Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Friday, June 01, 2007

Instant Gratification or Wise Patience & Reward

I’ve noticed on a number of marijuana growing forums that novice pot cultivators seem to have the idea that by banging together a 3x3x6 foot cabinet they can grow up to 25 mature pot plants under fluorescent lights in this small enclosed space.

At first I thought they were talking about seedlings, but then I realized that they thought that by allowing 3 to 4 weeks for the vegetative stage, they could change their light regimen to 12-12 and induce bud formation. What kind of buds would immature plants grown under such conditions produce, I wondered?

I was also puzzled as to where such ideas could have come from. Then I happened to Google the phrase “growing marijuana” and I found one possible source for this fad. On the Green Man’s web page, a long article on marijuana growing starts off with a suggestion to build just such a cabinet.

Now the Green Man has been a source of valuable information over the years. He has rated marijuana seed banks with a fair degree of accuracy, and I’m sure that many medpot growers—me and my wife Claire among them—have appreciated it.

However, this “cabinet cultivation” is only the beginning of a fairly long explanation of all the complexities of growing cannabis. I can see how lazy minds could read the first page or so and conclude that they can grow 25 mature pot plants in a square-meter sized cabinet.

If they bothered to read further on, they would have read “wait until the plants are at least five feet tall” before you change your lighting to 12-12 and start the flowering process. “This is large enough to support good flower development and return a good yield. If you turn down the light cycle when the plants are young and small, you’ll harvest much less grass because the plants simply can’t sustain a large number of flowers.”

Now how you’re going to fit a five-foot tall marijuana plant into a six-foot high cabinet, especially when you have been instructed to make sure that your lights are inside the cabinet, is beyond me. Also, with global warming and our long, hot summers, can you imagine how hot it’s gonna get inside that cabinet?

I can see how the cabinet idea appeals to young people who are trying to hide their proclivity for cannabis from their parents (?), roommates (?), or whoever. But forcing immature plants to flower is akin to helping children to have babies of their own. It is simply not a good idea!

My 15 seedlings are back to their eager, robust selves. If nurtured properly, a mature cannabis plant is able to grow several inches per day. Seedlings are fed with a half-strength nutrient solution, so they don’t eat or grow as much. The bigger the plant gets, the larger the amount of food it requires. After two to three weeks as a seedling, week 1 of the veg stage begins.

My basic fert is the Advanced Nutrients Medical Sensi Two-Part. So I mix Sensi Grow A & B with the other additives, supplements, and root colonizers designed to nourish my young plants much the same way that we nourished our daughter when she went from the toddler stage to learning how to ride a bicycle.

The incredibly helpful Nutrient Calculator on the AN website provides invaluable information on the proper feeding of our medicinal marijuana plants. The desired pH for growing in soil is 6.3. For my hydroponic ebb and flow reservoir, the optimum pH is 5.6. I always have some pH Up or pH Down on hand, just in case I have to adjust the acid-alkaline balance at any given time.

The suggested PPM or parts per million for week 1 of vegging is 800. My EC meter is calibrated at 1 EC = 700 PPM. So 800 PPM reads EC 1.14. Week 2 of the veg stage the PPM should go up to 1000 and the EC reading should be 1.42. There is nothing mysterious about it. As the plants grow, they require more food.

Our daughter, Squirrel, is eleven now and she eats twice as much as she ate when she was six. It’s not that she’s getting fat—her growing body requires more nourishment as it gets bigger.

So in addition to the macro and micro nutrients in our basic fert, we also mix in Mother Earth Super Tea Grow (144 mL during week 2) which supplements the synthetic regimen with a much needed organic boost of cell-nourishing food.

Derived from 100% organic sources, the fish, crab, and shrimp meal in Super Tea are supplemented by extracts of alfalfa, canola, and sea kelp, as well as earthworm castings. Kelp has natural hormones that play an invaluable role in cell division, nutrient distribution, root development, seed formation, and germination.

The alfalfa extract in this product provides over eighty phytochemicals that help our cannabis plants produce better flowers. Super Tea has the correct nutrients ratio required by cannabis. It enhances the fragrance and taste of the smoke and energizes our plants to produce better buds.

Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid (72 mL of both during week 2 of vegging) play the same role in the diet of our medpot plants as broccoli and spinach do in Squirrel’s daily intake of food. They provide an organic humus-like growing environment in the reservoir of my hydro grow.

Humus was that rich, black, organic soil that your grandmother grew her vegetables in. With the addition of these two phenomenally effective products, those fertile days can be recreated right in your grow room.

I’m in no rush. I want to grow the best medicine possible for Claire and I. So I’m going to let my plants have a full 8-week course of vegetative growth before I switch to 12-12 and add the high phosphorus-potassium content of Bud Blood to induce flowering.

I only wish that the people on the grow forums who are seeking fast solutions and instant gratification would acquire the wisdom that comes with experience and realize that nature knows best. I observe my plants and listen to them. They tell me when they’re hungry, they tell me when they’re thirsty. They also tell me when they’re old enough to start producing flowers.

posted by Wes @ 12:46 PM

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