I think that my breeding successes are primarily due to a very discerning palate and sense of smell. A strong and pleasing odor is the dominant feature expressed in the True Fragrant varieties. But you must remember that subtle and subjective characteristics such as “fragrance” and “bouquet” are dependent upon their environment as much as their genetics. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that it takes the purest of environments to grow the purest of herbs.
Bio vs Hydro
The purpose of this article is to help guide you in understanding the basic needs of these and other fragrant varieties, and how to best maintain their uniqueness, originality and quality. The key word to this understanding is “organic,” or what the Europeans like to call “bio” methods of production, (as opposed to chemical and most hydroponic methods). Simply put, there is no real substitute for the complex relationship of plants and organic soil.
There are those in the hydroponic industry who will argue that certain hydroponic methods are nearly organic and very productive. I don’t disagree. However, the main focus of the hydroponic industry is that of production, or quantity, whereas my focus is on quality.
Granted, there are situations where a hydroponic system may be superior to an organic one, especially when the grower wants only one crop and the absolutely highest yield. Sadly, the fact is also that many people simply cannot tell the difference between hydro and organic products, or they simply don’t care.
The quality of the hydroponic product may be increased greatly by employing the simple “two week flush” method prior to harvest. This means that only pure water, with no additives or nutrients, be given to the plant for two weeks prior to harvest. This will only slightly decrease production, while greatly increasing the quality of the finished product.
I have found that generally the potency of a given variety of cannabis has to do with the ratio of glandular secreted resins, compared to the overall fibre production of the plant. A higher ratio of resin to fibre generally indicates the superior quality and chemical composition of the resin, and the greater potency of the product. Therefore, in order to maintain potency while increasing production, this ratio must be maintained. It has been my experience that the more one increases the fibre production and overall size of a given plant, the more one decreases this ratio and, therefore, decreases potency.
This quality/quantity ratio is much less of a concern to the grower who is producing in the great outdoors. I can honestly say from experience that all of the “True Fragrant” varieties are major producers when grown in their particular “sweet spot.” Blueberry and Flo have both reached 500 grams per plant, multi-harvested between October 1 and November 7, grown near the 45th parallel in the Pacific Northwest. These plants lost little of their overall appeal despite the increase in production. However, the product of the smaller plants still tended to be more desirable than the larger ones in the outdoor environment.
Someday, when we are allowed to properly produce herb in the great outdoors, we will once again see and experience some of the truly finest examples the planet has to offer. These “fine herbs” come from very specific geographic locations which I refer to as “sweet spots.” Certain examples would be: The Northern Californian-Southern Oregon coastal regions; the highland Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas regions of Mexico; highland and valley Colombia; Thailand; the islands of Hawaii; Nepal; parts of Afghanistan; and the Hindu Kush, to name but a few. It is in these “sweet spots” that the most favorable and specifically desirable characteristics are acclimated phenotypical. Selective inbreeding hardens the desirable characteristics and gives us specific, varied strains. I am very curious to see and experience exactly what our years and multi-generations of indoor breeding are going to produce when returned to these great outdoor “sweet spots.”
Indoor environments are extremely limited in comparison to the great outdoors. The outdoors is a complete and complex system, balanced by many various circumstances. It is sometimes difficult enough to help provide and maintain the proper balances organically in an outdoor garden. Yet although properly providing and maintaining an organic environment indoors is truly a challenge to face, it is not impossible.
Airborne, soil-born, and water-born pests, fungus, mold, algae and bacteria are just a few of the organisms that can attack a crop and seriously weaken production. It is often too easy to treat these maladies with simple applications of toxic chemicals, and a bit more difficult to solve the problem in a clean and organic way. Yet here are a variety of adequate organic pesticides and fungicides on the market today. There are also living organisms such as specific predator insects and nematodes. If you feel you must use a commercial chemical product, try to find the least toxic one available for the purpose, and use sparingly. Never apply anything toxic to your plants once they’re in the budding cycle.
Another factor to consider is what to use as vitalizers and fertilizers. The bulk of commercial fertilizers and vitalizers (along with most commercial pesticides, herbicides and fungicides) are synthesized from petrochemical by-products and are not truly natural products. Worms, seaweed, bat and bird guano, fish, green manures and most of their by-products are examples of substances that are naturally produced that provide plenty of good, clean nutrients to the plant. There are now many specific products suited for the indoor organic gardener. Consult your local or favorite organic garden centre for more detail.
Flush your buds!
The most important, and perhaps the most simple, aspect to consider involves the last two to three weeks of the bud cycle ? the last two to three weeks of the plant’s life prior to harvest. It is during this time that absolutely NO additives, other than pure water, be given to the plant. This is especially important if you have been using chemical fertilizers.
This is the time when the bulk of the final, “useable” part of the plant is produced. As you may well already know, there are over four hundred separate chemicals associated with cannabis and her effects. It is during the final bud-building stage that most of these chemicals are produced. Thus, it is very important to give the plant as much pure water as possible during this crucial period. I like to remember it as the “rinse” and “flush” cycle. Simply remember to give the plants only water for the last two to three weeks in order to rinse and flush them clean. This is to purge unwanted impurities from the plant.
Pot that has been fertilized right up to harvest is harsh to smoke, sometimes the joint will even sizzle and pop as unmetabolized fertilizer salts combust. Un-flushed pot leaves black ash, is hard to keep lit and burns your throat. Pot which has been organically grown and properly flushed is more flavourful and fragrant, burns easily, leaves grey ash, is easier on the throat and is much more pleasurable to smoke.