CANNABIS CULTURE – The Roots & Harmony Growilla method is based on a really simple concept: dirt, water, nutrients, and light.
For this article, we’re going to assume you already have a suitable space set up with 600 or 1000 watt lights, a strong outtake fan hooked up to a charcoal filter, a smaller intake (this creates a suction effect), and appropriate humidity (a dehumidifier if you need one in your area/season). Other than that, we need to discuss the dirt, water, and nutrients, which is the heart of the Roots & Harmony Growilla method.
‘Mandro’ is simply a term for man-powered hydroponic feeding, which is simly dumping the appropriate amount of nutrients in your water reservoir and then manually applying the water to the soil via a pump and wand setup. As well, a big part of the Roots & Harmony philosophy involves consistent use of our Growilla Bud Food TM Flowering Formula top-dress. (Note: after months of requests, we’ve finally gone ahead and packaged a limited-edition first run of the stuff, available now at www.rootsandharmony.com). By using a particulate food product (dry top dress), a time-release delivery medium (soil) we believe we are able to improve on the yields and quality of hydroponic growing while reducing the potential risks. In addition, the Growilla method relies on organic products and nutrients, ensuring the cleanest, healthiest smoke you can produce.
Think about how much yield you are planning for and how much space you have available to use. Will you use 1000’s or 600’s? How many? Big plants or small plants? Truthfully, that depends on the strain. Doing your homework and knowing what works best for the strain you are growing is key. For that, we recommend Jorge Cervantes’ Indoor Grower’s Bible.
Other than the usual lighting and other gear you use (space heater, dehumidifiers, beds, etc), in order to use the Growilla method you’ll need a decent water reservoir. This allows you to keep plenty of well-prepared water (we’ll get into that later) on hand for lots of watering. There are two key benefits, consistency and convenience.
To get the most from your plants, you should give them what they want when they want it – nothing less, nothing more. Having a reservoir of properly PH’d, warmed, and aerated water on hand ensures that your plants will get the same thing every time you water… same temperature, same PH. Plus, it is way easier! Watering is a chore when done the traditional way; this will put watering at your fingertips and make your nightlies a snap.
Make sure you have:
1. 20-100 Gallon Trash Can (depending on size)
2. 1/6th Horsepower sump pump.
3. Hi-quality gardening hose (25′ – 50′ depending on size)
4. Hi-quality watering wand with hand valve (to turn your water on/off at the wand)
5. Shatter-proof water heater (for fish tanks or from your local grow store)
6. Water aerator (for fish tanks or from your local grow store) & air stone (to hold down the hose and disperse the bubbles).
7. A ‘No-Kink’ for your hose… it’s a spring that keeps the part of the hose near the wand from kinking and cutting of your water supply.
For detailed instructions on installing your resi, please visit our website here. It’s pretty self explanatory, but we’ve outlined it for the newbies out there that wanna do it right the first time.
After you finish setting up your water reservoir, you need to make sure your space is ready. Mites, funguses, mildews, and other unwanted stuff must be eliminated so you can start with a clean slate between rounds.
Keep It Clean
We want to avoid adding foreign substances like sulfur powder and pesticides to our crop if we can, and the easiest way to do that is to keep up on your daily cleaning as well as your between-round cleaning.
Indoor operations have tons of surface area for grime and dirt to collect in high concentrations, so giving the space a fresh start is crucial. Use a broom and vacuum to remove all the particulate matter, dust, dirt, remnants, and other gunk left over. If you are using beds like we’ve built on the Roots & Harmony blog, or pre-fab water reservoirs, or anything else that has collected dirt during your cycle, make sure you wipe it down as well and get it as clean and hygienic as possible. We recommend a solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (instead of bleach), at a ratio of about .5 oz to every 3-4 gallons of water for all your surface cleaning; beds, walls, ceiling, floor, etc.
Lightly dampen a clean rag with some of your cleaning solution and wipe down the inside and outside of your light hoods, your fan blades, fan housing, and anything else that shouldn’t be sprayed but has exposed surface area. Wipe it dry with a dry, clean rag.
The essence of cleanliness is yield quality. We try to handle the presence of pests, mildews, molds, and anything else that disturbs your harvest the old-fashioned way… by keeping everything very clean (preventative maintenance).
Next, we are going to walk you through the most important distinction of the Growilla method… soil in pots, baby! That’s right! Hydroponics can work great if you are into that, but we here at Roots & Harmony love to experiment. New strains, new phenotypes, and new genetics are what we are all about. In this kind of constantly changing scenario you need a reliable and safe growing medium that provides a necessary cushion so you can watch your babies react. So without any further ado, get some empty pots, roll up your jeans, and prepare to soil yourself!
Soil is Awesome
There are many methods to grow any plant, some more popular than others. Most of today’s pop-farmers (I think I just coined a term) pretty much roll with the program… you buy $$$ worth of hydro gear, you pay a heady electrician to set it all up, and you go on the grow-store prescription, constantly returning to the grow store for $$$ worth of nutrients every month or week or what have you.
Well, we here at Roots & Harmony are all about doing things our own way… we believe in the ecosystem, in natural and organic produce and foods, and small-footprint farming methods that reduce, recycle, and reuse. After over 20 years of farming various things various ways (we’ve tried all the techniques for growing anything from summer squash to sour diesel), we believe we’ve arrived right back at what nature intended… soil, water, food and light. We might even convert some of you hydro-noobs out there, and get you off on the right foot.
Soil farming is eco-friendly. Soil ensures your plants use only the water and nutrients they need, thereby avoiding toxic or otherwise unseemly water waste. Soil also requires no constant electricity, so you are able to reduce the power footprint required by your setup.
In addition, soil has a slower uptake than hydro systems (it’s like eating a hamburger vs. injecting burger grease into your veins). Because of this, mistakes such as under-watering and overfeeding can be corrected easier and will not have as much of an impact on your plants or veggies. It also acts as a reservoir in it’s own right, so you have more room for error with watering.
Soil can also be the most productive medium; it depends on how you use it. Soil is its own ecosystem, it can harbor many beneficial microbes and fungi that hydro systems cannot. This ecosystem needs food though, so you need to adjust your feeding techniques appropriately. We believe that by using an organic soil top dress (like our Growilla Bud Food Flowering Formula) you can actually more effectively, safely, and efficiently feed your plants without the need for expensive trips to the grow store.
So how should soil be done? The key to happy plants is using organic, nutrient rich soil that has a proper density and moisture level. Soils that are all dirt will hold on to too much water and make soggy plants. Soils that are all perlite and wood chips will not hold enough water. We swear by one, and only one, soil product… Fox Farms Ocean Forest.
We begin by mixing 4 bags of Fox Farm with 8 cups (2 cups per bag) of Growilla Bud Food and 3-5 gallons of perlite (approx 1 per bag) on a large tarp. Mix as much soil as necessary to fill all your pots, we get about 10 pots worth out of this recipe. Blending it gently, we “ribbon/marble” the feed and perlite throughout the soil medium, not completely mixing it in, but making sure that the food is spread throughout the medium coarsely. This ensures different PH ranges throughout the potted plant, providing nutrient uptake for a variety of nutrients at once, because different nutrients uptake at different PH ranges. Filling 7 gallon pots (essential for voluminous root growth), we leave about 2 inches of room at the top.
Transplant your babies from the 4-inch cups into these pots, making sure your babies are healthy, 6-10 inches tall, and otherwise ready for transplanting. You’re all set! You now have a healthy, natural home for your kids… and they are already loving it. Most of our colleagues report incredible vegetative growth during this first week after the transplants have begun partying in their new homes.
Water & Food
Now that your transplants are in their medium, it’s time to consider water. How much? How often? Roots & Harmony believes that watering properly is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure the health and yield of your crop. We’ve noticed when we’re out mingling that many casual and personal farmers just water away, without really knowing what’s is going into their plants. Temperature, and PH are important things to consider before plying your tender youngins with water. Remember this… use just enough water to thoroughly wet your medium, and let your medium dry to a reasonable level between waterings, to ensure your plant fights off root fungus and stays vigorous.
Make sure your water’s PH is acceptable. Ideally, your PH is in the low 5’s, i.e. 5.2 – 5.5 for your P and K uptake. When vegging, make sure your PH is higher, in the 5.8 – 6.5 range for the proper uptake of Nitrogen. As long as you maintain these ranges, you should be fine, but remember to check your PH if your babies don’t look right.
Remember to keep your water temperature in check as well. 65-75 degrees is fine. Water that is too cold will shock your plants and set them back. Water that is too warm will damage them as well. You are looking for dark green, rigid leaves. Lime green leaves that hang are a sign of too much cold water.
The most important thing to consider when watering, even before temperature, or PH, is simply quantity. Most people over-water or under-water their crops. This is the single most destructive thing you can do to a plant. Plant cells have a set amount of volume, and plants have a fixed number of cells at any given time. If you over-water, the plant simply sucks up water until all it’s cells burst and it dies. If you don’t water enough, the cells collapse and the plant dries out, this is seen as wilting with dry, brittle, orange and yellow leaves.
In the final weeks of your cycle, you should be watering a good amount (half gallon per 7 gallon bucket). At Roots & Harmony we always water two times per watering with about 15-30 minutes between doses. The first soaking creates an equal distribution of water throughout the medium due to the cohesive nature of water. The second soaking flushes out excess salts and works the nutrients throughout the medium. Before you just soak them however, make sure you check your bucket weights. If a plant is really light, give it a full watering, but if it’s still heavy, make sure you don’t over water it. Give it another day to catch up with the others.
While your plants are flowering, you’ll want to apply a top dress like our Growilla Bud Food every 10-14 days. 0.5-1.0 ounce for the first feeding, depending on canopy size, increasing by a 0.5 ounce to one ounce with every feeding. Remember to apply your last feeding 3 weeks before harvest to allow for flushing the medicine. For example, if you are growing a 9 week organic strain, you’ll want to apply your top dress every 2 weeks for the first 6 weeks, leaving the final 3 weeks for flushing with just properly PH’d water.
This is the funnest part of any cycle. We’re not going to tell you how to cut down and trim your nugs, but we are going to be clear about this: properly drying your crop is extremely important. Besides incorrect watering, it’s the most commonly mistaken part of the process, and often leads to flavorless flowers with too little medicine.
First make sure you have a space that is enclosed, mostly dark, and the right temperature. 65-70 degrees is ideal. Low humidity (we’re trying to dry the stuff) is key, around 45-50%. Have a very light breeze going via a fan blowing along the floor… not a lot of air flow is needed but some is necessary. We prefer to use a bedroom closet. Hang your stuff via wire coat hangers (see photo). Spread your hangers out on the bar roughly 2-3″ apart.This will ensure you have adequate airflow around all your flowers.
Leave your flowers to dry for approx 3-7 days depending on climate. You’ll know your plants are ready for the next stage when the thickest stems snap when bent, instead of just folding over. Take your hangers and lay them flat in a tote or utility bin, stacking them about 6-8 inches thick. Cover the bin with the lid (snapping it closed) for 24 hours, then check it. Check the bottom first. Any moisture left should have spread evenly throughout the tote. If not, rotate the bottom hangers to the top, and leave uncovered for 12 hours, then recheck, and if necessary, repeat. The final test is simply put, whether or not you can smoke a joint with the stuff. If it burns evenly and consistently without going out, it’s ready. Every good farmer will learn to know when there stuff is perfect.
Try it Out
To really see the Growilla method in action you have to try it for yourself. There are many benefits. Using a top dress like Growilla Bud Food prevents costly trips to the grow store for nutrients. Our top dress is offered for half the price of comparable products and a fraction of the price of liquid nutrients. In addition, you won’t be arranging your schedule around frequent trips to the store. Being a one-part formula makes it easy to use… you literally feed just three or four times in a flowering cycle. This saves you time and energy and best of all, grows you sweet, organic medicine!