High Times’ cultivation specialist Danny Danko answers all your burning questions about being the best grower you can be. But first, some quick tips from the expert himself:
- Calibrate your pH and PPM meters monthly in order to ensure they’re working properly.
- Use a timer to turn off CO2 supplementation equipment when your lights are off.
- Intake fans for fresh air should be installed low in your room, and, because heat rises, exhaust fans should be installed near the top.
Subject: Vegetative Stage
From: Martha M.
How do I know when plants are in the vegetative stage? I’m new and I don’t understand all the growing terms. Thank you!
There are two main stages of cannabis plant growth: the vegetative stage and the flowering stage. These stages represent the different growth patterns of annuals from spring into summer and then into fall, when the plants reach maturity. When a seedling sprouts, it enters the vegetative stage, during which it grows branches and leaves. Outdoors, as summer ends and light begins to diminish, the plant enters the flowering stage, during which it slows branch and leaf growth while focusing its energy on producing male or female flowers in order to fill up with seeds before it dies with the first frost of winter.
Indoors, we re-create these seasons using a timer into which we plug our grow lights. For vegetative growth, we provide our plants with 18 or more hours of light per day. When we decide to induce flowering, we cut the light cycle to 12 hours on and 12 hours off per day. The plant will then transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage and begin its march to harvest.
Subject: Preserving a Strain
From: Charles T.
My question is in regard to the preservation of a strain that has been reduced over time from environmental or genetic drift by using colloidal silver to produce feminized seeds. I’m talking about an incredible strain that I obtained through clippings when it had already been cloned many times and has since been cloned many more times. My biggest concern comes from the difficulty I’m lately having getting this strain to root during the cloning phase. I’m waiting on a shipment of 120 PPM colloidal silver; once it arrives, I plan to begin my first feminized-seed project. I would like to know what I should expect from the seeds produced. Will they also have difficulty rooting, or should the genetic blueprint be completely restored? Thanks for any help you can give me!
You are embarking on an interesting but difficult breeding project. You’re planning to spray colloidal silver on your female flowers in order to force them to show hermaphroditic tendencies and induce “male” flowers to form within them.
The pollen from these flowers contains no male genes, so this should result in females or hermaphrodites. When this pollen is spread onto the same female flowers, it’s called “selfing,” or creating an S1. If all goes well, the resulting seeds will be similar or identical to the original clone-only plant.
A different way to bring back the vigor of the original hybrid is to use a tissue-culture technique. This is similar to cloning, but on a smaller, cellular level. Once a plant has been duplicated with tissue culture, the resulting cuttings will be free of any pests, pathogens, diseases or other issues that result from stress, such as difficulty rooting or a general lack of vigor or potency.
From: UP Grower
Hi! We love reading your expert grow advice in High Times. We’ve been growing in Michigan for about six years and have used both seeds and clones. We recently purchased some feminized Gelato seeds, one of which sprouted twins! (Included is a photo you can publish to show what we mean.) We’ve never seen this mentioned in High Times. Is it a rare occurrence?
Thanks for the kind words! Your plants are exhibiting a common mutation called polyembryony, in which two or more embryos exist inside one seed. Thus, like identical human twins, the seedlings that emerge will be exact copies of each other.
Subject: No-Till Tent
From: Giggle Grassachusetts
Greetings again! I’ve been wanting to create a no-till living soil (teeming with worms and microbes and using soil blended with compost). I have a 2′ x 2′ and a 2′ x 4′ tent. Is this possible?
If so, do you have any recommendations as to what to use to hold the soil? I have found a few fabric containers, but they have compartments. Do I need to build my own container? I’d prefer to use fabric instead of wood. Also, would it be a bad idea to bury compostable kitchen scraps in the soil? Thanks for the awesome podcast!
No-till farming is a very interesting growing concept in which soil is left undisturbed and organic material is added on top. Compost and other natural soil enhancers are piled on, and cover crops such as clover are grown and gently mixed into the top layer of soil in order to avoid destroying the beneficial mycelia that permeate the medium.
No-till growing can be accomplished in beds, boxes or fabric containers in even the smallest of spaces, but the important thing is to avoid adding any nonorganic or toxic nutrients or pesticides to your soil mix. It’s better to put your kitchen scraps into your compost bin or pile in order for them to heat up, break down and cure, rather than adding them directly into your soil. Thanks for your support of the Free Weed With Danny Danko podcast!
Subject: Don’t Overfeed!
From: Peter G.
Remember the good times from three years ago on the 420/710 catamaran cruise? This is Pete, who was disgusted with the Amsterdam Cup the previous year. You said you remembered me, but I don’t know how because you obviously come into contact with many people.
Anyhow, I’m happy to report I’m four weeks into flowering a spectacular Acapulco Gold grown in coco under LED and fluorescent lighting to limit my power footprint. She’s looking great despite the lighting limitations. I’m alternating nutes and water every fourth day, and it seems to be working great. This way I’m not overwatering or overfeeding.
I switched to a 10/14-hour light/dark photoperiod from a 12/12 cycle a week ago as advised by Jorge Cervantes in his Cannabis Encyclopedia. The branches have just started to sag from the bud weight, and I’m now staking the plant to relieve any stress. Maybe next time I’ll just go with SOG netting, but it didn’t seem feasible to go that route in a closet. I really don’t have a question, I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for all the great advice you give in your column.
Wow! Thanks for reaching out and thanks for the tips on properly feeding your plants. Overfeeding and overwatering are the two biggest mistakes made by beginner growers, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution as you describe. I’ll have to do a bit more research on the 10/14-hour photoperiod you mentioned because I haven’t heard of that being used before, unless it’s to save money on electricity or to reduce heat at the canopy level.
Subject: Wet and Dry Cycles
From: Humdrum Bum
I’m about to start a RDWC (recirculating deep-water culture) six-bucket system, which does not allow the plant’s roots to receive a dry period. Is the dry period important, or will plants thrive with the proper amount of oxygen?
The wet/dry period relates to growing in a soil or coco-based mix. With most types of hydroponics, the nutrient solution is so well oxygenated that the roots can handle not drying out; in fact, they must remain moist at all times.
Deep-water culture relies on the roots dangling into an aerated solution so they have access to water, food and oxygen at all times. This mist feeds the roots and allows the plants to exhibit explosive growth rates. The important thing is to always keep the solution at the right temperature, pH level and PPM levels of nutrient salts in order for the plants to thrive.
Subject: Wick System
From: A. Cabrera
I am currently in the process of setting up a hydroponic grow. I have chosen to go with wick hydroponics, since this will be my first run of growing. I have built a frame for a box that will be 4″ tall, 4′ long and 20″ wide. The walls will be wood sealed with caulking then covered with Mylar. I am going to use a 120-volt 4-foot T8 ballast with two 16-volt LED bulbs until the plants are about 1 to 1½ feet tall in the vegetation stage, and from that point I will change to an LED grow lamp. I’m planning on using 5-gallon buckets as reservoirs with rope leading up to either a 3-gallon bucket or a 1-gallon nursery pot. I am at a loss on which grow medium I should transfer the plants to once they are out of the seedling stage. I currently have the plants outdoors in Sunshine brand seedling mix. I water once or twice daily. I have two questions: What is a good material to use as a wick that will not rot? And what grow medium can you recommend?
A wick system uses capillary action to suck up water from a reservoir as plants need it. Cotton ropes are easy to find and use as a wick, but they are also prone to rot when exposed to water over time. Nylon rope will last longer, and it’s the best material to use for a wick system as long as you’re not opposed to using something acrylic and unnatural.
You can continue to use the Sunshine mix or transplant your plants into a different soilless mix such as ProMix, which is peat-based, or coco coir, which is made from the recycled husks of coconuts. Your roots will suck up whatever they desire, but you must be sure your reservoir buckets contain nutrient solution.
Subject: Mixed-Up Seeds
From: Uncle Buck
Hi, Danny—please help! I’ve accidentally mixed my seeds, both autos and feminized. I have managed to separate them by size. Now I have three normal-size and nine small grey ones, and I have no idea which are which. Additionally, I don’t know how many of each I originally had. Cheers from Australia!
Dear Uncle Buck,
The size of the seeds will not tell you which are auto-flowering and which are feminized. You must plant them and grow them out to determine which are which. The ones that begin to flower regardless of the amount of light they receive are the autos. The others will be the feminized ones. Good luck!
Send your cannabis-cultivation questions to email@example.com.
This feature was published in the March 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.