Let’s Talk Growth -By: Wilson
Written by Staff on June 4, 2022
While some gardeners are happy to purchase the vegetables and herbs they like to grow every year as seedlings, others prefer to start with seeds. Seeds are your only option if you want to grow things the local garden store or big box retailer isn’t likely to carry. I’ve never found pickling cucumber, green bean, or Carolina reaper seedlings for sale anywhere. My friends that grow them bought the seeds and started from scratch.
Same with marijuana.
Getting your Great White Shark, Birthday Cake, or Pineapple Express seedlings may soon be no more difficult than picking up a basil or a tomato plant at the market, but for now, it’s not.
Before we get any further it’s important to note that it’s still illegal to grow your own here in New York:
New Yorkers 21 years and older can grow up to six plants in their home for personal use (three mature plants and three immature plants) and a maximum of 12 plants per household (six mature plants and six immature plants), even if there are three or more adults over the age of 21 in the residence.
Please be aware that home cultivation of cannabis plants is not allowed immediately. Pursuant to the MRTA, the home cultivation of cannabis plants may only be permitted after the Office of Cannabis Management issues regulations governing home cultivation of cannabis, which must be no later than 18 months after the first adult-use retail sale.
Retail sales are somewhere out on the horizon, so we are lucky to share a close border with Massachusetts if you want to go shopping. But what if you want to grow? Seeds it is.
A buddy of mine recently decided to get back into an old hobby and offered to share some of his wisdom and experience with me.
Seeds are all over the web and easy to get hold of. Between the web and your garden store everything else is too. It starts with the soil mix for the seed tray.
The mix for the tray is a one-to-one ratio of Sunshine Advanced Mix #4 and Grow It Coco Coir Mix Brick. Once the seeds are in the tray they get their first taste of local tap water after it has been run through a reverse osmosis filter. Using unfiltered tap water would kill the natural bacteria needed to keep the plants healthy as they grow.
“Everything is organic. Quality in, quality out,” my buddy says. “OMRI listed is what you want you to look for on the products that you use.”
The tray goes on a seed mat that regulates the soil temperature to accelerate germination. This is done inside a four foot by four foot by seven foot grow tent where these soon to be plants will spend their entire lives. This is an indoor grow from start to finish. He controls the sun, the wind, the humidity, and the rain.
Once the seeds have germinated each new little seedling gets moved into its own pot with the same soil mix it started in, but in a different ratio – a two to one mix of Sunshine Advanced Mix # 4 with the Grow It Coco Coir Mix Brick.
Now the light show begins. The little seedlings will enjoy 24 hours of light every day for at least a couple of weeks. The ones I saw had been under 24 light for 16 days and were just about ready for their final transplanting.
“For seedlings and plants in early veg I use fluorescent four-foot T5’s with a mixed spectrum and a full spectrum with violate or blue to mimic the spring sun.” He started his tomato plans from seed in the same soil mix, under the same lights, and in the same tent a few weeks prior.
On the day I visited, those 16 day old seedlings were just about ready to be transplanted for the second and last time into one gallon pots.
“I think they are ready to move. If I don’t move them into the bigger pots today it will definitely happen by Saturday. I want the plants to be as stress free as possible, so I only do one major thing with them every two weeks, except for transplanting, when I only wait a week.” he says.
The soil mix changes again at this point. The seedlings are about to meet what he calls “super soil.” It’s a custom blend, and just like the secret sauce on a Big Mac or the Cornel’s blend of 11 herbs and spices, the recipe is a secret.
“It takes three to four weeks from the time I mix it until it’s ready. It’s too hot at first for the young roots on the seedlings and young plants. I check the temperature and keep it moist until it settles down and is ready. It’s full of all the bacteria and nutrients these plants will need from the day they are transplanted until the day they are harvested.”
Upcoming changes to state law encouraged him to get back into his old hobby. His interest started when he was in middle school. He tried to germinate his first seed under his bed.
“I didn’t know shit about anything back then. I had seen a High Times magazine that someone’s dad had. It was very taboo. I got a seed to sprout and it had two leaves, but it died right away.”
A bit later he made a connection that would change everything. “I had known a guy for a while, but I didn’t know he grew. I just had an interest in it and once I found out he grew, that’s when it started.”
He met more growers and learned more tricks at the Cannabis Cup.
“I met guys that have been doing this for 50, 60 years; guys that were going to Thailand and getting the Thai, going to Oaxaca and getting the natural Oaxacan, going to the Middle East on what was called the hippie trail getting the hash.”
“I met the guy who made the original blueberry, DJ Short, who said, ‘no matter what just grow your own f***g weed’ and I took his advice.”
He used all that knowledge for years, growing mostly outside after starting the plants inside.
“By growing it, I got to learn about it. Sharing what I grew was the biggest part. I wanted people to have the best stuff. I liked knowing where it came from because I grew it.”
Once the plants are in their new one-gallon homes the light show will change again.
“I prefer two hoods and lower wattage instead of one with higher wattage. You get better UV spectrum penetration that way and they thrive on it. It creates the process that gives you better terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC.”
The bulbs are 400-watt metal heylide until he switches them to high pressure sodium bulbs for flowering.
“You can just use the metal heylide for the whole process from veg to flower if you want to save money. I’ve done it and it turns out great, but I thought the buds weren’t as dense as they could have been.”
To move air through the tent there is an intake fan with an in-line filter. The air goes out through a much larger carbon filter. There is also a fan inside the tent to keep the air moving.
“An active carbon filter was really important when things were completely illegal. I could put a dead body in there and seal it up and you wouldn’t smell anything coming out of there.”
These lights will be on a 12 hour on, 12 hour off cycle to induce flowering just so sex can be determined. The males will be culled because he isn’t breeding these to create additional seeds and the females will go back under 24 hour light to grow until they are the size he wants before he changes the lights again to start the flowering stage.
That’s where we’ll pick up next time.