Here’s how it’s done: Clones and new seeds are always placed into 1 gallon nursery pots without any Super Soil or added nutrients. Use only a good, balanced potting soil that won’t burn your baby plants. They will only stay in these smaller pots for a few weeks while the roots get established and you shape and top them.
It’s very important to not procrastinate when it is time to transplant out of these smaller containers. If you get lazy and let your small plants sit around in their starter containers, it will slow the transition process after transplanting. I have seen first hand the huge difference when I gave some clones to a card holder. The day I transplanted I had 4 extra clones that I passed to him. Instead of transplanting right away he waited until they were root bound and looking poorly. I was able to harvest 30 days before him and the quality and quantity difference was hard to believe. My method is not for the lazy or procrastinating type; the more on top of each technique you become, the better each harvest will become as well.
When I’m ready to transplant into the final pots I use #10 nursery pots that will hold a full 7 gallons of liquid. Seven may not sound much bigger than a 5, but let me tell you these slanted #10 pots hold a bunch of soil! Make sure to lift properly using your legs and not your back when moving one that’s just been watered.
I fill each pot 1/2 full with the Super Soil. I then fill the top half with plain potting soil. This buffers the roots and gives the plants time to get used to the hot soil I use.
I set up our pots on our trusty tarp, the same one I used in mixing this soil. We line all the pots up and place between 1/2 and 2/3 of a container of concentrate into the bottom of each container. Strains that have heavy nutrient requirements get more concentrate and short, slow Indicas that require less food get less concentrate.
Remember, it’s better to under-feed and fade a bit too early than to over-feed and burn your plants up. Plants grown in this organic soil that fade early produce amazingly potent, smooth and tasty buds and the loss of yield is small. Some strains can grow fast and have heavy nutrient requirements. For these plants, top dressing half way through the flowering phase can be beneficial. We will discuss this more in a later blog post.
After the first steps, layer some plain commercial potting soil on top of the concentrate – about 2″ worth. Use your hand or a small trowel to lightly mix the two layers. This allows the plant to be buffered as it hits the hot soil on bottom. Make sure the roots do not touch direct super soil use your hand to mix the plain potting soil around with the super soil. Then go ahead and fill the container with plain potting soil, leaving a small hole in the center.
It’s important to water the plants well before transplanting. This helps prevent shock. A nice damp root ball will make a happy plant. Gently flip the plant upside down. Wack the bottom with the palm of your hand to loosen the root ball. Support the plant by placing your hand on the pot allowing the stem to protrude though your fingers. Remove from the pot and support the base. Flip upright and place in the hole made into the soil making sure the root ball is even with the top of the soil. Gently pack the soil level and don’t forget your label.
Subcool is an expert grower and breeder, and author of Dank: The Quest for the Very Best Marijuana, published by Ed Rosenthal’s Quick Trading Company. He and is a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture and other marijuana magazines. Read Subcool’s Blog.