Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Friday, August 31, 2007

It All Starts with That Miracle of Nature--the Seed

In previous postings, I explained why I don’t grow from clones. As a medpot grower, I am restricted by the laws of the State I live in to growing six mature plants at a time.

If I were to have a Mother Plant and cut clones from it, I would need to have two separate grow rooms and probably end up with growing more than six plants at any one time.

So my cannabis experience starts with seeds. Seeds are truly magic—they contain the future harvest, all in a tiny sphere. My powerful plants would not exist without seeds.

As you know, I grow six sinsemilla plants each time, which means that my plants are unfertilized, virgin females. They do not produce seeds. So the problem arises, where to obtain the seeds for my next grow and bloom cycles?

If you punched up “marijuana seed banks” on Google three years ago, you’d get maybe 300,000 websites. Today, the search for the same leads to 1.2 million destinations.

I don’t mean to suggest that there are 1.2 million seed banks world-wide—far from it. But the topic has definitely increased in popularity in the past three years, since now you have over a million websites discussing it.

The Greenman’s page used to be the only reliable source rating seed banks on the web. Now there are quite a few websites devoted to rating seed banks. A visit to one of these is a good start.

How do you find them? Just enter “marijuana seed banks” into your search engine, and if it’s as good as Google, it will instantaneously come up with all these very educational sites that you can spend the entire day exploring.

A word of caution—Marc Emery was busted for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet, so just be aware that the feds are watching. It is a very good idea to set up a neutral e-mail account under a different name when you first approach a seed bank.

You can always play it safe and go with the huge, reputable ones. Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds, with over 40 different strains to choose from, immediately comes to mind. Worldwide same day delivery, online order tracking, credit card acceptance, currency converter, it’s all there.

At this seed bank, be prepared to spend 55 Euros for 10 seeds. Other seed banks charge much more, up to several hundred U.S. dollars for the package of ten.

The credit card entry is usually non-descript, but still traceable. Other seed banks accept cash, postal money orders, or bank drafts. Don’t know of any that accept personal checks.

If you don’t’ want to take a chance on having your seeds mailed to you, get to know the medpot community in your area. Word of mouth is a great source of seeds. Perhaps there is a breeder who sells seeds an hour’s drive from where you live. It’s worth checking out.

If you’re lucky enough to have a compassion club in your municipality, they would be the ones to approach for advice. Or find friends who let their pot go to seed.

Look on each seed as you would on a child. Given the proper attention and nourishment, it will grow up proud and productive. Served a bad diet and ignored most of the time, it will perform poorly.

As I germinate my fifteen seeds (I’m growing a sativa-indica hybrid) I make sure that I have enough Sensi Grow A & B on hand to provide the basic macro and micronutrients during their grow phase. (Through sex selection, my fifteen will eventually be reduced to six females).

I also check the Advanced Nutrients Nutrient Calculator, to make sure that I have all the ingredients for a potent nutrient solution for each week of the life of my plants.

Enter the Sensi Two-Part as your base fert and it will suggest 12 different products to mix into your nutrient solution. Scorpion Juice has been recently added for recommended root zone application.

This versatile product imparts induced systemic resistance to cannabis plants. You have your choice of applying it as a foliar spray or as part of your nutrient solution, or both.

The three beneficials, Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice, colonize your roots with live fungi, bacteria, and microbes. Helpful ones, which in turn ward off or kill harmful ones.

Mother Earth Super Tea Grow gives an organic touch to your synthetic base nutes, as do Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid, which are derived from a calcified, organic substance known as “leonardite.”

The potassium silicate in Barricade thickens the cell walls of your plants, making them impenetrable to a number of parasitical organisms or even insects. B-52, an excellent B-complex vitamin supplement, relieves the stresses that most plants go through due to temperature fluctuations, drying out between waterings, or improper humidity.

These details become unimportant if you start with unhealthy seeds. Most reputable seed banks sell only certified, disease-free seeds.

A soaking in Scorpion Juice can prevent damping off and other seedling ailments. But these measures are in no way substitutes for starting out with the best seeds money can buy.

posted by Wes @ 4:09 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 24, 2007

Harvesting Huge Buds, Discovering Mites, Taking Stock

In the middle of the ninth week of bloom, my 32 humungous Connoisseur buds have reached maturity. I sterilized my scissors with isopropyl alcohol and proceeded to cut the bud-bearing branches off the central stems of my six sinsemilla plants.

Some growers hang the whole plant upside down to dry, but since the main stem holds the most moisture, my experience has taught me just to cut the top and the branches.

I very carefully hung these branches upside down on a wire that I have attached near the ceiling of a walk-in closet next to my grow room. The closet is big enough to dry my entire harvest and also to fit a bench for my wide-mouth glass jars, once my buds are dry and are ready for curing.

The closet has a light-proof door, since the drying and curing process should take place in total darkness. After harvest, light adversely affects the THC content of your buds.

The closet also fits a fan, and I drilled an exhaust hole over to another closet-like space, which houses my ozone generator. This handy device removes all tell-tale odors from the air, before an exhaust fan forces the stale air outside.

I always do some manicuring of the buds (with sterile scissors) while they are still on the plant. This involves clipping all the side leaves and extraneous plant material around the buds. It is safer to manicure while the bud is still fresh, rather than to wait until after it dries.

Manicuring after the bud dries could damage the fragile bud itself, thus jeopardizing its potency. Some growers hasten the drying process using a hair dryer, oven, or microwave, but a distinctly sharper taste is usually the result of such impatience.

Even, slow, air drying prevents the loss of THC and rewards the grower with a softer taste. Claire can’t stand to smoke harsh tasting marijuana, so for her sake I take my time with the drying process.

Growers be warned—just because you’ve harvested your buds, doesn’t mean that you’re free of the threat of pests. After I was hanging my third large bud-bearing branch, I suddenly realized that there were a few spider mites on the branch.

My ladies had good disease and pest resistance, largely due to regular sprayings with Scorpion Juice, and using Barricade as an integral part of the weekly nutrient mix.

However, at some time close to harvest, I must have brought them in on my clothing from the flower bushes at the entrance to my basement. I was telling Claire that it would be wise to remove these bushes, since they are a haven for potential pests.

Usually I take off my jacket or vest before I approach my six ladies, but this time I was in a hurry. The cliché “haste makes waste” is rooted in truth.

I immediately discarded the affected parts of the branch, and much to my chagrin I had to cut off and dispose of a perfectly good and large bud, since some mites have already colonized it.

I removed the branch from the drying closet and sprayed it with a mixture of horticultural oil and baking soda, a remedy I have found effective against mites in the past. An insecticidal soap solution also seems to work.

The two-spotted spider mite, which is a common pest infesting cannabis, is actually an arachnid, not an insect, but an annoying pest, nevertheless. Left unchecked, the mites could have ruined my remaining 31 buds, as well.

I’m always so conscious of preventing mold and mildew at this crucial stage of cannabis cultivation, but this tiny pest almost slipped by me. I was so grateful that I caught it in time.

Just to be sure, I drove to my garden shop and purchased some Phytoseiulus persimilis, the natural enemy of spider mites. I let loose a few dozen of these predator mites in the drying room. Since they feed on spider mites, they’ll be sure to find any that might be left.

One drawback is that these bio-control mites need a higher humidity level to function (60-80%). At humidity levels of 50% or less, their eggs shrivel up and die. So I had to put a humidifier into the drying room, which is sort of defeating the purpose of the room.

However, the good news is, these predator mites multiply very fast and they’re very efficient hunters, so in a few days they’ll have found and eaten any spider mites that are present.

Once their food supply runs out, first they turn cannibalistic, then they starve (I know, it seems cruel, but it’s for a good cause!). So by only introducing a handful of them and waiting a few days, my spider mite problem should be solved.

While the predators are hunting, I’m cleaning up the debris from the harvest, removing all plant material and disinfecting my grow room. I wipe everything (tools, walls, utensils) with Advanced Nutrients’ Wipe Out.

I put three powerful space heaters into the space and jack them up to maximum. If there are any mite eggs or larvae present, I want them to fry. Using high temperatures to disinfect a grow room is a time-honored tradition.

Then I check my storage room to make sure I have enough basic fertilizers, supplements, additives, root colonizers, and bloom boosters on hand, so I can nourish my next crop.

I have ample amounts of Sensi Grow A & B, Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid, Scorpion Juice, and Protector, but I need to order Connoisseur A & B for my next bloom cycle, Barricade, SensiZym, Piranha, Tarantula, Voodoo Juice, and B-52, an excellent B-complex vitamin supplement that helps reduce plant stress.

The SensiZym did a great job in keeping my baked clay pebbles clean, but I still wash them thoroughly, not wanting to take any chances. Thorough washing involves scrubbing each pebble by hand.

A small price to pay for 31 amazingly large, potent buds that will keep Claire and I supplied with medicine for a long time to come.

posted by Wes @ 11:20 AM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 17, 2007

Swollen Calyxes, Fertilizer Royalty, Clear-Headed Trichomes

We’re about to harvest 32 huge buds from six female cannabis plants that were fed with the best possible premium fertilizer throughout their bloom phase. I’m talking about Connoisseur, A & B, the magic potion that is worth its weight in gold.

It not only fattened up my buds and plants for the harvest, but also ensured that the bouquet and taste of my medpot plants will be so outstanding, that comparisons with ten-course gourmet meals in five-star hotels come to mind.

Granted, the other ingredients in our nutrient brew also contributed to the humungous size of our buds. We used the recommended bloom enhancers, Bud Blood, Big Bud, and Overdrive. We also sprayed with Colossal Bud Blast, during veg, as well as bloom.

Advanced Nutrients is dedicated to providing the best possible nourishment for plants. And when it came to designing Connoisseur, they threw away any financial concerns and assembled the ultimate diet for flowering plants.

The amino acids and amino chelated micronutrients in Connoisseur are complemented by two forms of Calcium, two forms of Potassium, as well as Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Borate, and Sodium Molybdate. Some of these ingredients are very costly, and thus the premium price of this product.

However, the coup de grace seems to be the Polyamino Alcohols in Connoisseur. These penetrate the cell walls of plants, making them elastic in the process. What this means is that the plant is able to store more sugars and carbohydrates in each cell.

This storehouse of energy is called upon during flower formation and accounts for the swelling calyxes as soon as the plant absorbs this ultra premium fert. All the buds on my six ladies experienced this, and the swelling continued throughout the eight weeks of bloom.

When to harvest? Are they ready? How to tell exactly? There are as many answers to these questions as there are growers. The general rule is, you may harvest when your buds are fully ripe. This usually takes place around eight weeks after you’ve switched to 12/12.

Last week I flushed with Final Phase, and ever since then my ladies have been drinking nothing but pure water. Other growers have said that using Connoisseur usually delays the harvest by a few days, and that’s been my experience also.

So I’m extremely cautious not to harvest too early. I examine the trichomes on my buds with a hand-held lens frequently. Claire says I do it almost hourly, but that’s an exaggeration.

Early harvest marijuana is supposed to give you a head high, late harvest weed is associated with a body high. I’m a firm believer in balance between those two extremes, so I want to harvest my buds just in the middle.

Usually, there is a two-week opportunity to harvest your buds. If you leave it too long, you’ll lose potency. Harvesting too early means that you’re short-changing yourself, when you could have gotten better medicine.

I broke off a tiny piece of one of the buds and dried it in the sun. The aroma, bouquet, flavor are outstanding. The potency is almost there, but not quite. I figure three more days and bingo!

They say that sativas take longer to mature indoors and generally speaking they provide more of a cerebral high. Indicas mature quicker and give you a body high. I’m growing a sativa-indica hybrid, so I’m looking for the middle ground, even there.

The knobs at the end of your tallest trichomes should be clear. The more trichomes you have the more potent your bud will be. The calyxes, or clusters of tiny flowers, should be densely packed and “dripping with resin,” as the saying goes.

Swollen calyxes indicate maturity. The swelling starts at the base of the bud and works its way up to the youngest flowers at the tip. When your buds are fully ripe, ninety percent of the calyxes should be so swollen, that you’d swear they have seeds in them, even though you’re growing sinsemilla, or unfertilized, virgin females.

My buds aren’t quite there yet, but soon. As I’m examining the fruits of my labor, I reflect on all the nutrients, additives, supplements, root colonizers, and bloom boosters that have helped to bring my ladies to this point.

Sensi Grow A & B, Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid, Seaweed Extract, B-52, Barricade, SensiZym, Scorpion Juice, Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice, etc. all had their roles to play in producing these magnificent buds, but the crown belongs to Connoisseur A & B, a product that is fertilizer royalty in my books.

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posted by Wes @ 3:55 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 10, 2007

Final Flush with Final Phase, Time in a Bottle

Here it is week seven of bloom of my second crop grown with Connoisseur A & B. The number of buds are just as abundant as last time (32 this time, 30 last time) and the calyxes have started swelling almost as soon as I started feeding them with this super premium basic fert, plus all the supplements.

If you take a look at the Nutrient Calculator, week 7 of bloom calls for 0 mL or grams of all our usual ingredients, not just Connoisseur, but also Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid, B-52, Barricade, Carbo Load, Sensi Zym, etc.—none of these are to be added during week 7.

The only thing that I added this time was Final Phase. Yes, it’s time to flush my six ladies, in order to get rid of any possible chemical taste or salt residue. Final Phase contains a proprietary formula of “empty chelators” that remove any further traces of fertilizer from the root zone.

Final Phase was recirculated in my six bucket ebb and flow system for about six hours, then I drained my reservoir completely. The only thing that I add from now on is pure water. I recently installed a water purifier on the water pipe that I use to fill up by rez.

From now until harvest, which should be in about ten days time, I’ll just top up my rez each day with pure water. No more ferts, no more additives, no more supplements. It’s time for my six ladies to purify themselves before they offer up the fruit of their labor to Claire and I as medicine.

If you’re hesitant about using Final Phase, afraid that it will somehow rob your plants of nutrients, or deprive them of their taste and bouquet, don’t be. The aroma and sweetness of my buds was left intact the last time, as I’m sure it will be again.

In fact, I used Sweet Leaf a few weeks ago in order to impart even more sweetness and aroma. Connoisseur by itself ensures a very strong unmistakeable bouquet and a very pleasant taste, so much so that I had to install an ozone generator to keep the telltale odor from my neighbors.

But with the addition of Sweet Leaf, my harvest will guarantee us the sweetest, most tasty smoke you can imagine. Of course, it depends on the strain that you grow, but whether you’re growing sativa or indica or a hybrid, this combination of Advanced Nutrients products is sure to bring out the best in your grass.

Whether you call it grass, weed, ganja, or skunk, it is a sacred herb that has been used in healing for centuries. The sense of well-being imparted by a good smoke is worth a million dollars in this stressed-out world of ours.

Claire and I have a little ritual that we follow around harvest time, during which we thank the Creator for blessing us with this potent herb to cure our migraines, nausea, pressure, and pain.

We both look forward to our second Connoisseur harvest and will report on it as soon as it happens. Have a great weekend, everyone, and please visit my MySpace page. I count Marc Emery, Loretta Nall, Neil Young, Allen Ginsberg, and Jim Croce among my friends.

If you did a double take for the last two, yes, even those that are no longer on the earth plane still have a presence on MySpace. In virtual reality, Allen and Jim live on, and that’s the way it should be!

I can still hear Jim singing:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

Copyright © Jim Croce—Ingrid Croce

posted by Wes @ 3:45 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cooking in the Heat, Considering A/C

August came in like an oven around here. The upholstery in my car burns the back of my legs every time I start driving. I’m wearing shorts these days—couldn’t tolerate my usual getup of jeans.

My ladies are suffering too. I bring in buckets of ice to put in front of the cooling fans and I place frozen bottles of water in my reservoir. I can barely keep the temp in the room down to 85° F and I’m not using my CO2 burner. If the mercury climbs to 90° F in the room, my plants are in deep doodoo.

Been looking around for an affordable air conditioning system, but I’m beginning to think that’s an oxymoron. Prices start at mid-four figures and go up from there. Claire offered to get a part-time job in order to help pay for it. We’re both legal medpot patients, and she values her medicine.

York, one of the biggest manufacturers of air conditioning systems world-wide, offers Residential Split System Central Air Conditioning that keeps your entire house cool in the heat of summer, and it also lowers humidity levels. The price-tag made me blanche (and I don’t blanche easily).

This one hooks up to your furnace and includes a compressor, a fan, a condenser coil, and a refrigerant. It removes the heat from the indoor air and transfers it outside, then re-circulates the cold indoor air.

It’s got a massive outdoor section, which is the condenser unit, and this is hooked up to your indoor oil or gas furnace that has an air handler. Ductwork carries the cool air all throughout your home.

I think we’ll have to buy a standalone water or air-cooled unit just for our grow room. This we possibly could afford. So our marijuana plants will be nice and cool all summer, w8hile we sweat and suffer. Such is life…

A two-ton water-cooled unit would cost less than three thousand and the fan in the unit would circulate the air in our grow room at the rate of 800 cfm (cubic feet per minute).

Since the room is 10’x10’x8’, it measures 800 cu feet. This is just a happy coincidence. So the unit would completely circulate the air in the room every single minute.

Water-cooled units are better for security, since they don’t have to be vented to the outside, like air-cooled ones. I’m venting my grow room through an adjacent completely sealed closet, where an ozone generator removes every trace of cannabis odor from the air before it is driven by an exhaust fan outdoors.

As you know, I’m using Connoisseur A & B to feed my ladies during their bloom phase, so the aroma of the buds is exhilarating. This is week 6 of bloom, so we’re slowly reducing the amount of nutrients, in preparation for the final flush with Final Phase before harvest.

This week we’re only pouring in 1000 PPM into the mix, as opposed to 1400 PPM during week 4. That means 116.64 mL of both Connoisseur A and Connoisseur B, followed by 72 mL each of Mother Earth Super Tea Bloom, Humic Acid, and Fulvic Acid.

These last three Advanced Nutrients products are designed to establish an organic environment, even though I’m using a synthetic base fert. During the vegetative stage I used another synthetic, Sensi Grow A & B.

172.8 mL of B-52 goes into the nutrient mix, in order to help our plants cope with all the stresses that plants are prone to, be it drought, heat, excessive humidity, or pH fluctuation.

Each week, the night before I blend the entire nutrient mix, I pour in the appropriate amount of Barricade (this week that is 7.2 mL) into warm, almost hot water, and agitate the mixture forcefully. Barricade has a reputation for being hard to dissolve, so it’s best to do this on the previous night.

21.6 grams of Carbo Load powder go into the solution, in order to continue feeding the bud building cells all the sugars they need. In addition, I also mix in Sweet Leaf, which contains berry sugars and molasses, and is designed to enhance the aroma and the taste of our super colossal Connoisseur buds!

Lastly, 360 mL of SensiZym is followed by 144 mL of Overdrive. This is the last application of this bloom booster, which accelerates floral growth by infusing the plants with extra Phosphorus and Potassium, as well as natural hormones and catalytic agents that increase the girth, overall size, and weight of my buds.

Even though I’m using Connoisseur, there is no harm in trying to get a slightly better yield, is there?

posted by Wes @ 3:16 PM 0 comments links to this post