Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

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

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