Host Amanda Mackay reveals one of first licensed producers in Washington State in this third episode of Growing Exposed. Created by film producer Jeremy Deichen, this series documents various garden tours giving you an insider’s look at the world of cannabis growing.
It’s not everyday that we compare a double-decker bus to a cannabis garden. But in this episode we do just that, as we explore the idea of vertical stacking. In vertical gardening, the plants are layered to the ceiling, increasing the canopy area, while maintaining the same square footage.
As I did my research, I found out that this type of system has already been around for over 100 years… So I must say, although the system might not be groundbreaking, this garden still has a reason to be considered a pioneer in the industry.
Located in the Pacific Northwest, Fine Detail Greenway (or FDG) was one of the first licenses to be issued by the Washington State Liquor And Cannabis Board.
“And quite frankly there just was not a lot of landlords that felt comfortable being the first to allow indoor growing.” FDG’s master grower Sully, explains. “We took what we could get.”
So, they ended up settling on a small unit in an industrial park.
In order to maximize the floor plan, they knew they had to get creative. This resulted in engineering a system that would use both the space on the floor and the height of the building to its full potential. Being here since construction, our tour guide Sully knew the ins and outs of this garden. At one point during the episode he admits that “a room like this can turn into jungle at times when the plants above start to curl down.”
Tending double-stacked plants comes with its own set of challenges. But according to the expert knowledge of David Robinson, author of The Grower’s Handbook, your system and set-up are not everything. Genetics will always be the number one factor to achieve maximum yields.
FDG backs that up with strong genetics in a signature strain they call Gackleberry. This strong indica was created by crossing G13 with a Skunk #1 and is working out really well for them, as their system required a plant that likes to grow short and compact.
With only six feet of growing area between racks, Sully stressed a need to keep things on a tight schedule, especially when moving them from the vegetative growth stage over to the flowering room. There is no room to raise the lights if plants grow too tall, so timing is crucial. With a nice steady flow, they always have new vegetative plants coming in as finished plants exit for the harvesting area.
Jeremy Deichen, creator of the series Growing Exposed, commented on this episode by saying, “I go into a lot of different gardens and while each one of them has had some sort of obstacle to overcome they are all able to say to the viewer… here’s the solution! Although every indoor garden situation is different, the basic fundamentals remain the same.”
One of these basic fundamentals that must be addressed at FDG is air movement, which can be difficult when you have plants packed to the ceiling. FDG combats this by having air-circulating fans in every area possible, combined with a double-insulated roof to minimize damage to the facility from transpired water and a vapor barrier to keep outside air from coming in. They use highly efficient Illumitex LED lights, which Sully goes on to explain, “Some LED manufacturers just say they work… while they [Illumitex] actually work.”
The 25-ton air-con was structurally engineered to be put on the roof with solid steel beams set six feet into the ground to support it, each of the four steel beams reinforced with a full cement-truck-worth of cement. Fine Detail Greenway is able to maintain an ideal growing situation. However, pests can still be a problem.
As cannabis is a crop that people consume, harmful pesticides are completely out of the question, not to mention they are terrible for the environment. Fortunately, there are ways to combat pests without the need for pesticides.
FDG uses predatory insects to combat pests. Two of the predatory insects they use are Stratios-S, AKA “strats,” which are soil mites who prey on the larvae of fungus gnats, and Phytoline P, a predatory mite that preys on spider mites. As they are bigger and faster than spider mites, a small teaspoon of Phytoline P will travel throughout the crop and devour the spider mites in no time! Using predatory bugs is a natural and efficient way to combat pests—with minimal effort for the grower and entirely beneficial for the plants.
Now, you’ve seen a peek into an industry that is in its fruition, with tech, gear and more dedication to the cultivation of legal marijuana. Make sure to tune into Growing Exposed to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of growing cannabis exclusively on HighTimes.com.