When I first started growing it was because I just couldn’t consistently purchase high quality weed where I lived. I had already traveled to Amsterdam many times in the 80’s and 90’s and been exposed to at least a hundred different strains of good bud. Once I started growing and I was able to consistently produce weed that was better than what I had been buying, the mission focus shifted and became more about finding the best of the best.
This week I was fortunate enough to attend a day of the Dark Horse event during MJBizCon and sampled at least 20-30 different strains from top pros and amateurs. It struck me (through the fog) that the purpose of the competition (and others like it) was very similar to my own obsession to find the very best weed available.
The day after the event I had a bunch of left-over samples and I decided to go through them and give them the “Katsu Squish Test”. I am of the opinion that the easiest way to test the strength and flavor of your bud is to squish it and dab it, so that’s what I did with the samples. I randomly picked out about a half dozen of the entries, squished a small bud of each, and dabbed them (all day long). At the end of the day, I took some of the samples to a friends house (small personal grower) for him to try. While I was there, he squished a bud of one of his own strains (bag seed) and I did a dab of that.
What I realized after doing a dab from his stash was that HIS strain that HE grew tasted better and got me higher than all 6 of the strains I had tried from the event earlier in the day. I’m not trying to say that I thought my friend would have won the event, but that his shit was top shelf and that it wasn’t a fancy strain name and it didn’t come from a professional grower. This leads me to believe that the best weed in the world probably isn’t at any event, and may not even be grown commercially, but is in all likelihood just sitting in some head’s garden, like you or me.
I guess the moral is that you shouldn’t get too wrapped up in the hype and the bullshit. Pop a bunch of beans from different strains, maybe try some clones from friends, and I can almost guarantee that all of you can have weed that rivals the best of the best, with flavors and highs that are just PERFECT FOR YOU.
Stay green, stay high, and be chill this holiday season.
Soil is arguably one of the top factors that influences plant growth and development. A well chosen or prepared soil, or soilless growing media will alleviate many issues throughout the growing cycle. Soil is composed of: mineral solids (sand, silt, clay), water, air, organic matter and organisms (bacteria, fungi, earthworms, arthropods). Soilless growing media is composed of organic matter (peat, coco, compost) and aeration/drainage (perlite, rice hulls, sand). An ideal soil for plant production would consist of 25% water, 25-50% air, 45% mineral and 5-20% organic matter. A second description of an ideal soil would be about 30% sand, 30% silt, 30% clay and 5-10% organic matter.
The relative proportions of these components describes soil texture, or structure. Loamy soil with a granular structure is generally preferred plant production. The second important factor of soil, or soilless growing media is soil chemistry. Soil pH, indicates the amount of hydrogen ions in the soil, the more hydrogen that a soil contains the more acidic the soil is. Soil pH affects nutrient availability. The ideal pH for cannabis is 5.5 to 6.8. Generally field soils have higher pH’s and soilless growing media tends to be slightly more acidic. If the pH is too low (acidic) or high (alkaline) nutrients become unavailable, or locked out, or overabundant, leading to toxicity. Alkalinity causes some minerals, such as copper, iron and manganese to become less available. Counteract this by adding sulfur, which is converted to sulfuric acid by bacteria, or by adding nitrogenous fertilizers. Acidity inhibits growth of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Counteract this by adding calcium or magnesium compounds (lime). The best way to know both soil texture and chemistry is by submitting a soil sample to a lab for analysis.
The third important component of soil is the organisms living in the soil. Bacteria, fungi, earthworms and arthropods (insects and spiders) are just some of the organisms that are critical to soil health. Many important species are naturally present in soils, or may need to be introduced. Soilless growing media generally has much lower biological activity at the start of the growing cycle due to it being an engineered soil, designed for container growing.
There are many recipes for preparing your own soil, soilless growing media and enriched/super soils. A simple mix contains equal parts of peat (or coco), perlite (or rice hulls), and sand (or bark). A small amount of lime is often needed to raise the pH, but depending on the mix you may need to add sulfur. Recently, I have seen one pre-made growing mix test at 4.4 and another at 8.2, so knowing your pH is very important for ensuring healthy plant growth. Again, many recipes are online so it’s relatively easy to find one to meet your preferences. If you are interested in super soils I suggest checking out
Subcool’s Super Soil Recipe
- 8 large bags of a high-quality organic potting soil with coco fiber and mycorrhizae (i.e., your base soil)
- 25 to 50 lbs of organic worm castings
- 5 lbs steamed bone meal
- 5 lbs Bloom bat guano
- 5 lbs blood meal
- 3 lbs rock phosphate
- ¾ cup Epson salts
- ½ cup sweet lime (dolomite)
- ½ cup azomite (trace elements)
- 2 tbsp powdered humic acid
The type of soil you choose to grow in will depend on how you plan to fertilize the plant. If you want strict control over nutrients at each watering, you will probably choose a simple soil, so that you can add products as needed. If you want to use only water and no additional fertilizers, you should look into enriched or super soils. Build-A-Soil is a great resource for anyone interested in making their own soil.
For many individuals and growing operations preparing your own soil is not a feasible option. There are countless choices of pre-made soils and soilless growing media. Pro-Mix has long been the grower standard for those looking for a simple soil where you want to have control over feeding the plant and is widely available. Soils containing wood fiber, in order to reduce the amount of peat being used, are now available, one example is Berger BM5 Super HP. Fox Farm has a whole line of enriched soils tailored for growing cannabis, Ocean Forest and Bush Doctor Coco Loco are two examples. Roots Organics has a large number of offerings, with Formula 707 and Emerald Mountain being examples of enriched growing media. These are just several examples, with so many growing styles and preferences, there is a mix for everyone!
Here’s what you need:
- A grow space you can make completely dark, uninterrupted for 12 hours/day
- A light for every 25 square feet of space (approximately)
- An exhaust fan
- A filter (if you need to control smell)
- Ventilation fans
- Grow Bags (or whatever)
Grow Space – someplace you can make completely dark for when you flower. I like grow tents. Here’s a perfectly adequate 4×4 for $100 – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071Z67JMT/
Grow Light – I’ve purchased a couple of these Chinese lights that have the same components as the HLG 550V2r. You can get these for about $250 + about $75 shipping – https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Kingbrite-Pre-wired-connected-hlg-550_62029135325.html
Exhaust Fan and filter – This is a combo that includes the fan, the filter, the ducting, AND a speed controller for the fan for $100 –
Grow Bags – Here’s a 3 gallon 10 pack for $20 – https://www.amazon.com/Gardzen-10-Pack-Gallons-Aeration-Handles/dp/B07CTC1ZV4/
That’s really all you need. After purchasing some high quality dirt and whatever nutrients you like, you’ll probably be at about $600 or so – less than half the cost of many of the lights being pushed by the LED companies. All of the links above are merely suggestions of what is possible – I don’t want anyone holding off on starting a grow because they think they need thousands of dollars – you can do it for pretty damn cheap. Everything I’ve linked above is stuff I actually use so I know it will work for you too.
1. Take your cutting from a healthy looking branch that isn’t very “woody” – green and flexible cuts seem to do the best.
2. Use a STERILE razor to make a diagonal cut in the stem and lightly shave the outer layer off of the bottom inch, then dip in a rooting powder or gel like clonex.
3. This is the biggie – whatever medium you are using, make sure it is BARELY damp with distilled or RO water. If your medium is too wet it will take forever to root and your stem may rot before that happens.
4. Dome your cuts to keep humidity in. If they seem to wilt, spray the inside TOP of the dome (not the cuts) to raise humidity.
5. After 3 days, start cracking your dome until they wilt, then cover again.
6. Only give your medium enough water to stay slightly damp – never wet. Squeeze out your plugs if they get too wet.
7. Adding Azos (as directed) to the distilled/RO water you use to moisten your plugs before you stick your cuts in will speed up rooting.
8. Your goal is to keep the cuts BARELY alive so as to trigger the plants survival mechanism and throw off some roots. If they are too wet they get lazy.