Hermaphrodites Happen

As a Cannabis grower, there are many challenges on the way to harvest. From selecting the seed, germination, nurturing through pests and blights, even the actual destruction of the plant is a process. Let me add another issue the Cannabis farmer needs to look out for.

Hermaphroditism is a phenomenon where a plant can present both male and female flowers. This is a bad thing for Cannabis growers as the creation of pollen can turn an entire garden into seed laden flowers.

While some Cannabis strains may be more prone hermaphroditism, any female can “hermie” while in flower. A farmer must keep a close eye on the development of their Cannabis plants’ sex organs.

The Cannabis hermaphrodite needs only a few of the females’ flowers to develop male “parts” to completely overwhelm a garden with the pollen that creates seeds. The seeds from a hermaphrodite will be prone to hermaphrodite as well, making them worthless for a future crop. Each one of those male yellow “bananas” (stamens) produce an obscene amount of pollen. Check out the video below of me “jacking off” a male stamen:

Hermaphrodites are most commonly caused by stress on the Cannabis plant. Overheating and interruptions in the light cycle are the most common reasons for a plant to “go hermie”. The Cannabis farmer can reduce the risk of a hermaphrodite by simply removing any stress on their plants. Light leaks, spikes in temperature, inadequate ventilation even the shock of over fertilization can cause your green babies to become hermaphrodites.

If a hermaphrodite does develop in your garden, get it out of there. Take a close look… you may be able to pluck all the male parts off. But remember, if any of those male “nanners” survive, there WILL be seeds in your harvest.

Category: Growing | LEAVE A COMMENT

Fun with Fungus Gnats

I noticed little black flyers in my grow tent during the vegetative stage. At first I assumed them to be fruit flies but a quick look on the web identified them as the fungus gnat. All indoor Cannabis growers will deal with an infestation of fungus gnats at some point.

Fungus Gnats usually come from the soil medium, especially if the soil spent anytime outside in a moist environment. These little buggers like moisture, light and carbon dioxide; all found in every garden. These tiny black gnats begin life as fungus eating larvae actually aiding in decomposition but too many may have them munching the plant roots as well. Letting the soil dry out between watering, adequate ventilation and removing any dead leaves around the plant will help to control their activity.

Cannabis is a crop I would expect most people would want pesticide free. Luckily there are multiple, low impact solutions for just about any pest you would have in the garden. Fungus gnats are no exception. I was seeking the fastest and cheapest method that would have the least impact on my Cannabis’ growth. Some web research revealed a product that provides two methods of control in one package.

Nematodes are the most numerous multi cellular animals on Planet Earth. There are more than 20,000 species of nematodes, also called round worms, that live on every part of the world. Nematodes live in the oceans, the soil, even in our bodies! Nematodes can be harmful as well as beneficial. Of course, as Cannabis growers, all we care about are the beneficial nematodes.

nematodes in a box

This kit comes with millions of live nematodes as well as a pack of yellow tinted sticky strips. One simply places the Nematode covered sponge in a couple gallons of water (not tap water, the chlorine will kill the ‘todes). Wait five minutes before watering the Cannabis plants with the nematode soup. Within a few days those nematodes will grow into fungus gnat larvae killers.

fungus gnats

While the nematodes make themselves at home, the yellow sticky strips can be deployed in the garden. Even though these weak flying pests are more at home running all over the leaves, they do take flight and land permanently on the yellow stickum. It is very satisfying to see the little bastids on the strips yet at the same time it is kind of disturbing. You will notice less flies as the nematodes do their job and kill the future of the fungus gnat infestation.

There are other low impact, non chemical treatments I haven’t tried to control fungus gnats. Diatomaceous earth is essentially microscopic shells that, when spread around the Cannabis plants, will cut up the pests when they come into contact with it, killing them eventually. Steel wool will have the same effect on any little flyers that land on it. If I have fungus gnats in the future, I will give these methods a try and report back.

Amazon sells the Fungus Gnat eradication kits for about $15.00.
Here’s the link: Nema Globe Fungus Gnat Pest Control.

Category: Growing | LEAVE A COMMENT

The Cannabis Under the Stairs – Part 2

Cannabis is legal to grow in many of our United States. If you’re able to grow, you should. It is easy, fun, educational, and not very expensive. The first post: The Cannabis Under the Stairs, assembled the equipment needed to start growing in a closet. This post is about the setup of the growing medium in your newly constructed microfarm. Hopefully this quick guide will inspire YOU to start your first grow.

Now that the grow tent is setup for growing Cannabis in a closet under the stairs, the growing medium needs to be considered. At this point a decision needs to be made: soil or hydroponic? I have been growing with soil for nearly two years. For me it was less expensive and easier to go with soil. I hope to give a hydroponic grow a try some day when I feel more confident with my growing skills and I can expand my grow area.

Making a soil mix that will maximize growth is not difficult, especially these days. With the legalization of Cannabis, growing stores are popping up like Starbucks! Additionally, more companies are competing for farmers’ dollars with specialized Cannabis products including premixed “megasoils”. How much soil mix to buy/make depends on the number pots and the size of those container. There are approximately 7.5 gallons per cubic foot of soil. The soil bags are usually clearly marked in cubic feet.

cannabis soil choices

Remember, a little research goes a long way. Here’s a list of soil companies to check out:

Adding some Perlite will lighten the soil and help with drainage, letting the soil dry out between watering. Perlite is a volcanic mineral that is treated to create properties to aid with soil aeration and water retention. Perlite retains some water but more importantly, it traps oxygen on it’s textured surface keeping the soil aerated. I usually put in a handful of Perlite per pot and mix it in well. If you choose a Cannabis premix, check to see if the Perlite might already be in there. Once the soil mix is ready, the container must be considered.

Since a tent is limited in area, the pot size will be limited as well. A larger pot will yield a larger plant and a smaller pot will yield a smaller one. The correct size not only dictates the number of pots in the tent but how big the Cannabis could grow. It is important to remember only one Cannabis plant should be in each pot. Also keep in mind there are growth training techniques that maximize yield per area but, as a beginner, they are best tried after a few successful grows.

cannabis potting diagram

The bottom of the pot must have a layer of small stones so the soil can drain freely. Of course, you’ll need a tray under that pot to catch the water that will leak out from the drain holes. Use those clear plastic trays that raise the pot a tiny bit above the water. They cost about a buck at most garden stores and will keep water off the floor of the tent.

The tent I am using is 48 inches by 24 inches. I start with 8 plants in the tent but, as the Cannabis grows, I will remove any male plants as well as the weaker ones so that 4 plants remain. The foliage and buds of the four Cannabis plants will completely fill the tent by the time they are ready to harvest.

It is time to get some seeds or clones and get this party started. But that’s a post for another day.

Reliable Bud Growing

Another month, another awesome Reliable Bud BYOC event at Spencer fairgrounds. The spirit of “70s Flower Power” was in the air along with a whole lot of Cannabis smoke. If you haven’t been to one of these monthly celebration of all things Cannabis, you’re definitely missing out.

The flawless weather was perfect for hanging out with hundreds of my fellow Cannabis lovers. I knew this was going to be a big one when I saw the impressive number of cars in the parking lot. Just take a look at this 360 video that allows viewing of anywhere you would like to see of the event.

As usual, there was plenty of Cannabis products from local businesses. Each event brings more new vendors. There are some incredible growers out there as well as new and interesting products you’ll find at these Reliable Bud BYOC events first.

The next Reliable Bud “Bring Your Own Cannabis” party is on Saturday, October 13th at the Spencer Fairgrounds. Of course, its Halloween season so I expect there will be plenty of Tricks and Treats.

The Cannabis Under the Stairs

Cannabis is legal to grow in many of our United States. If you’re able to grow, you should. It is easy, fun, educational, and not very expensive. These days all the components for a successful indoor grow can be purchased without leaving the living room. Here’s an extremely quick setup guide to inspire YOU to start your first grow.

My new living situation has a great closet under the stairs. The grow box I built where I previously lived fit in there but with limited access to the rest of the closet. I was also looking for some more “head room” for my soil-grown Cannabis plants. I decided to maximize the usable space with a grow tent.

A grow tent is the perfect solution for a low impact, low cost home grow situation. Grow Tents are great for renters who wish to grow Cannabis without any effect on the property. Add the power stingy, cool running LED lights and you’ve got a stealth microfarm of your very own.

cannabis grow tent

A search on eBay will cue up hundreds of indoor grow tents. These reflective foil lined thick nylon tents have large zippered doors and multiple “vent tubes” and flaps to accomodate the plants and equipment that will go inside. After measuring my closet space, I determined the tent size 48″ by 24″ by 60″ would fit perfectly. You ‘ll see multiple sizes are available so choose wisely. Check the shipping origin and try to go with a company inside the USA as it will arrive faster and any decfect/damage issues will be easier to resolve.

These tents are very easy to assemble but be sure to setup the tent in the closet. I assembled my tent outside first only to disassemble it to get it to fit in the closet. Once the tent is put together, you’ll notice straps that will enable looping over the rod where clothing is hung on hangers. This adds extra stability and takes any weight of the flimsy frame that keeps the grow tent upright.

A key environmental factor for successful indoor Cannabis growth is air quality. It is essential that a tent sysem includes a venting system that is able to “replace” the air inside every couple of minutes. With all the plant processes like photosynthesis and transpiration, fresh air with the required components including oxygen and carbon dioxide is key. Proper air replacement controls humidity and temperature as well.

The vent is attached to a carbon intake filter that helps to remove the pleasant but incriminating odor of fresh Cannabis flowers. The fan is attached to a vent (basically a 6″ PVC pipe) out of the tent through one of the vent sleeves. The sleeves are cuffs with cinch cords to snug the fabric to the vent.

vent system for indoor cannabis

Airflow is very important for the indoor grow system. The vent fan will refresh the air inside the tent but adds little actual movement of that air. Air “turbulence” strengthens the Cannabis plant’s stems, helps to disrupt pests, aids in the prevention of fungus and helps to control the tent’s air temperature. A small clip on fan (6 inch) works perfectly in a smaller grow tent with ample locations inside to clip the fan in the most effective locations. I like to move the fan around during the grow so the plants get “wind stressed” in multiple directions.

COB LED grow lights

The light source is the most important component to an indoor grow. There are so many choices, it can be daunting. The development of LED (light emitting diode) grow lights has taken great leaps forward with every new version released. In my opinion, LED lights are the ONLY choice for the small indoor grow. This debate could rage on but the bottom line is longer lifespan, cheaper operation costs and lower heat during use all add up to the perfect imitation sun for the home grower. The latest in lighting, COB (Chip on Board) technology super charges the LED, producing a higher Lumen output. COB chips are built right onto the circuit board helping to make them more efficient and less likely to fail.

How much light will you need? Once you’ve calculated the square footage of the canopy area, multiply that number by 50. My tent setup has a total floor area of 8 square feet. I currently use two 180 watt LED fixures. That is a bit shy of the desired 400 watts. but it will be more than enough coverage for the 4 to 6 plants I hope to grow. Plants will still grow with insufficient light, they will just grow slower and have a smaller yield.

Cannabis Grow Lights

Any lighting choice should be made at a “brick and mortar” retailer as customer support, including the ability to quickly replace a failing unit must be considered. A helpful sales person will ensure you make the right choice considering details like wattage and spectrum ranges. LED technology is evolving so fast, I believe they will replace most other lighting options in the future.

The LED lights should be at least 8 inches from the plant. As the Cannabis grows, the lights will need to be adjusted from the plant tops. Most growers use a dangling system with ratched cams to pull the light upward with a tug of the support cables. If the plants are started with the lights too far away, the seedlings will stretch into gangling, unstable plants. If the light is too close, bud bleaching and burning will result.

LEDs do their best to mimic the properties of our Sun to promote plant growth. Like the Sun, indoor gardeners should limit their exposure of these lights on the eyes. Maybe a pair of sunglasses would help, but keeping garden visits to a minimum is also a wise choice.

SensorPushRemember, the fans will make a lot of noise, so consider that before setting up in a closet next to your bed. Also, invest in a good temperature and humidity monitor as extremes of both will affect your grow. I personally like to use a system that sends the data to my phone. I use a device called SensorPush which has worked flawlessly for a year and a half. The environment inside your grow tent will be very important to you as your plants mature.

You’ve gathered your hardware and assembled your very own grow system and it didn’t break the bank! For less than 1000 dollars you’ve created a microfarm right in your own house. Now its time to consider the soil, fertilizer, pots and, of course, the seeds. But that is a post for another time.