Growing a small number of plants to be compliant with new laws doesn’t necessarily mean you need to grow small plants that may not tie you over until the next harvest date. There are a number of steps you can take to enhance final yields. Below are my top tips on what to consider when growing bigger buds and working with a plant-count of four.
Choosing the Right Genetics
The branding of cannabis seed banks and the marketing of certain strains can leave you feeling like a kid in a candy shop: teleported back in time to a world where the color, name, and flavor are the latest and greatest. Genetics, however, play a huge role in the overall result, which has less to do with the brand than you may think. It does boil down to experience and which varietal species are more suited to your personality.
Our top tip is to research as much as possible about the very basics of indica, sativa, and hybrid varieties. Beginner growers should work with indica-dominant hybrids that will grow easily compared to other challenging strains. If it is your first grow, try and avoid lengthy sativa strains as these do require some experience and will cost more to grow in the long run in terms of electricity, flowering time, nutrients, and grow space.
Cannabis is generally a light hungry plant. Knowing what lights will provide the best results can be down to the Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR) rating of the manufacturers complete output. PAR is the amount of light that’s usable to plants– the wavelengths that will be used for photosynthesis. Just like the difference between a growing area and a canopy, PAR is not the measure of all the illumination a grow light gives off. Rather it’s the measurement of the wavelengths plants will absorb. These are red, white, and blue lights. And although HPS lighting burns with yellow and green lights, the complete spectrum provided by HPS is not as efficient as LED lighting that focuses on these specific spectrums.
Most evidence seems to suggest 400-700 nm is key for horticultural lighting. But our suggestion is don’t pay attention to the lumen (LUX) count displayed on the lamp as this does not reflect PAR and is actually a measurement used for the human eye to see light. Look for what the plants actually need and this will allow you to provide a more efficient grow light in terms of spectrum output and electricity use.
Plant training is a great way to become really hands-on with your plants and turn your grow into the canopy of your desire. There are different methods and styles of training plants, ranging from low-stress to high-stress techniques. Certain strains will react better than others when training, but you want to make sure you do not administer an excessive amount. We suggest to research low-stress training, super cropping, fimming, lolly popping, and mainlining.
There will be lots of easy to follow tutorials on Youtube and plenty of information online about these. Plant training can really make a big difference in the final canopy and it can also allow you to better practice your skills in the garden. Only ever perform training in the vegetative stage and avoid after the flowering phase has begun.
Compared to growing organically, hydroponic systems can produce a greater yield. This is why they are so popular in commercial farming and horticulture. There are a vast number of systems that all use an inert medium. As you are able to provide the nutrient solution, the ability for the plants to grow faster, bigger, and produce more buds is easily achievable. The different hydroponic systems that may be ideal for a tent with four plants inside are dripper system kits, deep water culture (DWC), nutrient film technique (NFT), and flood and drain.
All of these concepts allow the roots to stay in contact with a highly oxygenated, nutrient-rich solution. This is important because it allows the plant to uptake far more minerals than if it were in an organically grown medium. In regards to hydroponics, our best advice is that hydroponics require a thorough understanding of how plants work– including pH, E.C, the properties of water, etc. But the most important thing is to keep everything clean and sterile. Plants can deteriorate because of an unfixed issue as quickly as they grow– something else to keep in mind.
Beneficial Bacteria and Fungi
These little microscopic spores may not seem like much, yet there has been a universal bond between plants and the Earth that dates back billions of years. These tiny, yet mighty helpers are not only an excellent addition to supercharge an existing grow medium, but they will also form a symbiotic relationship with the root zone.
Think of it as a secondary root zone that acts like a web delivering bonds of food. Overall the plants will function better and respond to photosynthesis and metabolism quicker than without the microorganisms present. We suggest you do your research on these amazing microorganisms and learn how to maintain the soil science so your future crops can benefit from the same soil amendments time and time again.
Using Felt Pots
It seems no matter where you look, there is always someone showing off a rootbound pot, celebrating the stunted root zone. Rootbound plants are not only restricted to a hard wall surface, they are also then forced to grow to the very bottoms and corners of the plastic pots most growers use. This can have a number of negative effects including toxin build-up and lack of root diversity. Our advice here is to use felt pots. The reason is to prune your root zone and to avoid rootbound growth structure.
The way that fabric pots work is the plant’s roots search out for moisture and available nutrients, they will encounter the fabric wall which will have air passing through. Once the tip of a root hair encountered the air pocket, it will turn back on itself and create two root tips. In the exact same way that topping plants cause two new crown shoots, the same is replicated within the root zone naturally. Felt pots can be made at home to any custom size and can be washed and reused if needs be.
Pruning is our personal favorite technique for maximizing the final yields. Pruning is an excellent way to remove the pats that won’t be as productive. It’s also a way to improve airflow around the lowest parts of the plant. When growing a small number of plants, you want them to focus as much energy as possible on the thickest, greasiest nugs. The lowest popcorn-flower and fan leaves will not do much for a real connoisseur and will only be dedicated to a trim pile for extracts or hash making.
The best thing to do here is to get a clean pair of scissors and select the highest points of the plant and then work out what parts will be totally removed. You will want to remove all leaves of all shapes and size and any lower shoots if they are hardwood or softwood. This is also a great time to take clones. But the main point is to convert all of the new growth energy to the remaining top growth. It may seem counterproductive and you can even feel like you are butchering your plants, but in the long run, pruning is highly beneficial for multiple reasons.
The best way to describe how to correctly feed plants is to imagine having a full fridge at home. Naturally, we eat when we need to and on the basis that we do not need to overeat or be left hungry. The same applies for organically grown plants. As long as they have all of the primary nutrients and trace elements available in some form by using a buffering zone, the plants will take what they need as they need it.
We suggest not to overfeed your plants, as the balancing act of deficiency and toxicity can easily get out of hand– especially if you’re an inexperienced grower. Avoid doubling up on nutrients because you want your plants to quickly grow or as a way to enhance the size and biomass of the buds. This will cause problems further down the line affecting the overall health and performance of the plant and root zone.
Temperatures and Humidity
The environment your plants are flowering in will play a big role in their performance. During the flowering stage, plants require a low humidity of 30-35 percent, and a temperature of 24 degrees Celsius or 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to grow the tightest, hardest buds you will want to keep your plants as dry as possible in terms of humidity. Also be sure your nighttime temperatures do not correspond to the day time temperatures. Many strains enjoy a colder nighttime temperature, including O.G Kush and Sour Diesel. Our tip here is to find the perfect balance between relative humidity, temperature, and air movement in the flowering stage.
Using Molasses is a liquid refined sugar that’s a byproduct of pressing sugar cane at different processes. Organic mediums will use the molasses to provide a ready source form of carbon that beneficial bacteria and fungi can use to expand. Blackstrap molasses can be found in most supermarkets and is inexpensive.
Our best advice is to make sure that it does not have sulfur. Some do contain sulfur, which will have a harmful effect on the microbial life present in the growing medium. When dissolving molasses, use warm water to help the thick substance break down before mixing it in with your nutrient solution. This will make sure that the nutrient is evenly mixed and can easily be absorbed into the medium.