An incredible garden
When I first saw Wanda’s garden it looked incredible! The entire garden looked great. It was all grown from seed and the plants had “hybrid vigour”, the phenomenon that makes plants grow 25% faster and bigger than if they were from stabilized strains or clones. A hybrid is a cross between two stable, true breeding plants. This cross produces a seed designated as F1 hybrid.
The room was covered in white plastic. It was stapled to the walls and ceiling, the edges joined with wide white tape. The floor was also covered with a heavy layer of white plastic to protect the carpet below.
There was a 1000-watt horizontal metal halide and a vertical 1000-watt HP sodium in the room. The bulbs hung about two feet over the two-gallon pot plants in the garden. They were strong and healthy growing in the Sunshine #4 mix, bunched under the light.
Wetter is better
My guide Steve and I could tell from the garden that Wanda was a good grower. She has the beginnings of a green thumb and loves to nurture plants. Her “little babies” looked strong and were quite big for their one month of life, even though they were on the dry side.
“Why are your plants so dry? When are you going to water them? Small plants like this can dry out in a day or two.” I asked in amazement.
“We water at night,” said Wanda with confidence. “That’s what I read somewhere on the internet. That way the water has a chance to soak in and really be used by the plants. It makes them grow better.”
Steve rolled his eyes back and retorted: “The plants are dry now. The soil has contracted away from the side of the container. When you water, it will run down the side of the container and out the bottom. Virtually no water reaches the roots. They are dry and need water now.”
“Here, I’ll help” said Steve, cultivating the soil with his fingers before watering.
Cultivating the soil helps water soak in more evenly. After watering, make sure about 20% of the water drains out the bottom of the container. Also lift each container and make sure they weigh about the same. This is another way to check for water content in a container.
If your plants are bone dry, you may need to submerge them in a large bucket of water to rewet them before fertilizing. Also, adding a few drops of a liquid dish soap will help the water soak into the soil faster.
“I was disappointed when I found some male plants,” said Wanda, “I had to kill them. It was sad, but I forgot about it when the evidence went up in smoke. The first male plant I saw was the early variety ?Jack Herer’. Jack always exposes himself early? it’s a fast plant and always ready on time.”
“Look,” continued Wanda, grabbing a nearby branch, “you can tell it’s a male plant by checking the little hairs that come out of the branch unions. Some people call them branch crotches. If there are two little hairs (pistils), they are female plants. Small pre-pollen sacks (stamen) that emerge after a green hair-like shoot in the same location signifies males. I weeded out the males by identifying these early signs of sex.
“Some plants have more pronounced sex organs than others. Certain plants are nearly impossible to tell male from female until two weeks after you turn the lights to 12 hours to induce flowering. If you are starting from seed, you’ll have to keep a vigilant eye and look for the males daily,” said Wanda with an air of authority.
She decided to take clones and induce flowering to determine their sex. With a limited budget and little experience in cloning, she found the information in my book, Indoor Marijuana Horticulture, under “Cloning for Sex”.
Cloning for sex
To clone, Wanda soaked a slab of Oasis cubes in mild nutrient solution. She labelled each plant under the light. Each time she took a clone, she labelled the clone to correspond with the parent.
She rummaged around the house and found the necessary implements: a bowl of water, a utility knife, a bottle of Nutriboost rooting jell, a block of Oasis rooting cubes, a 10″ x 20″ cloning tray and a 6″ humidity dome.
She selected branches from the bottom of the plants. She first removed a few lower leaves, and then cut the branch from the plant. She then submerged the 2-3-inch branch in the bowl of water and made a 45 degree cut on the bottom of the stem. Making the cut below water ensures that a bubble of air does not lodge in the hole in the stem and kill the clone.
Next, she dipped the trimmed cutting in rooting jell and put it into the Oasis rooting cube. She had to use a chopstick to enlarge the hole in the Oasis cube. After inserting the clone in the hole, she used the chop stick to pack the Oasis into contact with the stem.
Wanda set the clone trays under four 40-watt fluorescent lamps in a small cloning chamber she made. She covered the clones with a humidity tent. She removed the humidity dome once or twice daily and misted the cuttings. Two weeks later, 90% of the clones had rooted, and all showed definite signs of sexual gender. Once the male clones were identified, Wanda found the corresponding male parent and removed it from the garden.
Don’t bounce your mothers
If Wanda had tried to identify the males by putting all the parent plants into flower, the females would then have to be rejuvenated. The rejuvenation process weakens a mother plant for future reproduction. Giving a plant 12 hours of light is a signal that life will soon end. Mother plants that are rejuvenated after flowering produce less potent clones each time they are bounced back and forth between flowering and vegetative growth.
If the light cycles of the mother plants or their clones are bounced back and forth, they will lose THC potency. Once you have a mother plant, always keep her growing under 18 or more hours of light. If you induce the mother to flower, take clones from the mother while she is still receiving 18 hours of light. The clones you take from this mother should then be fine to grow into new mother plants with all of her characteristics.
Growing is easy
At the end of the night, Steve and I had time to smoke a fatty and reflect: “You know,” he said, “a lot of people have trouble growing weed, yet it’s is so easy. Wanda is a good grower, she has that nurturing side to her.
“It’s simple, basic stuff I tell people. The biggest problem that I see is when I give some advice, the grower also gets advice from several well-meaning friends, and they steer them the wrong way. Growing is very simple. With a little bit of time and hands-on experience you’ll grow the best ganja in the world!”
– Jorge Cervantes is the author of the bestseller, Indoor Marijuana Horticulture, and will soon release Marijuana Indoors:
Five Easy Grow Rooms (fall 1998) and Marijuana Outdoors: Basic Growing (spring 1999).