I expect a little more than a quarter of an ounce of material from my single surviving plant, which I will divide into three even groups for the three methods described above. When finished, they will be cured in mason jars and the taste, effects and appearance will be compared.
Harvest is still 3 days away, so in the meantime I have been conducting some experiments using silica gel.
The first step in the process is to ensure that the silica is dry to begin with - which involves baking it in the oven for 2-3 hours. The silica crystals are small - bigger than trichs, but not by much so it is important that the silica is kept separate from the plant material. Smoking it probably wont hurt because it will not burn at temperatures achievable from a conventional lighter - but it just seems wrong to adulterate the plant.
The set up uses half mason jars - in the bottom is a paper towel wrapped around a few grams of gel. The plant is placed carefully on top of the paper towel. A second paper towel is placed over the rim of the jar and filled with more silica gel. The top is then screwed tightly on over the paper towel, leaving the rest of the towel in tact outside the jar.
I have tried to dry various flowers with various moisture levels using this set up. Some moisture rich weeds from the back yard, a few mums and some carnations. Each was about 80% dry after three days, so this will be the base line that I use for the real experiments.
I have not seen any results of a desiccant drying process, so this should be useful information to those looking for a different way to dry plants if hanging and slow drying is not an option.
I will report back at harvest, and then a few days later with the results of the drying process. Wish me luck