Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Thursday, September 28, 2006

HyOx, Temperature, and Wet Betty

The daytime temperature of your grow room should be a constant 75º F and there shouldn’t be more than a 10º fluctuation at night. Around this time of year, when night time temperatures plummet, make sure that you have at least one oil-filled radiator in your indoor garden. I have one and I’m thinking of getting a second one.

I’ve got my exhaust and intake fans, as well as my heaters, attached to a thermostat. If the temperature varies from the optimum levels, either the fans kick in full blast or the heater goes on. In addition to the thermostat, it is important to have a reliable thermometer in the grow room, for a visual check of the situation. The old fashioned glass mercury jobs are probably better for this than the newfangled, digital kind.

The only reason that I’ve waited this long to buy a second oil-filled radiator is because I also use a CO2 burner, which generates major heat. I haven’t yet figured out how to hook this into central control, so I have it on a separate timer. Marijuana plants are funny that way—they grow better with CO2 in the air getting absorbed by their leaves, while their roots prefer to suck up oxygen.

HyOx is a wonderful Advanced Nutrients Medical product that guarantees that my ladies are getting enough oxygen through their root systems. Just by having a flood and drain (or ebb and flow) hydroponic system, provides a great deal of oxygen to the roots. Everytime the nutrient solution is drained back into the reservoir, the resulting suction fills the roots with fresh oxygen. But HyOx makes sure that even more oxygen reaches the part of the plant that needs it to thrive.

In my last posting I mentioned a pump failure incident. I forgot to say that Advanced Nutrients Revive, in addition to Wilt Stop, was instrumental in saving my medicine garden during that unfortunate accident. Revive pumps super chelated iron, zinc, calcium, nitrogen and other vital nutrients into your wilted plants and fills them with new vigor.

After such a stressful event, I always spray my plants with a solution of Piranha, in order to protect them against a whole slew of pathogens, including Fusarium, Phythium, Rhizoctania, and Sclerotinia. It is also great against gray mold and mildew.

The more I think about EPN Sensi Pro and that it might make it possible for Claire and I to harvest two pounds or more of our medicine per light, the closer I get to trying it. Since we only have one light, that means that we could harvest two pounds of grade A medicine every four months. We’d have to do an awful lot of blunts to get through that much before the next harvest.

I’ve also been eyeing the Organic Wet Betty label—all right, call me a dirty old man—but this “surfactant” transfer molecule thing makes sense to me. She promises improved growth and yield, as well as a better tasting smoke. I’ll give her a try, next time I visit my garden shop.

I’ve decided on the three sativas and three indica ladies that I’m going to plant in the six buckets. This time the strongest lady will become a Motherplant. I’ll be sure to buy Advanced Nutrients Very High Output (VHO) in order to feed her and her clones. Seeds are much harder to get these days and the quality ones are too expensive.

Of course I’m not forgetting about the cloning and rooting products made by Advanced Nutrients Medical. So I’ll have to stock up on Clone It, Jump Start, and No Shock to be sure. The tiny cuttings have so many strikes against them, it’s important to strengthen them and their roots with the proper inoculants and early nutrients.

Then, when my ladies reach the flowering stage, I’ll be giving them Hammerhead PK 9/18 to guarantee bigger buds and harvests. It has just the right ratio of phosphorus and potassium that cannabis ladies love. At that late stage they don’t need additional nitrogen.

Claire had another migraine the other day, but we managed to nip it in the bud, so to speak. A very fine tasting bud, as a matter of fact!

posted by Wes @ 11:17 PM 0 comments

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Washing clay pebbles, eyeing the females

This picture is not of my grow room, but that's an awful lot of medicine!

My fifteen to twenty seeds have germinated and now they’re under a fluorescent light stuck in rockwool cubes, growing into seedlings. As you know, I have a six-bucket ebb and flow (also known as flood and drain) hydroponic system, which I use to grow six large female plants, after I select the strongest ones from the seedlings to come.

My buckets are deep and my reservoir is large. This way the pump has to flood my growing medium (clay pebbles) less often, than if I was using a shallow bucket system. In between crops, it’s time to thoroughly wash the clay pebbles to avoid any kind of disease or infestation. Marijuana is unfortunately susceptible to a whole array of pathogens.

Once I select my six super females, I will treat my plants with Advanced Nutrients Medical's Barricade, Protector, and Scorpion Juice. Barricade utilizes potassium silicate to build strong cell walls and give my plants resistance to bugs, pathogens, drought, and help them maintain maximum metabolism.

Protector was designed by the plant scientists at Advanced Nutrients Medical to fight and prevent powdery mildew. Fungus is always a possibility in any grow room, so it’s best to nip it in the bud, so to speak. God forbid my buds should ever get mildew. Claire and I would be heartbroken, since you can’t smoke cannabis that has been infected by that insidious fungus.

Scorpion Juice inoculates my pot plants with Systemic Acquired Resistance, which wards off numerous additional pathogens. Using this trio of preventative products, I feel that I’ve given my “ladies” a fair fighting chance when it comes to diseases and infestations that have plagued cannabis since time immemorial.

Thank goodness, my deep bucket hydroponic system has a safety feature, in case the pump fails. Once we went away for three days and came back to find our plants on the wilting side. There is a bit of a reservoir around each bucket that the plants can rely on in an emergency, but I still had to administer Wilt Stop to my ailing ladies, in order to restore their vigor.

After talking to the technical advice guys at Advanced Nutrients Medical, I’m thinking of trying a crop cycle with different base nutrients than the ones I always use.

Sensi Pro EPN sounds very promising. According to the product description, it increases growth rate and yield, it’s extremely easy to use, and everything is measured and timed week-by-week to save you the hassles of measuring and figuring.

This is the one that might give me two or more pounds of my medicine per light. Claire and I have to ration our cannabis intake, in order to last the four month growing period between harvests. This product would enable us to use a little more, if we needed to.

I also looked at Sensi One Grow and Sensi One Bloom for their ease of use and simplicity. I have many other activities in my life, I don’t want to spend all my time in the grow room, if I don’t need to. These synthetic fertilizers also cost considerably less than the organic ones I’ve been using.

Not that I have any complaints against Iguana Juice Grow and Bloom. In conjunction with Bud Blood, Overdrive, and Colossal Bud Blast the organic regimen has produced a large quantity of quality buds that are drying as we speak.

As soon as my seedlings can be placed under the High Pressure Sodium light, I will treat them again with No Shock and Jump Start. This is in order to avoid any adverse effects of the transplantation, as well as to help them grow more quickly into stronger and more vigorous cannabis plants.

I’m already eyeing three indica and three sativa females as potential candidates for the deep buckets. But more time is needed before I can finalize my decision.

posted by Wes @ 7:43 PM 1 comments

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Slender Sativas, Bushy Indicas, September Surges

Remember large record albums? Record album photography was an art form and had a greater potential to grab the public’s imagination than today’s tiny (by comparison) CD covers.

I came across an old card that my daughter, Squirrel, made for my birthday four years ago, when she was barely five years old. I placed it in front of a great picture book, called “Hippie,” and other relics from the past, notably the CD of “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac, which must be the best ever album of all times. I find myself listening to it even today.

September seems to be the time for new beginnings, as kids return to school and people come back from their summer vacations. There is a high energy in the air, and my grow room is no exception. I am starting my new crop of medicine from seed, under fluorescent lights. First, I cleaned the entire room with Wipe Out to get rid of lingering pathogens, if any, from the last crop.

If you have fifteen or twenty marijuana seeds from a reputable seed company, chances are that some are going to turn out to be male, there will also be some hermaphrodites, and about 6 or 7 will be female cannabis plants, the most potent of the three. It is a process of selection, and it starts way before your seeds arrive in a plain brown envelope.

First, you must decide between sativa and indica. Sativa has thinner leaves and grows much taller, a characteristic not always desirable in basement grow rooms. Indica has broader leaves and grows bushier, but it sometimes gives you an incapacitating high, which isn’t exactly what you’re looking for in medicinal marijuana.

I ordered half-and-half, a hybrid sativa that only grows to five, six feet and a lighter indica, which won’t lay you out for the rest of the afternoon. I shied away from cloning or taking cuttings, since that is one of the best ways to perpetuate plant diseases and possible pests. But I promised myself that if I grow a really powerful “lady” this time, I will try to clone it for posterity. And use Advance Nutrients Clone It, since friends of mine had such great results with it.

I soak my seeds overnight, then I place them between wet paper towels and keep them in a dark place until they germinate. You have to keep them warm since this process happens best with temperatures around 75-80º F.

Once the initial shoot breaks through the skin of the seed, you may want to place the seeds very carefully in wet rockwool cubes and place them in a plastic tray with an airtight, transparent plastic cover. This is also sometimes called a humidity tent. To keep them warm, you may use a heating pad underneath and a fluorescent grow light above.

Tiny seedlings like these need 18 hours of light per day, but not high intensity yet. Advanced Nutrients makes several products to prevent damping off at this stage. This is usually caused by overwatering. The product No Shock was designed to help these tiny seedlings survive this very tender stage.

I also use JumpStart at the seedling stage to help my plants develop stronger roots. It’s never too early to treat them with Scorpion Juice, to inoculate them against all sorts of pathogens.

Remove the plastic cover and transplant the seedlings, rockwool cubes and all, into your grow medium. In my case, that is baked clay pellets. The fifteen, twenty seedlings can go into one big tray of pellets, with nutrient solution flooding and draining the medium periodically.

Since I grow organically, this is when my seedlings first get a taste of Iguana Juice Grow. They are also treated with the root enhancers Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice. These organic Advanced Nutrients products have had miraculous results on my medpot plants in the past, and I'm sure they'll continue to do so in the future.

For the first two to three weeks the fluorescent light is enough, then you can put the tray under the HID light of your choice. Just remember, blue light encourages female plants, while red favors male ones. Also, supposedly a higher nitrogen level and a lower potassium level for the first few weeks encourages females.

A few more weeks and it comes time for the selection process, when the weaklings are rejected and the strong females are positioned in hydroponic buckets to grow into mature plants, providing Claire and I with our most potent and helpful medicine.

posted by Wes @ 10:00 PM 0 comments

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ending, Cleansing, Starting Over

I refer to the period between having harvested my “ladies” and planting the next set of seeds as the “inter-regnum period.” This comes from having been a history student at college—it refers to the time between two kings.

Common sense cleanliness and good ventilation are the secret weapons against insects and fungi. These two super villains can ruin your whole crop and force you to be without your medicine until you can disinfect and replant.

The inter-regnum period is the time to disinfect your grow room. All plant debris must be removed, the hydroponic system has to be flushed and flushed over and over again, the walls and floors have to be wiped with Wipe Out, and all your tools should be cleaned thoroughly with Grandpa’s Isopropyl Alcohol.

There is a way of getting rid of viruses by heating the grow room to an unbearable level and cooking any pathogens present. Hopefully you don’t have a virus infestation, so you can skip this step.

A great book to buy is “Hemp Diseases and Pests,” by McPartland et al. Or you can just visit the Advanced Nutrients Medical website and look up the symptoms that your plants might have, then connect them with the appropriate disease, if any.

I’m reminded of the time when my grow room became infested with spider mites. These tiny arachnids are the most common indoor infestation known to anyone who has ever grown marijuana. Who knows how they got in—the eggs could have entered on our dog and brought into the room after I patted him. Or I could have trekked them in on the bottom of my shoes.

That infestation was a hallmark in my marijuana growing. Once we got rid of the bugs by regular spraying of Bug Away, I started using Scorpion Juice to inoculate my ladies against all sorts of pathogens and insects. Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR), imparted by this fantastic Advanced Nutrients product, gives them an edge to ward off infestations.

I also use Barricade and Protector regularly now. The former protects plants from the inside out so you don’t have to use poison to kill the infesters, while the latter was specifically developed to prevent and fight against powdery mildew.

Aphids, mites, and fungi don’t have a chance against Barricade. It heightens the plant’s immune response and deters predators. Used in a hydroponics context, Barricade helps plants to grow a tougher skin that naturally repels insects, diseases, and stress.

After that first and only spider mite infestations, I wasn’t going to take any chances. This regimen of fine Advanced Nutrients products works like a charm! Coupled with adequate ventilation to control humidity, it has kept my grow room free of problems for a considerable length of time!

Unlike other growers, I shy away from taking cuttings and cloning from a mother plant. You take a big chance each time you do that, although Advanced Nutrients does make products specifically for this purpose.

I check out their Medicinal Growers Forum quite frequently, and participants have a lot of nice things to say about Clone It, No Shock, Jump Start, and Wilt Stop. I’ve thought about propagating my plants in a different way from seed, and perhaps before the next harvest I’ll give it a try.

This coming generation of “ladies” will still have to be grown from seed. I’ve ordered the seeds in anticipation of the harvest, and they’ve arrived in a plain brown envelope. Buyer beware, order only from a reputable dealer. Check out the forum—word of mouth is a good indication of where the reliable, disease-free seeds are coming from.

posted by Wes @ 7:03 PM 0 comments

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Resin, Wipe Out, and Back to School

Cannabinoids are the potent part of the marijuana plant. THC is the best known, but there are also CBN and CBD. The resin glands, which are the crystalline coating on the buds, contain these cannabinoids on female marijuana plants. Male plants are basically used for pollination and seed production.

If you obtain your seeds from a reputable dealer, you don’t have to bother pollinating your female plants. In fact, the medicinal smoke is purer and more potent if the females are not pollinated.

How does one know when the ladies are ready to be harvested? Use a magnifying device to examine the resin glands on your flowers. If the resin stalks are beginning to fall over instead of standing up straight, harvesting should be done soon. Their bulbous heads might be turning an amber color and you can observe them breaking off.

My ladies went through their flowering stage in eight weeks, the same length as the growth stage. Some growers speed up this process, but I prefer to take it slow. But with Labor Day just around the corner, Harvest time is definitely here! Claire and I are so excited, we cut off a tiny bit of bud a week ago to sample last night. It was superb!

We usually harvest at the end of a 12-hour light cycle, and I disinfect my scissors with Grandpa’s Isopropyl Alcohol and I am very careful to wear gloves. The bodily oils on the tips of one’s fingers can adversely affect the potency of the resin. I cleaned a large walk in closet with Wipe Out and installed a large fan for air circulation. The drying of the buds must be done in a darkened room.

With precise digital scales, I usually weigh some sample buds at harvest. If you keep weighing these buds at periodic intervals as they dry, you are able to ascertain when the drying process is complete. When the buds weigh only 25% of what they weighed at harvest, you can put them into sterile glass containers for further processing. Our buds take six to ten days to dry, depending on size and the humidity of the drying room (which should be kept at 50%, with the temperature at 70º F.)

If you remember, during the last two weeks of flowering I didn’t add any fertilizers, and I applied Final Phase on a one day on, one day off basis, for one week. Then I gave my ladies nothing but clean water for the final week before harvest. This process eliminates any unwanted fertilizer taste, as well as purifies the buds in anticipation of harvest and drying.

Some growers cut the entire plant and hang it upside down to dry. I prefer a slightly faster method, which is to cut the buds at the base of the lowest developed flower on the stalk. I use wooden clothes pegs to hang the buds upside down by the stalk to a tautly stretched clothes line near the ceiling of the walk in closet.

After you put the buds into glass containers, you must open up the containers for two-hour periods in a sterile, non-humid environment every two days. Whatever moisture or residue is left will evaporate at this stage. Since the cannabinoids are unstable and constantly undergoing chemical changes, it is best to store your cannabis in a freezer or at least the lower part of your fridge. The buds must be handled very gently—any crushing or bruising will adversely effect the potency of your medicine.

Claire and I honor our cannabis after harvest—we silently thank the plants for supplying us with pain relief. We both look forward to being able to enjoy the fruits of our harvest. Then we have to use Wipe Out to clean the grow room from top to bottom, in anticipation of the next batch of medicinal marijuana which is about to enter our lives.

This is a time for taking stock, for making sure that we have just the right quality and quantity of seeds on hand to start growing again; as well as adequate supplies of Iguana Juice Grow and Bloom, Mother Earth Blended Organic Super Tea, Grow and Bloom, as well as Piranha, Tarantula, and Scorpion Juice, in order to make sure that our root systems will be the best possible for optimum disease resistance and nutrient absorption.

Squirrel is sad that summer is over, even though the temperatures are still high and the sun never stops shining. But she’s going back to school on Tuesday, and is not completely happy with the idea of her time not being entirely her own. She would like another two months off to rest up from the exertion of the summer months (even though she really didn’t exert that much energy).

Claire bought her some new clothes and a new knapsack, water bottle, and lunch container. She exchanged the Pokemon one for a more lady-like flowered box. “Our daughter is growing up,” said Claire, somewhat wistfully. I get wistful around harvest time, too, but for different reasons. I put so much love and care into raising my ladies, that I end up missing them!

posted by Wes @ 12:39 AM 0 comments