in it's leaves, by keeping air moving over their surfaces almost constantly- This ALSO keeps heat from the light/lights off your plants, and prevents against burning. Further cooling from lights can be achieved by purchasing and installing exhaust/intake blowers for the light hoods/reflectors. My system from HydroFarm has the option to buy a reflector w/ an exhaust port, which allows you to mount a fan and 3 inch ducting to the hood, to exhaust the air up and out of your area- this will let you move your plants some 6 inches closer- haveing a fan blowing cool fresh air onto the light, ducted from outside the area gives you another 4 inches- Which brings us to

Temperature Cannabis will grow in temps ranging from 45F to 105F- though this entire range is not ideal.. Cannabis grows OPTIMALY from 68F to 85F. Hotter conditions = faster growth, but also to lower Alkaloidal (THC) content and more humidity (discussed later). Colder conditions result in slower growth, and a drier climate- If you live where it is very cold, you could possibly need a heater and the opposite might be true if you live in a very hot area- just remember the temps it thrives in, and try and keep it within those barriers. to keep constant track of temp, I use a digital thermometer/humidity meter from Radio Shack- it uses 2 tripple 'a' batteries, and has a small probe w/ a 6 foot cable length to measure different areas (hot spots/pockets ect ect)

Temperature Cannabis will grow in temps ranging from 45F to 105F- though this entire range is not ideal.. Cannabis grows OPTIMALY from 68F to 85F. Hotter conditions = faster growth, but also to lower Alkaloidal (THC) content and more humidity (discussed later). Colder conditions result in slower growth, and a drier climate- If you live where it is very cold, you could possibly need a heater and the opposite might be true if you live in a very hot area- just remember the temps it thrives in, and try and keep it within those barriers. to keep constant track of temp, I use a digital thermometer/humidity meter from Radio Shack- it uses 2 tripple 'a' batteries, and has a small probe w/ a 6 foot cable length to measure different areas (hot spots/pockets ect ect) HumidityImportant important important- Another common myth is that the more humid the air, the better the quality of the end product- FALSE- absolutely false- Humidity level can be tested using an in-expensive humidity meter from Radio Shack or the like. Now, in very low humidity conditions, cannabis won't be assimilating moisture as much through it's leaves, and they'll be very skinny. In high humidity conditions, cannabis isn't as able to prespire toxins through the leaves, and will develop very broad leaves, in order to create more of an area w/ which to prespire these plant toxins ect ect. Optimal humidity is about 40%. We are speaking in terms of growing for QUALITY purposes – In a room w/ high humidity levels, the plant won't need to produce as much plant resins to keep the leaves from drying out- it's always moist, and so the plant won't produce those hearty juices we've all come to know and love. In a room w/ lower humidity levels, or drier conditions, the plant will produce more resins, to protect itself from drying out. When humidity is correct, plants have very shiney leaves because of the increase in production of these resins. More Resins = Better Cannabis.

Co2 (carbon dioxide)- Carbon dioxide levels can boost plant growth by 300%!!!!!!! Though not without cost!!! You will give your plant/plants enough Co2 by simply opening your space and being around them for a few minutes a day- However, you can Co2 Enrich your atmosphere by using Co2 generators or generation techniques- Co2 generators do the job for you, on the fly- they are however VERY expensive hehe. Generating Co2 yourself is much easier, cost effective, and down right FUN! Get yourself some Spring water, Brewer's Yeast (though plain yeast will do) and sugar- a 1 – 2 gallon container, some clear PVC hose, a large punching balloon, and a small hand clamp- following is for a 1 gallon container- 4 – 6 cups sugar, 2 – 5 cups yeast, fill 3/4 of way up w/ water- now, get a small 'T' connector that will fit your clear PVC hose- drill the lid to your gallon contaner and slip the Lip of the T connector in, leaving an L outside- seal the spaces if any, around where the connector fits into the lid- attatch your punching balloon to one of the free Connections on the T connector, and stick your PVC hose on the other-, now, clamp the tip of the hose w/ your clamp, and make sure everything is sealed- after about 7 days, the ballon will have filled up w/ Co2 that has been generated by the chemical reaction between the sugar/yeast/water- When the balloon is mostly full, take the clamp off the tip of the hose and let the Co2 flow for about 5 – 10 minutes, or until the balloon is 1/2 or 1/4 full. Let it sit a few more days until the baloon fills up again- then re-apply Co2 to the air- you'll have to re-make this mixture about every 5- 6 times, or, when it just won't produce any more and the balloon isn't filling up.

Germination Get good seeds from good seed distributors, and germinate in glasses of distilled water, until seeds crack and fall off and a small sprout is in bottom of glass. Plant them, and put under 12 hours of light, and 80% of them will be female- If you start them under 20 hours, 80% chance of male- but w/ 2 – weeks starting out on 12/12, they'll almost ALL be female!@!!!!!

Watering- Soil/Hydroponics- For soil- This is where basic common sense comes in- don't over water, don't underwater- both lead to nasty deficiencies- Water until it drains out the bottom of your pot- most pots come w/ runoff dishes- let the water fill up in them, then emtpy them.. NEVER LET YOUR PLANTS SIT IN DRAINAGE WATER. Do this every 7 days, or, do the finger test- If you can stick your finger 1 – 2 inches into the soil, and its wet, or moist you're good- if you do this and its noticably dry, its time to water- simple as that- For hydroponics, you'll definately need timers, and if you're growing w/ hydro, you already know this, as your system probably came w/ one. Good note for beginners as well- Just buy the fucking hydro system- build one when your more experienced and can custom build one to your needs. Till then, let the experts make one for you get good on that, then customize one exactly to your needs— Using the items from the one you bought hhehe. My hydro system runs on 1 hour on, 1 hour off time, 24 hours a day. It's a cheap drip bucket system from general hydroponics. ITs called the "Water Farm" and is very good for small spaces, and VERY effective- it comes w/ nutrients and pump; everything you need to get started and to produce some good quality cannabis.

Nutrient Levels- SOIL/HYDROPONICS Related to pH, these are important- remember to keep pH for soil at 6.2 – 6.5 and for hydroponic solutions/mediums use 5.5 to 5.8 When you are veg'ing your plant, you should be using something like, miracle grow plant food (blue crystaline powder). very nitrogen rich, or something organic, along the same lines. Follow the directions for watering w/ these fertilyzers- easy to get too much or too little by eye'ing the amounts- both aren't good, so pay close attention to your water container's capacity, and the amounts for that capacity. For flowering you'll want to buy some Alaska Mor Bloom, or Shcultz Bloom Plus, or ANYTHING that is for blooming/flowering plants— mor bloom and bloom plus are the best. Hydroponics require very accurate nutrient measurements- there's nothing to soak up the excess nutrients except your roots when using hydroponic solutions/growrox combo, so make sure you get thigns right… this is ESPECIALLY important w/ rockwool, since rockwool tends to be more troublesome in that respect- make sure you take the right measurements using the right tools (this doesn't mean your eyes). get the levels of your nutrients perfect for the amount of water you're using, and pH test the SHIT out of it- Hydro solutions are easier to pH correct, since most just require the adding of liquids that come w/ your setup. (pH up and pH down).

Pruning and "Topping" or "Pinching"- Here's the simple thing w/ pruning- It is a common myth that when the larger Fan/Water leaves, become very large, that you should cut them off. This is false- Just leave them alone- These leaves act as sweat glands for the plant, allowing it to rid itself of plant waste/toxins. You can cut off the smaller leaves left behind when the plant was first starting out, but other than that, just try and leave them alone. HOWEVER- when your plant is budding, or, if a large leaf is covering a good Tip (node) then you can take that leaf off, to allow the Tip to develop, and in the end, get more light to produce a larger flower. Topping, or Pinching, refers to the fine artform (as it has developed into) of cutting off, or pinching off nodes in strategic places to allow for more bud development- you cut one, and two grow, basically- HOWEVER, propper topping isn't basic, and you should take great care in doing it- THe problem w/ pruning larger leaves can however be, for the most part, eliminated if you pinch the tip of the plant off at an early age- 3rd or 4th set. This will allow Two more tips to grow where you pinched the tip off. These will develop into (in most cases) 10 – 14 inch colas. Doing this early on is a proven technique, and great for smaller spaces- you end up w/ four to six thick ass colas, ranging in length from 8 inches to 14 inches; (though i've definately seen longer in pictures and in movies). A definate increase in yeild has been noted by everyone in the medical cannabis community.

LIght Cycles/Flowering times- Light cycles- Vegetation- For vegging, you can go from 16hrs to 20hrs. Never do 24 hours of light – that alters the plants genetics and phucks up its natural cycles- cannaibs needs and wants a dark cycle- this is when it does the majority of its growing. FOr a seedling, the more light you give it per day, the longer it'll take b4 its ready to flower- the same applies to clones, but since clones are already mature in their genes when you take them, more so than a seed, this time is shorter. I do 18 on 6 off for 45 – 60 days. For flowering you'll want to cut the light to 12hrs on, 12hrs off- some indicas require you do cut that down again toward the end of flowering to 10 on 14 off, and it might be good for your plants to do that anyway, and follow more, the natrual cycle of light w/ seasonal change. Flowering time refers to the total time from bud initiation (long white hairs) to bud completion. THis is another thing genetics will almost totally control. Most Sativas will need 4-6 weeks, while indicas will need at least 6 – 8 weeks to mature, and sometimes as long as 10 for FULL maturation, and peak potency.

Flushing- about the last 2 – 3 weeks of your plants flowering cycle, you need to cut off all fertylizers and start flushing it w/ plain water. This rids the plant of all the excess nitrogen and other nutrients and fertilyzers, and in the end, makes for a better cannabis, that tastes better- cannabis that isn't flushed is sparkly, and has a darker more black ash, and doesn't taste as good- cannabis that hasn't been flushed at all tastes flat out like shit. cannabis thats had propper flushing tastes sweet and succulent, as it should.

Harvest Time!!!There are simple ways to identify whether or not your plant is ready for harvest, and more complex ways, and both are covered. The simplest of ways is to look closely at buds every day of the 4th week on- well, 4th week for sativas, 6th for indicas. As the plant is nearing maturation or mature, you will see that pistil production has slowed or stopped (pistils are the hairs), and that at least, or over 80% of the Pistils (hairs) have changed from white in color to brown/orange/red/purple, whatever the color may be– NOTE: Black isn't good Also, you will notice that w/ many strains, the color of the crystals has began to go, or has gone from a clear, or whiteish to a darker pasty white, or gold. This is another sure sign, that your medicine is ready to be harvested. A more complex way to judge readiness is to use a magnifying glass or the magnifying reticle lense from a pair of binoculoars to look at the buds, and at the crystals (trichomes) You'll see that they look like little pillars w/ a ball on top-. When the ratio of crysals that have balls on top, to ones that don't reaches 50% or more, its time to harvest. You can harvest by cutting the entire plant at the base, or by clipping off buds as they become ripe- Clipping them off as they become ripe ensures that all buds are quality and mature, but, it tends to drag out, and take more time – its mostly better to just harvest your shit at once- If you are smart, and use the pinching methods explained above, you won't have to worry about immature buds on the bottom anyway

Drying and CuringDrying and curing are two different processes, that are similar, but very different as well. Don't stick it in a paper bag, don't put it out in the sun- a paper bag will raise risk of mold contamination, and the sun will leech our prised THC. After you've harvested, hang your buds, anyway you like, upside-down in a closet or room, or any other STERYILZED and CLEAN place that had good ventilation and air circulation- you'll want the humidity at 50% to 60%. I use wire hangers and hang them in closet using the bottom branch as a hook. If you don't have good circulation or ventilation in the closet/room, simply use a small fan blowing near, not RIGHT on the buds- usually close the closetup, and blow a TINY bit of air through the cracks- this protects against mold and other pathogens (bacteria). Leave them hanging for 5 – 7 days. The buds will be dry and crispy on the outside, but still very fluffy and squeezable (very moist inside) This is the actual drying process- Now comes Curing- The plant has sugars, starches and chlorophyl inside it. If you simply dry , or quick-dry the buds, they'll taste crappy, smoke harshly, and smell like hay. Who the FUCK wants that?!?!? So now, that you've evaporated most of the water, you must cure it. Curing buds lets the sugars, starches and chlorphyls break down over more time, which softens the smoke, sweetens the taste and smell, and in the end, makes for a far more potent end product. So, you've had your harvest hanging in your drying area for 5 – 7 days- its become crispy on the outside, still squeezable. Stick it inside an airtight tupperware container and burp it once a day for 60 minutes a burp for 7 more days- Burping = Opening the lid and letting it sit for 60 minutes then sealing it again. It MAY take longer to cure your bud, depending on moisture level. generally it takes 7 days, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter- What this is doing, is allowing the moisture from the middle of the buds to re-disperse to the outside of the buds- you open the container (burp) for 60 minutes a day, and the moisture that went from the middle of the bud, to the outside of the bud, is evaporated. Then you seal the container again- the moisture from the middle of the bud goes to the outside of the bud and so on until all the moisture in the bud has been slowly evaporated. This makes for a nice potent smoke. Buds are finished curing either after 7 days, or when they are no longer spongey, and the stems are dry and snappable.

Ok hope that all helps everyone- i know it all helped me when i most needed it. Another took I used to identify the start of a deficiency, and used to help me fix it, as well as make my buds the best they could be, was the 'How To Grow Medical Marijuana CD' Made by Steve and Michelle Kubby- THe kubby's are 2 of the leaders in the fight against cannabis prohibition, and Steve kubby helped write Prop 215 in California. Both are medical cannabis patients. 2 cd set is the most VALUABLE took a beginner can have- from beginners all the way up to experienced users. TONS of info all in one CD. Everything from seed germination to cloning to harvest ect ect is covered, and w/ many good videos. I would definatly suggest you get this if you're serious about growing, and just starting out, w/ very minimal resources for howtos. This is all info on howto grow medical grade cannabis, and I guarantee you, it all works.


Posted – July 1st, 2010
under CannaLogic
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Table of Contents

Acquiring Good Outdoor Cannabis Seeds

Finding a Site

Making a Trail

The Mechanics of Growing
a. Preparing the Soil
b. Planting
c. Weeding
d. Removing Males
e. The Fungus
f. Emergency Visits

The Harvest

When to Harvest

Acquiring Good Seeds for Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation
Quality cannabis seed strains are often difficult to obtain. This is especially true for people who hang in a predominantly straight crowd and know few people who partake in the fine erb. The rule of thumb is if the weed gets you pretty high then the seed is usually good to grow. Seeds coming from green bud are often better to grow because the strain is frequently acclimated to the growing season of northern latitudes. Jamaican and Colombian varieties can not be easily produced in northern latitudes because the strains produce bud too late in the season. The results of growing these varieties in most of the U.S. will be little or no bud growth before the first frost hits. Sativa strains usually grow taller than the indica or indica-sativa hybrids. This can be a major drawback especially in the fall when other plants are dying off and trees are losing leaves. Some growers have success crossing sativa varieties from southern climates with Indica, and creating an offspring that will bud more timely.

When at parties, concerts, or other social events, keep an eye out for people breaking up bud and discarding seeds. The best time to look for seeds is from October to January because this is when most of the locally grown outdoor erb hits the market. Acquiring and maintaining a quality seed stock is the most fundamental task of a successful grower.

Finding a Site
Aside from acquiring good seed, picking a prime location to grow is probably the most important task a grower is faced with. One of the best locations is in areas of grasslands that have small trees and bushes interspersed. Often a farmers field that has been out of production for ten years is ideal. Flood plains along rivers and streams are another good location, but the risk of losing seeds in the Spring or the harvest in the Fall due to flooding should be considered. Growers have also been known to plant in buckets in more rocky or mountainous terrain. This enables them to grow in areas that receive good sunlight but have rocky, untillable soil. Digging a site in areas of dense but short plant growth, like sticker bushes, is another suitable spot. The sticker bushes grow high enough to prevent people from seeing through them and also serve as a direct deterrence from people and large animals wandering into the site.

A grower can often use animal and insect life to his advantage. Bees, tics, green flies and the like can discourage people from wandering through fields so areas having an abundant insect population are prime locations. The most important criteria for an excellent growing site are good soil, available water, sunlight, and suitable cover. Other factors are secondary.

Good soil is sometimes hard to find but without it you won't get much of a harvest. So, if you find a site that is perfect for all other factors but has poor soil , you may want to consider bringing soil to the site. Soil is often the richest in areas where grassland vegetation has existed for a series of years. Grasslands recycle nutrients in the soil and form a thick layer of organic matter. Grassland biospheres require very little preparation to start growing, while other soil conditions require more work. Sandy soils often need potting soil or top soil along with a small amount of lime to make them more fertile. Soils with high amounts of clay need material, like peat moss, added to break up the clay and make the soil more porous. I'm a naturalist and disagree with some erb growing professionals who believe that planting along road sides can be productive. The lead and other toxic chemicals found in some of these soils is enough to discourage many vegetable growers from producing consumable or smokable plant material. If you live in a city, and lack your own means of transportation then use roadsides as your last resort.

A close water source is also very important. A site close to the water table would be ideal since bringing water into the site can get tiresome and also dangerous. It can get very tiresome if you have many sites or even a few big sites. If you choose a site much higher than the water table or grow in buckets, you will quickly find that the amount of water needed during a dry summer will be enormous and will give you great incentive to find a site closer to the water table. The dangers in having to bring water to the sites are numerous. The greatest of these would be the chance of someone spotting you, possibly a cop. The second greatest would be the destruction of the foliage you have to walk through to get from the water source to the site. If you have to make more than one trip you run a big risk that a trail will become noticeable. Finding a stable water source in the summer can be another obstacle since small streams often dry up at this time. How often you will need to water is determined by the weather and that could require you to make unexpected trips to the sites. Each trip puts you at risk. Your goal is to minimize these trips.

Sunlight is less important than the previous two components but is still essential. Plants should be in areas that receive at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Morning sunlight is preferable since plants tend to respond better to it than to the afternoon sunlight. Growers who scout sites during the winter months must be able to visualize how the landscape will be shaded by trees, and the path the sun will take come Spring. Of course, the greater the amount of sunlight the better, but when choosing a site sunlight is just one of many factors that must be considered.

The last criteria has nothing to do with plant biology, but rather focuses on minimizing the threat of unwanted attention from people wandering by. The cover should be both tall enough to keep people from spotting it and thick enough to discourage them from wandering too close to it. The best foliage to accomplish this is a large patch of big sticker bushes. If that's not available, look for foliage that grows to a height of six to eight feet by the fall and is far enough away from where someone might stray.

The Ability to hide plants amongst the flora in fields is an art and skill improved upon through practice. One favorite technique is to hide plants on the south side of bushes so that passers by will have difficulty spotting the plant(s). Plants still get adequate light in spite of the appearance of being crowded by the larger bush. The best hiding spot for erb is where people have their view blocked from all sides and has the appearance of being impenetrable. In areas where the vegetation growth is less than three feet the erb may need to be trimmed back or tied to the ground in order to create smaller bushier plants. Fields with small vegetation growth may have poor soil or can be dry upland environments where the soil frequently becomes too dry so use caution. Making erb junior blend in with the other plants in the field will minimize risk. In order to grow plants efficiently, an outdoor grower must use the natural landscape to his or her advantage.

Making a Trail
One of the ways to ensure success is by creating trails that are not visible to passers by. This is easier in some places than in others. Areas having dense undergrowth with lots of sunlight can be ideal because plant growth is so rapid it will erase any damage to the vegetation between trips during the Spring and Summer. If you are growing plants in areas easy to spot trails then make the path weave back and forth so it becomes difficult for people to see a trail. Making a hidden trail to the site(s) is important because it allows the grower to minimize getting ripped off or worse, caught. People wander through undeveloped areas and follow trails to nowhere all the time. Their access can be limited through thoughtful planning of pathways and proper care in using them. When you walk through your entrance, do everything possible not to damage any of the foliage, especially toward the late Summer and early Fall. At this time of the year, damaged foliage usually will not regrow and this is when the plants need as much cover as possible. There are two things to keep in mind when making a trail to your site(s): 1) Can you see the trail you just made, if not that's great, if so look for ways to cover areas that look like a trail; 2) The more difficult it is for you to get to the site, the less likely someone else will try.

The Mechanics of Growing Outdoors

Your cousin Louie and his friend Sam are in town from Oklahoma and they have smoked a lot of grass and grown some in their backyards. Sam has a good rap, and appears knowledgeable about fine erb. Taking these two gentlemen for a walk in the fields might appear to be a good idea. Shit, they could offer some insightful pointers. I must caution against these excursions. Even if these men are the erb experts they appear, taking a walk with them may not be in your best interest. They are unfamiliar with the area and may not know where to run if the need arises. Walking with more than two people through a field can attract attention (the greater the number of people, the greater chance of being seen). The more people walking on a trail the larger the trail becomes and thus the greater the chance your trail can be followed by others. Every time you visit the site(s) you are putting the harvest and for that matter yourself at risk. This may be a small or large risk depending on the particular place but remember that no place is 100% safe. Unless it is an emergency situation where the buggy fly has infested your crop, and you are bringing in a specialist to offer expert advice, the site(s) should not be visited by strangers. Having a growing partner is recommended regardless of his or her competence, and even then the site(s) should only be visited to accomplish specific tasks. Trips to the site should occur at the following times.

1. Preparing The Soil:
(early March – Mid April depending on climate)

I suggest buying 40lb. bags of organic potting soil and mixing this in with the existing soil. This soil is not often found at your local all-purpose store so some searching may be required. Potting soil is richer soil than commercial top soil so it goes a little bit farther when mixed with the existing soil. Lime may be necessary in areas with acidic soil and peat moss is a good additive for soils with a clay type consistency. I avoid chemical fertilizers, not just because I believe that organic farming is the best way, but also because toxic waste is produced from the manufacture of fertilizers.

It's also a good idea to put up a two foot high fence at this time. This will keep small animals out and the use of dried blood and/or human hair will fend off deer. Purchase a wire fence with small gaps, 2 inches or less between the metal strands. Collect enough sticks in the area to provide stakes that will support the fence about every 2 feet. Outline the site with the sticks and tie the fence to the sticks with string or wire. Cut the fence endstrand and bend the strands that protrude from the top of the fence out and down the outside to discourage animals from trying to jump over it. Camouflage the fence and site with normal ground debris as necessary before leaving.

2. Planting:
(early April – early May)

There are different ways to go about planting:

A) The seed intensive method:

This method of growing cannabis outdoors should only be used if you have an abundance of seeds. The seed intensive method entails planting many seeds in a small area. Its strength is that it can limit risk. When you journey to your newly prepared site(s), the seeds and trowels are hidden in your pockets. Plant the seeds about one half inch deep, unless the soil contains high amounts of clay then only plant seeds one quarter inch in the soil. If you setup small sites 3ft x 3ft square, put in three rows with a seed every one and a half inches. If you work out the Math this is roughly 72 seeds per site. Unfortunately, many growers, especially beginners, do not posses this many good seeds. If a grower creates four sites with this many seeds he or she is almost guaranteed a harvest. Yes, there will be some crowding and this is one of the drawbacks of using many seeds in a small area. Also, figure around 50% of the plants are going to be male so you must return to the site to cut out the males toward the end of Summer. Once the males are removed from the site, the females get more light and aren't as crowded. The seed intensive strategy tends to produce smaller plants because of crowding, but at the same time it helps ensure a harvest every season. In the present day of infrared photography, I believe it is important to have small sites to avoid detection from the air. This of course means growers may have to create a series of small plots in order to garner a year's supply of erb. If you grow merely for hobby, sport, or experimental purposes, than one site may suit you fine.

B) Planting small seedlings:

The strongest argument for this method of planting is that you get the opportunity to select for planting the strongest of the seedlings you've started. The strongest argument against this method is the risk of transporting the seedlings to their intended site(s). Transporting them requires you to find a method of concealing them, usually a box. The problem that then arises is that the size box needed to transport many plants may make this method too risky or totally impractical. The other concern with this method is that there is also the risk of shocking the seedlings when you put them outside in the site where they will be exposed to the harsh Spring weather. Before planting seedlings or sexed females they should be put outside and closely monitored at least three days before planting to become acclimated to the wind and change in temperature.

This method works best when you can set up a small shelter near your sites that is enclosed but not insulated. This shelter can be as small as the site and 18 inches tall or big enough to walk in, providing you have a safe location for such a structure. Starting seeds in this shelter gives the benefit of acclimating seedlings to a temperature much closer to that which they will face when they are planted in the site and it will also protect them from any late Spring snows and/or frosts.

C) Planting sexed females:

The advantage of planting sexed females is obvious; every plant will produce buds. The sex of plants can be determined by growing them until they're four inches high, and then decreasing the amount of light they receive to eight hours. The males are then identified and removed in one to two weeks. This method requires being able to control the amount of light the plants receive each day, and also requires that plants be started indoors earlier than you would normally start (late February – early March). This method allows growers to spread their plants across a wide area in smaller sites and also to hide plants amongst small trees and shrubs. By spreading two dozen female plants throughout a ten acre area in individual sites, a harvest is almost guaranteed, providing that you remember where all the sites are. Growers are encouraged to create a map of their sites to insure against memory loss. Just remember to guard that map closely. Putting anything about your operations in writing puts you at risk.

3. Weeding:
Three weeks after the plants or seeds are in the ground return to remove weeds that are crowding out the kind erb. Three weeks after the first weeding a second weeding should take place. A third weeding is optional, by this time the plants should be large enough to compete with the weeds, however, if you are in a site that has strong weeds around it you may have to cut the weeds back at additional times throughout the year. Remember, weeding does not mean destroying all vegetation within three feet of a plant. Weeds can help hide your crop and protect your crop from hungry animals. Nearby vegetation can also help keep water in the soil from evaporating in the hot sun. So don't go overboard and be very careful, it's very easy to accidently injure small plants or their roots trying to get rid of weeds.

4. Removing Males:
(If you are growing sexed females these trips can be omitted)

Male plants will begin to produce their flowers and pollen as early as mid July for varieties acclimated to this climate. Varieties from more southern climates, may not start until mid September. This difference depends on the budding cycle of your variety, some plants start to bud earlier than others, so the exact time to cut the males will vary with the strain. If you are using a variety of different seeds it may be necessary to visit once a week from July 21 through September 15. The timely identification of a male plant is crucial to the success of the harvest. If the weather is exceptional during the time a male starts producing its flowers and you missed seeing the first signs during your last visit, you could wind up with a lot of seeds and little of the fine erb. A female can either generate a large seedless bud, a large bud with a few seeds, or a large bud that is almost totally seeds. The first case is achieved by removing all the male plants before any of their flowers open. The second case occurs when a few male flowers have opened but you remove them before any more open. The third case occurs when you miss-time the flowering of the male. This can be devastating if you have big female plants because you could loose 90% of the smokable erb to seed production. This last scenario may not always be bad though. If you are short on seeds for the next growing season, it may be prudent to let one or two males stand and fertilize a portion of the females. Good seeds are hard to come by, so if you have a strain you like, make sure to plan ahead and have at least a few hundred seeds for the future. The spotting of males is one of the most difficult of things to explain to a person that's never grown since it really takes careful attention to how the tops of male plants look at this stage of development. Even experienced growers will be unsure at times and will have to wait till the next visit to be sure. When a male enters the stage of flower development, the tips of the branches where a bud would develop will start to grow what looks like a little bud but it will have no white hairs coming out of it.

5. The Fungus:
Along with cops, thieves, animals, and insects, "the fungus" is another obstacle in the path of a successful growing season. When the buds are roughly half developed they become susceptible to a fungus or bud rot. It appears that growing conditions for the fungus are best when temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees and the humidity is high. The fungus is very destructive and spreads quickly. It is a spore type of fungus that travels to other buds via the wind so it is impossible to prevent or stop if weather conditions permit it to grow. If things should go badly and the fungus starts to attack your plants, you must remove it immediately or it will spread to other areas of the plant or plants. Some growers will remove just the section of the bud that is infected whereas other growers will remove the entire branch. Removal of the entire branch better insures that the fungus is totally removed, and also enables the grower to sample the crop a few weeks ahead of time. The main point in removing the fungus is to be very careful. Since it is a spore type of fungus, the accidental jerking of an infected bud will release some of the spores and they could fall onto a lower bud so by the next visit, you might have to pull that bud too. Also be careful in touching the fungus with your fingers because your fingers could pick up the spores and then when you touch the next bud, the spores could cling to it and start eating away at that bud.

6. Emergency Visits:
The Real Estate and Construction Industries have conspired to develop housing near your crop and their "progress" must be monitored. A hurricane or tropical storm with winds over 50 miles per hour has visited your area. A drought takes place. etc. One of the drawbacks of growing outdoors is that you can not control for interference by outside forces. Emergency visits may be necessary but don't go crazy every time there's a bad storm. These plants are strong and can take some punishment.

The Harvest
Performed at night if possible. A nighttime run will limit the chances of someone seeing you is a good technique of how to grow cannabis outdoors. Do the most risky parts, such as carrying freshly cut erb where you could easily be spotted by a passing car, when the police jurisdiction changes shift. This can help ensure that officials do not spot you, and if a nosey nearby resident or passerby calls the police, it may take time before a car is dispatched to investigate. If harvesting at night, use flashlights sparingly so as not to attract attention, and bring extra batteries just in case(the rechargeable kind are recommended). When harvesting more than a couple of plants remember a small pocket knife because it makes the night move quicker. Unless you are planning to use the large fan leaves for cooking, remove them in the field so they don't take up a lot of space. If you have more than one variety of erb that you are harvesting bring various bags to put the different strains of buds in, and I would suggest using backpacks for travel to avoid suspicion and for easy handling.

When to Harvest

The time to harvest your outdoor cannabis cultivation depends on several factors: bud development, weather, fungus, and thieves. Some pot strains mature earlier in the fall than others, depending on the latitude of the globe where the strain originated. You will need to pull Indica varieties in late September and Columbian varieties in late October. The weather may also force you to pull early. If there is a severe freeze heading your way, you are better off not chancing that the weathermen are wrong and pull at least a majority of what you have. Another case for pulling early is if weather conditions are perfect for the fungus to run wild. This will also force you to pull early. And of course if your site has been found or is in great danger of being found, you must pull everything to avoid loosing out on what would otherwise have been a great year. For instance, if you have a site in a corn field or other temporary situation, the harvest must occur at a point in time relatively independent of weather. Also try to find out if and when hunters start to roam the fields.

One other thing to watch for is frost. Even a mild frost can damage plants so watching the weather closely in late September and throughout October is important. If your plants do get damaged by frost the erb is still harvestable so don't give up entirely if you fail to chop before the first frost. If by some freak chance there is a frost in early September and the buds are still very small you may want to allow the damage to occur and then let the buds finish maturing rather than harvesting a small quantity of premature buddage. This type of situation is an on the spot call and you must consider many factors, such as bud size, weather predictions for the following weeks, strain of weed, location of site, etc., before deciding. Indica varieties usually mature sooner than sativa varieties, and the best time to harvest varieties acclimated to the Northeast is from late September to mid October. Those varieties not acclimated to the Northeast, such as Columbian or Jamaican, are best left to late October or even mid November if the weather permits. One other thing you want to avoid is harvesting in the rain. Moisture can lead to problems in the drying process such as molds and fungi. The dryer the plants at the harvest date the better.

As mentioned before, it is important to acquire seeds from strains that can be grown at the latitude you are at, some Mexican or Colombian varieties may not develop mature buds until November and by then the weather becomes harsh. Knowing when your plants will mature is difficult for beginners or growers using new seeds for the first season.

Planning and getting to a good drying location quickly is important so the buddage is not left in bags for longer than a few hours. If the freshly harvested bud remains in bags for too long (12 hours or more), molds and fungus will begin to destroy the erb. Once you get to your drying location you need to prepare the erb for drying. This entails removing excess fan leaves and other larger leaves. However, if the drying spot has a temperature higher than 85 degrees it may be beneficial to leave a few large leaves to keep the buds from drying too quickly. Typical places to dry are attics, closets, dresser drawers, and basements. The best position for a bud to dry in is hanging upside down in a location where air can circulate all around it. If you are fortunate to have a location that you can do this in, great, otherwise use a dresser drawer or some other concealed place. If you dry the buds in dresser drawers remember not to double stack the buds or the weight of the upper layer of buds will cause a flat spot on the buds underneath. Also remember to rotate the buds every day so the erb dries uniformly and you can check for any signs of mold or fungus. If space permits and you are able to retrieve the whole plant, roots and all, you can hang them upside down by the roots, but don't expect this drying procedure to yield higher quality bud. THC does not drain from the roots down into the buds, the THC forms in the resin on the buds. The entire drying process should take place over four to six days depending on the size and variety of bud, the temperature, and the relative humidity of the drying area. If the buds are dried too quickly, the flavor of the erb will become more harsh and the THC level may not reach its potential. If the pot is dried too slowly then molds and fungi may develop and have a similar effect. With any method of drying, the process must be monitored on a day-to-day basis. Room temperature is fine for drying as long as the humidity is kept low. If drying must take place in a cool damp place then a fan and possibly a heater should be installed to compensate.