Diary Of A Cannabis Grower Part 2: A New Dope

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Diary Of A Cannabis Grower Part 2: A New Dope


We are proud to present part 2 of Top Shelf Grower's winter cannabis grow diary, exploring growing cannabis indoors with LED lights. If you missed part 1, be sure to check it out!

The Diary of a Cannabis Grower Part 1: Winter is Coming

A long time ago, way back in the day, on a windswept rock in the Atlantic AKA Ireland, my very first cannabis crop was underway. Weeks of labour and scavenging materials, this was a time before the explosion of GrowShops and E-Commerce, culminated in a make shift clandestine grow room set up in a friend’s attic. It was the early 2000’s, and HID lighting was the only option. As a novice, I was unaware how hot HID lights can make a room even when its 5°C and lashing rain outside. The selection of air-conditioning systems available in Dublin was as limited as my choice of lights, so once again I begrudgingly parted with hard cash for yet another electricity guzzling clumsy piece of kit. High quality feminized cannabis seeds were equally difficult to source and prone to turning hermie even in the hands of experienced growers.

Of course, this venture was doomed from the beginning, and about 4 months later my first crop of seeded swag was harvested. It wasn’t a total loss, and in fact, I look back on this crop as a valuable learning experience and over time practice eventually made perfect. Plus I’m still proud my mate and I constructed the whole setup without using a single nail. Duct tape has been and remains my universal tool of choice. But one thing always bugged me and I never really could stop wondering why indoor cannabis cultivation was confined to the bulky aged technologies of the 1980’s?

Cannabis Light

It never made sense to me; all other technologies were rapidly advancing but grow shows all over the world were running on old school HID lighting. Us home growers were stuck with the equivalent of cassette playing walkmans in the era of the iPod. Sure CFL’s came on the scene and provided a much needed economic option for the vegetative growth stage or rooting clones. Ditching the MH lamps for cool CFL’s was really a halfway there solution. HPS bulbs were still required for the flowering stage as CFL’s just can’t emit enough lumens of the right spectrum of light to deliver a comparable yield.

This winter I got my hands on the Dorm Grow 600W full spectrum G8 LED unit and “all changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born”-W.B. Yeats. Finally, a 21st-century gadget that works magic in the grow room. LED grow kits eliminate the need for ballasts and reflectors. Moreover, they run cooler and more economically than HID lighting. Best of all they produce more lumens of the optimal spectrum of light specifically for the purpose of cannabis cultivation. This could be the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. For your consideration, I present a vision of the future of indoor cannabis cultivation.

After numerous skirmishes and exchanges of harsh language with delivery companies, I’ve assembled the very latest grow technology that will soon become the standard kit for home growers everywhere.

COMPLETE KIT

Lighting system: Dorm Grow 600W full spectrum for Veg/Bloom, actual draw 390W

Environment: LED-Qube by Green-Qube (Dimensions: 1.4m X 1.4m X 2.2m)

Medium: Light mix by Atami mixed with 30% additional perlite by Plagron

Nutrients: Base Nutes - Jungle Juice 2-Part by Advanced Nutrients. Supplements - Cannazym by Canna, Top Max by BioBizz, Liquid Silicon by Growth Technology, COME, & organic molasses from the local Supermarket

Pots/Containers: 3l plastic to start, 10l air-pots and 18l tall plastic pots for final containers

Seeds: Purple Berry Kush & Mega Power Plant by Spliff Seeds (feminized, photoperiod)

Air circulation: Oscillating pedestal fan (not positioned too close and on low to produce a gentle breeze, not a hurricane)

Set up

SEEDLINGS

To get this Winter grow off to a quick start, I germinated four cannabis seeds, two Purple Berry Kush and two Mega Power Plant, using the trusty “Paper towel” germination method. 48 hours later and four healthy tap roots had emerged. After consulting with some local growers with a few years of experience cultivating with LEDs, I learned that they all preferred hydroponics, as soil tended to remain soggy. As a dedicated organic cultivator, I decided adding 30% additional perlite to my light mix would be prudent to ensure better drainage. Then I potted up my tiny germed beans in the moist amended soil on an 18-6 light cycle.

14 days later and my healthy seedlings were transitioning to the vegetative growth stage. All I gave them was two feeds of pure water. An efficient wet-dry cycle is crucial to a healthy root zone, and I was careful to make sure this was accomplished by not over watering. I prefer to determine when it’s time to water the plants by the weight of the pots. It took a full week for the seedlings to drink up all there water as the LEDs definitely run a hell of a lot cooler than HID lights. This was a really long interval between watering but patience paid dividends. Also, I was beginning to learn another efficiency LEDs bring to the feeding schedule.

Using a grow tent as an environment was nothing new. However the LED-Qube is tailored to LED cultivation with white Mylar lining, rather than the standard silver, for maximum LED reflection and it’s insulated to lock in the reduced heat emitted from LEDs. Trapping the heat was a first, and it really worked. Temperatures were close to perfect typically 23-27°C with relative humidity 50%+ even when the LED was off for the dark period.

VEGETATIVE GROWTH

Cannabis setup

Both strains were obviously displaying heavy Indica characteristics, and despite the Dorm Grow unit hanging almost three feet above the canopy of the infant plants, no stretching was visible. Approximately 10 days into veg it was time to transplant into larger final containers.
I invested in a couple of 10l Air-Pots from the local grow shop, in keeping with the high-tech theme of this winter grow. Air pruning roots and making it harder for the medium to stay soggy. For a comparison I got a couple more tall white 18l plastic pots, which proved very effective during my summer outdoor crops, so why not see how they perform indoors.

The interval between watering narrowed greatly post transplant. All four plants grew vigorously and required a light feed of base nutes with a splash of cannazym every 3 days. I transplanted one of each strain into the air-pots, and within a week it was obvious they were the superior pots. Although the two plants in the plastic pots were healthy and vigorous too, just not quite as impressive as the pair in air-pots and also took a day longer to drink up there feed. Half strength nutes was sufficient to keep everything lush, green and thriving.

Close up cannabis

I’ve experimented with SOG and ScrOG systems in the past; however, I’ve always preferred to cultivate my cannabis free-range rather than battery farming dope plants like cooped chickens. Moreover, Dorm Grow has made a bold claim stating the performance of the 600W system as comparable to a 1000W HPS, and I wanted to put this to the test with as few plants as possible. I am in Spain after all, and too many trees can cause legal problems. What I’m after is a decent stash, enough to stay self-sufficient in weed between crops, just like most ordinary decent cultivators.

PRUNING FOR YIELD

By week 3 of vegetative growth, it was obvious the Purple Berry Kush was going to be taller than the much stockier Mega Power Plant. I was thrilled with the performance of both and aside from removing the lower branches and foliage to improve air flow, I was leaning toward growing both strains au naturel.

Cannabis plant

In the interest of keeping the canopy more even and boosting yield, as the Purple Berry Kush began to exhibit more OG traits I made the decision to do a little pruning for yield. The Mega Power Plant has some OG in its background but reminds me more of White Rhino with its thick stem, compact branching, and extra wide leaves. The MPP’s were best left alone to develop huge main colas with some strong branches, an ideal SOG strain. However, the PBK’s with their wider internode spacing was more apt for training and/or pruning.

I hate to see growers pruning seedlings and infant plants under 30 days old. At day 35 I took action and topped one PBK with a clean cut to the tip of the main stem and applied a FIM to the other PBK by simply pinching approximately 50% off the top of the apical bud with my fingernails.

Cannabis close up

At time of writing, that was 10 days ago, and both plants have responded well. Diffusing growth hormones throughout the branches has resulted in multiple main colas. Topping is neater, but the FIM was just as effective although not nearly as pretty as the technique mangles a few leaves that will recover but look unsightly. Plus the MPP’s have had time to play catch up in vertical growth as the PBK were busy bushing out.

WHATS NEXT FOR 2017

I hate to leave you hanging like a “mid-season finale” of your favourite TV show but I must. Tonight I will be changing my timers to 12-12 to commence flowering. For the next episode, so long as I’m not captured or killed over Christmas, I’ll be back to kick off 2017 with a big fat frosty harvest. The best is still to come. Have a Merry Christmas and a Top Shelf New Year.

To be continued…

 

         
  Top-Shelf Grower  

Written by: Top-Shelf Grower
Veteran cannabis cultivator originally from Dublin, Ireland and currently on the loose in southern Spain. 100% committed to Top-Shelf reporting until captured or killed.

 
 
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