The Angry Man's Guide to Growing the Good Stuff
by The Last Angry Man
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Are you a new gardener with an interest in getting hooked up with as much grass as you could want? Are you totally confused by other online grow guides that either gloss over the subject quickly, or go into exhaustive detail about micro management of soil microbes and 3000 watt HPS lamps. If any of that sounded Greek, good, I'm going to tell you in plain English how to grow healthy organic plants indoors in a relatively small space with cost effective florescent lighting. I am a stingy SOB so I try to lay down as little cash as I can with out sacrificing quality, all the stuff I'll lay out to get is under 70$ or even as low as 50$ if your lucky or well connected. Everything (including seeds) was available in my smallish east coast Canadian city with most of my stuff coming from Wal-Mart (I dare you to tell me you can't find one!) and local home improvement centers.This article will cover everything you need to know from germination up until flowering, I will write a second article on that topic in time.Remeber: It is not hard to do! It is cheap to do! The savings are worth your minimal time commitment! Stop organized crime, grow your own!
All right, to begin we need to lay out some denario for our equipment, this is mostly soil and soil conditioning products, watering containers, pots, lighting system, seeds themselves and a few small accessories which can be purchased down the trail.
I recommend going to the local WM and grabbing up a bag of regular potting soil, its usually about 5 or 6 bucks, I use "Shultz Moisture Plus- Potting Soil" get around 10lbs. Next get a small bag of Pearlite, this material is important for soil aeration and a successful crop, it is also cheap (4$). Finally get blood/bone meal and or worm castings, I got a blood/bone meal mix at a home improvement store for about 12$ (It is virtually a 1 time purchase). The blood/bone meal should have even numbers on the label, but as long as the differences aren't too great go for it (mine is 7-11-0). I will tell you what to do with all this stuff later...
I have always been most successful when using jiffy pots to raise a seedling, my seeds germinate at about 75% success rate so I do know what I'm talking about. Buy 4 clay pots that are 6" across and 4 clay drain trays to go with them.
Just go to any stores I mentioned and get a 4 foot, 2 bulb florescent shop light. They are less than 20$ usually and are available everywhere. For the actual bulbs buy 2 40 watt 4' long COOL WHITE bulbs and 2, 40 watt 4' long WARM WHITE BULBS. These are really easy to get and these spectrum are perfect for all stages of the plants growth cycle. Do Not think about buying any GRO-LUX bulbs they are awful and the plants will be tall, thin and weak in a matter of a fortnight (I'm stoned now...) these bulbs don't help growth nor do black lights or anything else fancy, just get those basic bulbs for less than 10$ and be very happy U picked wisely. As an aside you may also want a small screw in heat bulb and an ordinary desk lamp for added heat in your space, be careful though these dry out the air and get insanely hot, point them up in your grow space and for god sakes not at the plant or near anything flammable! IMPORTANT: One 4' florescent can support a maximum of 4 plants, more plants need more light which may mean extra ballasts and support systems, more than 4 plants under 1 and all will suffer
Some extra items to think about purchasing are water bottles (1 liter spray and a small bucket as well as an empty spring water container). A roll of tin foil to line your area is useful, as is a very small desk fan and some chains for hanging your light system. You will also need some way to support your lights, popular ways include: hanging on a wardrobe bar, wall brackets and ceiling hooks, this I leave up to you and your sit-I-ation.
- 1 4' long, 2 bulb florescent shoplight
- 2 Cool White 4' long florescent bulbs
- 2 Warm White 4' long florescent bulbs
- 4 Clay pots (6")
- 4 Clay drainage trays
- 10 2" peat Jiffy-Pots
- 1 Small bag Pearlite (5 Litres)
- 1 Large bag Potting Soil (10 Lbs.)
- 1 Small container blood/bone meal (3.3 Lbs.)
- 1 Small desk fan
- 1 Roll tin foil
- 1 1 liter spray bottle
- 1 small bucket
- 1 Thermometer
- 1 Container Spring Water
- Support system for lights (hooks, chains, wall bracket, carbiners...)
A word about seeds: If your like me you may have noticed that there seems to be a sudden drop off in seed availability, I never get them in my bags and dealers seem to have a hard time getting some or are unwilling to try. I got tired of asking people and went to my local weed paraphernalia shop. Usually anywhere you go it's the same story, eye bulgingly high priced ones ( like 700$ for 10) and the "budget mix" brand that are about 20$ for 10. The budget mix are just seeds with unknown genetics so it could range from regular grade to some of the most potent body paralyzing ancestor plant known to man, overall the point is that it doesn't matter, if your new enough to growing to be reading this I think you would be happy with a strong, healthy, useable plant of any strain, I know I was, so before shelling out major cash on seeds, just experiment with the cheap ones, you can always throw down your life savings once you've become an experienced grower who can grow plants predictably and with little error.
The Growing Space
We all know what a jungle is, how full of green vegetative life it is, the reason for this, it is warm, moist and very sunny. These conditions predictably make plant life thrive so we must approximate them indoors in order to get any kind of success. The space you use should be small/ partially enclosed this includes closets, storage rooms, sheds, green houses, boiler/furnace rooms, small bedrooms/bathrooms, free standing grow closets, the list goes on. I grow in my furnace room it is about 6'x 12' and is usually very hot when the door is closed (my thermometer reads about 80 F always). As for moisture it is usually not an issue, you see the less moisture in the air, the more resin the leaves produce to protect themselves from drying out (to a point, too dry and they will die), so the result is longer thinner more resin packed leaves rather then the classic looking broad leaf. I would say that in a small space, a bucket of water left out in the open will evaporate enough to keep things moist, but not too moist. There needs to be at the very least 4' vertical space and about 1' x 4' on the ground, it is a surprisingly small operation space with just one light. Partially close the door and lay out a bucket and you have a growing room you dangerous bastard!
Now the actual planting and growing of grass, this is the beautiful part; time to carry on the traditions of our ancient ancestors and cultivate their most sacred plant in order that we might expand our minds and enjoy life.
Starting out this was my biggest obstacle, I couldn't get them to pop! After some trial and error I have devised a way in which you can get 75 or even 100% germination of every seed you plant, read that again! No planting 10 or 20 seeds and hoping to get 5 or 6 plants, do this and most every seed planted will sprout.
- Put 4 seeds in a ceramic coffee mug in your grow room, get room as hot as possible
- Leave seeds to soak in room temp. spring water for about 24hrs.
- Use a plastic spoon to scoop out sprouted seeds and put into soil in a Jiffy- Pot
Make sure that you bury the seed very shallow like 2-3 mm deep and keep the room as warm as possible that is the key, and constant moisture, crucial, crucial to your success Knights of Sativa. The soaking should make them sprout little tails or at least break open a bit and then shallow warm moist soil will make them sprout, guaranteed.
At this point I must digress back to soil, you will need to fill the jiffy pots with a soil mix just as you will later prepare a regular pot with the same mix, in my personal experience the plant seems to grow well in this mix. In order to decide how much you have to use, a general formula for volume has to be used. A "Part" is just a ratio formula that describes how much of one item there is compared to the other parts, to fill the 2" Jiffy Pots start with a teaspoon of soil and a teaspoon of Pearlite (careful opening the bag or it'll choke you out), mix these 2 together, keep doing this until it is about ? full then spoon in and mix 2 teaspoons of blood/bone meal fertilizer. This mix will germinate and sustain healthy plants for up to 3 weeks. Therefore the standard soil mix for me is:
- 1 Part Potting Soil
- 1 Part Pearlite
- 1/8 of pot volume in Blood/Bone Meal
If you have done things carefully with attention to your growing supplies, growth room, heating, moisture and light all will be well and a small green shoot should break through the soil in about 1-10 days (some say longer but I have rarely seen a plant germinate after more than 9 days) generally about 3 in 4 will arrive at about the same time with usually one slower underdog plant for whatever reason??? Congratulations you have advanced to the next rank and are the proud bearer of marijuana seedlings. This is one step in a path and as such the needs of the seedling are the same as for germination with the addition of light, the more green showing the more light it needs, leave the lamp on for 24 hours at all times, this helps the plant to both grow and to become dominantly female which is necessary for high smoking yield. The cost is about 5$ a month extra on the electricity bill but it is worth it, the hassle of turning on and off lights eclipses the slight cost.
Once the seed pops they will begin to get green stems that go up toward the light they will continue to grow until they are about 2" high, they will then split into 2 rounded leaves and continue to grow. Following a period of several days the plant will then develop 2 larger leaves with spiky edges and a pointed tip, these leaves should be large and overshadow the rounded ones below it. Now once these secondary leaves grow, small sprouts will form in the center these will go on to form into the familiar cannabis leaf (just go buy any rap album for a picture) with a large central leaf and smaller fringe leaves around it, it should continue to develop leaves for a few months.
A Word About Water
Generally the marijuana plant is most capable at surviving in most all conditions on earth. From cold (1-2C.) to extreme heat, drought and flood, these plants are defiantly the marines of the Green World. With mans interference with nature however, we have suddenly added chemicals to our drinking water that the plant has had no time to get used to (Our marines have no organic chemical suits). Therefore the cheapest laziest way to get water is to fill up a bucket and let the water stand out for 2-3 days to evaporate all the shit chemicals and Prozac (wait, aren't we already doing that for humidity...). This will ensure that it is safe to use on the plant and gives the added bonus of being an easy humidifier. Now how do we drop our life giving supplies to our brave growing soldiers?
During germination the jiffy pots must be kept moist at all times, no exceptions, but once you get a seedling things change. When they are small and have a few small leaves just give them a good wetting down with a spray bottle before bed and upon waking. Do this until the second set of serrated leaves appear then switch to a full Styrofoam cup once every 2/3 days. A plant will more likely live through 2 days of drought but is less likely to survive 2 days of flooding, over watering is the number one mistake new gardeners make, only water when the soil feels dry a few inches down especially as the plants get bigger, this is very important!
Your First Journey: Transplanting
By now your plants should have 2 round lower leaves, 2 large serrated leaves and starting to grow a 3rd set, now is the time to transplant before the roots run themselves together and the jiffy pots begin to rot.
- Fill up 4 6" clay pots with previously mentioned soil mix, leave large hole in center
- Carefully cut the Jiffy Pot down the side and slowly peel away the pot
- Gripping entire plant and dirt ball from the top, gently drop into pot center
- Push in dirt from around the sides around the plant and pack in at plants base
I know from the experience of killing a perfectly good seedling by fucking up the transplant. I dropped the root ball and the tiny plant crumbled into the pot, the plant grew upside down for like 4 days then died, that sucked, so the moral is be very careful when transplanting or your hard work will be ruined, this is less of a problem as the plant grows and becomes stronger and more able to stand shock.
Long stems: If your plants are long and falling over they are getting too much red spectrum light i.e. you are not using the light I told you to use or you accidentally are using Warm White instead of Cool Whites fluorescents or god forbid Gro-Lux bulbs. This condition is almost exclusively due to a lighting issue and the result of the wrong spectrum, follow the equipment list closely.
Mildew Smell: Although the Jiffy Pots are a great growing medium and must be kept moist they can get over watered. If you flood them 2x a day they will smell like rotting wood in the heat after a week, the easy way to avoid and/or correct this is to cut back on watering
Failure to Germinate/Thrive: This could be caused by any number of factors but if everything here has been followed closely they may have been handled or transplanted roughly, left too cold, improperly watered (too much/too little) or maybe that the seeds were just shit that time around, even the best most experienced growers can't always germinate at 100% every time.
- Buy all equipment on the list
- Carefully choose and set up your growing space
- Obtain your seeds
- Germinate them
- Transplant after 1-2 weeks
- Care for plant and watch it grow over the next 2-3 months
The Wonder of Worms
Just now we had a lull in a rainstorm that was going on, I stopped writing to go out and collect about 12 of nature's pioneers, earthworms. These hardy little hermaphrodites can be collected on any sidewalk or driveway after it rains, by the 100s in some places. These guys are great workers of the land and putting 4 or 5 in each plant will aerate your soil and pack it full of nutrients over time. These guys will add to your crop size, quality and yield and will not harm your plants in any way, they are free to get, just go out after it rains and pick up the live ones. The earthworm is just one of the insects that assists mankind in agriculture.
Conclusion to Part 1
Well now you have hopefully grown your plant to a health bushy 6-7" tall, now the waiting begins. You must let the plant grow for about 8-12 full weeks before you can proceed to phase II, continue to water and feed every 2-3 days and transplant from a 6" pot to a 12" pot, after about 6 weeks, Adieu until next time... LAM