Tag Archives: grow

The Farm – Perpetual cannabis growing at home

If you are growing at home for you personal use, you most likely own a single tent, a light (or two if you swap between veg and flower), some pots, soil etc. A single grow can be seperated into five different stages (0-4), and all of these stages take place inside that single tent. What if you manage to give every stage its own small room? This is called a perpetual grow. You swap tents respective to the stage your plant is currently in. Maximize your space and grow more efficiently.

View of a room with tents
I filled about half a room of my apartment with the tents and equipment.

Stage Zero: Cloning – The Greenhouse

For rooting cuts have a small greenhouse on the side. In this stage plants do not need ungodly amounts of light. I shine a small photolight or a desklight on them, to keep the clones from flowering. The rest of time I wait until I see roots emerging from the side and keep them moist. Not every new plant undergoes this stage, but seedlings can also be kept here if needed. Its also perfectly fine to put the greenhouse into a tent, if it has sufficient size.

indoor greenhouse with cloned plants
Some clones in a VERY DIRTY greenhouse thats really not suitable to show off online. Shame on me.

Stage One: Clones, mothers, early veg – The Living Collection

The real first step into perpertual growing is seperating veg and flower. My clone tent happens to be a 2×2 tent for me with a cheap blurple light to keep things alive. In this tent I let my clones root through their pots and keep mother plants. Not much is happening here. Keeping everything green and vital is hard enough. The lights are on 18 hours a day.

blurple light in a tent with clones and mothers
The collection: This tent is always a bit chaotic. Everything that has to be kept alive is in here.

Stage Two: Vegetative tent – The Gym

Here it gets interesting: This is also a 2×2 tent, but with a much better light. I am using my Lien-Tec Dual Quantum Cube in here to get the plants used to the amount they will receive in the flowering tent. I also repot them into a 20l (5gal) pot, once they filled out their initial pot and let them root through. In this tent most of the plant manipulation takes place. The plants will be in here for about 4-6 weeks until they move on into the flowering tent. They get topped and LSTd, pruned and schwazzed in here, whatever you feel like doing to them.
My personal strategy: Get them to fill out their respective space twice, then cut away all but a single node on top of every branch three days prior to the flowering period and swap over new plants from the Stage-One-Tent.

veg tent with vegging plants
Vegging plants in different stages. While the plants in the back are getting ready for flowering, the ones in the front just got transplanted.

Stage Three: Flowering – The Sunhouse

Where the magic happens: Every plant going in here is fully vegged, trained and ready to go. No timeloss here, everything is running at a 12 hour light cycle forever – no darkness periods or whatsoever. The plants in here most get spread abit with gardening wires or hooks. They also get the day 21 and day 42 defoliation and of course: water. But thats also basically it. Keep the tent clean! You will not have off-periods after a harvest to do that. So once a month, take everything out, get your antibacterials in here and clean your garden.

My current flowering tent runs on 6x CXB 3950 Cree COBs condensed into 2x Pro Emit Sunbars 150-B and 2x HLG QB288 V2. Totalling about 570W this tent is packed with light.

flowering tent with plants, lights and a fan
The beginning of a perpetual grow: Emptyness in the flowering tent. The number of plants will rise with time.

Stage Four: Drying – The Barn

This is more or less a small darkroom where 3-4 plants should fit in, drying. You are used to hang every thing from a tent inside said tent for the initial drying period. This is a huge off-time where your tent is blocked for veg/flowering purposes! My small IKEA-hack (article is pending…) involves a kitchen cabinet with wheels and a big hole on top to connect to one of the tents. This way you get a suction airflow, thats perfect for drying bud initially. The room does not have to be as big, since you only harvest 2-3 plants at once using that method. To dial everything in, you will need about 3-4 month of planning. In the first iteration you can even stat mulitple plants in each of the stages and cumulate them after a while in the flowering tent. This is your last step to perpetual grow: get drying out of the flowering area.

Useful tricks

Plan ahead

So with one single tent you have plenty of time to choose new genetics. In this operation you have to choose genetics about every two weeks, so be prepared! Work out a plan for several month ahead and stick to it. You will learn how the system dials in, and how long each plant can veg etc…

picture of a calendar
You can print out sheets of these calendar-pages to keep track of every plant. You can find them here.

Maintain a journal of everything

Once you gro perpetual, you will handle much more plants in every possible stage at once. They all have different needs. Keep track in what stage every plant is at the moment. Write down things like date of germination, date of switching stages, how many days they were in each stage, etc. Keep track!

Have fun!

With this perpetual grow method you should be able to not only keep more genetics in your operation but also have a steady refill of your stash instead of a massive haul every 3rd to 4th months.

The Pro grows: El Patron by Royal Queen Seeds

El Patrin main bud close up
This is what you get – El Patron main bud by Royal Queen Seeds, grown by Homegrow Pro.

Back to square one – from a Royal Queen Seeds veteran

Growing El Patron felt like I was going back in time. Royal Queen Seeds was the first breeder I bought seeds from – Amnesia Haze Automatics being the first. And also the feeling not really to know what I’m doing wrong was there again.

One year after my last run with RQS Critical – my last RQS run until El Patron – I have now a lot more experience under my belt and equipment in the closet.

Items and Tools that I used for that grow

The Grow Room – Setting up

I had the opportunity to test out Lien-Tecs very own interpretation of a Samsung Lm301b chipboard including the now commonly used photo- as well as far-red LED chips on a passively cooled fixture. The system came with an LCD display with a dimmer attached to set the power as desired. In the 2’x2’ (60 cm x 60 cm) tent area I dimmed the light down to values between 120 W (seedling, veg) and 160 W (early and mid flower).

Lientec LED screen to setup the power of the led and monitor current and voltage
Lien-Tec LED: This model features a very convenient screen and power adjuster!


For air circulation I used one low powered static fan inside the tent and an AC Infinity Cloudline T6 for filtering and air-exchange. I aimed to grow four plants total in 3 gal smart pots filled with my go to soil: BioBizz Light Mix. Not too hard on the seedlings and cool for the first weeks alone, while also (usually) easy to maintain when combined with the BioBizz nutrition line, which I also did.

Seedling and Vegetation Stage

small seedling coming out of the soil
El Patron – cracking the soils surface

El Patron had a rough summer to germinate in. I got my four favorites and started the run, at first separated under two different grow lights, but altogether after a brief time of three weeks.

Right after germination I recognized the first problems: All four plants seem to “forgot” to develop one of the second-set branches, resulting in a weird triangle shape. Cannabis plants usually retain a decent symmetry for a longer time after sprouting – especially under LED lights. Followed by the first signs of nutritional malady they grew okay in veg. Longer internodial distances and a vague signs of nitrogen deficiencies were always visible. “I had it worse…” – I thought and wanted to let them go vital before switching to flower.

small cannabis plant with a weird shape
El Patrons shape is very unique (or weird) in the first weeks of the grow. All four plants showed this feature.

For training I’ve chosen my favourite LST method with the metal hooks you can read about on my website here.

Flowering

flowering cannabis
In the tent: El Patron does not like to stretch a lot, flowering was uniform and easy to manage in terms of stretching and structure.

I switched to flower rising the power usage of the light to 160 W from the wall, while I reduced the hours of light per day to 12 hours. I also raised usage of the nitrogen source in order to get ready for the flowering stretch. Up to three weeks into 12/12 the plant is still creating large amounts of green material such as branches and sun leafs and grows exponentially, raising its height by up to 300%!  In the same time I increased usage of the potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) parts of my nutrition plan and let it buffer up in the soil to be ready to use mid flower, where a plant is the hungriest.

Cannabis mid flowering
El Patron in mid flower: Shes stacking up nicely but always showed a bunch of nutrition problems. Maybe the pH was off….

El Patron is a late stacker. You have to wait to the very end until she abruptly stops pushing out bud volume. I was greeted with medium to medium-high yields of bud. Was the quality worth all the hassle?

cannabis ready to harvest
El Patron short before harvest: The leafs are dry and curled upwards. This picture was taken 18 days after the one above.

The Product – taste, potency, flavor and smell

To answer that question: For me, definetly. I am a taste/personal use grower, so yield is not the first aspect when it comes to growing. I want new tastes, flavors, structures, views and colors. While the colors were nothing special in this run (although I tried – running sub 20°C in the nights) the initial smell is mesmerizing. The first thing I thought was: ”Oh, it’s just like Lemon Haze! “, which is very commonly the first distinct terpene variety you experience as a rookie cannabis consumer. If you squeeze it you get whiffs of cookies and cream as well as parsnips, without being too dominant. Smoking it reminds me of oldschool Amnesia taste, also no surpise due to the AMG lineage.

This strain is covered in trichomes! So frosty – its unreal!

The high drops in hard and head-heavy: I got talky as usual and was in urgent need to eat a lot of food in a short time. I also got pretty much useless doing tasks that involve a lot of different steps at the same time, so I went and did another round of macro shots of the now dried out plant. The buds were exceptionally dense (apart from that one pheno that didn’t) and became rock-hard in the initial drying phase. There will be some remoisturization going on, burping and curing her, but at a first inspection – very grindable and enjoyable material! Should also be very good for extracts like hash or rosin.

If you are a hazelover who needs head-high in the afternoon to clean up the living room (very slowly!) – here you go! El Patron by Royal Queen Seeds – Thanks again for the opportunity to grow a new variety. Its a great experiment to set “new grounds” for a new strain!

Trichome closeup: There is also plant material in this picture – believe it, or not.

The Pro Grows: Blue Gelato by Barneys Farm – The 100l experiment

Why you should grow Blue Gelato 41

Derived from Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and Blueberry the Blue Gelato is another US based import to the European market under the distribution of Barneys Farm. The strain contains that mainly sweet and citric taste that Gelato is known for. Underlying with OG and Blueberry flavors you will get a …

(here I rolled a fatty to experience it another timer)

38°C on my balcony. The wind feels like a desert or caribian breeze. It all started with the selection of the particular flower. I decided to use one of the many top headbuds. The curing process was only three weeks in, the flower was as gluey as it gets and showed an incredible trichome density.

The effect delays into the second or third hit, subtle first but exponentially transforms to a truckload into the back of your head very quickly. The high is longlasting and top heavy. Side effects for me are a dry mouth and a big urge to eat some hot and spicy food.

(here I took another break to rest on the couch with some ice tea)

Items and tools

TL;DR – Blue Gelato 41

  • Strain: Blue Gelato 41 by Barneys Farm
  • From seed to weed: 141 days (veg 84 days, flower 57 days)
  • Wet harvest weight: n.a.
  • Final Dry yield: 244 gr (8.6 oz, single plant)
  • Effect: Strong, head heavy, numb mouth, clouded mind, psychedelic
  • Taste: sweet, OG, pungy

The Grow

Germination and Seedling Stage

When growing from seed you should always germinate more seeds than the actual number of plants you want to grow. Since I wanted to have one single huge plant I germinated two seeds and simply used the first one to show up as the main plant.

cannabis seeds
Blue Gelato 41 seeds

After about 0.5 cm of the initial root showed up, I put the seedling into a 3 gal smartpot with a fresh batch of BioBizz Lightmix. The first two weeks of a grow are always slow and boring: You dont really need to do anything but sit and watch. I kept the soil moist with my sprayer to prevent the seed from tilting from too much water. After the stem was strong enough, I turned to my usual watering schedule. This is also the point where I first give the seedling external nutrition. Lightmix already comes with a good amount of plantfood but for the remainder of the vegetative I gave her 2 ml of Bio Grow and 2 ml of Bio Heaven per liter of water. As usual I lowered the pH of my water dwon from 7.8 to the region bewtween 6.2 and 6.5.

Small cannabis plant in soil
Seedling a week after germination

Vegetative Stage – the long training

As you might know, I count the seedling stage into the veg stage. So the day my seeds get hit with water, I start counting veg days.

After 18 days the plant was ready for the top. I topped her once with intend and a few times by accident. I topped the plant right above the second node, so I ended up with four main branches, that will be trained outwards.

Cannabis plant in vegetative growth
After 18 days this plant was ready for an early top
topped cannabis plant
4 tops are left to be trained outwards
topped cannabis plant with LST applied
After three days the tops are ready for the bend!

Training setup is done! For the rest of veg I just had to train the shoots outwards again and again. four weeks into vegging I transplanted the plant into its final container: A single 100 liter unit! I decided to give her eight weeks to root through this volume.

Transplanted cannabis plant
Blue Gelato 41 after one month since germination in its final pot.

For this particular plant it was necessary to remove several side branches while it got trained further and further. The internodial distance was just to short, and even with this premeasurement the plant ended up being a nasty bush nontheless.

cannabis plant in a big pot
Bushy plant that needs some trainin…. (6 weeks old)
cannabis plant in training
…and after appyling LST (same day)

I wanted to play that out as far as possible and ended up with a structure that looked more like a weird piece of art than a plant.

heavy LST applied to plant
Heavy LST applied to a cannabis plant results in this structure. (8 weeks of veg)

The branches and the stalk are getting fatter by the day after 8 weeks of veg. The plan was to let her grow to the walls of the grow room and then upwards to encourage a bit of stretch once shes sent into flower.

cannabis plant and a ruler
My plant is 15cm tall after 10 weeks of veg.
upskirt shot of a cannabis plant
This shot shows what you have to deal with when doing something like that.

A few words why this method of growing cannabis is actually pretty dumb: So my grow room would be on top when it comes to economical grows. I use very efficient LED lights and do not bother with AC units or anything that impacts my electricity bill alot. I am still growing with under 400W of total power. But having a plant in this environment for that long kind of kills the idea of being economical here. Time is an important factor when it comes to economical growing, and what was done here was the opposite. The grow itself took close to 5 months to finish, while its possible to harvest more in just 3.5 months.

Flowering the beast

After 84 days of veg I pulled the trigger and started flowering. The branches did not really hit the walls of the grow room, but I thought the flowering stretch and a little bit of spreading would take care of that. Note that I defoliate pretty conservativley before flowering, which cant be seen here exactly, but my goal is, that every top gets direct sunlight.

huge plant
Blue Gelato 41 starting to flower.
detail shot of early flowers
Cannabis flowers in the earliest stage of development.

But I was wrong here: the plant had to support about 50 to 70 tops and stretching was not something she wanted to take care of. My assumption is, that the potential to stretch decreases heavily with the amount of top to put energy into to stretch. I got about 5 cm extra height overall, and thats it.

With the development of flowers, the plant now needs different supplements. So I switched from grow to bloom nutrition according to the BioBizz nutrient schedule sheet. I watered the pot with 10 l of water every 3rd or 4th day. Hitting day 21 of flowering I went for another round of defoliation, but I figuered out soon enough that this would not be enough for that lady. She kept putting out leaf material by the day, and I could grab handfuls of leafs far into the flower cycle. Most of the leafs on the back of the plant could not be pruned because I simply could not access that area at all…

cannabis flowers in development overview shot
Blue Gelato 41 in flowering.
macro shot of cannabis plant in early development
Resin production began early and heavily on that pheno.

Whenever you hit week six of flowering theres not much to do but checking trichomes and soil moisture.

maturing cannabis plant
Flowers of Blue Gelato 41 near the finish line

Although I had to deal with leafy colas the resin production on that strain is insane! After only 20 days of flower the colas were packed with trichs and after only 46 days I could already see trichomes turn amber.

trichome shot of cannabis
Day 46 of flower and the trichomes are already turning amber and are mostly milky. This one will be a fast runner!
cannabis plant closeup
Blue Gelato flower

Harvest, Drying and Curing

macro shot of harvestready cannabis
Brown pisitls, milky trichomes, and a good portion of amber ones: this lady is ready for harvest

So after only 57 days, six days before the harvest window given by the breeder, I decided to cut her down. Not only because she was ready, but I had to fight high temps in the grow room, and I did not want to risk any mold since that bush was so dense! pulling out a 100l pot out of that room was a pain.

bushy cannabis plant
The leafy backside of the plant, that I never had the chance to defoliate.

I decided to dry trim this time. So I cut away most of the fan leafs and hang her up branch by branch. After 7 days of this initial drying it was time for manicuring. This is mostly done by removing everything thats not flower material. But since the resin production of that one was so incredible dense I decided to keep a lot of sugarleafs on her. It was a rather experimental run in the end and I would not do it like that again, but a worthwhile experience!

cannabis dried and ready to smoke
Curing Blue Gelato 41

The Pro Grows: Lemon Zkittle by Dutch Passion

Why you should grow Lemon Zkittle

With the on-going legalization in the US and Canada many awesome crosses have emerged from the vast number of varieties developed in that part of the world. Next to OG Kush, Cookies or modern strains like all the Gelatos there is one name to be heard all the time: Zkittlez.

Lemon Zkittle by Dutch Passion is a derivate from Las Vegas Lemon Skunk and cupwinning Zkittlez relative. Her THC content exceeds the 20% as all modern strains seem to do. The phenotype I have grown shows some differences to the given description by Dutch Passion due to the conditions she was in. I grew her in winter, so at lights-off the ambient temp in the tent could drop somewhat under 20°C which gave her a little purple shade in the end. I also used prefertilized soil by Kanamu Pacha and solid nutrition in the form of the GreenHouse Feeding Bio Line. So no bottled nutes were used this time, only organic material that has to interact with the medium and water.
The resin production of the Strain is outstanding, and you will end up with a carpet of trichomes on the leaves and flowers.

Mature cannabis plant
Lemon Zkittle seven days before harvest showing amazing resin production.

Items and Tools

TL;DR – Lemon Zkittle

  • Strain: Lemon Zkittle by Dutch Passion
  • From seed to weed: 143 days (veg 76 days, flower 67 days)
  • Wet harvest weight (wet trimmed): n.a.
  • Final dry yield: 188 gr (6.6 oz)
  • Effect: extreme strong, head heavy, paranoid, numb/dry mouth, long lasting
  • Taste: Due to some fuckups by me on the hay side, subtly lemony, next to no Zkittles flavor

Grow it…
…if you like US resin coated sugar strains.
…if you like lemon flavours.

Don’t grow it…
…if you like to mainline your plants.

The Grow

Germination and seedling stage

I used my usual method to germinate two seeds in a paper towel. I used pH-regulated water (pH of 5.7 to 6.0) and let it soak in water until saturation.

items for germination
Items im using for germination: Bowl with water, paper towel, seeds (in the middle), a jamglass lid, pH-meter
seeds on a papertowel
Put the seeds on the paper…
wet papertowel in a jar lid
Let the paper soak in water as much as it can, and add some additional water to the lid.

This way, the seeds start with a lot of moisture. Put the ghetto-petri dish in a warm (around 27°C is perfect, but not necessary) and dark place and check it every 24 – 48 hrs. After 3-7 days the seed should be ready to pot when the inital root is between 0.5 cm and 1 cm long. The soil should be at least a bit moist at this point, but not dripping wet. Make the root look for the moisture and stretch to it. Place it about 1.5 cm deep and put some loose soil above it.

cannabis seedling in soil
Lemon Zkittle Seedling looking through the soil.

After a couple of days the seedling should break through the soil. In this stage the seedling is most vulnerable. I recommend to just let it be, and keep the area around the plant moist. I use a water sprayer for that. In this time I wet the soil every day. The stem and roots are not strong enough to keep the plant standing if the soil is too wet, so prevent that. Its not lethal if it happens tho. After some days the stem will be strong enough to use my flood watering method again. Since the roots need time to grow through the soil, you can take 5l of waters for the 30l of soil and you will need to water only once a week for starters.

Vegetative Stage: Training!

14 days after germination the plant was ready for the first top at the forth node. I wanted to achieve a mainline of four branches going in perpendicular direction and keep the secondary branches coming out of them for a massive bush.

topped cannabis plant
Cut of the main top of the plant on day 14 after gemination.

The mainline was done via the metal stakes im using for a while now. The branches keep growing horitontally while second nodes develop more heavy since the plant wants to compensate for the hassle of the main branches. I will never

LST applied on cannabis plant
3 days after the top, the plant was ready for LST.
LST reaction from the plant
Lemon Zkittles reaction to LST

The LST is applied everytime the plant grows back pointing upwards. This can take a lot of time, since i wanted to fill up as much area as possible.

reaction of the plant due to LST
A new round of LST is applied (left). After only three days the plant is ready for the next round.

This method will result in a great amount of nodes and leaves. Its your job to decide which node you keep and which one to cut away. Usually I keep mine for a week or two to determine if the plant is distributing energy to it. This will be adressed later when it comes to lollypopping in flowering.

bonsai cannabis
LST keeps the plant flat in check.
LST and clear bottom of plant
Keep the lower branches clear, to reduce larf/popcorn growth in the flowering stage.
stalk of cannabis plant
The stem will grow to a big stalk the longer you veg, and the more room there is for the roots.

Flowering Stage

When the plant uses up most of the grow area its time to send her to the flowering stage. Note that this is only possible if you are using regular or feminized plants and not autoflowering ones.

cannabis plant in full scale
Lemon Zkittle in early flowering filling up the space.

This plant was in veg-stage for 51 days before flowering. In the first 21 days of flowering I let her stretch out and removed some leaves here and there, but nothing major.

stretching plant
Stretch of the Lemon Zkittle is pretty moderate. The mainlined tops are clearly outstanding in height.

On day 21 I removed a lot of fan leafs and cut away some poorly developed tops. The reason for this is, that I want to have well developed main tops instead of a massive amount of larf. From that point on there will still be a fan leaf found casting a shadow over a bud once in a while. Rule for removing leafs: If a leaf keeps direct light away from a bud, it has to go.

Rule for removing entire tops: If its way below canopy level and poorly developed, it has to go. Disclaimer: I should have cut more on that plant. The plant has about 50-60 tops in the end, and the pot was way too little to distribute energy to every single one of them properly.

cannabis in early flowering
Bud development on the numerous tops I left for flowering.

After day 21 i basically just sit and watch the plant thrive. Keep her fed and watered and watch out for deficiencies. This plant was grown fully organically and i stopped actively giving nutrition around week 5 of 9.

cannabis maturing in flowering
Trichomes are highly reflective and look very frosty in the middle of the grow.
single cola of cannabis plant
Lemon Zkittle cola in flowering. This structure with no space in between buds is a very desireable property.

In the course of the grow the Lemon Zkittle developes an amazing trichome density. This is always a good sign! The trichomes start with clear appearence.

macro shot of cannabis plant
Macroshot in the middle of flowering. The trichome denisty is top notch. The trichomes are mostly clear and the pistils are pointing upwards. Maturity is still far from reached.

After seven weeks, the plant shows visible signs of deficiency. Since the life cycle would be over after week 9 to 10 and im using organic nutrition I refrained to use more of that on her and let her fade.

full scale flowering plant
Late flowering: The leaves turn yellow
macro shot of trichomes
Mature flower: The trichome start to change from cloudy to amber. Its time!

After 8 weeks the trichomes were mostly cloud, while a good portion already started the transition to amber. I had her in the closet for another week and harvested her on point after 63 days of flowering.

Harvest and curing

Harvesting such a large plant is not always easy. She had such a large number of tops that I had to do the whole ordeal in two days. I let her dry off about 10 days as a whole plant before I went to dry trim and curing. I aimed for 300+ gramm but only came out about 60% of that. Thats fine for a single plant, but I think I screwd up the training process and was a bit less patient for the flowering switch to happen. I cured her for about a week with burping and paying close attention to the feel of the product. After that I used the C-Vault and Boveda Packs to further store the goods in a perfect environtment. In the end I would like to encourage you to tryout that strain. The trichome density and frost of the flower is extreme and the effect is equivalent to this.

Cheers.

“Help my weed looks weird!” – The 5 most common problems while growing cannabis

Since Nebula has a VERY EXTENSIVE guide on every possible problem your plant could potentially have I will just give my two cents on how to fix about 90% of the problems that can occur when you are new to the subject.

1. Discoloration of the leafs. 

This problem makes most first time growers loose their shit very fast. When you never had to take care of any plant at home it seems weird that there is something dying on a plant.

Main reasons leafs are dying:

  • Leafs on the lower part on the plant die first. This is normal and occurs nearly everytime. Do not worry and move on. If you do not lollypop or defoliate it can happen that about 1/5 of lower growth will get dry in the course of the grow. The leafs are just light deprivated and the plant rather uses nutrition on leafs that get hit by more light.
  • Leafs turn yellow at the end of the life cycle. This is very much dependent on your nutrient schedule and genetic. Have you flushed your plants? The plant will try to redistribute nutritions down to the roots. The leafs will turn yellow. Its harvest time, and you are pretty much simulating fall in your tent. Its normal. Some plants do not get yellow in the end. Thats also perfectly fine. Yellow leafs, after stopping nutrient supply is a common reaction.
Flowering cannabis plant
Chocolope really puts on a fall costume in the end. 
  • You are in the middle of a grow, and did everything according to the nutrient schedule as well as the soils instructions about nutrients? You might have a deficiency/toxicity going on. Read more in the next section…

2. pH value

This is actually very important knowledge. Soil is and inert medium. That means it is a living environment and can deal with out-of-order pH-values.
Since I am not a hydro dude, I will just say this: Get your pH straight. Buy some measuring stripes and look closely at the graphic below.

pH value uptake chart
Graphic from howtogrowmarijuana.com

A good example is the tap water where I live. It has a pH value of 7.5 to 8.2. To make it simple: The pH value is responsible for the availabilty of certain nutrients your plant needs. It is similar to humans: If your diet is too one-sided you will get problems! The pH value in an inert medium can be buffered to some degree, meaning that a slight off will be taken care of. 
My water will prevent most of the Copper, Zinc, Phosphorous and Iron to be left out in the feeding schedule and this will show in Leaf discoloration, reduced yield and growth and an overall unhealthy look.
Tip from the pro: Get a pH measurement device and dial that shit in. The optimal way would be the use of pH-up/down as a chemical addition to the feeding plan for every watering. You can also use lemon juice concentrate, especially when working with soil. 

The perfect pH-value when working with soil is between 6 and 7.

3. The right temperature

The origin of cannabis in nature is pretty sunny and warm. A cannabis plant grows best between 20°C and 30°C. The optimal values would be the area between 23°C and 27°C. Since a lot of homegrowers do not use any climate control their only hope is air circulation and decent ambient temperatures. The temperatures of plants in vegetative growth can be slightly higher, according to the seasons: vegetative growth happens in the summer, where the temps are usually a bit higher. A plant can also go out of this range: A higher than 1500 ppm supply of CO2 and a very bright light can help a plants thriving at temps as high as 35°C! But this should not be the case for newcomers.
My tip: Build a setup according to my guides and check out how it dials itself in. If its in range, you are good to go. Do not expect massive outcomes if your room is always over 32°C!
If your room happens to be under your roof, without air circulation thats connected to active heating and temps are constantly below 18°C you will most likely stun the plant and the growth will come to a full stop. This will be lethal and most likely the death of your plants. A funtioning thermometer will work wonders!

4. Nutrition

If you read a few month online about growing you will notice that nearly everyone uses nutrition to some degree. The plant needs food to survive. You want it to create a decent amount of harvestable material in the end. Compare it to tomatoes: A food deprivated tomato will stay small and might not taste good. It needs light and the right diet to thrive and grow right. Its the same with weed.

People tend to overnute their plants at first! They read that they should put 5-10 ml that gooey brown stuff per 10l in their water and think: “Wow, that can’t be enough!”

Two weeks after these people usually message me on instagram.
Deal with nutes according to the instruction. That is also important for your soil! Cannabis grade soil is oftentimes prenuted to some extend and still people put in all types of liquids, solids, fungi, worms and FUCKING MOUNTAIN DEW into their soil even when the plant is only 2 cm tall.

Read the instructions and deal according to it.

Its pretty much fool-proof. And less is more with nutes!

This plant is three week old and very small for that age. It has to fight various deficiencies in its hydroponic environment.

5. The Watering plan

This is another controversial topic. I just leave my way of watering here:
I take up to 1/2 of the pots volume in water and flood the pot the plant is in. I do it gently to prevent the water from just pouring out of the bottom of the pot. This builds up airy channels in the soil and water can not be taken up by the plants as effective as before. 

This will also create a runoff. When about 15% of the water volume are coming out of the pot you are doing it right, and the soil is saturated with water. Only moist soil will be rooted up!
After that procedure I wait between 2 and 7 days. Depending on the root system and the overall environment (Temperature and humidity) the water will get used up more or less fast. When i can put a fingertip into the soil and it feels very dry I repeat the process. This will oxygenate the soil and prevents the plant from “drowning”. I did that in the past four years and it worked very well for me.
Overwatering and underwatering can look very alike by the way!
If you overwater, the leafs will turn droopy but will still try to hold up at the base on the stem, while underwatered plants will just drop the leafs and crumples. Underwatering will be solved by just watering them. The effect will be visible in a few hours after that and the leafs will look healthy again.
Overwatering a plant is also not lethal: just leave the plant alone for a few days and do the finger-tip test. 

over/underwatered cannabis plants

If all that does not help you, scroll up and click on the first link in this post.
🙂

Defoliation – Make way for the light

Buds tent to develop best, when hit by direct light. If a bud is overshadowed by big green fan leafs the bud will develop not as good. Defoliation is the key to make the most of your plant and maximize flower development.
This grow tech requires a bit of experience and knowledge of a Cannabis plants structure. I do not recommend this if this is your first grow. After a full run, without removing leafs you will know exactly what to look out for the next time.

There are growers out there removing nearly every fan leaf that a plant grows after 21 days and after 42 days of flowering. This is called schwazzing and a rather extreme manipulation technique. The other extreme is to remove nothing. My way of defoliation will remove a lot of leafs in the process, but will leave a lot of leafs for the plant. Its kind of a middle way.

The Pros way: Moderate or selective Defoliation

Not every plant needs to be defoliated the same amount. There also no godly plan to defoliation for all the plants.

Defoliation in the vegetative state

If you have a very bushy indica dominant strain or applied a lot of LST to your plant it will potentially grow very bushy. In extreme scenarios only a few leafs on the top of the plant will be necessary to build up a full canopy.
This is not good if you want to encourage branches under there to develop!
Remove the big fan leafs from the top of the plant to make sure that budsites below get direct light aswell.

freshly defoliated plant
Freshly cut plant: Fan leafs from the top of the plant got removed
recovered from defoliation, new growth is visible
New growth after three days: The gaps have been closed by new branches taking the spot.

How to check if a certain fan leaf should be removed:

  • If the fan leaf creating a shadow to budsites below remove it.
  • If the fan leaf is growing “inwards” or growing bigger and bigger, remove it.
  • If the fan leaf grows at the edge from the plant away, it can stay.

This way you will remove the leafs very selectively and keep the plant not as stressed out. Its also not feasable to potentially stun the plant because you removed so much.

Defoliation in the vegetative stage can be tedious since it could be applied about every third day from a certain plant size on.

Defoliation in the flowering process

This is pretty similar to the vegetative state. Since the plant will still grow new green material, remove the leafs that steal light from buds. Just look closely at every bud and check if there is a leaf above. Remove all the leafs. From about week 3-5 the green development of the plant will be reduced because the plant packs more supply into the flowers. Your work is pretty much done then regarding defoliation.

Extreme Defoliation: Schwazzing

Widely in use by certain industrial grow operation schwazzing is the process of removing nearly every fan leaf that grow on a plant at the beginning of the flowering stage, leaving only the top of every budsite intact. This method also involves some kind of lollypopping since every side branch is pretty much removed as well. Just leave the first 2 to 3 nodes from every branch intact.

Timelapse video of schwazzing in an industrial grow setup. These operation have a lot more light power per squaremeter than a common homegrow. The lights can penetrate much deeper! Schwazzing a plant makes sense here.

Chocolope that got alot of nodes removed, leaving up only the top of the plants, sortly before flowering.
The same plant in flowering: Branches full of buds!

Additional notes

I would not recommend schwazzing for every strain out there. There are alot of cannabis varieties that are able to put on serious weight on the side branches where you would harm more than you do good if you remove too much. Branchy indica type plants are very much content with selective defoliation while some other plants like to be cut more heavily. I suggest you.

Lemon Zkittle that got exposed to defoliation: You can see through the branching to the other side of the pot.
Alot of Budsites are directly visible from the topview, since the light now got a free way down there.
Areas that wont get direct light will be cut most.

Defoliation is a pretty harmless tech, since a plant will develop way more fan leafs than needed to survive. A grow tent is also an environment where the plant is enclosed and save enough so that it can deal with this harm without having to fight pests or difficult weather patterns while at it.

Germinating Seeds

Germination is the first step to start a run. If you start from seed I would count the moment you put the seed into moisture to activate it as Day One in the vegetative state (D1V) of the grow. This is important to know, to keep track of your grow. After you have chosen the right genetics for your operation and a working setup its go time!

How to germinate Seeds

It does not seem very important how you do it. Do it the way you are the most comfortable with. Success depends on the age, storage properties and quality of seeds.

The Pros way: Paper towel method

The paper towel method is a good way to keep an eye on your babies while having full control over the properties. The items I am using include:

  • Paper towels (kitchen paper, toilet paper, handkerchief…)
  • Seeds
  • pH-measurement device (cheap option or reliable stripes)
  • Water
  • Depending on you water: carbonized water or lemon concentrate to alter the pH value. Tap water is usually a bit basic. Change that!
  • The lid of an old jam glass as some kind of petri dish.
Items used for germination
Germination Kit: paper towel, some pH regulated water, a jam glass lid, pH meter

Unfold the paper, and place it into the lid. Sprinkle some water in there. place the seeds in the middle and fold back the paper towel. Thats it! Keep the petri dish in a dark and warm (about 25°C – 28°C) environment and wait. The lid is a great way to keep the paper towel moist. Do not wet it too much! The initial root needs some motivation to search for moisture and will grow better that way.

Advantages of the paper towel method

You have full control over the process and you can look at the seedling soaking up moisture and grow every day, and more important you can check seeds that don’t germinate and sort them out from the start. You are also able to use a lot of different grow media with this method. The seedling could be placed into a hydroponics setup aswell as soil-like media.

Disadvantages of the paper towel method

You need to interact more with the seed. Once its sprouted you need to place it into your grow medium and this could potentially be very risky. Im always using a pincette to do that. It is better to not have to interact with the plant at that stage. 
It is also possible that the small root hairs that grow out of the main root will get stuck in the paper towel fibers. If you remove the paper towel to hasty you could rip apart the whole root. So be careful!
You will also have a hard time distinguish strains, if you have only one lid available.

root with root hairs
Germinated seed with visible root hairs in a jiffy cup.

Jiffy pot method

This is also a great way to do it! Jiffy pots are small pellets that get soaked with pH regulated water. Once it reaches it maximum size you can just put in a seed and wait. Keep the pot moist at all times until the seed sproutes. The material of the pot is actually designed for root penetration. Once you see roots coming out of the sides you can put the seeds with the pot into a bigger container.

jiffy pots

Advantages of the jiffy pot method

You can actually distinguish different strains by putting name tags into the pots. You also dont have to interact with the seeds after putting them into the pot, that reduces the risk of killing them by transplanting. Its also possible to use the jiffy for different grow media. Hydro and soil alike. Do not use jiffys in high pressure aeriponic setups. 

Disadvantages of the jiffy pot method

If you are not sure that the seed is actually germinating you cannot look at that easy. That way you might wait for a seedling to sprout that is not even germinating. This could cause frustration. In high pressure aeroponic setup debris from the pot can fall into the water circulation, clogging your system. Use rockwool instead.

Method 3: Put the seed right away into its final container

Thats also possible. Considering the timeframe from activation to sprout to first green it can take up to 14 days until something is happening. Since you should NEVER EVER look for the seed in your medium this could potentially be a game of luck considering that a cannabis seed is inherently more valuable than a tomato seed if bought from a breeding company. You just keep the medium moist and wait, until you see it sprout. I would suggest you turn the lights on AFTER the seed shows itself. 

Advantages of method 3

No interaction with the seed reduces the risk of loosing it to poor handling. Less transplantation means less stress which is good for the plant.

Disadvantages of method 3

As stated before, this is potentially a game of luck: You never know if the seed just took its time to get sprouted. You might even end up with two plants in the same pot if you decide to use another seed in there. It is also more difficult to dial in the right amount of moisture to get everything done. Keep in mind that moist is better than wet in that case… 

Cheap Hydroponic start

IKEA offers a 4$ starter kit for seedlings. It works great if you add some air stones to keep the solution oxygenated. Rockwool and hydrostones are also available dirt cheap there. If you want to germinated in rockwool and still want to be able to change the environment of the plant, this could be your choice!

Germination Tips & Tricks

The Cookie Box

Place your seeds in an old cookie box, or something similar thats opaque and can be sealed. It keeps the moisture in there, and you do not need to remoisture it every other day.

Use excess heat

Your PC, TV or is creating a nice amount of heat. Place your seedlings on there to make it nice and warm for them. If you do not seal the seeds in a some kind of enclosure this kind of heat will dry out paper towels. This is why I am using the glass lids: You can create a pool of water in there that will take a lot longer to evaporate!

24 hours in water

This is done by alot of growers: Just submerge the seeds 24 hours in pH corrected water. The seeds will soak very effective in that time. After that you just use one of the methods above and make sure that the environment is more moist than wet.

Rougen up the surface

George Cervantes is one of the godfathers of growing weed. In one of his books he describes his method of preparation: Put the seeds in a match box and shuffle them a bit. The surface will be roughed up and can soak up the moisture better. I never did that tho, but George knows his shit obviously!

FAQ

When is my seed ready to get potted?

Assuming you used a method, where you just watched the seed germinate you will notice that the initial root coming out of it. Since its possible to place it right away into a grow medium it really does not matter when you put it in. 

Half sprouted seedling
I would wait a bit longer for that root to come out …

I WOULD WAIT AT LEAST UNTIL THE ROOT HAS A LENGTH OF 0.5 cm to 1 cm TO GET STARTED!

This way you can maximize the probability of success.

Seeds that are ready to go
These are more than ready!

What is so important about the pH, can’t I just use tap water?!

I could and probably will write lenghty articles about the importance of pH values in growing weed. In short: Cannabis loves a slightly acidic root environment. This means 6.0 to 6.5 for soil and 5.5 to 6.0 for hydroponic setups.
This is a question of optimazation, and a pH meter plus some additives to regulate it are a meaningful and cheap resource of optimazation.
If you do not care pH lockouts of several important nutrient sources are the result. Spend the ten bucks for some pH-down and some pH test stripes and never care anymore.

I did everything you said, but I some seeds just don’t wanna sprout 🙁

Dont worry! There is not a 100% success rate on germination. This can have several reasons. Bigger seeds tend to be more sproutable than smaller ones. If you have problems sprouting seeds a good breeding company will replace your order with new ones. Just write them a nice email, instead of flaming their product in the reviews and you are fine.

I put my seeds into the towel yesterday and nothing happend!

Dude, relax! The first virtue to develop while growing your own weed is PATIENCE. You cannot imagine how often you will get tested on that. It can take up to seven days for a root to show from the seedling. And another seven days from planting the rooted seedling into a medium until you see the sprout! Give it some time and be rewarded later. ITS WORTH IT!

Setup for the Avid smoker – The 3×3 grow tent

Grow tent in full flower
You can do this, with a setup described in this section. Source: homegrow-pro.com

Everything you need to harvest  10 oz. of dry material every 3-4 months!
I will list the items that are absolute mandatory to grow first. There is a list with additional items, that I deem useful below. Get started on your first grow tent!

General Assumptions

  • Your grow medium of choice is soil.
  • You grow in a grow tent.
  • You start from seed.
  • You are a grow enthusiast who wants to make the most of a given space.
  • You do not have to run this hobby on a budget. (Options for that below)

List of items

TypeItemQty.PriceLink
grow tent3×3 Grow Tent1$90amazon
light*400W COB Light 1$600timbergrowlights
pots3 gal airpots4$50amazon
soil*60l specialized soil1$15 – $30(see below)
nutrition*Trypack1$15(see below)
ventilationClip Fans1-2$10-$20amazon
filtersystemACF+fan+tube1$90amazon
clima controlTemp./Hum. Monitor1$3amazon
on/off switchProgammable timer1$12amazon
Tot.~$895
  • Tents are great to keep control of every aspect. You can change temperatur, brightness, humidity and even simulate seasons in there! Its absolutely necessary to get your tent completely dark to your needs. If you have a closet or a room where you can manage to create pitch black darkness, you dont need a tent. The brand of the tent does not really matter. 
  • Light: Your articficial sun. Good growlights are hard to find in the LED jungle. Read more about lights below.
  • Pots: They come in different varieties. Plastic, fabric, with holes in it from 0.5 to 30 gal. I choose the airpots, because they let air move through the soil, and roots are pruned naturally at the outlets, preventing root rot or rootbound plants.
  • Soil: Do not buy common gardening soil. Cannabis roots need space to roam. Specialized cannabis soil has the right consistency and is often perfectly balanced with nutrition. You can also cook your own soil!
  • Nutrition: Personal opinion about nutrition – as long as its marketed for cannabis and does not kill your plants every brand seems legit. It is more like a personal decision what kind of nutes you use…
  • Ventilation: Moving air prevents bud rot and keeps the branches moving. That creates resistance and your plant will grow thicker and stringer. Keep the vents on 24/7.
  • Filter system: Your main exchange for air. If you have to grow stealthy or at home you do not want to have the smell leave the tent. Get one of these asap.
  • Clima Control: Really important to keep track of your values in there. You want to know the numbers. Once you know its over 34°C in your tent all the time, you know its time to do something about it. Same with humidity.
  • On/Off switch: Over the course of 100 days of a grow you dont want to hit the switches twice a day at the same time. Automate that.

*

The light

Yes, the light is the most expensive item in a grow operation. Yes, you can save money on light, but this is the best option for a grow room of that size. Its cool, quiet and runs damn bright. It has the most recent technology behind it and does not need extra cooling. But there are alternatives.

PRO TIP: You need at least 35W/ft² of high quality LED/COB light or at least 50W/ft² if you use CMH/HPS lights, if you want max out the tent potential! There are thousands of options. Just make sure its a grow light. Spectrum, PAR, PPFD values and color of light are also important properties. Read everything about the theory behind light here.

Alternative 1 – The Quantum Board

Horticulturelightinggroup.com has a very decent 320 Watt kit. It has alot of advantages like better light distributions or overall efficiency. I just did not link it as first option because it only has 320 Watts, and we wanted to get the most of our room with the given conditions. If you are able to build these lights yourself with a kit, buy these! The magic behind Quantum boards are LM56c or LM301b LED chips from Samsung. If you can find other distributors using these chips, you can go for it.

Grow tent with a quantum board
Quantum boards have an exceptional efficiency and overall light distribution!

Alternative 2 – Other LED Distributors

Its true, Timbergrowlights is just an option when in comes to LED lights. There are several chips out there that are awesome to grow weed with.
Timber makes use of Citizen CLU048, Cree CXB3590 and Vero29 COB LEDs. But other companies do it aswell!
Cobshop.net has a 3×3 kit including 4 COBs for $480, but they dont disclose how many Watts you get in the end. I assume its 200 W, so only half of my first option.

Alternative 3 – Low Budget only

I will list them here only because they work. But do not expect wonders. Im talking about the infamous blue/purple or pink lights you find on amazon.
NO, they almost NEVER deliver the amount of power they have in their names, NO you dont need just one, but at least 3 of these “300W” varieties you find online. Which one you take does not really matter, they are all ok. They only use the cheapest LED technology, including chips and drivers. If you spend $210 on three of them, you will be able to light up your tent properly. But remember to tune up the ventilation system, because three of these bad boys run pretty hot in a 3×3.

Blurple light tent
Blurple lights – They just won’t leave me alone! Low costs – low yields.

Alternative 4 – HPS lights

A 600 W HPS light will get you pretty far in a tent like this. And it costs only $130. This can reduce the inital cost significantly, but keep in mind that these light run HOT. And by that i mean shit-i-might-need-an-AC-in-my-tent HOT. The price is low, but running this shit can cost you! Save some money, ditch the AC and the pay only 2/3 to run a sweet LED light in there and pay less for your production.

Alternative 5 – Build your own COB or Quantum Board light

www.ledgardener.com, is the best source for that. There will be a guide here soon….

Soil and nutrition – Globalization and availability

If you live in Europe you have different soil companies than in the US. So while you can buy BioBizz in Europe pretty cheap, it is better to choose Fox Farm. 

The right soil is very important for your grow. Your roots want a pretty loosy, oxygenated environment. Many soil companies put peat (turf) in their soil which is very harmful to the environment. Check the ingredients, if you want to save the planet.

EU soil recommendations

US soil companies

Nutrition

Same with as soil. It seems like there is a new nutrition company out there every week. Even the breeder try to jump on the nute train and handing out their own nutrition along the seeds. (Royal Queen Seeds and Green House Seeds for example.)

I will also only recommend nutrition that have an organic base. I just do not believe in chemicals, but thats up for discussion.

EU nutrition recommendations

US nutrition recommendations

Useful additions

There are a lot more items making your tent easier. These are nice to have, but not 100% necessary. This list is not not yet completed.

Pre-grow

  • Depending on your method of germination you will need papertowels or kitchen paper.
  • Since germination needs a dark, moist and warm environment, you might need a propagation box. I just put them in an old cookiebox on my PC.
  • Do not touch seeds! Use a tweezer.

Seedling and vegetative stage

  • Seedlings do not need flooded with water. Use a pump sprayer and be careful!
  • If you plan to train your plants, you need gardening wires or metal stakes. Or anything else you can come up with. You can also just use a cord and bind them down.
  • Use sharp scissors, knifes or even scalpels to cut leafs!
  • If you see pests like mites or thripes, treat them with bio degradable organic insecticide. Be careful with that!

Flowering stage

  • Some genetics produce fat buds. Too fat to hold them in place. Use plant yoyos or bamboo sticks and wire to hold them in place.
  • If you see any pests in the flowering stage do not spray the buds with insecticide. Use predatory bugs to fight them. This is your chance to have a personal ladybug army in your garden.
  • Jewelers loupes help you watching the trichomes and help to determine the harvest window.

Harvest, Drying and Curing