A Toker’s Bowl Winning Garden

Before Cannabis Culture visited the grow room of Little Big Way, we knew that he was growing some of the best pot around. He came third in Pot.tv?s ?The Contest? ahead of 150 other competitors when he entered Mikado, a sweet/sour trichome-covered dream that easily rose to the top of the heap (see CC #57 or search www.pot.tv for more about ?The Contest?). No flash in the pan here, as Little Big Way (LBW) also took both first and second place at our Toker?s Bowl 2005 with spectacular examples of Mikado and Afghan Dream.
It was in fact the Afghan Dream plant that helped him decide on a name with which to enter ?The Contest?. The plant was enormous; it looked literally sucked into the flowering room, pulled in root ball first. The one plant took up the entire space and was flowered under four 1,000-watt lamps. The space was little, the plant was way too big, and the pot was fantastic… Little Big Way.

Growing excellent pot only requires that you enable plants to reach their maximum potential. Temperature is as important as pH, and humidity as important as nutrients and water. Thus, all of the elements in grow rooms will combine to determine the eventual outcome and quality of the finished product. How you harvest, dry and cure is a further deciding factor as to whether or not you spent three months growing ?the bomb? only to ruin it in a matter of days. The myriad of products in the marketplace claiming to help you achieve perfection only serve to confuse, and usually end up producing results that are much less than they could have been.

Having spent over 20 years growing, LBW read everything he could find and went through plenty of trial and error. But along the way he paid attention to the responses of his plants and got to know his environment very well. He is dedicated and works extremely hard to maintain a healthy environment for his plants to thrive in, dialing methods towards absolute simplicity rather than needing all the bells and whistles.

The garden is in a basement and completely made of concrete. The walls are lined with reflective backing from insulation, and the lights are hung from wooden grids held into place by wedges against the wall. All air ducting is 6? or 8? solid pipe with three inline fans handling the intake and exhaust. Three large carbon filters take care of the smell, and oscillating fans keep the air moving. There?s also a small electric heater to make sure the temperature doesn?t get too cold in the winter.

His garden is divided into three rooms. Seeds and clones are started in the first room under one 1,000-watt metal halide(MH) set for 18 hours of light each day. Clones are vegged for up to a month, while seed plants are left to grow and exhibit their sex before being cloned. They are then moved into a 12/12 (light/ dark) pre-flowering room under two 1,000- watt high pressure sodium (HPS) lights, where sex will definitely be determined and the plants kicked into flowering. They are then wheeled into the final flowering room with four HPS lights and one MH light blazing over at least 24 plants at any one time. The days of having every light produce one 4-pound plant are gone! LBW has a schedule that produces four 5-foot tall mature bud-laden plants every week.

The plants are started in one-gallon pots, and then transplanted to 10-gallon containers made out of landscaping fabric. This light-blocking black fabric is used under gravel or mulch to prevent weeds from growing through, so LBW makes fabric containers and puts them in wire baskets. He believes that this fabric is ideal for containing plant roots because it breathes, giving soil access to muchneeded oxygen. The 10-gallon containers are placed on a wheeled dolly for easy moving. Space is left in each room to allow the plants to be moved around easily for watering and maintenance.

The growing medium star ts out as Sunshine Pro Mix?, a peat-based growing medium. Having four plants in 40 gallons of soil harvested weekly adds up to a pretty big pile of soil to dispose of, so LBW reuses it. By removing soil from root balls, spreading it on the floor of the grow room, and covering it in black plastic, the excess heat kills any bacteria or pathogens to make it useable again.

Water is filtered in a three-stage Aquaflo? filtering system using reverse osmosis and paper filtration to make sure the water is clean to start with. LBW then uses the entire line of Earth Juice? nutrients for a complete organic food supply.

Beyond his nifty homemade containers, there really isn?t much that?s special about the equipment or the environment that LBW uses. This would pretty much be the bare-minimum of what is necessary to keep these plants healthy. So why is his pot that much better than most we see? It would be because the plants are, in fact, healthy. LBW tends to his garden daily?not to force his plants to perform, but to offer whatever it is the plants need to reach their natural maximum potential. There?s no over-feeding, or over-watering, or overanything. This many plants in different stages of growth all need something various, so there is a great deal of work to be done. Between LBW and his partner, this is a full time job. For him, it?s his life.

LBW was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was three years old, and to stem his seizures, he was prescribed every known drug throughout his young life. It is cannabis that works the best and it?s been 15 years since he?s taken anything else, so he cares very much about the quality of his smoke. He?s not rushing to harvest, and as a result the trichomes have had a chance to reach full maturity in both potency and flavor. Having spent this many years with this much devotion, LBW has developed a relationship with marijuana that transcends a usual gardener- plant relationship. ?Worship? is the word he uses, and judging by the quality of the finished product, it would seem the plants worship him as well.

Just as the spiritual realm is looked after, so is the atmosphere in the room. The large fans and venting system work very well. Not only is the odor completely taken care of but the room is fresh and dry. The heat is not overbearing, and with a lower humidity?neither of which LBW measures?the buds are laden with trichomes as you see in the pictures. Hot and humid rooms produce buds with far fewer trichomes, and reduce overall potency and flavor. In LBW?s room, the plants are responding in kind?measured or not.

As beautiful and healthy as these plants are, LBW knows that the drying and curing process can make or break all efforts. His harvesting and curing are done in a special room adjacent to the vegetative development room. Cool air is brought in through the garden?s same venting system and the smelly air exhausted back into the veg room, then out through the carbon-filtered venting. Plants are barely trimmed, if at all, and are usually hung for thirty days. Trimmed carefully, the buds barely lose any trichomes and produce shake that makes some of the best bubble hash possible.

Fully cured crisp buds, rich with flavors, glistening with resin and as potent as they can be: that?s what LBW?s care and devotion produces. It?s the way marijuana is supposed to be. If you add LBW?s special growing elements together, you get the formula that helped him beat 150 other entries in ?The Contest? and win the top two prizes at Toker?s Bowl 2005.

Simple method, diligent care. The magic is already in the plant. Many growers simply use whatever method a buddy uses, and may well have never tried anything else. Still others will try everything that comes down the pipe. But with the proof in the pot pipe, I?d say if you were to use anybody?s methods, go with LBW?s… this boy is growing some of the best indoor pot on the planet. To say that his pot is ?perfect? would really be in the eye of the beholder… but all I know is my eyes are definitely red.

– Watch Marijuana Man?s ?Toker?s Bowl Winning Garden? tour on his Pot.tv show at: www.pot.tv/archive/shows/pottvshowse-4315.html

They say every picture tells a story, and this is certainly no exception. What appears as a simple bug shot actually plays out a mini drama. A fungus gnat is attacked by an ant (order hymenoptera genus formica). It is a common hunting technique for this type of ant to grasp prey in their jaws and firmly anchor itself, waiting for a second ant to do the same, and so on until the prey is subdued. In this case the ant did its thing, but the gnat, having a huge body to wing ratio, took off with a lot of lifting power. Normally, the gnats leg would have broken off, leaving the ant with a mouth full of nothing, but in this case the take-off tore the ant in two, leaving the airborne bug with a head and thorax still attached to its leg in a death grip.

Gnats live off the soil detritus and have little to do with pot flowers, so there?s really no reason to be anywhere near a bud. But in this case, the ant?s weight threw the gnat off course and landed it smack into a resinous bud surface, entrapping him. The gnat starved to death as evidenced through its almost non-existent abdomen.

If you look closely, you not only see the ant?s head in the crash scene, but all the ruptured trichome glands from the crash-landing. Only a seasoned entomologist would be thrilled by such a rare photo. Here?s hoping that by sharing this little story, you will keep your eyes open in the flowering room for such little dramas.

? Bob High, Science Guy reporting for CC