Connect with us

Grow

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Short and stocky strains, drip irrigation, dirty water, identifying male plants and more.

Published

on

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice
Short and stocky plants like this Afghan Kush from Dinafem produce larger yields than their lanky counterparts./ Courtesy Dinafem

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:

  • If hard water pools on top of your soilless mix, add a drop of natural dishwashing soap to your nutrient solution to soften it for better absorption.
  • Every bend in your ducting slows down airflow, so keep it as straight as possible.
  • Use a clean and sharp razor blade when taking cuttings, and trim at a 45-degree angle for successful rooting.

Subject: Strains for Small Spaces
From: Duane W.

Hey, what are the best strains to grow in a small space while still getting a big yield, and how can I make sure that the plants don’t touch the light?

Dear Duane,

The best strains to grow in small spaces are indica-dominant varieties with shorter internodal spacing and a bushier grow profile. Sativa-dominant plants usually have longer flowering periods and also tend to stretch more after flowering is induced. The plants can be bent or trained in order to prevent them from growing into the light (and also to increase yield).

Subject: Too Hot
From: Messina

I’m growing an auto-flowering plant, and where I live it gets very hot during the summer months. Here in northwestern Arizona, it can reach 120 degrees during the day! I’m growing in a Gorilla grow tent with an Advanced Platinum 650-watt LED light. To mitigate the heat in the tent, I’d like to use a 15/9-hour day/night light cycle. Will I have good results?

Dear Messina,

You can certainly reduce the amount of light per day from 18-20 hours to 15 without triggering flowering, but your plants won’t grow to their full potential. Furthermore, this will only reduce heat for few hours each day, and the temperatures during your daytime light cycle will still be excessive unless you cool your tent.

An air conditioner in the room in which your tent is will work wonders in keeping the heat down. Just make sure it’s strong enough to counter the ambient temperature and the added heat generated by your lighting system. Luckily, you’re using LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which don’t generate as much heat as HID (high-intensity discharge) systems such as HPS (high-pressure sodium) or Mil (metal halide).

Subject: Drip Emitters
From: Billy the Adult

I’ve heard of growers using individual tubes to water their plants drop by drop all day long. Is this effective and, furthermore, how would I go about setting something like that up?

Dear Billy,

You’re referring to the hydroponic growing method known as the drip-emitter system (DES). When this method is used, tubing draws the liquid nutrient solution from a reservoir to each plant. The drip emitter sits at plant level and regulates how much water the roots receive.

To use this system, you first need enough tubing to reach all of your plants. Drip systems are quite versatile, and you can customize them to fit almost any space or number of plants. Cut the tubing in the lengths you need and secure the drip emitter at the end. Then firmly press the emitter into the top of your growing medium. Attach the reservoir end to your underwater pump and set the timer to drip when needed (typically about 10 minutes every 2 to 3 hours during the “daytime” cycle). You will need to decrease or increase the feeding time based on your plants’ sizes and nutritional needs as they grow.

Keep in mind that drippers tend to clog over time, so you need to make sure your nutrient solution keeps flowing to your plants. Adding redundancy, with several emitters per plant, can ensure that the roots stay wet and that any clog-related disasters are avoided.

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice
Drip emitters deliver nutrient solution directly to each plant./ Courtesy of THC Design LA

Subject: Dirty Water
From Mark K.

I have a deep-water-culture hydroponic bucket system, and my plants are less than 2 feet tall at 9 weeks. I just purchased a total-dissolved-solids (TDS) meter and discovered that our tap water is around 900 PPM! I think my plants are suffering from root lock. Will they thrive once I get my TDS problem under control?

Dear Mark,

Wow! That’s the highest parts-per-million level of dissolved solids in tap water that I’ve ever heard of. You need to invest in RO (reverse osmosis) water-purification technology and clean your water before you add any nutrients to your solution. Once you do this, your plants will recover and enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Subject: Plant Count
From: AJ

I just purchased a 4’ x 4’ grow tent. Would it be better to grow 16 plants, each in a 1-square-foot area, or 9 plants in a 16-square-feet area? I am growing indica/sativa mixes all with 9-week flowering times, and I’ll be vegging them for a month. Thank you for all the great help over the years!

Dear AJ,

Due to your monthlong vegetative time, you should consider growing fewer plants and giving them more space to fill out. Therefore, I would recommend your 9-plant solution over the 16-plant setup. Be sure to use large containers for each plant so that your roots have plenty of room to develop and thrive. I would go with 3-gallon containers or larger for the space you have. Additionally, topping or training the plants as they vegetate will result in a bigger harvest when flowering has finished.

Subject: Proper Feeding
From: MJ

I’m starting my second grow. For my first, I grew ADUB and Dream Queen strains with a 315-watt LEC light in a 5′ x 5’ tent. Unfortunately, I had trouble with heat control and got thrips. Well, okay-at least I learned a thing or two, maybe. Or not.

I used Fox Farms Ocean Forest for the medium and watered with pH-balanced water two or three times a week, depending on the dryness of soil. But until the end, I didn’t really saturate the soil with each watering. I did some fimming/topping. more on the ADUB than the DQ.and her spindly nature shows how bad I was at it. I won’t be so aggressive next time.

My DQ yield was abysmal! I ended up with only about 3 ounces. I vegged her from clone for about eight weeks, followed by eight weeks of flowering. The ADUB yield appears to be a lot less, but the silver-dollar-size buds are pretty dense in comparison to the DQ. (I almost lost her due to clawing leaves at one point-I think I may have overfed her.) I’m anticipating perhaps two ounces off her after I harvest this weekend.

I’m starting the second grow from seed. Germination is at Day 3. This morning, I put the spouted seeds into a rockwool medium to continue sprouting, having originated them using the moist-paper-towel method.

Here’s my question: Where can I find a good regimented feeding and transplanting schedule? I’d also like to know how large of a pot I should progress up to. I feel the 10-gallon Smart Pot I used was just way too large for the last crop’s growth and yield.

Dear MJ,

Almost every nutrient company will provide an online feeding chart with weekly schedules based on the stage of growth. Just keep in mind that their recommendations usually tend to be on the heavier feeding side, so start with half the recommended strength and work your way up if necessary. It’s always easier to add more than take away, so err on the side of caution for best results.

A 10-gallon Smart Pot is a great size for your plants, and a 2-month vegging period is fine as long as you allow the plants to thrive and build a nice-size root-ball during growth. Healthy plants will fill out your pots nicely, and you’ll increase your yields substantially.

Subject: Algae on Roots
From: Hans

l transplanted some clones into clear plastic cups using Happy Frog potting soil and Plant Success Organics Granular to maximize root growth. It’s been a couple of days and I have watered them as needed. Today I noticed a green moss around the root-ball. Do you have any idea what this is and what I can do to get rid of it if need be?

Dear Hans,

The green moss that you see is algae that has grown in your container due to the fact that you used clear plastic cups. The cups allow light to reach your wet medium, creating the perfect conditions for the mossy mess to compete with your plants for nutrients and providing a breeding ground for pests and harmful molds. Transplant your clones immediately into larger opaque containers with plenty of soil mix and don’t use clear cups in the future.

Subject: Kill the Males
From: Lil’ Smokey

I just planted a bunch of seeds indoors, and I need to know what the male plants look like. I was told I have to get rid of them soon.

Dear Smokey,

If your seedlings are indoors under at least 18 hours of light per day, you’ve got some time. They won’t begin to truly show their flowers until after you switch the timer to a 12/12-hour day/night light cycle. Then, within 2-3 weeks, you’ll begin to see clear signs of their gender. (Although auto-flowering seeds will begin flowering at a certain age regardless of the photoperiod.)

Teardrop-shaped calyxes with while hair sticking out will emerge from your female plants where the leaves meet the branches. The males will produce calyxes that have sharp spikes and which are noticeably less rounded. As they mature, the spikes will form into what looks like tiny bunches of green bananas.

Get rid of the males as soon as you can. Otherwise these “bananas” will open up and drop pollen all over your flowering females, leaving you with a crop full of relatively worthless seeds instead of the seedless female nuggets you’re hoping for.

Send your cannabis-cultivation questions to deardanko@hightimes.com.

This feature was published in the April, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

Trending

Grow

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Published

on

Subject: Hibernating Mites

From: Freedom Fighter

Hi! I have two questions. I suffered a spider mite infestation and had to shut down and clean out my growroom. New paint and flooring was in order anyway, so I bit the bullet and remodeled. I know these little monsters can be hard to get rid of. If I have no other plant life in the house, how long can they hold out before I can deem the house safe to try again? Also, is there any means of “sterilizing” your dirt to rid it of potential bug problems before planting? Thanks in advance, and hats off to the ladies and gents at your magazine for an excellent publication that I look forward to every month!

Dear FF,

Glad you enjoy the magazine! A spider mite’s lifespan is generally about 10 to 20 days or so. Hotter and drier conditions can increase their ability to reproduce and quicken their lifespan as well. Many generations can be produced even over the course of one grow cycle. The damn things are practically born pregnant!

Female mites hibernate outdoors during winter in plant debris, soil or other hiding places. If your room has been kept warm to hot (over 70°F) for more than two months and you’ve seen no sign of mites, the chances are good that no females or eggs are present. You should take every precaution, though, and thoroughly wash all floors, walls and ceiling surfaces with a diluted bleach solution. (A new mop works well for this technique.) Then carefully monitor your new plant growth in order to ensure that the mites haven’t returned.

It’s a good thing you don’t have any other houseplants in the area, as that would make a great place for them to rest and lay eggs in preparation for another fancy feast on your pot plants in the future. As for sterilizing your new soil, you can fill up turkey bags with soil mix and a little water and then bake it at 170°F for 30 minutes. Let it cool and it’s ready to use, free of both pathogens and insects.

———-

Subject: Slow Dry

From: The Green Flash

I live on the leeward (dry) coast of a small Hawaiian island. I grow outdoors, and my question is on drying. I cannot use air-conditioning where I live, and the drying always finishes in four to five days. This seems like too fast of a dry, and my buds don’t seem to sweat when they go into the jars to cure. Any suggestions on slowing down the dry without AC?

Dear TGF,

The best thing you could do is to get yourself an electric humidifier. This will slow down the drying process significantly and can be set to a specific humidity level if needed. If all appliances are out of the question, there are other ways to raise the humidity in your drying area, but most are more labor-intensive. Heating up a pot of water to simmering will help, but you need to replenish the water frequently if you have a large drying area. Another alternative is to keep a container filled with water and a fan blowing over it. These are short-term solutions, though, so the humidifier is your best bet. You can find them for under $50 at most hardware stores or home-supply warehouses.

———-

Subject: Dragon Claws?

From: LiGrim

The top leaves of my plant are turning into dragon claws. What am I doing wrong?

Dear LiGrim,

Taco-shaped or “dragon claw”–style leaves are a sure sign of overwatering. Let your growing medium dry out for several days and try not to water it if the medium is still wet or moist. Allow it to become dry (but not for a prolonged period) between waterings. Also, never let your pots sit in stagnant water for long periods. If you follow these tips, you should soon see signs of recovery in the new leaf growth.

———-

Subject: Vegetative to Flowering Switch

From: Leprechaun

I wanted to know how long to keep my plants under the light for start-up and vegetation and stretching. I have my plants on a timer that’s set for 18 hours of light. Do I need to do a 24-hour cycle for start-up and stretching my plants? I just bought an LED lamp, and I need to know the right cycle for my plants. I don’t want them to grow 4 or 5 inches and then want to flower, so the timing is real important to me right now. for any help, and aloha!

Dear Leprechaun,

For the vegetative stage, I recommend 18 to 20 hours of light per 24-hour period. I don’t recommend keeping the lights on for 24 hours straight during this time, because cannabis plants need a few hours of darkness to rest up and build plant tissues with the sugars stored during the bright period. Once you decide to induce flowering, you need to set your timer so that the lights are on for 12 hours and off for the other 12.

It’s important never to interrupt the dark cycle with any light at all, even briefly, in order to avoid light contamination or leaks that can lead to hermaphrodites or confused plants that revert back to their vegetative stage. It’s also vital to remember that your plants will continue to grow and stretch for at least a couple of weeks after flowering is induced. This means you should plan for enough vertical space between your lighting and plant tops to allow them to fill out.

Different strains stretch at different rates, so you’ll need to give sativas more room to grow out than indicas. Remember, indoor growers can control when their plants begin to flower, so take advantage of that and let them get nice and big before you induce the budding stage.

———-

Subject: Spraying Pot

From: Nancy L.G.

I have a question for you. Someone told me to take some pot—like about a quarter-ounce— and spray it with water in a jar, because then it would grow mold and increase the THC level. Can you verify this?

Dear Nancy,

That person is 100 percent wrong! Under no circumstances should you spray water on pot in a jar. It will cause the bud to mold, but that’s not a good thing at all. Mold will most certainly not increase the THC level, and as a matter of fact, it can cause serious health problems. All people— and particularly those with compromised immune systems—should never smoke or vaporize cannabis that has any signs of mold. This is a great reason not to believe everything you hear, and a lesson to those who spread mistruths as wisdom.

———-

Subject: Vertical or Horizontal Lighting?

From: Dillinger

I wanted to start by saying how much the magazine has meant and done for me over the years. Thanks so much for all the great tips, pics and info. I have actually dreamed of working for High Times since I was a kid. I was hurt at work back in January 2011, so I’m actually going to apply and try to live the dream like all of you do.

I have a question about lighting. I’ve been growing for 15 years using horizontal bulbs in air-cooled reflectors with great results, but more and more videos and articles I’ve seen show grows using vertically hanging bulbs. Have I missed the boat? Should I be running both vertical and horizontal lights? What about the new LED lamps? They are super-expensive, but are they worth it (no more fighting the heat and high AC bills)? If you had no limits on your income, would you run these expensive LEDs and just veg your cuttings under T5s? I know I’m asking a bunch of questions, but I want to keep up with the technology and grow the best product possible.

PS: If you’re near Cali, check out the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies from the Imedz collective in San Jose. They’re the best ever, and I’ve tried everything. The other great part is that they sell the cuttings from the exact pheno the meds come from.

Dear Dillinger,

Good luck with your application! We don’t hire often, and my best recommendation to you is to start off freelancing or writing “on spec.” Our submission guidelines are on our website, and we’re always looking for talented writers with useful information for our readers. Submitting good high-resolution photos is a plus as well.

As for lighting, the horizontal bulbs you’re using are perfectly fine for growing great cannabis. Vertical bulbs work great if you plan to grow huge plants and wish to supplement your garden with side lighting, but horizontal lights are still the setup of choice for large-scale pot growing. The big advantage, especially with the air-cooled reflectors you’re using, is being able to vent the heat produced directly from the bulb (and also being able to aim the light directly downward).

Vertical lighting works great in conjunction with horizontals, but it does create added heat that must be dealt with one way or another. Plants definitely benefit from the extra light, and you’re able to use all of the light produced by the bulb efficiently— but keep in mind that the plants must be massive for verticals to do their job.

LEDs are decent for supplemental lighting purposes, but I wouldn’t go replacing your high-intensity discharge (HID) lights just yet. As you mentioned, LEDs are still very pricey, and it will take some time before they can completely replace HIDs in performance. You are wise to keep your eye on emerging technologies, though, and we will always keep you posted on new developments here in HT.

Thanks for your tip on the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. That’s a wonderful strain, and I included a version of it in my Top 10 Strains of 2012 (Dec. ’12, HT).

Click to comment

Trending

News

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Published

on

Subject: Removing Fan Leaves

From: Matt D.

I’m a three-year subscriber to High Times, and I love it! Quick question: I know someone who uses a DWC (deep-water culture) hydro system. As you can imagine, the plants get pretty big, and several weeks after flowering is induced, the fan leaves are very large. My question: If necessary, is it okay to just cut them off, or is it better to simply reduce their size (i.e., by trimming them)?

Dear Matt,

Glad you enjoy the magazine! I don’t recommend cutting off healthy fan leaves unless absolutely necessary. If a fan leaf is shading out the whole top of a branch, I’d say it can be pruned off. But keep in mind that leaves are the “energy factories” for growing tips and colas—they take in the light needed to make the food that allows the branches to grow—so healthy fan leaves should be removed very, very selectively. On the other hand, trimming the leaves will only damage them and not result in any net gains for the grower.

———-

Subject: Two-Parter

From: Delos in Vegas

I have a two-part question for you. When working in the growroom during the dark period, could you cover the regular white incandescent lights, lighted digital thermometers, etc., with green plastic film in order not to disturb the photoperiod? I’ve heard that plants can’t take in green light. Also, would it be wise to have marigolds (or any other insect-repelling plant types) in the same room as the girls?

Dear Delos,

First, it’s true that cannabis plants won’t absorb green light; therefore, you can enter a growroom during the dark period and see your way around if you use a green bulb. However, I wouldn’t recommend trying to make one yourself: It’s too risky to start experimenting with green films that may melt or fall off. (Also, ruining a crop by interrupting the dark period isn’t worth it.) Instead, try one of the products made explicitly for such use. I highly recommend the Green LED Nite Light available at stealthgrow .com or by calling 1-800-770-9783 tollfree. These 5-watt lights are affordable as well as reliable, letting you enter your growroom at “night” without any worries.

Marigolds are a wonderful companion plant for cannabis. It’s wise to have insect-repelling plants nearby, but remember that you need to keep these plants healthy as well. Regular watering and feeding are necessary in order for them to accomplish their pest-fighting duties. Such plants work especially well outdoors between rows of ganja bushes.

———-

Subject: Fine Powder

From: Peter in Ontario

I’m a medical user, and my licensed grower just called to say that we have a big problem. It seems there’s a fine dust showing up on most of the plants in the room. What I need to know is: How bad is this news? Is it a mold problem, or could it be happening for some other reason? The temperature is kept at a constant 78°F and the humidity at 45%. There’s also more than enough venting in the room, but my grower and I are baffled and not sure what we can do to rectify the situation without losing the whole crop and getting two months behind.

Dear Peter,

Your problem could be powdery mildew (PM), or it could just be that your plants are covered with dust from the air. If the “dust” looks white, it’s most likely PM, in which case you’ll need to take some drastic steps to stop it from spreading and get rid of it. Start by burning sulfur to change the pH on the surface of the leaves, as well as lowering the temperature and humidity in the growroom immediately.

On the other hand, if the “dust” is darker in color, then it probably is just dust, and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. A simple foliar spray with plain pH-balanced water will remove it and allow the leaves to breathe again as well. It may take more than one misting, but you should see clean and healthy leaves in no time.

The best way to identify what you’re dealing with is by using a microscope or loupe to take a much closer look at the surface of the leaves. You’ll quickly be able to discern whether the problem is a fungus or just airborne particles.

———-

Subject: Harsh Taste

From: JonJon

Hey, so I have a few questions to ask because my buddy is too big of a wuss to do it himself. He has a tent setup and does pretty well with everything: The end product is always dense and stinky, and it always does the trick and looks great, but his downfall is that it smokes like shit—too harsh—and burns the throat and lungs. So, with this small bit of info, if you could please give me a few reasons as to why this might be happening, that would be awesome!

Dear JonJon,

Sounds like your buddy is having problems post-harvest: Somewhere between the flushing, drying and curing, things are going wrong. These are the factors that he needs to master in order to eliminate any harsh-tasting or crappy-burning buds.

Flushing is done within the last two weeks of the flowering period by using plain pH-balanced water instead of nutrient solution in order to leach out any remaining minerals (such as salts) from the growing medium and plants. Your buddy should pour the water until it flows heavily out of the bottom of his containers during this time. He may see a yellowing of the leaves or some other fall colors developing, but this is a good thing, since it means he’s reduced the chlorophyll and other residues trapped within the buds.

Drying requires hanging the harvested buds until they’re bone dry to the touch. Slow drying is essential, so your buddy shouldn’t try to get it done too quickly by using fans blowing on the buds or any other method designed to speed the process up.

After at least a week of hanging and drying (depending on the ambient humidity and the temperatures where you live), the branches should snap instead of bending. Now it’s time to remove the individual buds and begin the curing process in sealed glass jars. The jars should be opened at least once a day early on to remove the moist air inside and replenish it with drier fresh air. After two weeks of curing—i.e., the process by which the remaining moisture is “sweated” out of the buds—they should be ready to grind up and smoke without any harshness or difficulty burning.

———-

Subject: Old Edibles

From: Artywryter

I recently came across some brownies that were stored way back in my freezer. They’ve probably been there for 10 years and maybe even got defrosted a time or two and then refrozen. Given this history, would they still be potent and safe to ingest?

Dear Arty,

Absolutely not! Under no circumstances should you eat 10-year-old frozen pot brownies. It’s easy enough to whip up a fresh batch, so my advice to you is to discard the old ones immediately and make yourself some new ones. Better yet, purchase our Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook by Elise McDonough at head shop.hightimes.com and try out some of the many delicious treats and meals described therein.

———-

Subject: Bigger Pots for More Pot

From: Tommy Green

I’m hoping to increase my yields by upgrading from 5-gallon pots to largersized “smart” pots. But at the same time, I’m concerned that it might not be worth it due to the fact that I’m running an eight-week vegetation period in 1-gallon pots under T5 lights because of limited space. My plants are a mixture of indica- and sativa-dominant genetics and range from 1.5 to 2 feet tall by the end of the veg period. The flowering room consists of two 600-watt metal halide (MH) lights supplemented with an additional 1,200 watts of LEDs as well as optimal CO2 and air temperature. The soil mix I’m using is all-organic and properly fortified, and I also feed with brand-name supplements and beneficial biologicals. With all that in mind, would you recommend using the larger “smart” containers? If so, what size do you think my setup could handle? Any input you can give me would be greatly appreciated. PS: Free Weed is a great podcast! I listen to every single episode and look forward to the new ones.

Dear Tommy,

Thanks for the kind words about the podcast! As for your question, I do believe you could increase your yields by switching to a larger “smart” container. With two months for the vegetative stage, you have plenty of time to develop a much larger root system than you’re currently able to obtain. This would directly result in stronger growth rates and heavier harvests.

The “smart” containers I think you’re describing are the type with holes in the bottom and on the sides to allow more oxygen to reach the roots. Keep in mind that using them means you’ll be watering more often, but when the containers are utilized properly, the results can be dramatic. The air holes encourage roots back into the mix instead of wrapping around the sides of the container, resulting in thicker root-balls and healthier plants up top.

As for the size of the pots, you can’t go wrong with the 5-gallon ones you’re already using. They give you enough space for plenty of root production, but without making you feel like you’re wasting soil mix in some huge overkill-size container. Bigger is always better if you have the time to build a huge root system.

———-

Subject: Seed Separator

From: Panama Red Since ’70

I’ve been a cannabis fan for 42 years, so here’s my query: Is there a device available to separate seeds from bud? I had one in the early ’70s, but the advent of sensi caused it to disappear from the market. I’m building one of my own, but for seed companies and other folks who, like me, either intentionally or accidently produced a seeded crop, is there a readily available tool? If not, do you know of any investors that might want to help me mass-produce one? Again, I’ve had lots of questions over the years, and your publication has answered most of them. I thank you for that!

Dear Panama,

The only such “device” I know of was the cover of Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibration album. It had a rough burlap surface and a notice printed on the back that said: “This album jacket is great for cleaning herb.” Other than that, I’ve only seen the occasional seed-sorting machine on my behind-the-scenes visits to cannabis-seed breeding facilities, where such custom-built devices are necessary. But someday soon, I think there will be a huge market for this type of machine, so good luck in your funding quest.

Click to comment

Trending

News

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Published

on

Subject: Ladybugs

From: Organica

I try to grow as clean as possible—I even subscribe to Kyle Kushman’s recommendations for “veganic” farming—but I’ve had some issues from time to time with a variety of pests. My question is: Can ladybugs really eradicate spider mites or thrips?

Dear Organica,

You’re smart to grow your herb using earth-friendly renewable resources. Many times, people grow clean cannabis and then end up poisoning it with nasty bug sprays in order to fight an infestation. Predator insects such as ladybugs are useful in controlling these pest populations, but they aren’t likely to completely destroy them. Ladybugs migrate and don’t tend to stick around until the very last mite is dead. Let loose on outdoor plants, they’ll feast where they can and then fly away. Indoors, they’ll fly into your exhaust fan or sometimes right into your grow lights; either way, you end up with a bunch of dead ladybugs. It’s a bit depressing, and they smell awful after you step on them by accident.

For true organic, integrated pest management, you need to use a variety of methods, including spraying plants with neem or rosemary oil, using predatory insects and misting leaves with an organic insecticidal soap mixed with water. Don’t forget some sort of root soak to kill the insect eggs and larvae. And remember to monitor your plants closely throughout treatment and every day afterward.

———-

Subject: Male Genitalia

From: Li’l Smokey

I just planted a gang of seeds indoors, and I need to know what the male plants will look like. I was told I have to get rid of them soon.

Dear Smokey,

If your seedlings are indoors under at least 18 hours of light per day, you’ve still got some time. They won’t begin to truly show their flowers until after you switch the timer on your grow lamp to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness per day. Then, within two to three weeks, you’ll see clear signs of sex.

The female flowers will emerge as a teardrop-shaped calyx with a white hair sticking out. This first starts happening at the nodes where the leaves meet the branches. The male flowers will look more like sharp spikes and are noticeably less rounded. As they mature, the spikes will form into what resemble tiny bunches of green bananas.

Get rid of these plants as soon as you know they’re males for sure. Otherwise, the “bananas” will open up and drop pollen all over your flowering females, and that will leave you with a crop full of relatively worthless seeds instead of the seedless female nuggets you’re hoping for.

———-

Subject: Personal Grow

From: Justin L.

Hello, Danny. I’m just an average stoner, but I’m very interested in learning how to grow. Could you possibly give me some pointers on how to begin? It’s going to be a small operation, maybe four plants, but that’s plenty for my own personal use. If you can give me a shopping list for a starter kit, that would be dope (pun intended). Thanks a million. Peace!

Dear Justin,

There are things you absolutely need to grow your own weed, and there are things that are not essential but can make your life easier and help you increase yields. The essential items are a proper space to grow in, a grow light of some sort, containers, a growing medium and seeds or clones of the strain you’re planning to cultivate. Along with that, you’ll need nutrients, water, fans and some sort of air-filtration system.

Another essential thing you’ll need is knowledge—i.e., reading issues of High Times, checking out reputable Internet forums and getting yourself a basic understanding of how all plants grow. The important thing is to spend wisely on the essentials and then worry about the add-ons later. Don’t go buying the most expensive hydroponic unit in the store right off the bat; you’ll find that as you learn and progress as a grower, you’ll better know which products or gear might help make your harvests heavier.

———-

Subject: Kit and Kaboodle

From: Jessi & James

If you were to put together the ultimate first-aid/emergency kit for your garden, what would it contain? We were so excited to hear our question answered on episode 27 of your podcast that we had to send in another one. We love your show! Thanks for all the Free Weed!

Dear J&J,

I appreciate your kind words about my podcast—thanks for contributing to the column and the show! I recommend having a fire extinguisher and a burn kit for human emergencies, but I imagine that you’re really asking about pests, etc. For that, you should have a spray bottle filled with water and neem or rosemary oil, as well as a magnifying glass or loupe in order to examine the leaf surfaces more closely. Also, you should always have zip ties or some other fastener on hand to attach branches that are starting to bend to any stakes or trellis that you might be using.

———-

Subject: Root Boost

From: Farmer Will

I was wondering about injecting CO2 into my hydro system for root absorption. I have a pipe-dream-style top-feed system using aeroponic misters. I was researching new methods for my system and started thinking: If I have a timed release of small amounts of CO2 from a tank into the tubes, would that help the yields? Would the release be too cold for the roots? Also, because CO2’s heavier, would it follow the drain back to the res? Would the 360-degree sprayers mix it up enough so that it would be evenly dispersed? Also, would having medical oxygen pumped into the tubes help in a similar way if CO2 wouldn’t?

I was thinking of using a timer and the same kind of system as for the sprayers, but say four times a day for a couple minutes each injected directly into the root chamber. I know CO2 from a tank is not the cheapest way to go, but I was wondering if small amounts injected directly into the root chamber would use less gas than trying to fill a room.

Any help or input would be greatly appreciated. Depending on how quickly you reply, I just might have some data on how it worked! Take care, and thank you for the years of support through your articles.

Dear Will,

I don’t recommend pumping CO2 into your hydroponic tubes. Roots take in oxygen, not CO2, so pumping O2 would be more effective. But you don’t need an oxygen tank to accomplish this, since oxygenation can be achieved with simple aquarium-style air pumps and air stones. You can have these in your reservoir as well as in the chamber that the roots sit in, since it’s almost impossible to give them too much oxygen as they grow.

———-

Subject: Best Light

From: Josh

What lighting is the best to use, in your opinion?

Dear Josh,

If you have the space as well as the capacity to deal with and remove the heat generated, the best lights to use in growing marijuana are, in my opinion, high-intensity discharge (HID) lights. This means 1,000-watt metal halide (MH) lights for the vegetative stage and 1,000-watt high- pressure sodium (HPS) lights during flowering. These lights can cover about a 5’ x 5’ footprint and will produce the biggest buds, as long as all of the other factors (water, food, heat, air circulation, etc.) are under control and kept within the proper parameters.

———-

Subject: Sizzling Sensi

From: Dan

Hello from Canada! Today I came across a strain of weed that sizzles and makes noise when it’s burned. It appears to be okay, has no seeds and is just as potent as others I’ve smoked. So I thought that maybe you could set the record straight on this phenomenon.

Dear Dan,

Sizzling weed cannot be a good thing— it’s either heavily overfertilized or has actually been treated with some sort of chemical. I would highly recommend not smoking cannabis that sizzles or makes any other strange noise when you smoke it. Horror stories like this are one of the reasons I encourage people to grow their own marijuana. That way, you know everything that went into (or onto) your plants.

———-

Subject: Mold or Not?

From: Tony Adidas

These are all pics of the same buds, just with different lighting (four separate buds included). The buds were cut, trimmed, manicured and dried, then placed in a Mason jar with a couple of tiny orange peels. They are not wet, just sticky. They smell and taste great. My question to you is, can you see mold on them? I’m a first-time guy, and I’m not sure what to look for. (I’ve done my research, but I need a second opinion.) Also, could you help me out with identify- ing this strain? Any sort of information would be great.

Dear Tony,

From the photos you sent, I can see that the buds are moldy. I recommend getting rid of them immediately. The mistake you made was in storing them in a jar with orange peels. The peels have too much moisture and, as they got older, they released it to your buds. Even if they taste okay, it’s dangerous to smoke them, since any inhaled molds can be harmful to your health.

As for the strain, it’s impossible for me to tell from the photos what variety you grew. Next time, store the buds in jars on their own and monitor the moisture content by opening the jars if the buds still exhibit signs of wetness or if you see any dampness accumulating on the inside of the glass.

——–

Subject: Ground Up

From: Elliot

This next season, I plan on growing some Northern Lights out in the backyard. So the question is, how should I start my plants? I have no access to indoor grow lights, so can I just germinate and plant directly into the ground?

Dear Elliot,

You can plant directly in the ground, but there are a few things to consider. Make sure to plant in an area that gets plenty of sunshine throughout the growing season. It’s also a great idea to dig out a large hole, removing the existing soil and replacing it with a lighter, airier, organic soilless mix. This will allow the roots to get air and water at better levels than they would with the packed-together dirt in your yard (unless you’re planting in an already existing garden).

Another great idea to improve the health and vigor of your seedlings is to use a cold frame or mini-greenhouse early on. This keeps them warm while also sheltering them from harsh winds or too much direct sunlight. You’ll also be able to plant sooner, resulting in larger plants come harvest time. Start thinking about how you’re going to keep all those heavy branches from falling down by introducing some form of trellising or sturdy stakes to support their weight.

Click to comment

Trending

News

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Published

on

Subject: Fast-Finishing

From: Doug

I live in Northern Michigan, and I’m having trouble finding a strain that will finish in early September and handle the cold weather and frost. So far, we’ve had three frost nights and a very hard freeze. The plants I have now took a very hard hit.

Dear Doug,

The fastest-finishing strains are indicas or indica-dominant varieties, so consider that your keyword when searching for what to grow. These will typically finish in the timeframe you’ve specified, so look for strains such as Afghani, Kush and Hash Plant, and avoid anything with Haze or Thai in the name. Shoot for pot varieties that flower in 60 days or less.

You may also want to consider autoflowering strains, because you can finish them whenever you need to: They flower under any kind of light, so you can time them to finish in early September or even sooner. This can help you beat the frost as well as the police and thieves that plague our hobby.

———-

Subject: Toker Tribute

From: Steve Merrill

Danny, here’s a photo of my brother, Sgt. Robert F. Merrill (1949–1970), in Vietnam before he was killed. Notice he has David Peel’s “Have a Marijuana” record with him. He was with the 259th Transportation Unit, S&S (supply and service company) at FSB Bearcat, near Bien Hoa, when he was killed. I was 14 years old at the time, and they came to my class in Lunenburg, MA, and dragged me out, not telling me anything; then my aunt came and drove me home. First was the telegram; then two guys in an unmarked Ford drove up and told us Bob was killed on 4/11. He had a low lottery number, so he enlisted, since they said you were treated better than draftees. I didn’t attend the funeral, as I had threatened harm to the color guard and still have a low view of all things military; ask anyone who was “in” and they’ll tell you how their expe- riences ranged from SNAFU (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up) to FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition). It took me 40 years to finally read his letters, and they could just as easily have come from Iraq or Afghanistan with a small change of date. Anyway, as you can see, he was a fan of your magazine’s subject matter, and I’d be honored if you could run this photo in the magazine somewhere. Thanks!

Dear Steve,

Sorry for your loss, and thanks for sending us the photo of your brother. From the looks of it, he was a hip dude. It’s such a shame that we keep losing good people to these stupid wars.

———-

Subject: Regular Flushing

From: Seymour 2007

Hey, Dan! I’m a huge fan of the Free Weed podcast and was looking for some help. I grow in a mixture of coco and perlite, but I’ve heard so many different opinions about flushing every four weeks to remove salt buildups versus waiting for one big flush at the end. What’s your opinion on this? I’m eternally grateful for the manner in which you represent and guide us all.

Dear Seymour,

Thanks for your kind words! I love doing the show and helping people to grow better pot, and hearing from growers like you gives me a special feeling. As for flushing your coco and perlite mix, my feeling is that you can never really flush too many times (so long as you replenish the nutrients after every flushing session but the last). Coco growers in particular have a need to flush out their mediums more frequently, since they tend to experience salt buildups a bit more.

Flushing is simply defined as using plain water to leach out the excess nutrients from your grow medium. Typically, you’ll need to flush using up to five times as much water as the volume of your container (meaning, for example, that a 5-gallon container would be flushed with 25 gallons of plain water), unless you’re treating a severe case of over-fertilization. The best way to know if your flush was successful is to test the level of total dissolved solids in the water that flows out of the bottom of your containers using a ppm (parts per million) meter. When the ppm level of the outgoing water is the same as (or close to) the ppm of the plain water you’re adding, you’ll know that the medium has been well leached, meaning you can add more fresh nutrient solution after the medium has a chance to sufficiently dry out.

———-

Subject: Web Slingers

From: Mite Face Killah

Danny, I need help fast! Last time I went into my growroom, I noticed what look like spiderwebs all over the tops of all my plants—plus there’s tiny black and red bugs running around everywhere, and I don’t know what to do. Is it too late, or can I get rid of these pests? I think they are spider mites, and I fear that they’re eating my plants to death!

Dear Mite,

You do have a severe infestation of spider mites. This couldn’t have happened overnight, so I’m guessing you don’t examine your plants very often. Mites are easier to deal with when you diagnose the problem early, but now you’ve let things get completely out of hand. Once there is webbing all over your plant tops, it’s an indication that there are several generations of mites and they’re laying eggs at an alarming rate. You’re right to fear that they’re eating your plants, since your plants are their primary source of food and water.

Once an infestation gets this far, it’s almost impossible to rid the room of mites. I’m afraid you’ll have to give up, kill your plants and start over. Use a bleach-and-water solution and a mop to generously swab down every surface in your growroom (including the floor, the walls and even the ceiling). This will be a major first step in getting rid of your mite infestation, but inevitably some will survive. A bug bomb at this time (though not when the plants are present) wouldn’t hurt in beating them back either.

The truth is that you let this problem go too far because you didn’t check your plants often or thoroughly enough. Next time, inspect your leaves (including their undersides) for any signs of mites. If the tops of your leaves have small white or yellow dots, this is a sure sign of mites, and catching them before they’re able to create elaborate web systems is your only hope of surviving their attack.

———-

Subject: Pairing Plants

From: CB1ack

Hi, Danny! I’m currently using a hybrid deep-water culture (DWC) and pump system. I built the system out of 56-gallon Rubbermaid storage tubs, cutting six baskets into the top of each tub, and then using a pump with a six-way splitter and an air stone to circulate the 15 gallons of water and Botanicare nutrient solution for each tub (holding six plants apiece). I’m changing the water and nutrients on two-week cycles.

My Larry OG stretches like crazy—plus the bugs love it and it isn’t much of a yielder—but I love the strain so much that I’m willing to put up with these problems. I built a trellis out of PVC pipe and plastic netting. It sits around and on top of the rim of each tub supporting and spreading the plants into approximately 3' x 3.5' canopies for each tub. My flower space fits three of these tubs under two 600-watt lights, and I use AC to reg the temp at 75oF.

The Larry takes approximately 75 days to finish, so with three spaces I am chopping about every 25 to 30 days. I’m thinking of pairing this with another strain to mix it up a bit, but I want their schedules to be similar. From my limited research, I’m thinking of Super Lemon Haze. Is this a good choice to pair with the Larry? I love that sweet, fruity flavor of the Lemon Hazes, but I don’t want a separate set of problems for each strain. Are these similar strains to cultivate? Thanks!

Dear CBlack,

Sounds like you have a fairly sativa-dominant phenotype of the Larry OG, so the Super Lemon Haze you mentioned should pair up nicely with it. Thanks to her 10-week flowering time, she should finish right around the same time as your Larry. There’s a bunch of other sativa-dominant strains you could grow as well, such as Buddha’s Sister, Jack Herer and even a shorter 10-week pheno of Kali Mist (some KM phenos can flower for up to 13 weeks). The most important thing is to match up the flowering times and stretching tendencies as closely as you can.

———-

Subject: The Name Game

From: Greeneggz

“Danny Danko” and “Kyle Kushman”? Are those your real last names, or did you change them thanks to your career field?

Dear Greeneggz,

They are indeed noms de plume (pen names)—or, even better, noms de guerre (war names), as my High Times colleague, associate publisher Rick Cusick, would say. When I got started in this business, few writers used their real names to help teach others how to grow pot. Hopefully, one day we can use our given names (and mine isn’t that hard to figure out anyway). But what started out as a lark grew into something bigger, and now this is the name most people know me by. I should also say that at this point, it’s more of a fun thing than a personal-protection thing.

———-

Subject: Cloning Autoflowering Plants

From: JonY.

I’d like to start off by saying that I love your show and am very thankful for all the priceless info you’re providing. I’m a longtime lover of weed, but I’ve only been learning to grow for the last year or so. Is it possible to clone an autoflowering strain? Would the clone’s “clock” reset, so to speak, or would it still be on the mother’s time?

Dear Jon,

I don’t recommend cloning autoflowering plants, since they will behave the same way as their moms—meaning that shortly after they root, they’ll begin to flower regardless of the light cycle. This means you’ll wind up with tiny, popsicle-sized plants with small flowers that won’t produce much more than an eighth of an ounce (if that).

With autoflowering plants, the advantage is that they’ll finish in 60 to 90 days from planting. But it’s impossible to keep an autoflowering mother plant, because she’ll flower no matter what you do. Stick with seeds if you plan to go the autoflowering route—or, better yet, get some regular seeds, grow them out and make yourself a mother plant from the best female, then keep her in the vegetative stage. You can take multiple cuttings anytime you want without having to worry about unwanted flowering.

Click to comment

Trending

News

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Published

on

Subject: Backyard Boogie

From: Elliot

What can you suggest to get a good backyard outdoor grow started and maximize its yield?

Dear Elliot,

The key to maximizing the yield of an outdoor, backyard grow is to plan carefully, start early and make sure each plant will get enough light throughout its life. Planning includes making sure your backyard is safe and secure to grow in and won’t arouse suspicion or unwanted attention. Stealth is always important, even in a legal medical growing situation.

The next step is to start early. Plant the seeds indoors under grow lights in mid- to late winter and give them a chance to grow into nice- sized vegetative bushes before you place them outdoors in the spring. This is also the time to prune them in order to keep them short and stocky and produce more branches and tops.

Find a planting spot in your yard that gets plenty of direct sunlight throughout the day as well as throughout the growing season (from spring into summer, ending in late fall). For example, a tree that isn’t in the way now might reduce your plants’ sunlight drastically come autumn.

Dig out as big a hole as you can and fill it with good store-bought organic soil and whatever amend- ments you wish to use (I recommend compost, greensand and some seabird guano). Make sure the soil is light and airy and keep it well watered. Trellising outdoor plants this size is a must, so get yourself some form of support such as chicken wire. Each fallen branch represents a significant amount of wasted pot, so make sure they all stay standing.

———-

Subject: Early Flower

From: Terry H.

What nutrients do you use to water plants during their first week of budding? I’ve always wondered if I should keep giving them vegetative food or switch over to budding nutes.

Dear Terry,

The transitional period between the induction of flowering and when those flowers actually appear is an important stage of growth, and many cannabis farmers run into problems during this time. Because the buds are only just beginning to form, plants don’t need phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) in the quantities that they’ll require in the coming weeks. Your best bet is to go mild with your flowering nutrients and keep some nitrogen in the mix as well.

Plants will continue to stretch for several weeks before they really start packing on the buds. Some of the more pure sativas barely show signs of budding at all for over 30 days after you’ve switched your lights to the 12-hours-on/12-hours- off flowering cycle. Feed these plants lightly during this period to avoid over- fertilizing them. Go with about a quarter to a half of the recommended strength on the bottle. You’ll have plenty of time to go bigger with the nutes during weeks three to six, when the stretch period is over and flower formation takes priority.

———-

Subject: Light, Interrupted

From: Johnnyfeelgood

I’m using a small tent, organic soil with organic nutrients, plus a compact fluorescent light (CFL) for growing and an LED system for the flowering period. This is my first go at growing indoors, so I opted for lights that produce less heat. On episode 26 of your Free Weed Internet radio podcast, you talked about lights affecting the plants during the “off” period of the light cycle. What would happen if the “on” period was affected instead— specifically if you were using a grow tent and the lights didn’t come on for about six hours or more? Thanks for the help, and I want to give you a big “Raspect” for all the great work you do.

Dear Johnny,

Thanks so much for the kind words. The most important part of the light/dark cycle not to interrupt under any circumstances is the period of darkness. If light intrudes upon a plant’s “nighttime” rest, she will become confused and react with abnormalities like hermaphroditism and twisting leaves. You can use a green-colored light such as the Nite Light from Stealth Grow if you have to enter the growroom when it’s dark. (The plants can’t take in green light and thus won’t react to it.)

However, your plants will recover from the “daytime” part of the cycle being interrupted much more quickly and won’t tend to freak out nearly as much, producing little to no side effects. One six-hour period in which the light was interrupted by darkness will quickly be “forgotten” by your plants, so you should be okay.

———-

Subject: DJ Short and BOG Seeds

From: Seedless in Seattle

I’m looking for seeds from two particular breeders, and I’ve been having the hardest time finding them. I’ve looked all over the place online and think nobody truly has the real deal. I’d love to find Flo and Blueberry from DJ Short and Bogglegum from BOG (Bushy Older Grower). Any ideas where I can find legit seeds from these two legends?

Dear Seedless,

You’re in luck! I recently met a distributor working directly with both of those breeders who can ship their beans to you. Contact Detroit Mike at A1Seeds@yahoo.com or call 313-287-3520 to speak with him about your order. By the way, you’ve chosen two top-notch seed producers for your garden, and I think you’ll be very happy with the results.

———-

Subject: Leaf Loss

From: Esker

My question has to do with bud production and stretch—not the plants’ actual stretching, but more about once the hairs start showing up outdoors. I’ve noticed that as the buds grow vertically, they begin to decrease their leaves per set down to a single leaf. Once the single leaves show up on the top of the buds, they begin to put on weight. Is this at all an accurate way to determine when your plants are finished growing vertically?

Dear Esker,

As they begin their flowering period, plants will start to reduce the amount of leaves they produce and focus their energies on bud production. However, a reduction in leaves per set can also be an indicator of poor feeding if you’re nowhere near their projected flowering time. The best way to determine when your plants are finished growing vertically is by observing and measuring their height over a period of time.

Once white hairs begin to form and fan leaf production is on the decline, you’re nearing the moment when the stretching period is over entirely. At this point, feed your plants their full dose of flowering nutrients and organic additives such as bat guano, one of the best (and quite concentrated) nutrients specifically for flower production.

———-

Subject: Brick Weed

From: WraithbudforAZ

Who says Mexican brick weed sucks? Okay, so getting it, smoking it and tasting it sucks. But I decided to grow some of the seeds left over from a brick. I grew them under 100% fluorescent light in my deep-water culture (DWC) hydro setup. It took 160 days from seed, and out of 12 plants, I ended up with three females. One was stunted from the start but produced a nice main cola for about 7 grams of cured material. The other two grew to about 2.5 feet tall and produced 3 total ounces cured. I rolled the first of it in a nice little number and blasted off—I mean right through the roof and into orbit over Arizona. I even got a look at the Grand Canyon, and I live in the PHX area!

Okay, in all seriousness, it was pretty good, tasting of citrus and maybe a little mint. My question is: How do I tell what the heck this stuff is? No doubt the seeds came in across the border—schwag weed for sure. But I grew it, cared for it and even loved on it, and the end results were outstanding. I even took some up to a friend in Colorado who has a much more sophisticated palate for weed than mine. He said, “Wow! You have something there! Keep those seeds and let me know when you do your next grow, ’cause I want some!” And this guy is in the medical scene in Colorado, so he doesn’t do schwag. He even wears a “Stop supporting drug cartels—buy American weed!” pin. I agree with that sentiment, but I still wonder what they’re growing south of the border. Could it be pretty good stuff if they actually took care of it and loved on it?

Dear Wraith,

Wow, that’s quite a question! The truth is that the problem with brick weed isn’t always in the genetics, but in the harvesting, processing and packaging. Growers of many acres in Mexico or South America tend to overlook the rigors of the trimming and curing process and focus instead on getting their product to the market as quickly and as stealthily as possible. So what starts out as a field of green, luscious-looking plants is gathered into piles, then either sun-dried into a brown, crispy mess or pressed together into bales without even drying out properly, resulting in the infamous brick weed you speak of. People have even found flattened dead iguanas and all kinds of other funky stuff hidden among their schwag bags.

The genetics of your strain most likely stem from the sativa- dominant Mexican landraces, relatives of the legendary Oaxacan or Michoacán strains of yore from the 1960s and ’70s. Pot growing is still alive and well down south, but they haven’t yet adapted their harvesting and packaging techniques to compete with the US and Canadian homegrown markets. So the answer is yes, they do grow some decent stuff—they simply ruin it after it’s harvested.

———-

Subject: The Proper Flush

From: Jake & Bake

When flushing plants at the end of flowering, do you use pH-balanced and filtered water, or do you simply grab the hose and flush? Also, at what week do you flush, and should you flush only once?

Dear Jake,

Good question. Flushing is the process of using plain water in order to leach out excess nutrients that have built up over time in your plants and their root zones. Tap water is fine for flushing, as long as the pH isn’t way out of whack (i.e., below 5.0 or above 7.5). Most tap water will be inside these parameters, but check it first because in some places it won’t. Well water in particular can fluctuate wildly, but most reservoir water will fall somewhere within that range.

Flush for the last week or two before harvest, and use an amount of water that’s two to three times the volume of your container (for example, when flushing a 5-gallon bucket, use 10 to 15 gallons of plain water). Do this every other day or so in those last two weeks and you’ll find that your buds burn better and have an enhanced aroma and flavor. You may see some yellowing of the leaves (and perhaps even other fall colors such as red or purple), but this is perfectly natural, and it’s also a great sign that the flush has worked. Flushing not only removes the built-up salts and minerals but will also reduce amount of chlorophyll and thus the “green” or “grassy” smell and taste. Proper flushing is a must for producing connoisseur quality or medical grade cannabis.

Click to comment

Trending