Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sinsemilla Take Longer? It's Worth the Wait

A close friend asked me the other day, that if I can shorten the veg stage of my six ladies to four or five weeks, why can’t I shorten the flowering stage, as well? This got me thinking and prompted me to search for an answer.

According to Robert Connell Clarke, a leading authority on growing cannabis, most strains of marijuana require a change in photoperiod, in order to be induced into flowering. However, some varieties exist that can flower no matter how many hours of daylight they receive.

It’s the famous 12 hours of darkness that prompts most strains to flower. It has to be completely dark (no, you can’t put on a light “just for a minute” to check something). The only illumination that doesn’t seem to disturb the flowering process is light in the green part of the spectrum.

Most cheap green bulbs you buy are painted green, so it’s best to find one made of green tinted glass, which gives off truly green light. You might pay more for such a bulb, but isn’t your crop worth it?

Anyway, according to Clarke, given 10 hours per day of light, a certain strain of cannabis may take 10 days to flower, while if the plant is exposed to 16 hours of daylight per day, it may take 90 days to flower.

That being said, sinsemilla plants (unfertilized virgin females) take longer to reach their optimum harvest point than do seed producing plants. Some may even take longer than 8 weeks.

I’ve noticed on some medicinal marijuana forums that growers using Connoisseur were asking why it takes longer to harvest with this super premium fert from Advanced Nutrients. I’ve noticed myself that my ladies took an extra three days to reach optimum maturity.

Am I complaining? Never! My six plants provided Claire and I with 30 colossal buds that we are enjoying immensely, during our daily dose of therapeutic cannabis smoke. Now that I know that sinsemilla do take longer, even without Connoisseur, I can rest easy.

It’s week 5 of bloom for my ladies (I always call them ladies, not girls, as some other growers do). I figure if I show them the proper respect, they’ll continue to supply us with potent medicine currently unavailable through normal medical channels.

Oh, sure, Marinol is available by prescription, but it contains only concentrated THC and not the numerous other cannabinoids that could be equally important in determining the quality and potency of the ingested drug.

While during week 4 the Nutrient Calculator called for 1400 PPM of dissolved solids in my nutrient solution, during week 5 we’re going back down again, only putting in 1200 PPM (Plus Program Bloom—Moderately Light Feeding).

In addition to 139.68 mL of Connoisseur A and the same amount of Connoisseur B, week 5 calls for 86.4 mL each of Mother Earth Blended Super Tea Bloom, Grandma Enggy’s Humic Acid, and her Fulvic Acid, in my 72 Liter reservoir.

Mother Earth Super Tea is a 100% organic supplement to the Advanced Nutrients line of synthetic fertilizers. Organic ferts impart a superlative bouquet and flavor to cannabis buds.

Super Tea is designed to complement any synthetic plant food with alfalfa extract, canola, fish, crab, and shrimp meal, as well as citric acid, earthworm castings, and sea kelp.

Kelp contains the natural hormones called cytokinins, gibberlins, and auxins. These aid in the movement of nutrients throughout the plant, as well as cell division and general growth stimulation.

Coupled with the polyamino alcohols in Connoisseur, these natural hormones ensure that the fast growing buds on my sinsemilla ladies are well nourished by the carbohydrates stored in the leaves and other parts of the plants.

I also mix in 25.92 grams of Carbo Load Powder, to further boost the sugar content of the stored up food, along with 172.8 mL of Overdrive, which is a bloom stimulant. The calyxes of the ever larger buds are already swollen, but these two products will help then to swell even more (as will the Connoisseur!).

This is followed by 216 mL of B-52, a B-complex Vitamin designed to promote plant health and to combat plant stress; 8.64 mL of Barricade to strengthen cell walls and ward off pests and pathogens; and 432 mL of SensiZym, to cleanse my grow medium of plant debris and turn what debris there is into easily absorbable nutrients.

These three products round out the nutrient cocktail that I pour from my pre-mix tank into my reservoir, to take care of the nourishment needs of my ladies for the week.

Each day I top up my reservoir with pure water. I mark the levels to keep track of how much my ladies are drinking. Diluting the mixture with water is no problem, since the important number is the total quantity of the nutrients that the plants absorb for the week.

I make sure that the pH of my reservoir stays close to the desired 5.6, but I don’t get upset if there is fluctuation. If the solution becomes way too acidic or extremely alkaline, I can always use pH Up or pH Down in order to make a coreection.

And if my plants take a bit longer than 8 weeks to produce the prize-winning buds that they’re capable of with my Advanced Nutrients diet, I won’t fret. I’ll just be grateful for the superior yield.

posted by Wes @ 2:17 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, July 20, 2007

Week Four of Bloom, an Unexpected Blackout

This is week 4 of bloom and I’m growing six cannabis plants using Connoisseur A & B as my basic bloom fert. I allowed my ladies (they’re sinsemilla—or virgin female plants) four full weeks to veg to maturity, then the fifth week became week 1 of bloom.

My plants aren’t as tall as my last crop, but then I allowed eight weeks of vegetative growth. During this time, I fed them with the AN Sensi Two-Part, an excellent fertilizer in its own right.

Since then I was informed by the Advanced Nutrients Medical tech advisors that if the plants become too tall during the veg stage, they spend all their energy transporting nutrients up to their top leaves, leaving less oomph for the production of buds.

I feed my plants a moderately light diet using the Plus Program on the AN Nutrient Calculator. That means that in addition to my basic premium fert I also mix in fourteen different supplements, additives, bloom enhancers, and root colonizers at various times during the bloom cycle.

I grow my medicine hydroponically using a six bucket ebb and flow system with a 72 Liter reservoir. The whole operation takes place under one 600W High Pressure Sodium light, with an electronic ballast.

During veg, I used a conversion bulb to provide blue spectrum illumination, which is to approximate the wavelength of the sunlight that is necessary for vegetative growth. As soon as I started the bloom stage, I switched my lighting period from 18/6 to 12/12 and put in a regular HPS bulb, which emits light on the red end of the spectrum.

During week 4 I pour in 163.44 mL of Connoisseur A and the same amount of Connoisseur B into my pre-mix tank. This is the tank I use to make sure that my nutrient mix is properly blended and that my PPM, EC, and pH readings are all appropriate for this specific time period.

Week 4 calls for 1400 PPM or EC 2 and the desired pH balance when growing in water is 5.6, slightly on the acidic side. It seems that cannabis plants can absorb nutrients better when the solution is slightly acidic.

Last time I fed my six ladies too much of a good thing and pretty soon after administering Connoisseur, I noticed a slight tip burn on some of my plants, a common symptom of overfeeding. So I went from Medium to Heavy feeding to Light to Medium feeding. As soon as I did that, the tips of my plants stopped shoring signs of stress.

Cannabis plants are susceptible to many different types of stress, that’s why I’m putting in 259.2 mL of B-52, a B-complex Vitamin designed to relieve plant stress. I’m also putting on 30.24 grams of Big Bud Powder, in order to enhance bloom production.

Connoisseur alone not only ensures the production of many more buds than so-called normal ferts, but with the help of the bloom enhancers Bud Blood, Big Bud, and Overdrive, it resulted in a humungous harvest for me last time.

Claire and I are slowly enjoying the 30 huge colas that my six ladies produced with the aid of this premium fertilizer. It was explained to me that the polyamino alcohols in Connoisseur make the cell walls of plants elastic, enabling them to store more sugars.

These sugars and carbohydrates in turn are utilized by the plant when it comes to producing bigger, better, more numerous and more potent buds.

For all this intercellular activity to take place, all plants need light, water, and nutrients. Whereas in nature they also need soil, in my hydroponic grow room baked clay pebbles have replaced soil as my grow medium.

One of these vital ingredients was abruptly cut off a few days ago, when a bulldozer accidentally knocked over a power pole and cut off electricity to my location for 48-hours. It took that long to have the power restored, since the dozer caused a short circuit and blew several large transformers that had to be replaced.

A few postings ago I was enthusing about how my grow room is almost completely digitalized. But digital technology is great, as long as there is a constant flow of electrical current to all the gadgets and tools that need it to function.

I could manually fertigate my plants by using a ladle and bucket system at periodic intervals. But how do I replace the light energy required for photosynthesis?

A friend of mine turned me on to this electronics rental place in a nearby city, where I was able to rent a bank of blue and red LED lights (see my earlier posting on the subject) which produced enough lumens (10,000 to be exact) necessary for my plants to grow and thrive.

How did I power the LED’s? Light Emitting Diodes do not run an alternate current, they require a direct current power source. So by renting a DC power supply of the correct voltage for the lights, I was able to temporarily supply my plants with adequate light.

Needless to say, I have a newfound respect for LED technology.

posted by Wes @ 1:02 AM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, July 13, 2007

Week Three of Bloom, I Discover Bugs

This is week 3 of bloom for my six ladies and I’m feeding them a gourmet diet. My nutrient mix contains the super premium miracle fert, Connoisseur A & B, as well as a whole array of supplements, additives, root colonizers, and bloom boosters from Advanced Nutrients Medical.

Last week I switched from Bud Blood to Big Bud Powder, in order to establish building blocks for bud formation. Big Bud is meant to be administered weeks 2, 3, and 4 only, to be followed by Overdrive during weeks 5 and 6 of bloom.

By using these three bloom boosters in sequence (never at the same time) I am helping to enhance the size, girth, and weight of my buds.

Connoisseur alone would guarantee huge buds. By using Bud Blood, Big Bud, and Overdrive, I am aiming to get humungous buds, such as the thirty colossal-sized ones I was blessed with last time.

Last week I sprayed my ladies with Protector. Week 2 of bloom is the last recommended window for spraying with this Potassium Bicarbonate product to protect my cannabis plants from the insidious fungus that causes Powdery Mildew.

Advanced Nutrients warns us against using Protector beyond the second week of bloom in its Advancedpedia entry. It seems that Protector causes pH changes that inhibit the growth of the fungus. Unfortunately, the same changes could alter the color of your buds or their bouquet, if you spray after week 2 of bloom.

Colossal Bud Blast, on the other hand, can be used throughout both the vegetative and the bloom cycles of your marijuana plants. This is an organic foliar spray that nourishes the plant through the stomata on the leaves.

I use it as an addition boost for my potentially prize-winning buds. It contains easily absorbable organic nutrients that increase floral growth rate, bud weight, and resin production.

I don’t spray Colossal Bud Blast under hot lights, since the dried residue on the leaves could result in toxic salinity. Instead, I rise early in the morning and spray using just one incandescent bulb, thus giving the leaves a chance to absorb the nutrients, before I turn my 600W HPS light on.

50% of Colossal Bud Blast is made from a concentrated base-tea derived from bat guano high in phosphates, azomite, as well as seaweed, alfalfa, and krill meal. Azomite is a natural source of minerals and trace elements, that is mined from deep within the earth.

The other half of the formula in made up of a solution of 22 L-amino acids, which are the building blocks of plant growth, as well as Humic acid containing humates, which act as chelators and surfactants to aid in the absorption of the other ingredients in Colossal Bud Blast.

The other day I panicked as I discovered some tiny holes on the leaves of one of my ladies. I got my magnifying glass and examined the plant carefully. Sure enough, I detected the beginnings of an invasion by a tiny flying insect.

Barricade has made the cell walls of my cannabis plants thick, so the invaders must have had a tough time piercing the leaves. But parasites are persistent, in my experience, so some of them succeeded.

I called in a friend of mine who has more experience with bugs that attack cannabis, and he confirmed it. Thrips had invaded my grow room. “But I spray with Scorpion Juice regularly,” I protested.

“Think of how many pests and pathogens your plants could be suffering from if you hadn’t,” was his retort. “What do I do now?” was my next question.

We looked through my supplies from Advanced Nutrients in an adjacent storage room and found an old container of Bug Away, which the company is not currently distributing on account of a labelling dispute.

“You can start by spraying your whole room with this,” said my friend. “But first remove the infected leaves and branches, if need be. Thrips vector about 20 different viral diseases, so you don’t want to take a chance.”

Thrips are tiny (less than 1mm) insects of the Order of Thysanoptera. They have fringed wings. Over 5,000 species of thrips have been discovered by scientists.

Some thrips feed on mites, so they are considered beneficial. However, most feed on plants, so they are classified as pests. They feed on plant cells by piercing them with paired maxillary stylets, which act as a feeding tube.

Only one stylet is fully formed and it is used to pierce the plant, while both serve to suck out the plant juice. These pests attack hundreds of different plant species, especially during the flowering stage when they also feed on the pollen.

My friend suggested introducing effective biocontrol agents such as Anthocorid bugs or Phytoseiid mites. These are tiny enough to penetrate the hiding places of the thrips and consume their eggs and larvae.

“Continue using Bug Away, Barricade, and Scorpion Juice. These products along with the biocontrol should take care of your problem. Better act fast, because thrips reproduce very rapidly.”

That last statement started my heart pumping so I rushed to my favorite garden shop and had them order the biocontrol bugs or mites. I urged the owner to have them sent to him by courier.

I spent the next three hours examining every inch of plant surface, including the buds with the swelling calyxes, using an extra high magnification lens. I asked Claire to help me and she did, using a lens of her own.

The bugs were only on one plant and we had to remove two entire branches, buds and all. That hurt, since I remembered the size of my last harvest. I still had nearly 30 processed buds to remind me.

I sprayed all six plants with Bug Away and I’m calling my garden shop on a daily basis to urge them to get me the biocontrols as quickly as possible.

I know that some insects are necessary for ecological reasons, but between mosquitoes and thrips this summer, my love of the insect world has definitely diminished.

posted by Wes @ 2:26 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, July 06, 2007

Starting Connoisseur, Using the Bloom Boosters

This is week 2 of bloom for my ladies, and I started mixing in Connoisseur A & B, instead of my regular fert, the Sensi Bloom Two-Part. Not because the Sensi Two-Part isn’t a great plant food—it’s just that Connoisseur is extra special!

Last week I still used Sensi Bloom A & B, since it was week 1 of bloom, and I cut back on the vegging time for my plants from 8 to 5 weeks. The Advanced Nutrients Medical tech guys told me that if you’re not sure about the maturity of your plants, you might want to start using Connoisseur the second week of bloom.

Also last week I added Bud Blood, which is a high-Phosphorus, high-Potassium product that sets the stage for bud production. Along with switching to 12/12, it signals the plant that it’s time to start producing flowers.

This week, I’m mixing in Big Bud Powder. This great AN product contains nineteen amino acids, including L-Cystine and L-Tryptophan. For those that flunked science, like I did, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Proteins are the heavy nutrition components that increase the weight, girth, and overall size of your buds. They will grow much faster and produce more resin, which ensures the THC content and thus the potency of your smoke.

Why do I need to use Big Bud, when I’m also using Connoisseur? The answer is you do not need to use it, but I used the two of them together last time, and I got 30 humungous buds out of it. For this reason I’m mixing in all three AN bloom boosters: Bud Blood, Big Bud, and Overdrive into the reservoir of my six-bucket ebb and flow hydro system.

You gotta be careful with these products. Never use them all at the same time. You’re only meant to use them in sequence. Bud Blood during week 1; Big Bud during weeks 2,3, and 4. Then Overdrive during weeks 5 & 6.

Connoisseur A & B contains amino acids as well, but the secret ingredients in this premium fert are the amino chelated micronutrients and the polyamino alcohols. They are blended according to a proprietary formula that ensures large bloom size and high quality.

The alcohols in this product make the walls of your cannabis cells elastic, so they can hold more carbohydrates. These sugars are utilized by the plant during bud production. The last time around the calyxes of my buds started swelling a few days after my first application of Connoisseur. They didn’t stop swelling until harvest time!

I noticed on the AN Medical Marijuana Forum that some growers objected to the smell of Connoisseur. “Smells like Old Spice,” someone posted. I happen to like the smell of this super fert. But then again, I still use Old Spice deodorant, so I might be biased, LOL.

When I asked the AN tech guys about this, they said that you might say it smells like the leather in a new Porsche convertible, or a fine Cuban cigar with a snifter of brandy close by. In other words, the scent of the product reflects its status as the Rolls Royce of plant foods. However, they added, the scent of Connoisseur will not imprint on the fragrance of your buds.

I can attest to that. My buds started smelling heavenly shortly after I introduced them to Connoisseur. The scent was such a strong unmistakeable cannabis fragrance, that I had to supplement my carbon filtration of the exhaust fan with an ozone generator in an adjacent space, before venting the exhaust to the outside.

Another vital ingredient in my nutrient mix at this time is Carbo Load Powder, which does much the same thing as Carbo Load Liquid, but costs less. It loads up my ladies with carbohydrates, sugars that are called upon for bud production. This is the substance that fills all those elasticized cells.

The last time I used Connoisseur I used medium to heavy feeding and my cannabis plants experiences some tip burn. I was advised to cut back on the feeding regimen immediately. Since then, I’ve used just plain medium feeding, and the parts per million of solids in my nutrient mix were better suited to the particular strain that I’m growing.

The AN Medical tech guys said that each strain is different. If you start off with medium to heavy or just heavy feeding and tip burn occurs, just cut back to the next level and the plants will once again receive the amount of nourishment that is just right for them.

In case you’re wondering how you determine these levels of feeding, just punch up the handy Nutrient Calculator on the AN website and select Connoisseur A & B as your fert. Once you enter the size of your res, you must choose among five options. Plus Program Bloom Light Feeding, Moderately Light Feeding, Medium Feeding, Moderately Heavy Feeding, and Heavy Feeding.

You should fine tune your feeding regimen to suit the particular strain of cannabis that you’re growing. Also, the size of your plants is a factor in determining how much food they need. Learn to observe your plants and listen to them. If you know how to read the signals, they’ll tell you if the feeding leaves them hungry or if conversely, you’re overfeeding them.

Even though Connoisseur helped my buds smell somewhere in the celestial sphere the last time, I still use Sweet Leaf, an organic supplement that is designed to enhance the aroma and flavor of your buds. It contains berry sugars and molasses, along with many other ingredients that stimulate the production of essential oils. These in turn account for the bouquet and taste of your cannabis smoke.

Is it overkill to use Sweet Leaf on top of Connoisseur and Carbo Load? I don’t think so. Claire and I can personally attest to the quality of the smoke that we now enjoy in our daily dose of medicine, thanks to these three Advanced Nutrients Medical products.

They are meant to complement each other. The carbohydrates in Carbo Load are like building blocks for buds. The sugars in Sweet Leaf are there to make the smoke smell and taste better. Connoisseur is a broad-spectrum plant food that can either be used as a standalone source of nourishment, or in tandem with the many other products offered by AN.

If your main course is of gourmet quality in an exclusive restaurant, you might still want to order an appetizer, along with one or more side dishes, to enhance your dining experience.

posted by Wes @ 10:18 AM 0 comments links to this post