Grandpa’s Grow Guide
Growing pot isn’t very difficult as long as you have a little discipline, a few bucks to spend en love for the herb.
Basically growing pot isn’t any harder than growing tomatoes or strawberries. As all plants pot needs: a grow medium, light, ferts and fresh air (O2 and CO2).
I have a lot of experience growing indoors under High Pressure Sodium, on soil, so I will limit myself to this.
Basically we need:
To start with seeds: if you are a newbie, try bagseed first. It’s a waste of money to buy some expensive seeds and screw up.
There are many ways to germinate a seed. The method I prefer is as follows: take a glass of luke warm water and a drop of Super Thrive. Put your seeds in the glass and let stay overnight. The seeds that have sunken the next day are the seeds you want to continue with. Seeds that kept floating are probably ‘dead’ seeds.
Step 2 is to fill some peat moss pots with a good quality, moist garden soil. If you are at the garden centre, look at the bag and search for the NPK-ratio (NPK= Nitrogen, Phosphor and Potassium). The soil you want has to have a ratio higher in N and lower in P and K. For example: 20-10-10 or 10-7-5. This is a typical ‘grow’ formula. If they sell soil specifically for growing tomatoes you can take that; grow characteristics are almost the same as for weed.
If you have triggered flowering you’ll need another formula but I will come back to that later.
Drain the glass of water with the sunken seeds (after removing the dead ones) and put each seed carefully into it’s own peat moss pot, about 1/3” of an inch deep, and cover with soil again. Now you can put the filled pots into a tray, covered with plastic to keep the humidity inside, and store at a warm (not hot!) place in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
Between 2 and 7 days the seeds will sprout. As soon as they have, you can transplant them to a bigger pot (say, 1 ½ gallon). Don’t remove the peat moss pot; the roots will grow right thru.
From that moment on you can put them under artificial light.
High Pressure Sodium (HPS) is the best all-rounder imho, although you might want to put the seedlings under fluro’s during the first week. HPS could be a wee bit too much. Hang the fluro’s 3” above the plants and leave the lights on 24/7.
After a week, when the sprouts have settled and the plants have grown quite well, you can switch to HPS. If you do so, you have to monitor temperature and humidity very closely since seedlings are very prone to heat stress and dry air. Keep the light-plant distance at least 3’ if you use 400 watt, 4’ for 600 watt and 5’ for 1000. Humidity has to be as high as possible (preferably 80%) and temperature below 25 degrees Celsius.
To control temperature, humidity and airflow, you’ll need fans. To start with an oscillating fan, blowing softly over the plants to strengthen the stem and to spread the fresh air nicely. Second you need an extractor fan to get rid of the excess of heat and humidity. If you grow inside a closed cabinet, you can use the type of fans normally used in kitchens or bathrooms. Take the largest you can get, because you can never have too much fresh air!
If you have a whole room available for growing you might consider some type of industrial exhaust system with a carbon filter.
If you have sufficient exhaust, you don’t need in-blowing fans because the extractor will create a vacuum and fresh air is pulled in automatically if you supply your cabinet/room with vent holes.
Remember: air extraction has to take place at a high point; air intake at the bottom!
Odour control can become an issue during the grow process. I prefer a carbon filter, but good results can be achieved with ozone generators, incense or a simple plate of vinegar. Take odour control very serious! Most people get busted because of the smell…
WHAT GROW TECHNIQUE DO YOU PREFER?
I always grow Sea Of Green (SOG). This means a lot of plants on a small space in a rapid grow cycle (8 to 12 weeks) Like that, you can harvest up to 5 times a year. If you go SOG, you will let your plants veg for only a short period of time, till they have reached a height of about 8” to 1’. Under HPS this will take approx. 2 weeks from clones and 3 weeks to a month from seed. In my setup I have 20 plants in 1 ½ gallon pots (=5liter) under one 600 watt HPS. Average yield in dry bud is about 15 ounce per harvest. (This is just an example because yield figures can fluctuate per strain, and a lot of parameters as ferts, pH, climate, etc. can affect yield)
THE GROW SPACE
Whether it’s a closet or a spare bedroom, the basic rules are the same: white walls (you can use white mylar or flat white paint), the floor covered with plastic in case of water spills and absolutely light proof! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your grow space being light proof. If you want your plants to flower, they need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of absolute, uninterrupted darkness! Even the slightest light leak can disrupt this process and ruin your grow! Keep this in mind when you are making vent holes and when you place the extractor fan(s). Use your imagination to keep the light out! A good method is to build a ‘labyrinth-box’ painted matte black inside, which you place in front of the vent holes or extractor fans.
pH & EC
The pH (degree of acidity) plays a main role in a healthy grow process. Pot likes a slight acid environment. Dependable on what kind of ferts you use, it will be something around 6 for a soil grow. Sometimes the advised pH is written at the fert bottle and if not keep pH at approx. 6.2. To measure pH correctly you will have to invest in a digital pH meter. Those will set you back a $100.- Seems a lot of money but believe me, it pays off! To lower pH you can use Nitric or Phosphoric acid. To raise: Potassium hydroxide.
The same goes for EC (electrical conductivity) to measure the concentration of ferts within a solution. Prices are slightly lower (around $60.-)
Usually you start after 4 weeks with an EC of 1,6 slowly raising it to 2,2 when the plants are fully matured and in full bloom (from week 5 of flowering and up). Remember however that more plants die from over ferting than from under ferting! Wrinkled leaves and curled up edges are signs of over ferting.
LET’S GET STARTED!
I am not a teacher or a writer so probably I have forgotten some details. So just join Grandpa on a virtual grow-tour which will guide you through from start to finish.
Assuming that we have our grow space in order; we start with the germinated seeds. Inside the grow space you have already taken care of the proper environment. With this I mean that the space and the soil are pre-warmed. You really don’t want to put those seeds into ice-cold soil! You have also checked and re-checked if everything (fans, lights, etc.) works.
Now fill up the peat moss pots loosely with soil en put the seed in about 1/3 “deep. Cover with soil again, water with only pH adjusted water and store at a warm and shady place till they sprout. As soon as they have, transfer them to the regular pot and put them under fluro’s for 24/7 and the oscillating fan. Monitor temperature and humidity closely. Mist occaisionally if humidity drops under 50%. Keep temperature below 24 degrees Celcius.
When the seedling are 4” tall you can switch to HPS if you want. If you do so, change the light schedule to 18/6 (18 hour on/6 off). Just continue like you were doing but now it’s time to start up the extractor fans at a slow pace.
Don’t over water! Pot needs a humid soil, certainly not wet. Check with your finger: put your finger into the soil, 2”deep. If the soil feels moist at the tip of your finger, skip the watering for another day.; otherwise give a little water.
The next weeks will be about the same as described above. If you use the hps you can lower the light each other day a few inches till the optimum distance: 16”for a 400 watt, 24 for 600 and 40 for a 1000 watt. These distances are averages. If you have very good climate control and ventilation you can subtract 20% from the advised distance. Just keep an eye on your plants and check for light burn signs as wrinkled or brown spotted top leafs. Keep an eye on temperature and humidity and adjust the pace of the fans if necessary.
When everything turns out to be ok, after 4 weeks the plants will be about 8” to 1’ tall. If you want to go SOG, now it’s time to trigger flowering. All you have to do is changing the light schedule to 12/12 (12 on/12off) Use a timer if you don’t want to screw up!
Now you can start also with the (flowering) ferts. Typical bloom formula’s are low in N and higher in P & K, like 10-30-20 or 10-60-30. Stick to the manufactures schedule, but start with a low concentration of about EC 1,6 as I wrote earlier. Look how you plants react the next day and be alert for fert burn. If they like it, than you can raise concentration every week with EC 0,2 to a max of 2,2. BTW 10 days before harvest you must stop giving ferts completely and fluh with pH adjusted water only to prevent this horrible raw “fertilizer-taste”.
If you have done everything right you will see flowers appear after approx. one week. Now it’s time to get rid of the males. The female flower show as tiny white hairs between the grow tips of the plant. Male flowers are a kind of clusters of little green balls. There are a lot of pictures on the Internet of male and female flowers so hit the search engine if you are uncertain. Use a magnifying glass. Don’t wait too long with removing the males, otherwise your whole crop will become pollinated which leaves you with seedy buds…
I know there is a lot of discussion about what to do with the males. Unless you want to sacrifice one female to pollinate in order to grow your own seeds, I would say destroy them. THC content is very, very low so it’s hardly of any use to smoke them.
OK, so now we have some nice females. Just continue to give them the water/fert solution on a regular base and watch those babies grow! Keep monitoring climate and check for pests. The sooner you discover irregularities, the sooner you can act and the better are the odds your plants will survive…
After 4 weeks of flowering the plants will become heavy with buds. Resin building has started and a shiny layer of little crystals begins to cover the flowers and top leafs. Probably from that moment on, the plants can use some sort of support to prevent them from tumbling over by their own weight. I use small diameter bamboo rods which I gently push into the soil alongside the main stem. Push gentle and don’t ram the rod straight into the soil! If you feel too much resistance, try another spot. You really don’t want to destroy the tap root… Tie up with a piece of string.
After 6 weeks they are full flowering and some early strains like Skunk and Top 44 will be even almost ready! The White Widow I always grow needs 9 weeks of flowering.
Odour control can become a problem in this stage. Be prepared for that!
You can increase yield by adding a special fertilizer called PK 13/14 during the 6th week of flowering. PK 13/14 is basically a Phosphor/Potassium based bud-booster but unfortunately not readily available. Try some online growshops.
Also around week 6 (or sooner if you grow an early finisher) you will notice that the white hairs are starting to turn brown/orange. This means that the buds are getting ripe. A rule of thumb is adding another 3 weeks (after the first brown hairs appear) to estimate the harvest date, so you know when to stop with the ferts. 10 Days before the estimated time of harvest you give them a flush with pH adjusted water. From that day on, just water only enough not to let them wilt. The less water is in the plant’s system when harvesting, the sooner the buds will be dry.
If you really want to enjoy your fruits of labour you have to have a little more patience. So take the whole plant + pot and start removing the big fan leafs. When you are ready with that, take a pair of scissors and cut away all the other leafs so that in the end you only have stem, side branches and…buds! Save the leafs and dry them separately. Probably you can make some hash out of it.
Cut the stem right above the soil and hang it upside down in a dark and well ventilated place for at least a week. Don’t apply any additional heat or fans; that will cost you weight, taste and quality. After a week you can clip the buds from the stems and give them about another week to dry thoroughly. Advised humidity: >50% - < 70% / temperature: >16 - < 21 degrees Celsius
The buds are ready to smoke if they make a snapping sound when you bend them. Dry times can fluctuate with the seasons or the climate where you live. If you live in the desert, your buds will be dry sooner as if you live in swamps of Louisiana.
Although the buds are ready to smoke, you can increase smell, taste and smoothness by curing. Glass, airtight jars are excellent for this purpose. Just store them at a cool and dark place and open the lid occasionally to give the buds some air. Be careful not to store buds in this manner which aren’t completely dry because of the danger of mould!
For long time storage I can recommend to seal the weed in vacuum bags and put them in the freezer.
Well, that’s about it. Probably I still forgot to mention a lot of details but I’m sure I helped you to get on your way. I am aware that I didn’t mentioned things as pruning and cloning. This is simply because I don’t have enough experience to give a safe advice on this. Do some research for yourself; there are a lot of grow guides available on the Internet. Also, giving brand names of specific ferts and equipment is quite pointless because most of them are only locally available. If there are any grow shops in you vicinity you may consider yourself a lucky man/woman. If not… use your common sense and the Grasscity grow forums. I’m sure you can find all the additional information you need over there.
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