This article will address these steps that so many growers worldwide often neglect. After many years, I have concluded that due to these steps being improperly attended to, when I sample or judge herb I am ultimately judging the grower, rather than the strain itself. And most growers are not addressing these four crucial steps properly, therefore rendering their finished product inferior to what is ultimately possible.
1. Herb must be organically grown
In order for ganja to express its full dazzling array of flavor and all the subtle tones that are available, it simply must be grown organically. I know that many hydro growers would disagree until the end of time with me on this one, but it?s true. Being the author of The Cannabible 1 and 2, I have been fortunate enough to sample many different growers? attempts at the same strain, even from clone, and with the exception of the Chem strain, the organic always tastes better. (For the full story of the Chem, see Cannabible 2.)
This is not to say that properly grown hydro can?t taste delicious. Sometimes it can be very delicious indeed. But that same strain grown organically will have a more diverse and, well, satisfying flavor, and certainly a better aftertaste. Ten or twenty years ago, I can understand why hydro growers would have been resistant to switch to organics ? too heavy, stinky, and messy. Luckily, this is not the case today. There are many brands of organic fertilizers and liquified nutrients that are potent and easy to use, manageable, not too messy or smelly, and affordable as well. Any good grow store should have a selection of such products.
The big reason why most chemical hydro growers keep on using chemicals is they think their bottom line ? yield ? would be lower with organics. This is simply not the case. Properly grown organics will yield just as much ? or more ? as using chemicals. I have conducted experiments that have proven this time and time again. And even if the yield is a little less, it would still be worth it, considering the quality is greatly enhanced. Better herb is worth more money, if that?s what you?re looking for.
Bottom line is this. Plants, like humans, do not want to be fed (or treated with) chemicals. And just like a human can live (for a while) on fast food, cigarettes, and beer, they will not be thriving. It?s the same with a plant. Though chemically fed hydroponic plants might look healthy on the outside for a while, they are not thriving on the inside. All the chemicals only serve to weaken the defenses of the plant, just like they do in a human.
Nature?s way of dealing with these weakened plants is to send bugs, viruses, molds, and other pathogen to eliminate the weak specimens. (Survival of the fittest, remember?) Again, this is the same way it works with humans. The answer, contrary to what the chemical peddlers will tell you, is not to spray on more chemicals! One only needs to take a brief glimpse at what chemical agriculture has done to modern farming and farmers to understand this. Millions of acres of rich, fertile farmland have been reduced to barren, toxic, dead wasteland.
All this from being repeatedly doused (drowned) with what our government calls ?safe? chemicals and fertilizers. Why repeat this destructive cycle in your grow? Consider this ? one of the main techniques I use to judge herb is to roll a joint (with a Club rolling paper) and pay particular attention to the second half of the joint. This is where the true test comes in. Any decent herb can taste good on the first few hits of a joint, but it?s truly special herb that tastes great right down to the last hit, with the roach burning your fingers! Most of the herb I come across tastes like hot tarry smoke by the second half of a joint, and this loses major points in my books. Properly grown (and flushed!) organic herb almost always tastes great down to the end of a joint. Chemically grown herb almost always tastes like ?schwill? by the second half. Try this experiment yourself, and I think you will agree.
The second half of a bowl or bong hit also clearly reveals the benefits of organics. With chemically fed hydro, you end up with a black cruddy ball of harsh carcinogens by the second half of your bowl. With properly grown organics, it tastes delicious down to the last hit, when it will easily blow away as a clean gray ash.
2. Herb must be flushed properly
In order for ganja to reach its ultimate potential quality, the plants must be cut off from food and thoroughly flushed with clean water for several weeks or more before harvest. Of course this step is much more important when harsh chemical fertilizers are used than with organics. But if ultimate quality is to be reached it is necessary with any setup. The amount of flush time varies depending on the situation, but I generally recommend stopping all feeding and switching to pure water approximately one month before harvest. This timing can be shortened for indoor plants or lengthened for outdoor plants, depending on container size, the fertilizers used, the strains grown, and a number of other things. This gives the plant time to finish all remaining food, and the leaves will then start changing colors and the plant yellowing. Yes, you might be able to crank out another few grams or so by feeding them up to the end or close to it, but we are going for ultimate quality here, not quantity. Cannabis plants that are allowed to yellow on their path to senescence have a much more beautiful and complex flavor when smoked or vaporized than plants that are fed and are bright green right up to harvest. Again, I have done experiments that have proven this again and again. Skipping this step is one of the main factors that has ruined most Canadian and Dutch herb. There are many connoisseurs who completely agree with me on this point!
3. Herb must be cured properly
Curing is such an important step to producing fine herb, but sadly it is so often ignored or neglected. I believe this is because the demand for ganja is so great that people will buy herb that hasn?t even been dried properly, let alone cured! Also, I believe many growers are ignorant not only of the importance of this step, but how to do it as well. I am constantly amazed at how often I see herb that is genetically excellent, grown very well, harvested properly, dried properly, then sold and/or consumed without being cured and therefore half as tasty as it could have been. The curing process is quite simple. Here is how it?s done.
After the herb is done drying, when a stem will snap if bent, the medicine is transferred to glass jars, preferably. (Plastic Tupperware or other clean and sealable containers can be used if the quantity is too large to jar.) Over the next couple of weeks, at least several times per day if possible, the jars are opened briefly. This allows the trapped gasses inside the jar to escape, essentially ?sweating? the nugs to golden perfection. This process also allows the last moisture deep inside the buds to find its way out. During the curing process, the ganja?s smell will change from a slightly vegetative stink to a near-orgasmic and lusciously diverse aroma (depending on the strain of course)!
Not only is the flavor greatly enhanced by curing, but the high also improves. The medicine will smoke better as well, burning more evenly. Most importantly, a multitude of delicious flavors will reveal themselves that otherwise would have gone unnoticed and unappreciated.
One last point ? herb that has been cured properly doesn?t even need to be squeezed, and therefore degraded, to smell its best. Just opening a jar of properly cured cannabis and smelling the jar will make your mouth water!
4. Herb must be handled delicately
Don?t even get me started on this one! Cannabis flowers are INCREDIBLY fragile and delicate. I cannot stress this point enough.
This is the single biggest reason that most pot sucks. By the time it reaches the smoker?s lungs, most herb has been manhandled to the point where it is probably half as potent and tasty as it would have been if handled properly. This degradation usually starts when the plants are still alive, as people will squeeze the buds to get a smell, bump into them, drag them along the ground, etc. During and after harvest they are manhandled even more as they are broken down, transported, hung, trimmed, moved around, dropped, etc. Every time they are touched they degrade. It?s that simple.
In order to produce what I call connoiseur-grade herb, incredible care must be taken at every single step of the process to ensure that the flowers are touched, disturbed, and molested as little as possible. This means all the way to the bong, joint, or vaporizer, where most people will roll up a little ball and put it in the bowl, getting their fingers nice and sticky in the process. That lovely smelling sticky feeling on your fingers, that?s the best part of your hit, which will now be wasted. Take it from me: I spend a lot of time looking at fine cannabis under the microscope at high magnification, so I have become hyper-aware of just how delicate the flowers are, noticing how each time they are even just barely touched, that so many resin glands are knocked off or explode. And what is the first thing most people do when packed a bong hit? They stick their finger on it and smash it down into the bowl, even if it didn?t need it, thereby removing pretty much all the resin from the top! (This is my pet peeve!)
Believe it or not, most of the compressed shwaggy herb from Mexico, Jamaica, Africa, and many other commercial herb centers of the world would have been absolutely fantastic if you or I would have harvested them and cared for them from that point on.
Even the simple process of ripping off and packing a bong hit, if not done with the utmost of care, can seriously degrade the herb. Personally, I use scissors (always the same pair) to cut off the piece I am going to smoke and use the metal blade to push the herb into the bowl, not even letting my fingers/hands get sticky at all. Yes, you lose a little on the scissors but at least it stays there and builds up for easy collection, unlike if you use your fingers.
And rolling a joint? This pretty much decimates the herb if you break it up with your (very sticky) fingers. I highly recommend the use of an herb grinder (available everywhere) for breaking up the herb. Yes, it does knock off resin, but again, it builds up inside the grinder and can be collected, unlike if you use your fingers.
None of these four crucial steps costs any more money to take, yet they are so often skipped or neglected with the herb commonly grown and smoked by most people. It does not have to be this way. Please grow or demand cannabis that is organic, flushed, cured, and handled like the delicate flowers that they are, and we will watch the worldwide quality of marijuana shoot way up to the highest heights!
And lastly, please love your plants, as this has been proven to have a wonderful effect on gardens and their growers!
See Pt.2 Here