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closure of the stomates, and C02 can no longer

be absorbed from the air. From experiments with cannabis, a C02 concentration of 1,300 ppm

(or 1,000 ppm above normal atmospheric concentrations) produces an increase in

photosynthesis and carbohydrate production. It is also necessary to examine calculation of

the growth chamber volume, and of the delivery rate of the gas regulator, to determine the

precise amount of C02 required. Oxygen Oxygen is essential for normal root development. In

nature, when rain is absorbed into the ground, oxygen is drawn down around the roots. With

water culture, oxygen must be supplied continuously by aeration. This is done by the use

of an aquarium air pump. Lack of aeration leads to root rot and infections, impedes new

root formations, and increases the excretion of organic compounds (such as carboxylic

acid, which reduces pH). Moreover, with insufficient aeration, it is impossible for

ammoniacal nitrogen, calcium nitrate, and potassium to be absorbed properly. Iron

deficiency may also result. Accumulation of carbon dioxide, excreted by the roots in

non-aerated solutions, depresses absorption of nutrients and water, which leads to

stunting and to abnormal enlargement of the roots. Aeration is essential to any successful

water culture technique. Carbon dioxide (C02) is a colorless, odorless gas found in the

air. Under normal circumstances, including the conditions growers deal with, it is totally

harmless. Each molecule consists of one part carbon and two parts oxygen. C02 is often

generated in the home. when a stove or water heater burns gas it produces water vapor and

CO2. Plants use C02 as a raw material during the process of photosynthesis C02 is quickly

used up in a well lit enclosed space. Until it is replaced, the process cannot continue.

The availability of C02 to the plant can be a limiting factor in photosynthesis and plant

growth Keeping the door or curtain of a small grow room open helps tremendously because a

whole side of the grow space is exposed to external air. An open door in a large a room

gives a much smaller ratio of interface, since the percentage of the perimeter serving as

a vent is much smaller. C02 constitutes about .03%, or 300 parts per million of air in

country areas and about .035-.04% in industrialized regions. Photosynthesis and growth

could proceed at a much higher rate if the amount of C02 available were increased to about

.15% or 1500 parts per million instead of the.035. .04% found in urban areas. Higher

concentrations of C02 can increase the growth rate up to 300%. Usually though, growers

report increases ofunder 100%. Either way, growth rate is increased significantly. when

plants grow faster, it takes less time to yield a bigger crop. Once C02 enrichment is

added to the grow space, light will most likely be the limiting factor. The most practical

method that a closet farmer has to enrich the garden with gas is a C02 tank with a

regulator. The regulators are sold by all of the high-tech garden supply companies. These

devices control the number of cubic feet of gas released to the garden. C02 gas refills

are available from companies listed under the Bottled Gas or Industrial Gas Sections of

the Yellow Pages. The largest tanks hold 50 pounds of gas, but they weigh 170 pounds

filled. A 20 pound tank is much smaller and weighs about 50 pounds filled. At room

temperature there are 8.7 cubic feet in a pound of gas. Refills are inexpensive. C02

enrichment reduces ventilation requirements considerably for several reasons. First, the

C02 in the air is being replerished and the plants function more efficiently at a higher

temperature when C02 is at high levels. Rather than trying to draw in C02 from the

surrounding atmosphere, the aim is now to stop the gas from dispersing into it. Growers

figure out how much gas to use by finding the number of cubic feet (ft3) there are in the

grow space (length x Width x Height). For instance, a closet 6 feet long 2.5 feet wide and

8.5 feet high contains 127.5 ft3 Then they multiply that number by .0015. In this case the

figures look like this: 127.5 x .0015=.191 ft3 One grower had a closet 3 feet by 3 feet by

10 feet He figured that its area was 90 ft3 To find the amount of gas to inject he

multiplied 90 x .0015= .135 ft3 For each one hundred ft3 of space about .15 ft3 of gas is

required. Small unventilated closet areas are sometimes set up with a constant flow of C02

enrichment when the lights are on. Well designed ventilated rooms are re- enriched every

time the ventilation stops. Unventilated rooms need a full replenishment of C02 every one

to two hours. A room 6 x 3 x 9=162 ft3. The lights are on continuously and the air is

enriched with a steady flow of.25 ft3 of C02 per hour. Six feet of gas is used per day. A

20 lb. tank holds 20 x 8.7=174 ft3 + 6 = 29 days of use per refill. Growers often

ventilate the hot air out of the space to disperse heat. They found that it does not do

much for the plants to run the C02 enrichment system and the ventilation system at the

same time, since the gas is drawn out Instead, the C02 unit goes on after the ventilation

system has stopped and quickly re-innoculates the area with C02. Some high-tech garden

companies sell devices designed to regulate the systems automatically. C02 is heavier than

air, and when it comes out of the tank it is being depressurized, which makes it cold.

Subsequently, the gas sinks as it enters the space. In gardens with little internal

ventilation the tubing is usually suspended just over the tops of plants. In large spaces

the gas is sometimes dispersed using laser drilled Irrigation tubing or released in front

of the internal fans. Exhaust gas emitted from a stove or water heater is suitable for the

garden. A garden in a room with a water heater will be enriched every time the burners

light. Of course, anytime a person works with natural or LP gas or with fire, they must be

very careful. Step By Step Plants do best in indoor gardens when they are supplied with

C02 Growers usually choose: 1. An open door or curtain is often the best solution for

small spaces which have a large surface-to-air ratio. 2. External ventilation to blow out

the used air and draw in new air. This is usually adequate for small rooms. 3. A C02

enrichment system. This consists of a tank and regulator-flow meter and either a timer or

other automatic valve. This increases the growth rate of the plants phenomonally. 4. A

water heater or gas stove may supplement the garden with CO2. Along with light and

humidity, temperature is one of the most important factors in the growth of marijuana.

This chapter provides experimentally verified day and night temperatures that work best

for marijuana plants, including both atmospheric and growth solution temperatures.

Temperature has a tremendous effect on plant growth through its influence on the

biophysical and biochemical reactions of metabolism. In general, the optimal temperature

is that of the plant's natural environment. Although an increase in temperature usually

brings about an increase in the reaction rates of metabolism, temperatures above 45

degrees centigrade cause enzyme inactivity, and above 55~60 degrees centigrade protein

denaturation occurs, resulting in injury or death. All varieties of cannabis originate in

temperate or tropical climates. Plants from temperate regions have an optimal daytime

temperature of about 25-30 degrees centigrade. Tropical plants have the same optimal

daytime temperature, but they cannot withstand the extreme temperatures experienced by

temperate-climate plants. Tropical temperatures vary only slightly during the growing

season. Plant physiologists have also discovered that optimal nighttime temperatures

differ from those that are optimal during the day. This phenomenon, known as

thermoperiodicity, results from the fact that organic substances, produced through

photosynthesis, move faster at lower temperatures (because sugars are more concentrated at

lower temperatures), while cell division and enlargement occur at higher temperatures. It

has been found that a photoperiod temperature of 30 degrees centigrade and a night time

temperature of 22.2 degrees centigrade, maintained throughout the vegetative and

reproductive phases, work very well for both temperate and tropical plants. A temperature

variation of a few degrees in either direction will not produce any significant effects.

Few studies have been conducted on the optimal temperatures for proper root growth.

Generally, the best results have been obtained when the root temperature is a few degrees

below the air temperature. It has been found that a solution temperature of 25 degrees

centigrade stimulates vigorous root growth. However, more research is needed in this area.

How do marijuana plants actually grow? This chapter explains the growth process in detail,

and tells how growers select, store, and germinate marijuana seeds; how they trim the

plant for befter growth; how they determine the sex of plants. It covers techniques for

influencing resin production; methods of curing; and a step-by-step procedure for

extracting and refining THC from the leaves that would otherwise be useless. Life Cycle As

with all seed plants, the life cycle of cannabis evolved through the process of

alternation of generations. Alternation of generations involves the alternating of

non-sexual (sporophytic - marijuana plant) and sexual (gametophytic - pollen grain, ovule)

phases of the same organism. The seed contains the embryonic marijuana plant sporophyte.

After germination the seedling marijuana sporophyte consists of the first bud and its

stem, the epicotyl. Next, continuing downward, are the first leaves, the cotyledons. Below

the cotyledons is the first stem unit, the hypocotyl, and the first root, the radicle .

The marijuana plant's sporophytic phase represents growth from the embryo to reproduction.

The production of flowers begins sporogenesis and marks the maturation of the plant.

During sporogenesis, the microspore mother cells undergo meiosis [a special type of

nuclear division in which the diploid chromosome number (2n) is divided in half (haploid,

In), and genetic segregation occurs). This is followed by mitosis (the original chromosome

number is preserved by replication, and segregation of genes does not usually occur),

giving rise to the pollen grain (sperm), which is the male gametophyte (plant). The

megaspore mother cells follow the same process, only they give rise to the ovule (egg),

which is the female gametophyte (plant) and eventually becomes the seed. The life cycle

has now moved into the sexual phase of growth. Following pollination, the pollen tube

attaches itself to the ovule (egg); the pollen tube bursts, releasing its sperm into the

cytoplasm of the female gametophyte (plant). When the sperm and egg flow together,

fertilization has occurred and the zygote - an individual developing from the union of two

gametes (sperm and egg) - is produced. The zygote undergoes a series of nuclear cell

divisions, forming a mass of cells. This mass of cells is the young sporophyte (plant) of

the next generation. The young marijuana plant is nourished by food that was transported

and stored by the parent plant. The embryo then becomes dormant after digesting most of

the food, which is usually absorbed into the cotyledons. The embryonic sporophyte will

remain in this dormant stage until the seed comes in contact with a suitable environment

and eventually germinates. Germination is merely the emergence of the embryonic plant into

the external environment; thus the life cycle is initiated again. Any type of marijuana

seed yields good results with the water culture method. However, as mentioned earlier,

there are tropical and temperate varieties of cannabis. A pure tropical strain from the

state of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, produces a good variety, well-suited to the water

culture method. Oaxaca has a tropical wet-and-dry climate. Seventy-five percent of the

rain falls between May and September. Occasional days of continuous rain occur in July and

August, which is why the Oaxaca highlands receive some of the highest amounts of rain

recorded in Mexico. This is followed by a prolonged dry season from October to May; these

are the low-photoperiod months required for flowering. This wet-and-dry climate

contributes to the quality of the plant (which will be discussed along with reproductive

growth). The soil of the Oaxacan highlands is very fertile, with optimal mineral

concentrations. As noted, Oaxaca is in the tropics, but its altitude keeps daytime

temperatures in the upper 70s to mid80s, with night temperatures averaging between the

mid-70s and the lower 70s throughout the year. Rain may cool the mornings, but by

mid-afternoon the temperature returns to the average. Because of the mineral content of

the soil, the high moisture content of both soil and air, and the average temperatures,

Oaxaca produces a very high-quality marijuana, which is ideal for controlled environmental

growth with the water culture method. SEEDS Seeds are best stored at low temperatures and

low concentrations of oxygen. This keeps them viable longer by slowing down the rate of

respiration. Ninety percent germination is easily obtained with relatively fresh seed.

Seeds older than three to four years decline to less than twenty percent germination in

general, and are therefore discarded. An airtight mason jar, kept in a refrigerator set at

45 degrees F, works fine for storage purposes. The environmental factors influencing

germination are temperature, nutrients, atmosphere, and light. Seeds can withstand a wide

range of temperatures when dry, but only a very narrow range after germination. The

optimal temperature for germination depends heavily on the variety of plant used. The only

way to determine optimal temperatures for germination is to experiment with various

temperature ranges and calculate the percentage of germination in each. When these

experiments are performed, it is essential to keep the nutrients, atmosphere, and light

the same for each temperature range. High mineral concentration in contact with the seed

may produce an osmotic effect that causes water to move from the seed into the nutrient

solution, thereby preventing the seed from obtaining enough water. Again, if the radicle

does not protrude from the seed coat, the tissues will dehydrate and die. For germination,

a mixture of nutrients should be one-half the dose given in the directions for hydroponic

use. The germinating embryos must be kept in a location that allows free gaseous exchange

with the atmosphere. Oxygen is necessary for cell division to occur in the germinating

embryo. Marijuana seeds can germinate either in light or in darkness. However, it has been

shown that although the radicle may emerge from the seed coat in total darkness, this

occurs only in 15 to 20 percent of the germinating population, and further development of

the embryo is still impossible without light. (Moreover, fungal growth rapidly overtakes

the moist, warm, dark embryo tissues.) In contrast, when the germinating population is

exposed to photoperiods of 18 hours per day, 85 to 95 percent of the embryos germinate and

develop. The best germinating medium is coarse vermiculite, which allows the maximum

amount of oxygen to be drawn into the roots while nutrient solution is being added.

Vermiculite is also easy to remove from the seedling roots before placing them in the

growth tanks. The vermiculite is placed in a suitable container (e.g., a pie pan or cake

pan), filling it to about 1/2" from the top. The nutrient solution is then mixed as

described above, and used to gently fill the container around the sides until the solution

can be seen just above the surface of the vermiculite. It is important that the hilum (a

small pore at the end of the seed which is relatively permeable to water) be positioned at

the surface of the vermiculite, with the raphe (a ridge or seam along the outside of the

seed coat) facing downward (see Figure 4). This ensures maximum contact of the hilum with

the nutrient solution and keeps the radicle extending down and not along the surface,

where it would become photosynthetic and would be inhibited, or even prevented, from

germinating further. The first phase of germination is the absorption of water. Dormant

seeds contain about 20 percent water; actively growing seeds, 95 percent water. Hydration

increases enzymatic activity, using stored food from the parent plant. The embryo

eventually increases in size and cracks open the seed coat. The first part to emerge is

the radicle. As the radicle pushes downward, the hypocotyl extends upward and becomes

photosynthetic. The seed coat continues to cover the cotyledons for a short time, until

the cotyledons have digested all of the stored food. They then enlarge, shedding the seed

coat. After the cotyledons have emerged and the seedling is growing on its own, the

nutrient solution is increased to the full dose recommended for hydroponic use in the

directions. The plants must be kept wet! At this point, solution is gently added around

the plants to allow oxygen to be drawn into the medium. When the plants have reached a

height of four to six inches, they are ready to be transplanted to the growth tanks. As

mentioned earlier, vegetative growth of the sporophyte occurs during the period between

the emergence of the plant from seed to the onset of flowering. Development of the plant

during this stage of the life cycle depends on cell division, cell enlargement, and cell

differentiation. Plant growth substances, termed phytohormones, are responsible for

regulating such aspects of vegetative growth. There are three basic plant growth

substances: (1) auxins, (2) gibberillins, and (3) cytokinins. The response of cannabis to

plant growth substances in general has not been widely documented; however, it is well

established that auxins inhibit branching. In seed plants, branches originate from a

dome-shaped mass of cells in the axils ("armpits") of leaves. The original

structures are known as axillary or lateral buds. When the bud develops into a shoot, the

apical meristem (actively growing tip) is slowly organized, usually duplicating the growth

pattern found in the parent shoot tip. Auxins are produced in the apical meristem and then

transported down the stem. If the source of auxin is removed by pruning the apical

meristem, the branches are released from the auxin's inhibiting effects and undergo rapid

development. Removal of the apical meristem is a method used by many horticulturists to

encourage the increased production of floral buds. This is particularly true, of course,

in the case of marijuana. When the apical meristem is removed, the development of two

axillary buds in the leaf axils directly below is stimulated. Now the plant is developing

two branches where it would have produced one - and each shoot is capable of producing

floral buds. Another advantage of removing the apical meristem is the promotion of

horizontal growth, which allows the plant to remain shorter. This is a critical factor,

especially in view of the low ceiling heights of some marijuana growth chambers (such as

those in basement locations). When the apical meristem is removed, the size and number of

foliage leaves are reduced. However, even though this occurs, successful growers remove

the foliage leaves (except for the two directly below the apical meristem) from the branch

at the time when the apical meristem of the branch is removed. Although this method may

seem odd at first, it has been well demonstrated that when foliage leaves reach full

expansion there is a rapid decline in chlorophyll concentration and a decrease in the rate

of photosynthesis. Through the removal of the less efficient foliage leaves, young leaves

are allowed to expand quickly, increasing chlorophyll production and the rate of

photosynthesis. The foliage leaves are not discarded. They are collected and stored in an

airtight container until the end of the plant's life cycle. (A method for extraction of

their THC will be given in a later section.) Since a great deal of time and effort has

gone into the production of each plant, growers utilize all parts of any value. The leaves

and apical meristems are removed once a week for five weeks after the plants have been

placed in the growth tanks. It has been mentioned in the literature that pruning the

vegetative apical meristems before flowering will cause the plant to flower late or not to

flower at all. (It was suggested that if the meristematic tissues responsible for sensing

change were removed, the plant would no longer be able to determine when it was time to

flower.) However, it has been established that the photoperiodic response is perceived by

the leaves and not by the apical meristem. Further, it is a well-documented view that the

flower and the vegetative shoots are not related structures, and that their meristems are

basically different. Floral induction is not a sudden change, but a series of stages. It

has been found that when apical meristems are removed one week prior to the floral

induction photoperiod, flowering is neither delayed nor prevented. Again, growers prune

the apical meristems and the foliage leaves once a week, from the end of the first week to

the beginning of the fifth week of growth. At the beginning of the sixth week, the floral

induction photoperiod has started, and all pruning of the leaves and apical meristems is

stopped for the duration of flowering. When the photoperiodic change is perceived by the

leaves, the florigen (the flowering stimulus) is produced in the leaves and transported to

the apical meristems where floral formation is initiated. The floral apical meristems

replace the vegetative ones directly, usually by the development of inflorescence (an axis

bearing flowers, or a flower cluster). With both sexes, the first evidence of flowering is

seen in the formation of primordia (tiny shoots in the earliest stage of development) at a

node (point of attachment of a leaf to a stem; also a branch emergence) of the principal

stem adjacent to the axillary bud itself. Primordia are initially undifferentiated, but

later males show their rounded form, with females showing enlargement of the single

pointed bract (modified leaf - see Figure 5). Cannabis is considered a dioecious plant,

meaning that the male and female flowers develop on separate plants. Monoecism (in which

male and female flowers develop on the same plant) does occur, but can be controlled by

changing the length of the photoperiod. (See the section on photoperiodism in Chapter 1.)

This is important for pollination techniques (see Clarke). The most easily detected change

from the vegetative to the reproductive phase in cannabis is the sudden increase in the

elongation of the internodes (the region of the stem between two nodes). This is

particularly true in male plants. Furthermore, the males are more copiously branched, and

show speedier reduction of leaves into the form of floral bracts, with a reduction in

relative chlorophyll content. Female plants, on the other hand, appear shorter and leafier

than the males. All of these characteristics can be helpful in determining the sex of a

plant; however, they are very general characteristics, and should by no means be

considered absolute indicators of gender. Indeed, both male and female plants grown in an

environmental growth chamber, and pruned on a weekly basis, appear short and bushy, so sex

determination cannot be made until the early floral stages. Furthermore, physiological

tests (such as respiratory rate, sap pH, and pigment content) have failed to reveal any

differences in physiological characteristics between the two sexes. As noted in the

description of female flowers, glandular trichomes (hairs) are associated with THC

production. They contain very large amounts of resin, and the volume may be several times

that of the excretory cells responsible for their production. Glandular trichomes are more

abundant during the peak floral stage on the undersides of the leaves, and in the floral

bracts and petioles. More are produced on female plants than on males, though they are

quite numerous on the males as well. In fact, studies have shown that male plants possess

as many cannabinoids per unit of fresh weight as do female plants with the same amount of

flowering. However, after the male plant has shed its pollen, the flowers wither and die,

which stops resin production, while the maturing female flowers continue to develop more

copious amounts of resin-containing trichomes. Because of the high resin content of the

male plants, their foliage leaves should be stripped and stored with the others for

extraction of THC if the plants are not to be used for breeding purposes. The exact

function of the glandular trichomes and of the resins they contain is not well understood.

One possibility is that the increased amount of resin produced during the peak floral

stage of the female flowers functions as protective insulation of the delicate ovaries,

and the subsequent seeds, against desiccation (drying) and insect predation. It has been

demonstrated, by controlling the relative humidity and the amount of water available to

the roots for absorption, that there is a direct correlation between desiccation and the

influence on THC production. After the female flowers have reached the two-week phase of

development, the relative humidity of the growth chamber is dropped from the previously

maintained level of 60-70 percent to zero, and the amount of solution in the growth tanks

is reduced to half the amount previously available for absorption. The plants overall

respond favorably by producing extremely plentiful, resin-filled trichomes. Also, this

technique will in no way inhibit or prevent continued development of the female flowers.

This does lend support to the notion that the glandular trichomes and their resins are

related to an environmental response of desiccation. The time of harvesting depends upon

the variety of the plant used. Each type has a different rate of maturation. However,

there is one general guideline that applies to all varieties of cannabis. Growers take

accurate daily growth records of the length of the flowers. When elongation slows and

stops, the flowers have usually reached maturity and glandular trichome production is at

its peak. This is the time to remove the flowers from the plant. They are cut from the

branch or stem below the two leaf nodes located directly beneath the flower. The nodes

then provide a mechanism for hanging the flower during the curing process. Curing The

purpose of the curing process is to allow the plant tissues to break down metabolically to

yield the texture and aroma desired for smoking, which are strictly a matter of personal

preference. There are many methods of curing; the method discussed here works well. String

or twine is attached to two points to form a "clothesline." On the string, the

flower is hung upside down by the notch in the nodes. Hanging the flower upside down

allows the leaves and floral bracts to surround the delicate resin-covered calyx, and

protects it from handling damage. Curing is best done in low light or in darkness, and at

humidity levels between 40 percent and 60 percent. However, fungi and bacteria thrive in

this type of environment, and care must be taken to ensure that contamination of the

flowers does not occur. If the area is disinfected thoroughly and a very slight flow of

air maintained, no problems should arise. This method causes chlorophyll to become

inactive (because of the paucity or absence of light), and the humidity prevents rapid

drying of the floral tissues, thereby allowing chlorophyll and other plant metabolites to

be broken down slowly. Clarke suggests that if curing of the tissues is done quickly,

insufficient gaseous exchange with the intercellular tissues occurs; this causes the

"greenness" to be locked in, and no amount of further curing will remove it.

This has generally been found to be true. The more slowly the tissues can be cured, the

milder the taste. A moister texture also results. Since so much time, labor, and cost has

gone into the production of each plant, growers do not overlook utilization of the

"shake" or leaves. Extraction involves the process of removing the essential

oil, THC, from the leaves remaining on the plant and those removed during pruning. This is

accomplished through the use of a solvent in which the oil will dissolve, which is later

separated from the plant material by passing it through an appropriate filter. The best

solvent found to date is chloroform. It is non-flammable, which makes it safer to handle

than ethanol. Further, it has a low boiling point (61 degrees C), and a residue after

evaporation of .0005 percent. The low residue percentage means that virtually no trace

solvent remains to contaminate the oil and cause an aftertaste, which is usually a problem

encountered with ethanol unless time-consuming distillation processes are used. Another

important concern is that chlorophyll is relatively insoluble in chloroform, eliminating

the heavy "green" taste that always results from ethanol extractions. To

initiate the extraction process, the leaves must be dried thoroughly. This can be done by

placing them on fairly absorbent paper, such as newsprint, in a good sunny spot near a

window. (Fresh newsprint paper may be obtained in most art supply stores. The lead content

of ordinary newspapers makes them unsuitable for this purpose.) The leaves are then turned

over every few days to ensure complete drying. When they are sufficiently dry, the leaves

should be brittle and crumble easily between the fingers. When the leaves have completely

dried, they are placed in a blender and ground to a fine powder. Studies have shown that

to achieve 90 percent extraction of the oil, the plant material must be powdered. This is

because nearly as much oil is contained in non-glandular internal tissues as is produced

by the glandular trichomes. Next, a filter (the type used for automatic coffee makers) is

placed over a clean Pyrex beaker or Corning Ware dish. The plant material is piled about

halfway to the top of the filter, and the rest of the material saved (if necessary) in an

airtight plastic container. At this point, approximately 200 milliliters of chloroform are

poured into the blender and sloshed around on the sides. This rinses out any oil remaining

in the blender. Chloroform is poured from the blender over the plant material until it

reaches the top of the filter (adding more chloroform if needed). When the chloroform has

completely filtered into the beaker or dish, this process is then repeated by adding

chloroform until it reaches the top of the filter. Two extractions of the same plant

material are usually sufficient to remove all of its oil. At this point, the plant

material is discarded; the same procedure is repeated until the beaker or dish becomes

full of solvent. Now the beaker or dish is placed on an electric stove or hot plate and

heated slowly to a very low boil. When chloroform is being evaporated, the area must be

completely ventilated! In the early days of medicine, chloroform was used as an anesthetic

until harmful side effects (such as liver damage) were discovered, so it is clear that

extreme care must be used when evaporating this solvent. After the solvent has been

removed, the same procedure is repeated until all of the plant material has been treated.

The oil is collected and stored in a pipette (small glass tube). These can be obtained at

any scientific supply company and are inexpensive. The oil is drawn into the tube (this

may be easier if the oil is first heated a bit), and the tube capped at both ends. The

storage procedure is the same as that outlined for floral tops. After the flowers have

been cured to the desired extent, they are stored to prevent further drying and breakdown

of the floral tissues. This can be accomplished by one of two methods. The first is to

store the flowers in a mason jar or similar container, which can be sealed and kept

airtight. The jar or container is maintained in an environment of low light and humidity.

Once the oxygen in the container has been used for the further metabolic breakdown of

tissues, drying will cease. Another alternative is to use a small vacuum food processing

unit. This is probably the most efficient way to store the flowers. By placing a vacuum

pump on the container (again an airtight one), with the flowers inside the container, and

sealing tightly, further curing is eliminated instantly by removing all oxygen with the

vacuum. The advantage of this method is that it gives plant tissues an essentially

unlimited shelf life: they will last for years. Growers generally check with sellers of

food processors and laboratory equipment for systems that can handle this particular

method. As with the first method, the final product is stored in low light and humidity.

PLANTING Successful growers plant marijuana seeds ahout a half inch deep and then cover

them. Seeds placed in substrates are pushed into the material so that they are totally

surrounded Once the seeds are planted, the medium is watered again to help the seeds

settle in place. The direction that the seed faces is not important. Using gravity as a

means of sensing proper direction, the seed will direct roots downward and the stem upward

Marijuana need not be planted in its final container to start Even a plant which is

destined to be a giant can be started in a 2 inch pot or block The advantage to starting

small is that the plants do not take up unneeded room. However, plants must be given more

room soon alter germination or they will become rootbound, which stunts the plants.

Seedlings are trans planted using the same techniques described under cuttings.

Germination begins when moisture seeps through the seed coat and signals the seed to start

growing Heat regulates the rate ofgermination and growth until the seedling reaches light.

Water The planting medium is kept moist until germination is complete. if the surface of

the medium tends to dry out, plastic wrap is placed over it to retain moisture. Seedlings

have tender root systems which are easily damaged when the medium dries out so the medium

is kept moist at all times. Heat Marijuana germinates rapidly when the planting medium is

kept at an even temperature. Room temperature, about 70 degrees, is best. when the medium

is cool, germination slows and the seeds may be attacked by fungi or other organisms. With

high temperatures, seedlings grow thin and spindly, especially under low light conditions.

This occurs because their growth rate is sped up by the heat, but the seedlings are not

photo-synthesizing enough sugar for use as building material light Once the seedling

breaks ground and comes in contact with light, it starts to photosynthesize, thus

producing itsown food for growtll When the light is dim, the plant stretches to reach it.

In the wild the seedling is in competition with other plants which may be shading it. By

growing taller it may be able to reach unobstructed light. However, a stretched seedling

is weaker than one with a shorter but thicker stem and has a tendency to fall over.

Seedlings with ample light grow squat, thick stems. Seedlings can be started in constant

bright light of the same intensity that is to be used for their growth cycle. Some growers

recommend that seeds be germinated in a napkin or on a sponge and then placed into the

growing area This method risks damage to the seedling in many ways; the delicate plant

tissues may be darnaged by handling or moisture problems, the seedlings are more likely to

be attacked by infections and they may be subject to delays in growth caused by changes in

their position in relation to gravity. CUTTINGS (CLONES) Many growers populate their

gardens with cuttings rather than seeds. Cuttings have several advantages over seeds.

Clones. Transplanting cuttings is very easy. Cuttings which have been rooted in a

substrate such as floral foam, Jiffy rooting cubes or rockwool are easily placed in a

larger rooting area If the cuttings are being transferred to another substrate, the small

block with the rooted cutting can be placed firmly on top of the larger substrate. Growers

rub the two blocks together so that there is firm contact between the two materials. The

roots will grow directly from the smaller block into the larger one. Growers report that

it is also easy to transplant substrate rooted cuttings into a soil or soil-less medium.

The cutting is not held by the leaf or stem, because the pull of the heavy block may

injure the stem or tear the roots. Instead, the block is held and placed in a partially

filled container. After placing the block in the container; mix is placed around itso that

the block is totally covered The medium is tapped down firmly enough so that it is well

packed but not tight or compacted when transplanting plants grown in degradable containers

such as peat pots or Jiffy cubes, growers report best results when the containers are cut

in several places. This assures an easy exit for the roots. Cuttings growing in individual

containers are transplanted before they are root-bound First, the rootball is knocked from

the container. To do this, growers turn the plant upside down so that the top of the soil

is resting between the index and middle finger of one hand with the stem of the plant

sticking through the fingers. The container is held in the other hand and knocked against

a hard surface such as a table. The rootball is jarred loose from the old container and

rests in the gardener's hand The rootball is placed in a larger container partially filled

with mix Then mix is added to bring the medium to within a half inch of the top of the

pot. when plants have a long bare stem, growers sometimes place the plant deeply in the

container, burying part of the stem. Paper cups are sometimes used as containers. They are

carefully opened using a utility knife or scissors. Rootballs sticking to styrofoam cups

sometimes release if the cup is rolled tightly between two palms before knocking if the

rootball still sticks, the cup is cut open. Once the rootball is out it is placed in a

container partially filled with medium. More medium is added packed firmly around the

rootball, until the top is covered Transplants sometimes take a few days to adjust. Then

their growth spurts with renewed vigor. Step By Step 1. Seeds are usually planted one half

inch deep and covered 2. Growers often start seeds in smalll containers. They are

transplanted as they grow. This way small plants do not waste unused space. 3. Seeds are

kept moist at 70 (degrees) to encourage fast germinatioft 4. Growers transplant cuttings

easily by placing the the rootball in a partiallyfilled container. Then planting medium is

added until the ball is completely covered CUTTINGS AND CLONES Nearly everyone has taken a

cutting from a houseplant and placed it in water. Within a short time roots grew and the

new plant was ready to he placed in a container with medium. The new plant had the same

genetic mak-up of its clone mother. The new plant's growth, flowers, and reactions to

en"ironment were exactly the same as the plant from which it was taken The genetic

make-up, and therefore the characteristics of a plant started from seed cannot he

determined until the plant is grown Although the lineage of the plant may provide a fair

amount of information, there is no way of pre- determining its exact qualities. There are

literally billions of possible combinations of genes that the two parents can supply. No

two plants from seed are likely to he identical. There are many advantages to growing

genetically identical plants. Here are some which growers have brought to my attention: 1.

The plants have uniform growth characteristics so the garden is easier to maintain Each

plant grows to the same size, has approximately the same yield and matures at the same

time as its sisters. Starting from seeds, plants of the same variety exhibit subtle

differences in growth patterns. 2. Buds from clone sisters will he of the same potency and

taste the same. 3. There will he no males in the garden Since all clones from a single

"clone-mother" have the same genetic make-up, clones from a female plant can he

only female. Usually about halfof the plants from seeds turn out to he male. Using clones

saves valuable garden space which would have heen used to grow males. 4. Clones seem to

exhibit shorter internode length (distance hetween the leaves) which means that the garden

has shorter, stouter plants. 5. The exact genetic make-up of a particular plant is easily

preserveci This means that the characteristics of a super-plant or other novel specimen

can he continued. There are also disadvantages to growing clones: 1. All of the plants

from a single clone mother yield the same product. There is no variation Gardeners growing

for personal consumption often wish to grow several different varieties. 2. There is no

genetic progression Since no breeding is taking place, the genetic line remains static

There are no surprises and no new finds. Using clones, there is no way ofgenetically

adapting a line to aparticular environment. HOW CLONES ARE MADE Cuttings are taken from

soft green tissue hecause the drier, woody sections of the plant do not root as easily.

Sections taken are 2-5 inches long with several sets of leaves. The cut is made with a

very sharp blade which makes a clean, straight cut, rather than a scissor which pinches

and injures the tissue. As the cuttings are made they are placed in a bowl filled with

lukewarm water to prevent them from drying out Once all the cuttings are taken, they are

trimmed of their lower leaves, leaving only one or two sets plus the growing tip. This

helps to prevent the cutting from heing water stressed. if the leaves were left on the

cutting they would create water demands that the stem end, with a limited draw, cannot

meet. Any large fan leaves are also removed for the same reason Next, the rooting solution

is prepared. liquid type rooting compounds are the best to use hecause the active

ingredients are in solution and are guaranteed to come in contact with the stem. Powders

are often scraped off as the cutting is set in place, and drop offwhen placed in water.

Some popular rooting solutions which work well are Olivia's, Klone Concentrate,

Hormex"' and Wood' s. The solution is used as directed for woody plants. The trimmed

cuttings are placed either in water or a rooting medium such as vermiculite, rockwool or

floral foam which has heen watered with one quarter strength flowering formula fertilizer

solution At least 3/4 inch of stem is inserted in the rooting medium which is be patted

down to make sure that the stem is in direct contact with it The cuttings growers make are

placed in an area of high humidity to limit water stress. Growers often construct a

"mini-greenhouse" using plastic wrap placed over the rooting chamber. Some trays

come with clear plastic covers to retain moisture. The cover is removed when the plants

develop roots. A fine mist spray helps relieve water stress. The clones respond best to a

moderate rather than a bright light Some gardeners light the clone garden using 2 tubes

for an area 4 x 2 feet, 10 watts per square foot. Clones being rooted in water do best

when the water is changed frequently and aerated using a small pump and an aquarium

bubbler. Rooting blocks or medium must be kept well saturated The temperature of the

medium affects the rooting time of the clones. Cuttings root fastest when the temperature

is kept in the low to mid 70's. At lower temperatures the cuttings take longer to root and

are more likely to suffer from infections. Growers report the easiest way to keep the

cuttings warm is to use a heating cable or heating mat made especially for germinating and

rooting plants. These are available at most plant nurseries and are very inexpensive.

Given good conditions, cuttings usually root in one to two weeks. Some varieties are

easier to root than others. For instance Big Bud, is notoriously difficult to root Skunk

and Northern lights are much easier to clone. Rockwool Growing Medium Rockwool is the

neatest invenfion since the sun! It is an inert, sterile, porous, non-degradable growing

medium that provides firm root Support. Like all soilless mediums, rockwool acts as a

temporary reservoir for nutrients. This affords the grower a tremendous amount of confrol

over plant growth through nutrient uptake. This revolutionary new growing medium consists

of thin strand- like fibers made primarily from limestone, granite or almost any kind of

rock. Rockwool has the appearance of lent collected by cloths dryer. It is unique and does

not resemble any other growing media. Rockwool has been used for many years as home and

industrial insulation. In fact the walls in your home may surround you with this product.

The rockwool used for insulation is very similar to the horticultural grade except for one

thing; the industrial grade used for insulation is treated with a fire retarding substance

that will kill plants. Growers all over the world will be using rockwool as soon as they

find out about it. Definite advantages are reaped when growing in this soilless substrate.

It is economical, consistent and easy to control. Now the best part: rockwool is very

fibrous in structure and will hold about 20 percent air even when it is completely

saturated. If this stuff is so good, why haven't I heard of it yet? Rockwool has recently

been introduced into the U.S. in 1985. The word travels slowly and the American

horticultural community has been slow to adapt. Most of them have not even heard of

rockwool yet. Rockwool has been used in European greenhouses for over 15 years. Rockwool

was first discovered in Denmark in 1969. Growers began using rockwool as a way around the

ban on soil-grown nursery stock imposed by some of the European community. Today, an

estimated 50 percent of all western European greenhouse vegetables are grown exclusively

in rockwool. Other mediums like peat and soils are becoming more expensive to produce and

can easily vary in quality. This coupled with high cost of sterilization prompted European

growers to explore new alternatives. European growers switched to rockwool because it is

inexpensive and easy to control but the important fact is that they not only changed, they

continued to use it. More acreage is coming under production using rockwool daily. In fact

growers at The Seed Bank in Holland swear by rockwool. Rockwool is produced from rock

alone or a combination of rock, limestone and coke. The rigid components are melted at

temperatures exceeding 2,500 F. This molten solution is poured over a spinning cylinder,

very similar to the way cotton candy is made with liquified sugar. As the molten solution

flys off the cylinder, it elongates and cools to form fibers. These fibers could be

likened to cotton candy fibers. The product of these fibers, rockwool, is then pressed

into blocks, sheets, cubes or granulated. The blocks are rigid and easy to handle. They

may be cut into just about any size desirable. Granulated rockwool is easily placed into

growing containers or used like vermiculite or perlite as a soil amendment. The heat makes

the rock wool sterile and I do not know of any bugs or microorganisms that are able to

live at these temperatures. Rockwool can be used in both recirculating and

nonrecirculation hydroponic systems. But the non-recirculating system is much easier to

control. As explained earlier, the nutrient solution in a recirculating system is

constantly changing. Salts soon build to toxic levels as plants use selected nutrients

within the solution. The nutrient solution is constantly monitored and adjusted to provide

the exact concentration of nutrients for optimum growth. However, with an open ended

system, the excess nutrient solution drains off and is not recovered. The plants get all

the nutrients they need and any nutrients that are not used will simply drain off. A fresh

nutrient-rich solution is used for the next watering. Apply enough nutrient solution to

get a 25 percent drain or leaching effect. This serves two purposes: 1) it flushes out

excess salts from the medium and applies adequate nutrient solution to the medium. When

used with an open ended drip system, rockwool is easily irrigated with a nutrient solution

controlled by a timer. The usual procedure in Europe is to apply a small amount of

fertilizer to or three times a day. Enough excess solution is applied to obtain a 10-25

percent leeching effect every day. Do not let all of this control fool you. Even though

rockwool will hold 10-14 times as much water as soil, it does not provide the buffering

action available in soil. The pH of rockwool is about 7.8. An acidic fertilizer solution

(about 5.5 on the pH scale) is required to maintain the actual solution at a pH of about

6.5 or lower. Errors made in the nutrient solution mix or with pH level, will be

magnified. & careful to monitor both the pH and nutrient level with a scrutinous eye.

There are some tricks to handling rockwool. Dry rockwool can be abrasive and act as an

irritant to the skin. When handling dry Rockwool, use gloves and goggles. Once the

rockwool is thoroughly wet, it is easy and safe to work with; it creates no dust and is

not irritation to the skin. Compaction is not a problem. Keep out of the reach of children

and wash clothes thoroughly after prolonged use around rockwool as a safety precaution.

Rockwool stays so wet that algae grows on the surface. While this green slimy algae is

unsightly, it does not compete with plants for nutrition, however harmless fungus gnats

could take up residence. Abate this algae by covering the rockwool with plastic.

Horticultural rockwool is available from an ever increasing number of indoor garden


Link to hydroponics store


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