Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Friday, October 27, 2006

Transplanting and Nourishing Seedlings

This past week was the most heart-wrenching time for me as a medpot grower. I had to decide which ladies to keep, which seedlings to discard. When you pay several hundred dollars for a packet of seeds, it’s not an easy decision.

Luckily, I joined forces with an MS patient who is severely impaired in his mobility. Instead of throwing away the seedlings that were not chosen, I pass them on to him. He is not able to perform the intricate movements necessary to grow a pot plant from seed. His motor coordination is totally off.

I selected the three sativas and three indica ladies that I’ll transplant into my hydroponic buckets, and gave the rest to Nigel, which is the gentleman’s name. He was most grateful and offered me a box of mandarin oranges in return, which I happily accepted. Squirrel loves mandarin oranges and at this time of year the extra vitamin C could only benefit Claire and I, as well.

There are definite steps to follow in transplanting. First, dip your month-old seedlings into a weak solution of Scorpion Juice, in order to ward of harmful insects or pathogens. This product is especially good for horticulturalists who grow from cuttings or seedlings, since it counteracts damping off, which is one of the most insidious diseases that plague young plants.

Two days before you transplant, you should water your seedlings with a one-quarter strength solution of Organic B, if you prefer organics, or B-52, which is the synthetic version of Organic B, but it is much more cost effective.

Fill your hydro buckets or a 3-gallon container with your grow medium so it’s two inches from the top. In my case, this is baked clay pellets, which I find particularly effective.

Water your grow medium with a weak hydroponic fertilizer solution until it’s saturated and drains freely out the bottom of the container. I used to use Iguana Juice Grow, but this batch I decided to grow with EPN SensiPro, for the ease of administering the weekly packets. All you need is a pair of scissors to snip the foil pouch and presto, you’re in business.

I grew tired of having to measure week-by-week and pouring the liquid fert from the 10 Liter containers, having it splash all over my jeans. Now I can enjoy my time in the grow room and still be assured that my ladies are getting all the nutrition they need. EPN Sensi Pro promises to deliver two pounds per light.

If you used soil or peat to grow your seedlings, this is the time to remove the plastic mesh from the peat pot or the soil from the root ball of the seedling. If you grew them in rockwool cubes, you can transplant directly into your grow medium without having to worry about this.

In either case, you have to carefully place your seedling into the prepared hole in your grow medium. Make sure all roots are pointing downwards.

Gently push your grow medium in around the rootball. Make sure that the medium is in contact with the roots.

Water with a quarter strength solution of your fertilizer, as well as Piranha, which has eight species of Trichoderma, which are energetic colonizers that enhance root mass and prevent root rot.

For two or three days place these seedlings under the periphery of your HID light(s). When they look strong enough, you can place them under full light. At this stage of growth, plants love to get 18 hours plus a day of “sunlight,” or use a conversion bulb in your High Pressure Sodium light fixture, to give them light in the blue spectrum.

Now you can put your full strength fertilizer solution in your hydro system. I use an ebb and flow or flood and drain system, so I pre-mix in a bucket and pour the mixture into the reservoir when it has settled and the pH reading is correct.

I also use No Shock to protect my young seedlings from undue stress, as well as Jump Start, to give them a fair fighting chance to establish their roots and grow into large, healthy plants.

If at any time during this process you have allowed your seedlings to be deprived of water, you may want to use Wilt Stop to seal moisture in and stop the wilting process.

One of my six ladies is being groomed to be a motherplant for cloning, so I’ll be sure to stock up on VHO—Very High Output, which I can use as a foliar spray on my motherplant only, or I can put into my reservoir mix to spur vegetative growth in all my ladies.

Once I’m ready to cut branches off this motherplant for cloning, I’ll be sure to use Advanced Nutrients Clone It, which is the best product on the market for this delicate operation.

posted by Wes @ 1:17 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 20, 2006

Expert Advice, New Online Store

Spent an hour on the phone with the Advanced Nutrient Medical growers and patients support line guy, and it was a very informative session. I found out that the biggest pitfall for medpot growers is keeping the pH of your nutrient solution on the mark. It seems that many people mix their ingredients, take one pH reading and proceed with administering the solution to their plants.

Wrong thing to do! Most medpot growers are small-scale, so they mix in a bucket. If you’re using Barricade, add it the night before. This is because this product dissolves very slowly and it’s also highly alkaline.

Then mix the other ingredients the next day, and take pH readings every half hour, until you have two consecutive identical readings. That is a sign that your mixture has settled and you can administer it to your plants, provided that the pH is correct for your grow medium

In water, your pH should be 5.6. If you’re growing in coco coir, the ideal is 6 pH. In soil, what you should be aiming for 6.3 pH. Using Advanced Nutrients Medical pH Up or pH Down will help you to arrive at the optimum pH level. Since these products are concentrates, they are much cheaper than the competitors diluted pH correctors.

There are some rules of thumb that should be remembered, but are often forgotten. For instance--the man told me--synthetics are better for a hydro grow, since organics tend to clog up hydro systems. This is true especially for drip irrigation ones, but also the ebb and flow system which I have, since the recycling pump does have to be cleaned frequently, or else it clogs up.

So my intuition telling me that I should switch to EPN SensiPro wasn’t far off the mark. Also, the rule is one basic nutrient with one flower booster at a time. He warned me against using products like Bud Blood, Big Bud, and Overdrive at the very same time. “If you do, they will burn your pot plants to a crisp,” said he.

Bud Blood helps initiate flowering, so it should only be used during week one. These bloom enhancers should only be used in stages. Consult the Nutrient Calculator at the new Advanced Nutrients online store, if you’re not clear on this. Big Bud is to be used during weeks two, three, and four of flowering.

Overdrive is usually administered during weeks five and six. That gives you two weeks before harvest to run Sweet Leaf through your system and then to flush it with pure water, to get rid of any residual, unwanted taste.

He also explained that Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice should be used at half-strength only in a hydro situation, especially when Carbo Load Liquid or Powder is also used. The reason for this is that the carbohydrates in the latter product stimulate and increase the size of the microorganism colonies in your roots to such an extent, that they turn into a brown mush, covered in slime.

Don’t confuse this with root rot, since it has no smell. If you’ve been using the above products full strength in a hydro grow, the remedy is to flush your system with a mild solution of HyOx (see, there is a good use for this product!) in order to kill about 50% of the microbes. Then you can reintroduce the root colonizing products, but only at half strength.

If you’re growing in soil, using Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice full strength is okay.

When you’re growing cannabis, the temperature of your grow room is crucial. I’ve touched upon this in past postings. If the temp is high because of a CO2 generator (let’s say around 86º F) your plants will be fluffy, airy, non-resinous. If, however, during the last two weeks you lower to temp gradually to 73º F or thereabouts, you’ll get a tighter, more resinous harvest.

Your CO2 parts per million (ppm) should be the same as the ppm of your nutrient solution. Let’s say you start the flowering cycle at 800-1000 ppm, then you should increase your ppm by 200 each week up to week 4, then decrease it again—1000, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1400, 1200, 1000, and 800 ppm at harvest.

Don’t give your seedling CO2, until their roots develop and they have three or four leaves. Then you can start at 250 ppm, the following week 500 ppm, then up to 750 ppm all the way up to that thousand level, which is ideal until the beginning of the flowering stage. During the vegetative stage you can give your plants 18 hours plus a day of lighting, then if you want to induce flowering, cut back to 12 hours of light, followed by 12 hours of total darkness.

My hour on the telephone was well spent. I probably saved myself a lot of headaches by asking an expert.

posted by Wes @ 12:44 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 13, 2006

Compatibility, Seedling Health, Test Results

As I’m in the process of moving my seedlings from a fluorescent grow light to my 600W High Pressure Sodium light fixture, I just found out about another major change I need to make. A few postings back I was very enthusiastic about an Advanced Nutrients Medical product called HyOx. A fellow grower called it to my attention and the product description looked great on the Advanced Nutrients Medical website.

I just hung up the phone after talking to a very knowledgeable guy at the Medicinal Marijuana Growers and Patients support line. He informed me that HyOx is not compatible with root colonizers, such as Tarantula and Piranha. So treating my seedlings with these beneficial bacteria and fungi would have been useless, had I started using HyOx in my nutrient reservoir.

Luckily, I sought professional advice from the Advanced Nutrients Medical site, and saved myself a lot of headaches. I was told that extra oxygenation could be had for growers who use root colonizers by adding an air stone to the nutrient reservoir. I’m additionally fortunate to have an ebb and flow hydroponic system, which itself oxygenates the roots each time the nutrient solution flows back into the reservoir.

Depending on the amount and frequency of HyOx use, if you’re in a similar situation, you may not have completely killed off all the beneficial microbes, but if saving them is your goal, you have to discontinue using HyOx. HyOx is still a wonderful product, but you have to weigh the benefits of high oxygenation as opposed to the benefits of using root colonizers, which result in more efficient nutrient absorption and enhanced growth.

Voodoo Juice and SensiZym are two additional biological products that are not compatible with HyOx. All this makes sense when you realize that Tarantula contains 1.4 million colony forming units or CFU’s per gram of 57 types of beneficial microorganisms. If you blast them with a high level of oxygen, you probably kill a large number of them.

Since I’m moving seedlings, I am making sure to use Jump Start and No Shock, two outstanding Advanced Nutrients products designed to protect young plants from reactions to sudden changes, as well as to help them grow healthy roots faster. When used in conjunction with Clone It, these two formulations prove invaluable for the growers who propagate pot by taking cuttings from a mother plant.

A fourth protector of freshly cut clones is Wilt Stop, which seals the stomata of the cutting with paraffin wax to keep it from losing moisture. For my seedlings I only use No Shock and Jump Start, both of which help to calm transplant shock.

Now that I’m firing up my 600W High Intensity Discharge (HID) light, I am reminded once again that power companies all over the United States are keeping track of how much power is consumed by every user and they work closely with law enforcement in reporting if excess electrical use comes into play.

Even though Claire and I are perfectly within the laws of our state in growing and using pot, federal laws still consider medpot illegal and we don’t need any hassles. For this reason, I’ve set up a woodworking shop on the other side of the basement with a large lathe and power tools.

If the power company or whoever else comes snooping around, I just take them into that part of the basement, and show them the well worn tools which I bought second hand. It helps to have a few half-finished woodworking projects scattered around, as well.

This kind of camouflage is especially important if you have more than one HID light. They consume an awful lot of electricity so the spike in your meter reading will have to be explained somehow. Don’t think you can get around it by fiddling around with the wiring and bypassing the meter. They have detection devices that can pinpoint any leak of power, whether it’s from your fuse box or the high voltage cables coming straight from the power poles.

Oh, BTW, my doctor tells me that my test results are encouraging, since there is no sign of cancerous cells anywhere in my body. Could it be that they have cut all of it out during the major surgery? I was so happy when she told me this, that I came home and lit up a fat doobie to celebrate!

posted by Wes @ 2:55 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dissolved Solids, Salts--No-fuss Pouch System

The acid-alkaline balance of your hydroponic solution is vitally important. Some growers take daily readings, others read their pH hourly. It helps if you have the money to set up a fully automated system.

With such a system if your pH goes out of range of the desirable numbers for marijuana (usually 5.5 to 5.8) a little valve opens and the system adds pH Up or pH Down, depending on the discrepancy. These products made by Advanced Nutrients are the best and most professional way to correct any pH imbalance.

You might have come across the abbreviations EC, TDS, CF, or PPM. EC stands for Electrical Conductivity, which is measured in miliSiemens per centimeter. It helps to have a good EC meter to measure the amount of dissolved solids in your hydroponic solution.

In my experience, my ladies prefer 0.7 to 1.5 mS during the vegetative cycle, and 1.0 to 2.0 mS during flowering. If you want to correct the reading upwards, add more nutrients to your reservoir—downwards, you have to add more water.

TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids, and it is another way of measuring the same thing. A TDS meter measures in PPM, or parts per million. During the vegetative stage, under a blue spectrum bulb, your PPM should be 450 to 1000. During red-spectrum flowering, it should go up to be between 700 and 1000 ppm.

CF is short for Conductivity Factor, and it is the EC scale multiplied by ten. To find your Electrical Conductivity, you have to divide the CF scale by ten. So 7.0 to 15 CF would be just about right for vegetative, and 10 to 20 CF would be optimal for flowering, depending on the strains of marijuana you are growing.

If this is too much fiddling for you, consider switching to EPN SensiPro as your main hydroponic fertilizer. It’s billed as the world’s highest producing comprehensive hydroponics fertilizer, which is definitely a point in its favor. What sold me on it is its ease of use.

Consider this—instead of mixing and blending and measuring and fussing, all you have to do is open the foil pouches and pour SensiPro into your water. It’s a week by week, scientifically pre-measured and formulated plant food, that takes into account the changing needs of your plants during both the vegetative and flowering stages.

But don’t take my word for it. Talk to the experts at Advanced Nutrients Medical, and they’ll advise you on what you need, taking your individual situation into account.

I called them last week, and they told me how a product of theirs that I am already using, has multiple uses. I’ve been using Piranha to strengthen the roots of my ladies, by colonizing them with beneficial fungi (have your heard of trichoderma and mycorrhizal fungi?), that not only aid in nutrient absorption, but also help increase my plants’ resistance to various pests, pathogens, and stress.

It seems that if I had read the product description carefully enough, I would have found out that you can use Piranha as a foliar spray, to protect your plants against gray mold, mildew, Rhizoctania solani, Sclerotium rolfsii, Phythium, Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, and Fusarium.

These harmful fungi are a mouthful to pronounce, but they could be devastating to your crop. So I’ve included a spray regimen with Piranha into my future growing plans, alongside Scorpion Juice, Barricade, and Protector.

Furthermore, when Piranha is used in conjunction with its companion, Voodoo Juice, they act synergistically to put a protective barrier around you marijuana plants, that few if any pathogens can penetrate. They also help produce bigger and better buds, which is where the secret of our powerful medicine lies.

Protector is designed to fight and protect against powdery mildew, while Barricade uses its potassium silicate to inoculate my plants from the inside out. Scorpion Juice, another dual purpose product, can be added to the root zone or used as a foliar spray. It imparts Acquired Systemic Resistance (SAR) which is like a vaccination against most of the destructive pathogens that can attack marijuana plants.

Carbo Load Liquid also interacts with Piranha and Voodoo Juice to create a natural environment for your crops that has a fertility similar to that found in the richest outdoor soil. These products are backed by the Advanced Nutrients Medical money-back performance guarantee.

If you’re the kind of medpot grower who likes to show off, you might want to check out the Advanced Nutrients medicinal growers Forum. Some great shots posted recently of very impressive buds, all nourished by Sensi One Bloom. The camaraderie and linguistic acrobatics are cool!

Gotta see my specialist to make sure that the big C is truly in remission. Send a kind thought my way, and I’ll report as to results next week.

posted by Wes @ 11:36 AM 0 comments links to this post