Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's been a while...

   OK so it hasn't really been that long, but when you're unable to update your blog for your loyal followers, 5 days feels closer to an eternity. Today's entry won't be a personal grow blog, but have no fear, new pictures will be here Saturday. Today's post will act more like a Sunday Q&A, just disregard the fact that its actually Tuesday. SO, leave any questions, comments, concerns, witty remarks or any other form sentence, and I'll do my best to respond and/or answer your question. I'll depart with a fun picture; the two plants you see in the back are now several inches higher than the orange fence:

I have my eye on you...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

KidBotanical's Personal Backyard Grow-Entry 4

     Sorry for the delay folks, I've been pretty busy that last few days, but fear not, for Entry number 4 has arrived. These pictures are dated from the end of June, so my girls have aged about 1 month since my last personal grow Entry. Without further ado, here is my personal garden, aged 10 weeks:

My prize Sour Flower, a back-cross of Super Silver Haze, stands around 45 inched tall
The largest of the 5 Casey Jones'...
...stands tall at 49 inches! 

Blue Dreams and Pepper Ak47s and White Widows, Oh my!

You know what they say about California girls

     That concludes this update, but rest assured, there are some cool and unique pictures coming up soon, that document what can happen to even the most experienced of gardeners. At Backyard Grow, I believe in the importance of teaching and learning through multiple forms of media, so expect video content within the next couple weeks, that will closely examine some of the many facets of backyard gardening. Until then, please enjoy all the pictures and content I've uploaded thus far, and, like your own personal garden, stay healthy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another Sunday, another Q and A

     It's that day of the week again, when I'll answer even the strangest question you might have. I won't be able to answer for a couple days, as I'm taking a little vacation, but if you leave your question, it will be answered. Feel free to answer other gardeners' questions if you think you can, that way our collective knowledge can grow (ha ha). Enjoy your Sunday, readers!

Happy Sunday

Saturday, July 9, 2011

KidBotanical's Personal Backyard Grow-Entry 3

     **Please note, the first few entries of Personal Backyard Grow take place between April and June 2011. Once I am up to date, entries will be weekly with current pictures and video**

     Hello again, KidBotanical here with another personal garden update. As you will see, some plants exhibit exponential growth in a very short period of time. In 6 weeks (mid April to the end of May), my girls have gone from small clones to large, thriving specimens.

My girls in the middle of April

Not quite the same angle, but you get the idea

Closeup on a Casey Jones at 6 weeks of growth

     The tallest plants you see above in the two most recent pictures are the hybrid strain Casey Jones. This particular strain seems to do quite well in arid conditions, as the extreme heat and sunlight seem not to phase my specimens. Below you can see my cluster of Blue Dream plants, once a winner of the illustrious Cannabis Cup:

Top left: White Widow. Everything else: Blue Dream

     Blue Dream is another strain that has proven to enjoy the heat, and forms the basis of my garden along with Casey Jones and White Widow. White Widow is another popular strain, as well as a winner of a Cannabis Cup. It never hurts to have award winning genetics in your garden, but remember that not all strains will succeed in all climates. Below are some pictures of my White Widows.

Hard to see: White Widows make up the back right corner up the garden

Garden at 6 weeks, Widows in the left side of the picture
    Not all plants were flourishing during the first 6 weeks of the season, however. This year I experimented with a new strain, Mazar, native to the desert conditions of Afghanistan. I expected this new strain to do well and thrive in the intense light and heat, but unfortunately it hasn't taken to the desert as well as I thought it would. It truly demonstrates how variables can be present in any garden setting.

Extreme discoloration and lack of growth indicate heat stress

      However, it's good to have a little variety and experiment with what grows the best, produces the biggest yield and tastes the best. I stumbled upon Casey Jones and Jack the Ripper towards the end of the 2009 grow season, as I had a few deaths in the garden that had to be replaced. I wasn't expecting much, as they only had about 6 weeks to grow. These two strains surprised me though, and each earned a plot in the 2010 garden. Fastforward to the end of that grow season, Jack the Ripper and Casey Jones were my largest in plant and yield size, as well as being the highest in quality.

     I'm only slightly behind in my Grow Entries now, but I should be up to date by this time next week. I don't want to spoil anything, but there are a LOT of changes between my garden in May and my garden now. Trust me, it'll be worth the wait!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mega Feature: Time to Talk Nutrition

     Nutrients: the building blocks of life, no matter what organism you may be. Humans get their nutrients through food and vitamins; plants get theirs primarily through the soil. As gardeners, it falls onto us to ensure our plants receive proper nutrition. Unless your backyard has exceedingly rich and loamy soil, pay close attention to find out how to maximize your plants' growth, from the nutritional perspective.

Srpayin Away! It's time for the weekly foliar feed

     What you see above is my preferred method of fertilizing when the soil is high in organic material, simply known as foliar application, or "leaf application". For the last couple years I had been feeding my plants exclusively through the roots. I knew I had to change this year, as the compost I had ordered was quite high in wood chips and other organic material, meaning it would require additional nitrogen to be broken down into rich soil. Because of this, nitrogen entering the soil with water (during a typical root feeding) would not all be utilized by the Cannabis plant. So, instead of having my plants compete with organic material for precious Nitrogen, I switched to foliar feeding. If your soil doesn't hold water particularly well, or is high in organic material, consider foliar fertilizing a viable option to deliver the nutrients your plants need.

     Now let's go into a little more detail, and explore what really makes up a balanced plant diet. Please note that if you have rich soil, either through your own natural backyard or by adding topsoil and other mixes, you will likely not encounter problems with lesser nutrients. Problems concerning Nitrogen and Phosphorus are far more common, and will probably make up the majority of your nutrition issues.

     Nitrogen(N)- This guy is the basis of all plant growth. Plants with sufficient Nitrogen will look dark and healthy, with flexible branches and no leaf discoloration. Plants deficient in Nitrogen may have stunted growth, light colored leaves (ranging from lighter green to yellow, the less green the less healthy), and red, brittle branches. Excess Nitrogen may result in extremely dark and unhealthy leaves.

Leaves of all these colors (too light and too dark) can indicate a Nitrogen problem

     Phosphorus(P)- Phosphorus goes hand in hand with Nitrogen; N causes growth, P causes the bloom. Although Phosphorus is needed throughout the grow season for optimum plant health, it becomes much more critical in the final 2 months of the season, as your plants begin to bloom. The right amount of P during the vegetative phase will keep your plants growing healthy, and the right amount during your bloom phase will help produce a larger crop.

Lack of Phosphorus during the growth phase indicated by dark leaf pigmentation

     Potassium(K)- Potassium is involved with water status maintenance as well as some cellular activities. K is needed to maintain the overall health of the plant, and lack of it can reduce both quality and quantity from your Cannabis specimen. However, too much Potassium can interfere with the uptake of other lesser nutrients, including magnesium, manganese, zinc and iron as well as calcium. 

Leaf discoloration as well as a weak and brittle stem indicate a Potassium deficiency

     Magnesium(Mg)- Magnesium is a component of the chlorophyll pigment, and is involved with many enzyme actions as well. Simply put, Mg is not a major element in the gardening process, but it necessary to maintain a healthy specimen. Many nutrient mixes will have small amounts of Magnesium as well as other lesser nutrients to ensure you feed your plant a balanced diet.

Leaf discoloration and curling in an otherwise healthy plant may indicate a Magnesium problem

Zinc(Zn)- Zinc is another lesser nutrient, and plays a similar role in enzyme reactions to Magnesium and Manganese. Like Mg, Zinc can be locked out at high levels of pH, so make sure your fertilizing water is between a pH of 6 and 7. Foliar feeding completely bypasses the roots, though, allowing you to avoid dealing with pH concerns. 

A true Zinc deficiency, complete with extremely light coloring between the veins of the newer leaves

Sulfate(S)- Sulfate is involved in plant respiration, as well as synthesis and breakdown of fatty acids. It's another lesser nutrient, like Potassium, Magnesium, and Zinc, but its role is just as important as Nitrogen or Phosphorus. If you have a Sulfate deficiency, you will notice yellowing leaves that begin to curl downwards, as well as a woody stem and an overall sickly looking specimen.

A woody stem, discolored leaves that curl downwards, and purplish upper stems point to a lack of Sulfate

Iron(Fe)- Although a lesser nutrient, Iron is critical for plant health and development. It is responsible for maintaining several different functions, including the management and uptake of Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Similar to other nutrients, Iron becomes unavailable to your Cannabis plants if the pH of the water or soil is too high. Again, you can foliar feed to bypass your pH problems, as it may be a problem

Lack of Iron can be observed when new growth is discolored between the veins

Manganese(Mn)- Another lesser nutrient, Manganese regulations many enzyme functions and is an important component to a healthy Cannabis specimen. Like all of the other lesser nutrients, Mn becomes unavailable if the pH is too high. Lack of Mn can result in blotchy leaf coloration and even leaf necrosis (dead spots of tissue on leaves), as can be seen to the right.

Spotting and Necrosis, as well as general leaf discoloration all point to a Manganese problem

**Remember, lesser nutrients will show their first symptoms on younger leaves and progress to the whole plant. Always guide your actions by how the new growth looks towards the top of the plant.**

     Phew. Seems like a lot to take in right? While all of the information above is helpful to know if you want a succesful harvest, it is not all neccesary to memorize. The two most important nutrients are Nitrogen and Phosphorus; if you can keep these two balanced at proper levels throughout the grow season, you will be very succesful. The lesser nutrients require much less mainteance, as a good fertilizer mix will provide you with sufficient amounts of said nutrients. 

     The final aspect of a balanced plant diet are hormones. These aren't the hormones bodybuilders use, or the ones put in your cows to make bigger burgers, these hormones increase plant growth and vitality. There's only one brand I know of, SuperThrive, and you can find it in the garden section of a Lowe's or Home Depot, or any garden specialty store. Seen below, between my other main fertilizers, is a bottle of SuperThrive.

Potent fertilizers and hormones; the backbone of any successful grow, available wherever garden products are sold
     Until next time, this is KidBotanical, hoping you and your plants thrive.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

KidBotanical's Personal Backyard Grow-Entry 2

**Please note, the first few entries of Personal Backyard Grow take place between April and June 2011. Once I am up to date, entries will be weekly with current pictures and video**

     In Entry 1, my primary purpose was to show you all the backyard setup in which I grow. Now it's time to see the garden in action, starting from the smallest step: the cutting, or clone. Most clones are sold between 2 and 3 weeks of age (meaning between 2 and 3 weeks since they were cut from their mother plant), and many will have grown by the time you put them in the ground. However, not all clones are equal, and some may perish by the time they are planted. For this reason, I recommend purchasing extra clones, as an insurance policy against misfortune or personal error. That is my usual process, and as you can see below I ended up with quite a few extras:

Extra clones! I had enough dirt leftover to fill 3 more bags, but that left 6 clones without homes.


     Once your garden space is completely prepared (with properly mixed soil, sun protection if neccessary, and plans for water and insect management), its time to bring it to life. If you wish to take the clone/cutting route, I recommend browsing nearby dispensaries to compare, as you'll want only the highest quality genetics in your garden. If you have no access to a dispensary or clones, the only other option is seeds. Seeds ship internationally from all over the world, but they are still federally illegal to posses, and you always run the risk of losing your seeds if you import them from another country. A little over 4 years ago, I tried to have $300 in award-winning seeds shipped from The Netherlands, only to receive a message from the government informing me that my package had been seized. Needless to say I was a little upset. Today seeds can be shipped from the continental U.S (mainly from Colorado and British Columbia), and combining that with a more lax Cannabis regulation allows seeds to reach growers with much less hassle than in previous years

     Once planted, you will need to observe your green babies very carefully. It's helpful to have an idea of each week's weather during the infantile stage of the grow season, as adverse weather may even kill some of your crop. Wind, rain, and even a late frost will punish your crop the same way they affect large scale produce. At their youngest stage, Cannabis specimens are quite delicate, and therefore must be watered and fertilized carefully. For this reason, I used a watering can rather than a hose for initial watering, as it has a much gentler touch. As for fertilizing, follow the special instructions on the container for seedlings and cuttings/clones, and consider reducing the amount if the plants have been in the ground for less than 3 weeks. As you can see, the dilution scale calls for only a small amount of fertilizer per gallon of water:

Fox Farm Big Bloom: 1 Tablespoon (0.5 fluid oz) per gallon of water for seedlings and clones

     Some clones or seedlings may show signs of nutrition burn (excess of 1 or more nutrients in the plant system) despite all the caution you have taken. Do not be alarmed. When cut from their mother plant, the clones were likely given too much fertilizer, causing some of the leaves to look a little funky and burned, such as the OG Kush clone below:

Some leaves are canoeing (folding upwards) and look dry and unhealthy, despite having a dark green color.

     There wasn't a whole lot happening in the early weeks of the grow season, especially when you have quality genetics, and monitor the watering as well as possible insect activity. Initially, some specimens may require more water than others, so be very careful not to overwater any of your baby plants. Once the season is underway, and all specimens begin to develop quicker, the amount of water required will be much closer.  For more specifics on insects in your area, look up insects + your climate or geographical location.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Special: Q and A

Lazy Sunday with the girls

     As you browse over BackyardGrow, you'll undoubtedly have questions about some of the content. You may also have questions not pertaining to anything I've discussed yet, and that is quite alright too. Starting today I'll be running a Q and A type feature every Sunday, where I can address any particular question you may have. You can leave these questions in comment area below, or if you wish to remain anonymous, you may send me a private message. Don't be shy with your questions, and remember that everyone is newbie at some point.

Until next time, this is KidBotanical wishing you luck with all your garden endeavors.