What I learned from my first grow
Although a master gardener, growing marijuana for the first time can be a frustrating learning experience. I started with the knowledge that many things can cause failure, and expected to have a battle with spider mites, as friends have had in the past. But, since I was growing outside perhaps the excellent air circulation kept this problem at bay.
Thrips are sent by the devil. Fairly early on I noticed some slight damage on the leaves, little squigly chews. I did not see the source of the problem until my infestation was moderate, and I had never battled thrips except on roses, and thoses were a different type of thrip that never caused any real damage.
I decided to use what I had, insecticidal soap applied at night knowing that soap causes leaf burn on some plants. Well, soap causes leaf burn on marijuana so my advice would be to NEVER USE SOAP ON MARIJUANA! Plus it did not solve the problem. I tried using diatomacous earth on the soil surface and had some control, but not eradication. So my next step was to mix the DE with some water and spray the leaves. I did not get the control I expected so in desperation I mixed some Einstein oil (neem) and found that did not work really well either. So I mixed a higher concentration of DE with water for a spray and at last with this and liberal use on the soil surface I got control. The cost of my fumbling control was a lot of really ugly leaves, which were made uglier with extreme temperatures that also caused some tipping of the leaves.
So I have learned that a proactive approach is probably the best approach, combined with the right arsanal of insecticides. I have been told to use spinosad for thrips, and on my second plant I have sprayed once since I saw just a couple of the little bastards. Plus I am using DE on the soil applied a day after watering. So far so good and my second plant is starting the bloom cycle.
As for fertilizers, I know that there are many brands designed for growing pot and with that specialization come a very high pricetag. I know enough about plant growth and fertilizer to know that plants need nitrogen to grow and phospherous and potasium for flowers and roots, plus micronutrients. I was advised early on to not obsess over all that stuff and to treat my plant like a tomato, which I know quite well. So, wanting to do an organic grow I went simple. I used Alaska Fish Fertilizer (5-1-1) for growth and Alaska Fish More Bloom (0-10-10) for the bloom cycle. The results speak for themselves. I got a food crop.
As for soil, I used a high quality organic soil (Black Gold All Organic) purchased at a garden center. I have used this soil for many years on veggies and houseplants always with no problems, so why not? It is a high quality soil enhanced with some organic fertilzers, is ph balanced and drains very well. My container was a 3 gallon nursery pot. (A 5 gallon pot may have produced a bigger plant but this size worked just fine.)
My second plant is now growing and with the knowlege gained with my first grow results will be even better I expect. The only differences for my second grow are more preventitive measures. Liberal use of DE on the soil and spinosad is my insecticide of choice. Plus this time I am doing a “mostly organic” grow. Two days ago, after I determined my new girl had stopped gaining height was to hit her with a chemical bloom fert to push the bloom cycle. I had a container of Peter’s Super Bloom (10-50-10) with micronutrients, so I mixed a batch and saturated the soil. We shall see how this goes, or if it pushes more flowers than the fish fertilizer. I will give her just this one big boost and then just the fish.
This post is intended for those of you that may not have grown before, a person like me that may live in a legal state (I am in Oregon) and wants to try and grow your own for the first time. My benefit is decades of plant growing experience, something not everyone has, and I find growing plants to be intuitive. If you can grow a tomato, you can grow pot! They are different, but a plant is a plant and basic plant needs are simple if you watch your plant. Only the details may be different. The basics are.
Sun! Plants need sun. At least 6 hours I would say and more is better.
Water! Do not over water. You will rot the roots. Wait until the plant soil goes dry, and then water the day BEFORE! Experience will tell you when and knowing the weight of the soil and container helps. I don’t believe in moisure meters. Your finger is a great moisture meter and the weight of the container is a great indication of when to water. I don’t like plants to wilt, but better to have some slight wilting than to rot the roots.
Watch for bugs and leaf damage. At the first sign, react! Bugs get out of hand fast. Be proactive. Use Diatomacous Earth (food grade) on the soil. It won’t hurt a thing and may help a lot. Have some Spinosad ready just in case, and some neem oil too.
Be patient harvesting. I still struggled to find the right moment, and many of the oldest sun leaves yellowed and were pulled, but many leaves remained on the variety I grew. “The leaves will tell you when to harvest” is what I was told, but mine never did. I can’t tell you how many people told me to wait 2 more weeks over many weeks. At last I decided to sample a small interior bud, dried quickly in the oven. One hit and I knew it was time for me. I will leave harvest time suggestions to those with a lot more experience than I have, but I chose my harvest time and am pleased.
Although a master gardener, growing marijuana for the first time can be a frustrating learning experience. I started with the knowledge that many things can…