Thirteen Thoughts for the home cannabis creator
Sage advice for novice gardeners and big-time growers
I. Forget what you know
The first and most damning mistake you can make as a novice cannabis creator is to stubbornly stick to anything that you think you already know about creating cannabis.
Many people who decide to grow do so after years of being what I call “cannabis enthusiasts.” They have already had much experience with cannabis, seeing, smelling, tasting and possibly distributing the wondrous plant. It has probably been the subject of many animated conversations in their life, but talk is cheap.
The fact is that in a state of prohibition ninety-nine percent of all stories circulating about successful cannabis creators are completely false. The reason for this is simple: successful cannabis creators don’t talk about their operations. Loose lips are absolutely guaranteed to be your worst potential problem. The cannabis creator’s motto should be, “for every one person you tell, that’s one too many.”
Another good tip is that anyone who claims to have the best pot definitely doesn’t. So don’t believe what you’ve heard.
II.Get good Information
Don’t heed the advice of anyone who doesn’t grow themselves. If you have a friend who grows and wants to help, only follow their advice if you think that their product is superior. If their buds are not top notch, chances are you can do better by correcting his or her problems from the start. Forget what you know. Set a new standard.
Get accurate information from a variety of sources, such as this magazine and the many books on the subject, and then draw your own conclusions based upon what works or you.
Many books on how to cultivate legal plants, especially herbs and vegetables, are widely available and can be very helpful with general subjects like soils or pest control.
III. Cannabis is a plant
The concept of cannabis creation can be understood most easily by keeping one simple fact in mind: cannabis is a plant, and a very highly evolved one at that. Plants are not designed to grow indoors, so in order to have a thriving indoor garden you must fool the plants into believing that they are in the great outdoors. It is your job to recreate the sun, the wind, the rainfall, climate and soil conditions of the perfect outdoor plot on Lesquiti Island, Northern California, Thailand, or Hawaii. In these environments cannabis is the fastest growing plant on the planet. It processes the sun’s light more efficiently than other fast growing plants like bamboo, corn or kenaf.
There are five limiting factors to plant growth: light, water, nutrients, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Any green plant needs all five of these things to be available to it or growth will slow or stop. Each one is just as important as the others, and more or too much of one will absolutely not make up for lack of any other.
Each limiting factor is a link in the chain. The weak link is the one that slows the plants down. If you think you have a problem, it is most likely one of these five things.
IV. Choosing a space
Any space is a good space to create cannabis. Ceilings should be a minimum of 1.8 metres (about 6 feet) high. Attics, crawl spaces, alcoves, closets, sheds, barns and extra bedrooms are all good. Basements are the best, unless you own property and happen to have a backhoe and an extra school bus or storage container to bury. Anything underground is very good.
The space will need a good power supply, access to water and somewhere to vent your exhaust. For 2KWs or more, the range or clothes dryer plug will provide 240v power. Trash barrels filled with a garden hose are a common source of water in spaces that don’t have a nearby bathtub or work sink.
If you need to maximize your square footage in a small bedroom, take the closet doors off and use that space just like a part of the room.
V. AC primer
Indoor gardens tend to use a lot of electricity. If you don’t know anything about household electricity, and don’t want to learn by checking a book out from the library on basic household wiring, then I recommend trying to stay under 2KW (two thousand watts) of power use to minimize the risk of fire on, or the electrocution of, your person.
Always keep extension cords off the ground and keep cord runs as short as possible. Wrap cord connections in duct tape. If you can’t plug your 1KW lamps directly into the wall socket then use extra heavy duty cords, and never ones over 25 feet long.
Never use splitters or power strips on outlets or cords running 1KW lamps. Never run more than one 1KW lamp on a single household circuit (15 amp breaker). Only run circuits at 70 percent of their rated amperage for a safety margin, which means that you shouldn’t run more than 10.5 amps through a 15 amp breaker.
The formula to calculate amperage is watts divided by volts equals amps. Example: 1000 watt lamp at 120 volts = 8.33 amps (120 volts is standard North American household wall socket voltage).
The grower’s ventilation system actually serves many purposes. Outdoors, plants are exposed to constant fresh air, so they are supplied with an unlimited amount of carbon dioxide. Indoors, the air is mostly stagnant, so the cannabis creator uses high powered exhaust fans to simulate the outdoor fresh air environment. The fans remove the stale air which has been depleted of carbon dioxide by the fast-growing cannabis plants, and it is replaced by fresh air which contains lots of fresh carbon dioxide for the plants to breathe.
By constantly removing hot, humid air out of the grow space, the exhaust also serves to reduce high humidity levels caused by water evaporation from wet soil or reservoirs, and to control the substantial heat created by High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting systems.
Your exhaust system is also your most obvious and effective means of odour control. These are reasons why for the serious indoor horticulturist, ventilation is not an option, it is mandatory! Ventilation is just as important as adequate light or water.
This means that you not only need to exhaust a lot of air out of the room, but vigorously circulate the air inside the room as well. 16-inch oscillating fans and 20-inch box fans are good to place inside the room for blowing fresh air around the plants. Generally more is better, especially in flowering. Plants that have been exposed to vigorous air circulation grow much sturdier and more vigorously than plants that have not. Don’t overdo it though, just think like mother nature.
VII. Varieties of Cannabis
Although there are technically only two classifications of high THC varieties, indica
When talking about dogs, hybrids are called mutts, but everyone knows that mutts can have more character and charm. Like dogs, pure lines can only come from pure parents. Also, a dog may be a german shepherd or a chihuahua, but just because a dog fits into a category like that doesn’t mean that every shepherd or chihuahua is the same as the next.
All living things have DNA which determines all of their physical characteristics. DNA is what ensures that no two people, dogs or cannabis seedlings will ever be alike. For our purposes, DNA is the code that contains every bit of information as to how a plant will grow, how it will look, its potency and every possible trait that it could ever have.
The DNA and thus all physical features come 1/2 from the female parent and 1/2 from the male parent, resulting in offspring (seeds or seedlings) that should somewhat resemble both their parents.
VIII. Clones and Seeds
Unlike dogs, cannabis can be “cloned” (it had been shown that mammals can now be cloned as well, although with much difficulty — ol ed). It is very important to understand the difference between a seedling and a clone. A seedling is a plant that was sprouted from a seed, and is therefore the product of sexual reproduction between a male and a female plant. Approximately one-half of these seeds or seedlings will be female, and approximately one half male. Each and every one, regardless of its sex, will be different.
A clone was never a seed. A clone starts out as a growing tip of a larger established plant (a seedling or a clone) which was cut off, treated with a rooting hormone and put into its own small container. It sprouted roots and is now a separate plant, genetically identical to the plant that it was taken from.
As far as the clone is concerned, it is the same plant it always was. A clone will always be the same sex as its parent, and have the same growth traits as well as the same potential potency, flavour and high.
The single most important factor in the potency of your crop of cannabis is the plants themselves. Any given clone or seedling has a preset, genetically determined potential potency. Once you have finished, dried and sampled a certain healthy, mature bud, a clone of that plant will only vary about 5 to 10 percent in potency, no matter what techniques are used to grow it. Good buds are born, not made.
In Canada you are very fortunate to have easy access to a myriad of fine quality seed stock. Don’t use any seeds or clones unless you are sure that they are of high quality. It isn’t worth the time, effort and risk to grow second-rate plants.
The second most important factor is the maturity, or ripeness of the buds. As the buds get bigger and bigger, you will notice that some of the hairs (pistils) on the buds which were all white to begin with, will start to wither and turn red. When about seventy-five percent of all the hairs on the buds have turned red and new growth seems to slow (usually after about 45 to 60 days in the flowering cycle for most pure indicas and 50/50 hybrids), the buds should be ripe for harvest.
Yield is a highly subjective concept that receives little coherent attention. Some people say that fewer, bigger plants yield more, others argue that many small plants will yield more. Few people consider other factors such as lighting intensity, or the variety or flowering period of the plants in question.
The only intelligent way to talk about yield is on a yield-per-square-meter basis. This universally accepted method gives you a reference so that you can compare one crop to another, even in a different situation, or so you can compare the efficiency of your garden to another.
However, most growers end up growing many crops, not just one, and this takes a lot of time. Yield-per-square-meter fails to take into account the fact that some crops take six weeks to mature, while others take twelve. The missing component of the yield-per-square-meter method is time. For the serious, production-oriented grower, the formula should be yield-per-square-meter-per-unit-time. A crop that takes twice as long to mature has to yield twice as much to produce an equivalent yield-per-unit-time.
Lighting intensity and flowering period are the primary factors in determining yield. Lighting intensity is calculated with a similar watts-per-square-meter system. Increasing the watts-per-square-meter by any means is guaranteed to increase your yield-per-square-meter, as long as other environmental factors (like heat) remain the same, and no limiting factor holds back growth.
As for flowering period, plants that take more time tend to have thicker, bigger, heavier buds, except in the case of sativas and some sativa crosses, which are not recommended strains for maximum yields.
XI. Odour control
There are many common ways to reduce the pungent fragrance of cannabis flowers, including ionizers (negative ion generators), charcoal filters, air scrubbers, and chemical sprays. Unfortunately reduce is the key word, as none of these methods will actually eliminate smells, except from the smallest room or the least stinky garden.
Here is a brief overview of how these devices work. Ionizers generate negatively charged ions and disperse them into the air. When these negative ions come into contact with positively charged particles floating in the air like dust or pollen, they change the particle’s charge to negative, causing the particle to “precipitate” or to fall to the ground. This results in cleaner air, and dirtier floors and walls.
Another kind of ionizer is called a “collector ionizer.” These incorporate some disposable filter and either a positively charged surface which attracts the ionized particles, or a small fan that moves the air through the filter (which usually also contains activated charcoal) and then injects the ions into the outgoing airstream.
Charcoal filters are similar to these but use only the fan and activated charcoal. They are usually slightly more heavy duty, and seem to work about as well as an ionizer, as long as you keep the charcoal fresh by changing the filter regularly.
Air scrubbers consist of a large barrel of water with your exhaust piped into it, like a giant bong, and then to the outside. Pine cleaner and/or liquid smoke are added to the water to taint the smell. I have never personally built one of these but the theory makes sense, except that it seems awkward and I don’t think it would work well with high-powered exhaust blowers.
Chemical sprays are used in hospitals and kennels to deal with very harsh odors. They work, but I personally find the artificial, chemical odor overwhelming to the point of nausea. I do not recommend these sprays because they are impractical to use on a continuous basis, and frankly if it’s going to stink, I’d rather have it stink like greenbud.
If these answers aren’t good enough for you, there is an uncommon method that can grapple with the most incredible odour situations. Ozone generators are available for those who wish to have a serious odour control program. You can expect to do some looking for this esoteric device, and also expect lo lay out a few thousand dollars for its purchase. Despite the high price, I reccomend ozone for all commercial growers. When ozone is piped into your outgoing exhaust it effectively neutralizes all odour in a matter of seconds.
XII. Wet pot is not pot
Improperly dried pot is unacceptable for smoking and useless for enlightenment purposes. One of the reasons that pot is sold to smiling customers for as much as gold is because the grower has had to dry it out before selling it. This drying cannot be viewed as losing money, for it is merely the process of evaporating water, purifying the buds down to just the essence of their remarkable existence. No-one should ever have to pay such a price to buy wet pot.
As the buds dry they continue to ripen and increase in potency, much like an apple continues to ripen after being plucked. The chlorophyll in the bud breaks down into more simple, easy-burning sugars. Harsh smoking characteristics such as a green or shakey taste diminish, allowing the true unadulterated flavor to come through.
The buds should be dried to a level of combustibility such that you are able to crumble them into a firm, lip-smacking, even burning spliff of Rasta revelry, or receive a prompt flow of thick, cool, flavorful smoke from your favorite waterpipe, as soon as the flame touches the bud.
Needless to say, the disappointment to the consumer of not being able to get stoned after finally acquiring the desired bag of weed, at great time and expense to all, is definitely severe. This is compounded when you are one of the ever growing number of people who use cannabis to relieve pain and suffering incomprehensible to healthy people. Dry pot is the balm of the sick, a miracle cure-all.
Every stoner knows that kind, dry buds are nature’s single greatest gift to mankind. Selling undried buds, even at wholesale prices, is a definite karma no-no, and smoking them is totally defeating the purpose.
I know there are money hungry people out there — it is even considered normal in our materialistic consumer society. Yet that’s the greatest thing about this occupation, for you can set your own salary simply by growing as much pot as you want. But the only way for a righteous non-greedy cannabis creator to estimate yields (and therefore profits) is on a dried basis.
Hydroponics is Latin for “working water,” and the concept behind it is very simple. Instead of growing plants in soil that is naturally rich in organic nutrients (like compost or guano), the plants grow in a medium that provides the roots and plant with physical support, and a supply of oxygen to the roots that is unachievable in normal soil based systems. Rockwool, the most popular hydroponic medium, has near-perfect oxygen to water retention capabilities, and has been the home to some of the healthiest, fastest growing, most vigorous plants I have ever seen.
The nutrients are provided solely when the medium is periodically flushed or soaked in water that has the necessary nutrients dissolved in it. This is usually accomplished with a simple set-up of pumps and sequence timers, which deliver the solution out of a reservoir to each plant using drip-emitters that water each container individually, or ebb and flow techniques that fill and then drain trays or tables.
The above systems are referred to as “active hydroponics” because the water is actively moved around. The term “passive hydroponics” is used to describe systems such as gravity feed or wick systems, or even hand watering, as long as it is the water solution which is the primary source of nutrients, and not the medium.
As with many simple concepts, hydroponics doesn’t always translate easily into reality. Most hydroponic set-ups leave little room for error, have many variables, and one mistake can spell disaster. I only recommend full blown hydro set-ups to experienced growers who have a keen sense for the the needs of their plants.
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