How does your garden Grow? Vol 2
In our last growing blog, we finished off by carefully transferring our seedlings into larger growing containers. We also touched on the importance of plant lineage, growing medium, nutrients, and watering cycles.
As the plant increases its growth and biomass, you will notice increased water demand. When and how much to water will be determined by the response the plants give, the weight of the pots can be a good indicator. Water to the point of even saturation of your medium and take note of the weight of the pot when fully saturated, this can be a reference used to ensure that the watering is consistent. In the earlier stages of growth overwatering will cause the soil to become anaerobic (Tight packed soil with low oxygen flow) and will cause problems for your smaller plants. Never add a water volume of more than 20% of the volume of soil and ensure the pot has drainage.
Waiting for the plant to tell you it's thirsty before watering again can help you avoid overwatering. The tell-tale wilting, as pictured to the left, will be the signal of the plant being thirsty. On the other hand, if a plant is overwatered it will have a nutrient lockout and begin to claw and fade, as pictured below.
Some genetics may need more than others, temperature and relative humidity will affect the amount of water needed to keep the young plants healthy. Check your garden daily to watch for plant response. This will help you manage your garden and mitigate any pest or nutrient issues.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is important to think about during the early stages of growth. The warmer temperatures and high humidity will be a perfect environment for pests to start to breed. Generally, the most common pests found in cannabis gardens are insects and sticky traps are a perfect tool for easy identification. Mammals can also cause a lot of damage when growing outdoors. Deer and rabbits will chew on cannabis and can devastate a garden in a single day. Fencing or a greenhouse can prevent the pests outdoors. As stewards of nature, we can take preventative measures to keep the pest numbers down and keep the cannabis from being eaten by bugs or mammals.
Once you have identified your pests you will need to look into mitigating their damage. A preventative and organic method of preventing pests from eating your cannabis plants is to spray the plant in neem oil. It's always good practice to not spray any oils on your plants during the light cycle. High amounts of light will burn the plant if it has oils coating its leaves.
An increasingly popular method of IPM
is biological control. This is when you use predatory insect species like ladybugs, rove beetles, or even praying mantis, to mitigate pests without pesticides or other chemicals. Many pests are soft-bodied insects so spraying the plants with just water from a garden hose or a chaffing sprayer can be enough to dispatch some smaller insects.
If you are trying to knock down the population numbers of the pest cleaning the entire plant with insecticidal soap is a common method. This should be used as a last resort and never on a flowering plant. Remember, it is our goal to consume the plant so covering a plant in toxins right before harvest may leave some of the toxins on the buds.
Nutrition for your cannabis plants is not a topic that is easily covered briefly. Without getting too detailed we'll navigate a brief explanation of what the plant requires. There are 2 types of nutrition that the plants will need to uptake from inputs you can supply, Macro and Micro. Macronutrients include Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus N-P-K. Most fertilizers will have a label describing the ratios of each. Micronutrients are the minerals that the plant will need. These include Calcium, Magnesium, and Silicate. The plant will need many more minerals in trace amounts, but these 3 the most important for plant growth and structure.
There are many different feeding programs on the market, what works for others may not work for you. Bottle nutrients that will have a feeding chart can take some of the guesswork out of feeding your cannabis. These will be salt-based most of the time and using them will add salts to the medium. This likely won’t be suitable to use the same soil for multiple runs. An alternative to the bottle nutrients can be dry organic amendments this form of feeding won’t be as directly beneficial as the liquid options as they are less bioavailable for the plants. However, the dry amendments can be broken down by using the help of living soil and microbes. Dry nutrients will take longer to see a visual plant response, but the soil will be reusable and can be a more affordable route in the long run. It's important to keep an eye on the expiry dates of your nutrients as the liquid options will expires faster than dry nutrients.
A plant's genetics will change its growing requirements so paying attention to what your plant is telling you can help determine whether you have balanced soil and nutrition so the plant can grow optimally.
A sure sign of nutrient imbalance is the discolouration of the leaves. Other plant signals can be interveinal chlorosis, a lower than normal level of chlorophyll, pictured above. This can happen at the top or bottom of the plant and each means different things. If the plants old-growth starts to yellow, it’s the plant using its own leaves for nutrition and is deficient. If the new growth has some yellowing it could be that toxicity or an imbalance of the micronutrients has occurred.
To say that it’s a bit of a science is an understatement.
Too many “Parts Per Million,” or PPM of fertilizer, or if the PH of the water is off a nutrient lockout will occur and the plant leaves will claw and droop. If this occurs, it will stunt the plant. To resolve the nutrient lockout a “flush” watering technique will undoubtedly be helpful. Flushing is when you just use freshwater PH balanced correctly and water till you have a 30% runoff. You can measure the runoff for PPM and PH, this will give you an idea of what levels your soil is at. There are some nutrients that the plant can move freely throughout itself called mobile nutrients, and others it can’t, known as immobile nutrients. To get a plant to uptake nutrients is to ensure that you have the correct PH and PPM in the water you are giving.
With some monitoring and research, it becomes easy to tend to your garden for optimum growth and yield.
Another technique that many people find helpful is Low-Stress Training. This is when you physically manipulate your plant to open its canopy allowing for more light penetration and airflow. There are a few different methods of LST such as using twine or string to pull the branches of your plant down and out. You could instead use the SCROG method where you would use netting or fencing horizontally to open up the canopy uniformly. Either method will help your plant absorb more light and help keep microbes at bay with the increased airflow.
Check out our YouTube video about LST and hang out with Allison while she ties down her plants!
When it comes right down to it, it's easy to grow weed, but it's difficult to grow quality cannabis... Be patient and attentive to your plants and they will undoubtedly thrive under your care. Be confident in doing critical research to help you correct and mitigate any struggles you might have. Growing is a learning experience and you will get better every time!
As always, we are always excited to talk shop and find the approach to cannabis that works for you. We LOVE to see pics of your plants and talk about the growing and processing techniques you find the most effective! Reach out to us in-store or on our socials with pics and questions!