Ask Ed

Strategy to Live Within the Limits
I am a medical patient in Hawaii and am allowed to grow seven plants. You can see how this limits the number of crops one can grow in a year. I have thought, what if I kept one plant as a mother and rooted branches on it so as soon as the six mature plants with ripe buds were harvested, the new rooted branches that would become fairly large could be separated from the mother plant and placed in containers to become the next crop?

Kailua-Kona Hawaii

You have an excellent idea. Instead of taking cuttings, use the air layering technique to root new plants. Using this method, the branches grow roots while they are attached to the plant. For the plant count, the rooting branches are counted as part of the mother plant. However, they are rooting and growing new vegetation at the same time so they would be prepared for their next stage of development, growth into large vegetative plants. They will be larger than usual when the ripening crop is harvested. Then cut the rooted branches from the mother plant, pot them and place them in the next garden stage.

6 WEEKS- The bud was dried and thus looks mature.6 WEEKS- The bud was dried and thus looks mature.Growing Indoors in the Desert

I am a medical patient and live with two other patients. We are planning on setting up a grow room in a small building. We plan to buy clones from dispensaries and then grow the plants out. In our county, we are limited to six plants per patient.

We live in the desert. During the day it can get really hot, especially in the summer, but it is sunny here all year. At night the temperature drops forty degrees or more.

How should we grow the plants? How many lights should we have? How should we take care of the heat?

Three Men in a Tub
Barstow, California

Would it be possible to remove the opaque roof of the building and substitute translucent corrugated plastic in its place? The reason I ask is that the area you live in is sunny virtually all year long. With a light-transmitting roof, the plants would use sunlight rather than artificial lamps. During the winter, you would use supplementary light and when the plants are flowering during the summer they would have to be shaded a portion of the day, but the cost of energy and lighting would be minimal.

If you can?t use natural light you should use high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. As I understand it, in your county you are limited to six plants per patient, but there is no size limit, so each plant could be grown under a 1000-watt lamp. The plants could start by sharing a light. As they grow older, they can each get their own light and then be forced to flower by providing them with uninterrupted darkness each day. Toward the end of flowering, they can be placed in the finishing room, where they would be illuminated by extra bright lights and UV enhancement lights.

Rather than fight the heat during the day, take advantage of the night air. Use filtered cool air to keep the lights and garden cool. First the night air can be used to cool the air-cooled lights. By keeping the heat that the lights generate from the room, you are preventing problems. Then you can ventilate the room with filtered night air. Dust, spores and pests riding on the air current are left behind as the room is bathed in the cool dry desert air.

Since you are going to be growing big plants that have spent a good amount of time developing an infrastructure of roots, stem and branches, it seems a shame to discard them after just one use. These plants can be regenerated and re-used. First they are forced back into vegetative cycle to grow new leaves and budding sites. They have a tendency to grow a lot of small branches at this time, so they should be trimmed back to primary branches. After they are fully re-vegetated they can be forced to flower again. This technique saves half or more of the vegetative growth time.

6 WEEKS- Magnified, the crown membranes are not filled and stretched.6 WEEKS- Magnified, the crown membranes are not filled and stretched.Regeneration

I am a medical grower and I am allowed to grow only six plants. At first I was using two lights and grew them in a 4? x 8? tray. Then I read about the Oregon medical growers who use one lamp per plant. I tried that and it worked well, except that it took the plants a long time to fill the space while growing in vegetative.

I thought it was a waste to let all that growth die after just one crop and I was about to regenerate the plants. Then a buddy of mine told me he read that regenerating plants is not a good idea because the plants? genetics change and they won?t be as good as the first buds. Is this true?

Dazed and Confused,
Binghamton, New York

Regenerated plants retain the same genetics throughout their existence. The first and subsequent crops will have only a minimal variation, which is based on environmental conditions such as light intensity, temperature and nutrients. However, the genetics of the plants remain the same.

To regenerate a plant, leave some vegetative and bud material on the plant branches that you wish to grow. Then place the plants under continuous light. The plants will revert to vegetative growth. Within a short time vegetation will cover the canopy and the plants can be forced to flower again. It will save you four to six weeks of vegetative growth time.

This legal garden contained only 7 plants.This legal garden contained only 7 plants.How Long in Flowering?

I bought some seeds for four different varieties from several breeders offered by a mail-order retailer. Altogether I have 12 good-looking females and saved the pollen from an incredibly fast and vigorous male. According to the write-ups on the Internet and ads, all of the varieties are supposed to be ready in seven to eight weeks. The plants are flowering and look great but they look nothing like the buds I see in the magazines. The stigmas are still fleshy and white, the ovary behind is limp, and worst of all the glands just aren?t exciting. What am I doing wrong? How can I make my buds flavorlicious?

Glasgow, Scotland

If you get a good look at buds sold in most coffeehouses in Amsterdam you will find that they were picked before they were fully matured. They were at about the same stage as the buds in your garden. After picking, the stigmas turn red as they dry so people taking a casual look at it think it is ripe.

There is nothing wrong with the buds in your garden. The problem is the description of ripening times in the catalogues. The times listed are not accurate for really mature buds. They mean the first date growers might be able to sell it. In most instances gardeners will have to wait another three weeks to get a truly ripe, flavourful Phase 1 Maturity bud. The stigmas have dried; the ovary behind the stigmas has enlarged into a pseudo-seed pod?it holds no seed?and the trichomes (the glands holding the cannabinoids and flavinoids) are engorged with resin. Each gland sports an orb crown composed of a membrane stretched like an over-inflated balloon filled with the precious oil. Looking at the glands through a magnifying glass or better, a 6x or 8x photographer?s loupe, you can see them sparkling in the light. The three weeks are worth the wait for several reasons. First, the buds continue to grow and add weight during this time, and second, the glands continue to swell and the membranes stretch to hold the additional cannabinoids being produced.

Phase 2 Maturity occurs about a week after Phase 1. It too, is worth the wait. The grass is at its most flavourful, the odour molecules are at greatest pungency, and most importantly the potency is at its peak. You can see the difference when looking through the loupe. A few glands are turning amber or cloudy from their clear appearance. This is it. It doesn?t get any better. Although it is now 25-30 days past the time you originally planned to harvest, the buds have gained weight and potency and have realized their full potential.

Each white dot is from a spidermite feeding on the plant. Each white dot is from a spidermite feeding on the plant. Crispy Leaves

Our garden is in the flowering stage. All a sudden the big fan leaves are starting to turn crispy yet staying green. They have been flowering for about three weeks.

What is going on? The flowers are still growing but the leaves look as if they are burning, but not turning brown.

Medical Patient

The fan leaves are drying up because you are over fertilizing and the concentration of nutrients in the planting medium is so strong that it is drawing water from the plants.

Stop fertilizing. If you can, flush the planting containers to remove some of the excess nutrients.

Pick Fan Leaves

Should fan leaves be picked during the flowering stage so that lights penetrate lower areas, or do fan leaves bring in energy to the flower?

Rainy Ranger
Oslo, Norway

Buds grow and mature when exposed to bright light. Buds that are shaded remain small. For this reason it pays to remove fan leaves that are blocking light. Fan leaves that are not in the way contribute sugars to the plant so they help growth.

Aside from the top canopy, which consists of larger buds in direct contact with the light source, plants often grow a secondary canopy tier consisting of smaller buds that haven?t grown very much and remained immature. Once the top buds that have been blocking the light are removed, this tier has a chance to develop. If the flowering regimen is extended another 10 to 15 days, the buds will burst into a short period of growth, then mature into small but delectable nuggets.

9 WEEKS- Bulging glands, dried stigmas, ambering resin: bud at its peak.9 WEEKS- Bulging glands, dried stigmas, ambering resin: bud at its peak.Mites Rampant

I have a two light garden with 16 plants under each light. When I placed the plants into flowering I noticed a few mites on the plants. I wiped off the ones I saw and thought that since the plants were only going to be around another eight weeks or so, the pests would not become a real problem. The plants are six weeks into flowering and the mites are traveling between the leaves and plants on web highways that they have constructed.

The buds have three weeks of flowering left, but if the mites keep sucking away the plants juices, I don?t think they?ll make it.

The plants are in individual containers and are a little more than a foot wide and two feet tall. What should I do?

Beach Boy
Santa Cruz, California

You are right. Your plants need help immediately. Since they are only two to three feet tall and in individual containers, you have a lot of options.

Mites hang out mostly on the undersides of leaves. They extend a proboscis, a biological straw to suck plant juices. They lay lots of eggs, which hatch in a few days. The new generation matures in a period of days to weeks, depending on the temperature. Even if you knock the population down, they will return in large numbers in just a few weeks. The strategy here will be to knock the population down immediately, then to try to eliminate them over a period of two weeks. To do this, each generation must be eliminated as it hatches. If the plants are treated four times at threeday intervals, each group of hatchlings will be eliminated. After four treatments there are no more adults, no new eggs and no hatchlings left.

The plants can either be sprayed or dipped. In this case, with small plants in individual containers, it is probably more convenient to dip them, which is faster and more thorough. When plants are sprayed, there is always a chance of missing spots.

To dip use either a kitchen trash can or a tray that is at least 6 inches deep and long enough to hold the plants. The solution should contain neem oil, Cinnamite? and Mitex?, which is a combination of oils and garlic. I find that a mix of Italian spices and cayenne pepper can also be added to the miticidal spray. Use 1 tablespoon per quart of very hot red pepper sauce. Brew a hot tea composed of one tablespoon each of Italian spices and ground cloves per quart of spray. Strain out the spices and add the tea water to the spray. All of these ingredients are proven mite killers. In combination, they knock out the mites.

Meanwhile, the buds are maturing and harvest is getting near. The treatment takes 10 days. The buds won?t be picked for another 10-14 days after that. That?s more than enough time between treatment and harvest.

8 WEEKS- Glands are filling, but crown membranes are not stretched taut8 WEEKS- Glands are filling, but crown membranes are not stretched tautWhy Not Self?

The dispensaries here have many varieties of clones. However, many of them aren?t available as seeds, just as clones. Why is this and why don?t breeders self them?

Curious George Growhappy
San Diego, California

Let?s say a person germinates some seeds of a particular variety and one plant has novel qualities that make it stand out from the rest. It is an exceptional plant. As a result, the gardener decides to discard all the other germinated plants, or at least not continue their lines, in favor of this single plant. Each clone that is made is genetically, virtually identical. It will have the same responses as its clone mother to the environment, and when the buds ripen, they will be almost identical to its clone mother?s.

Now let?s say we want to propagate the plant through seeds. We cannot obtain a genetic duplicate. Let?s say we cross it with itself (?self? it). When the chromosomes line up during mitosis, they mix and match into an infinite number of combinations. Some will be very similar to their selfed mother, and can be selfed again. After a line is inbred like this for six generations, using the same criteria for selecting in all the generations, the selection is considered a consistent strain. Cannabis presents a particular problem for breeders because unlike all other true annuals that I know of, it is ?dioecious? (it has a male and female plant) rather than monoecious (producing the male and female components, the stamen and pistils, on the same plant). Only by using stress can a female plant be induced to produce pollen. The choice of pollen may be inadvertently selecting for traits, particularly regarding sexuality. Generations of female plants selected in part for their ability to produce male pollen, or to produce copious amounts of it, are more likely to result in hermaphrodites than plants resistant to pollen production. Generally, female seed should be used for bud production, not for breeding.

Rather than self-crossing you may choose to use males as part of the breeding program. That presents problems, too. You can grow the females out and see their characteristics, but with the males it?s much more difficult. How do you determine whether the plant has genetics for giant, sticky, potent buds? You have to surmise their potential from tidbits of information and intuition. Now remember you are trying to match that clone. You are breeding with one hand behind your back. In six generations you are going to try to match and stabilize the plant. It?s a task.

The breeding program will progress most rapidly if the chosen male is close to the chosen female genetically. If it isn?t, the goal is even more difficult and distant. It takes six or seven months to grow a plant to ripe buds from seeds. (See ?Seed Germination? below.) Six generations of breeding adds up to about three years. Will the whole series be pass? in the ever-evolving world of marijuana seed marketing?

Another consideration is that the temperaments of propagators and seed breeders are quite different. It?s one thing to germinate seeds, choose the best plants, cut some tops and root them to create clones. That?s simple as compared with the work of an inspired, talented and conscientious breeder. Choosing plants in a long-term breeding program requires forethought, vision, intuition and luck. Orchid breeders wait five to seven years to see the results of a cross. Some trees don?t bear fruit for many years.

My advice to prospective breeders: Start young and develop patience. Make sure to store all generations of seeds you developed or used to develop your seeds in at least two secure and environmentally friendly places. Even better, store them in two different cities among people who are not mutual acquaintances. Make sure that your clones are in several different gardens. Don?t get into arguments with the clone holders until after you retrieve the genetics.

The reasons that dispensaries are more likely to sell clones than seeds is that clones are often less expensive than seeds, especially considering the male plants are destroyed and the greater chance for success and consistent quality with clones.

8 WEEKS- The bud is still not ready.8 WEEKS- The bud is still not ready.Seed Germination

I disagree with you. Seeds must dry thoroughly for at least a month before being planted. Black ripe seeds ready to fall from the bud take a month to sprout with only a 50% germination rate when picked from the ripe bud and planted.

The same seeds dried a month sprout in 2-3 days with near a 100% germination rate. I have repeated this experiment many times.

General Steel

Thanks for your observation, General. Do any other readers have comments on this phenomenon?

Bringing the Sun Inside

Would it be possible to use fiber optic cable to bring sunlight indoors? I was thinking of a 12-inch diameter bundle of fiber optic cable coupled to a lens shaped to catch the light of the sun. It would be a cool way to light a garden. The initial cost might be high, but it would minimize electric use and create little heat.

Johnny B. Goode
Waydown, Louisiana

Bringing the sunlight indoors is a good idea. As you said, it cuts down on use of electricity and eliminates the heat generated by electric lamp units. However, installing fiber optic cable is an expensive way to do it.

There are commercially available light tunnels that are used to transport sunlight from the roof to lower floors. These consist of a collector at roof level and highly polished tubing that guides the light down to radiators where it is emitted. Commercially available kits for residences have tubing as wide as two feet in diameter. The collectors on all of the models that I?ve seen could be improved to collect more light from a larger area, which would increase the brightness or intensity.

The easiest and most inexpensive way to use sunlight indoors is to use it on the space directly below the roof. Then skylights or solar collectors can be used to introduce the light to the room and reflective material can be used to guide it down to the garden area.

Although I haven?t seen them marketed yet, a well-designed skylight or solar tube should track the sun so it is able to capture the light as the sun?s angle changes daily and seasonally. The amount of light that will come through a skylight or solar tubing depends on many factors including the weather, cloud cover and latitude. Even on the brightest days, high latitudes do not receive the intensity of light that low latitude areas receive.

To grow using no electrical light indoors (just light emitted by the tubes or solar collectors) use one 2-foot diameter tube per plant and place it directly over the container so the light doesn?t stray. In southern areas where the light is intense all year long, the tubes can be used to flower plants year-round as long as the plants receive an uninterrupted dark period of 12 hours per day.

In the north, plants can be started in May and forced to flower anytime between June and late August. The buds will be ready about eight weeks after forcing. If the buds are forced in early July and harvested at the end of August, a second crop can be planted. The plants will grow vegetatively for a short time and then will start to flower.

Sunroofs or solar tubes can also be used to supplement the light from highpressure sodium lamps. The additional light will result in faster growth and larger buds.

9 WEEKS- The bud is ripe.9 WEEKS- The bud is ripe.UV Shield

I?m growing a single plant in a closet using a 175-watt metal halide lamp. The lamp itself has a glass cover that says UV shield. I?ve read that the more UV radiation a plant gets the more THC it produces. Should I remove the cover from the lamp? Should I use a germicidal lamp?

Mike M.
Rock Springs, Wyoming

No. The lamp emits UV-A and UV-B light, which increases the potency of the bud, but it also emits UV-C light, which is fatal to life forms. Do not mess with the lamp. If you wish to increase the amount of UV light the plants receive, use tanning lamps or fluorescent lamps designed for maintaining reptiles.

The tanning lamps emit copious quantities of UVB light, which promotes tanning, and the reptile lights emit an enhanced quantity of UV-B light to maintain reptile health.

Germicidal lamps should not be used to illuminate gardens because they emit large quantities of germicidal, but carcinogenic and otherwise dangerous to humans, UV-C light. In order to filter out the UV-C light and let the UV-B and UV-A pass through, the fluorescent tube would have to be wrapped in a cellulose acetate film shield.

Growing in Buckets

I grow outdoors by placing three clones each in 5-gallon buckets. Is this a sound growing technique? Do the plants compete with each other for root space and nutrients?

Hatless Matt
Saugerties, New York

The plants? growth is being stunted by the competition for root space, nutrients and air space. However, the space is being well utilized because the plants fill it more. It also provides you with some insurance. If one or even two of the plants should suffer, the other plants will grow into their space and provide you with a crop. Your technique is successful so it?s sound.

Some gardeners grow several varieties that mature at different times in the same container. The containers are moved to position the maturing plant with the most direct access to sunlight.

To increase the yield without much more effort, increase the size of the containers from 5 gallons to 10 or even 20 gallons each. When the roots have more space, the canopy grows larger and the individual bud size increases as well.

Although your technique works well, I prefer to grow plants in individual containers. I can move individual plants around without worrying about the welfare of container-mates. Also, having single plants in each container keeps the plant count down should something untoward happen and the number of plants matters. The single plants in the containers will produce almost as much as the three plants but only count as one.

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