A Trim, Not A Shave

Sometimes “colouring outside the lines” is better than following the rules.

In this case, I do a “lazy trim” with my cannabis. The leaves that sparkle with trichomes have great value in an oil, and for vaping.

The resulting trim is not smoker-friendly, and would never make the cover of High Times Magazine, but it works for me.

Jack Herer “A” is dry and ready for curing in jars today.

 

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Watering Plants in Pots

Previously

Mistakes were made last year when I overwatered my potted outdoor cannabis grow.

Click here for the evidence. It was not good.

Today

I’m smarter now, and the proof is here ⬇️

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Airy, light, non-compact soil, with no rotting smell – unlike last year’s rootbound results.

The Change

For this lone potted specimen (Nebula II from last year’s seed), I kept the same sized pot as last year, and the same “20% runoff” principle, and only changed the frequency of watering, adding even more dry days than last year.

A water gauge helped measure rain too, but I had to really fight the urge to water.

The Protocol

Fertilizing and watering was really mostly about just waiting patiently for soil to dry out:

feed

(WAIT)

water

(WAIT)

water

(WAIT)

repeat

This correction served well for all of the plants. It helped me gauge water requirements for the in-ground plants, since there is no visible “runoff”.

It also meant that fertilizing occured with less frequency; however, everything is lush, deep green, juicy with trichomes, and generally healthy.**

Next Up

I plan to wash and dry the roots, then research how they can be used for a topical.


** My fertilizer choice this year is the Active HydroScience Conventional Starter Kit, and it has served me well.

🍁🥦Harvesting Cannabis🌿✂️

Grow Journal – A Harvesting Update

A snapshot of my outdoor growing journal shows the wide variety of growing states for my cannabis cultivars.

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Each colour signifies either flowering, or the first sighting of cloudy trichomes, or amber trichomes, and finally the “harvest window” as predicted by the seed producer.

Harvest Predictors

Determining the harvest window is a challenge for me. There are many factors to consider:

Weather

Weather conditions are now cool, wet, and unpredictable. There are temperature swings from a high of 32°C (+ humidex!) three days ago, down to a frost warning last night – making the harvest window difficult to foresee accurately.

Hail and high winds of October bent and lashed at those poor branches. No apparent damage, but scary to watch!

None of the current autumn weather conditions are optimal for flowering.

Disease

Autumn weather also promotes bud rot, which can kill a branch or entire plant in a matter of days, or infect the rest of your crop. Daily close-up inspection of flowers keeps me ahead of major crop losses.

Powdery Mildew thrives at the middle-end of the season. It starts on fan leaves and can spread overnight, even to nearby plants or by transfer from your hands, trimming shears or clothes.

If any disease becomes unmanageable, take down the entire plant and cut your losses.

Trichomes

Another challenge is anticipating the optimum “ripeness” window while allowing for the required 7-10 day flush before harvest.

Some cultivars are destined for harvesting when all the trichomes are cloudy, and others for when 50% of the trichomes are amber – all this is determined by their intended medical use.

Keep track of all the various trichome states with a grow journal, not your memory.

Pistils and Fan Leaves

Pistils should be more dry and coloured than plump and pale.

It can be deceptive because new flowers often continue to appear as the plant is ripening. It is too tempting to wait for these new young pistils to grow and fill out the buds into beautiful thick colas, rather than take all harvest indicators into consideration.

Fan leaves should be starting to turn colour as nutrients are being directed to flower growth. This is a good indicator that harvest is approaching. I trim the largest leaves off as they yellow or become damaged. This opens up air flow and also makes trimming easier.

Apex pistils alone are not good predictors of harvest time.

Your Time

Once the harvest begins, the labour-intensive trimming begins.

If the whole plant is ready, that will take 6-8 hours to trim, wash and hang for drying. I’m sure others do it faster, but I also check for debris and disease with a jeweller’s loop. It is harder to do this as they dry, and too late to do it when they cure in sealed jars.

If the plant is in different stages from the apex colas down to the “popcorn” flowers, I need 3-5 consecutive days for trimming branches in stages.

If all my plants are ready at once, I am in BIG trouble.

Theft

I hear from all experienced outdoor growers that they fear theft this time of year. I read reports of theft in the news and online, even leading to violence.

As a medical (not recreational) grower, this is even more frightening. I want to increase my dose to my prescribed level, but it is cost-prohibitive to do so using purchased flower and oil through licensed producers

At the average $/gram price, theft can be financially devastating.**

Side Note

There are two of each cultivar in my outdoor grow. Originally I rated them for quality (A or B) in their seedling days just prior to transplanting in the ground, as I wondered if that would carry through their entire life cycle.

The answer is NO!

Early health is not a consistent predictor of harvest health.

~

Thanks for reading through this long post.

 🍁🥦Happy Harvesting!🌿✂️

** Keep up with current pricing and ratings for cannabis at pancakenap. Arguably one of the best websites for cannabis reviews, infographics and for his exquisite descriptions and interactive charts.

Thinning Out Cannabis Fan Leaves

Purpose

Thinning out large fan leaves before harvest helps concentrate nutrients and growth in the cannabis flowers.

It also opens up the interior of flowering plants during their most beautiful and lushest phase to more light and air, possibly reducing moisture conditions that contribute to powdery mildew and bud rot.

Goals

All my topicals are somewhat balanced between THC and CBD, with very good results on many painful conditions – but not all – for myself and others who have tried it.

I want to try a THC-only extraction with the less-concentrated fan leaves to see if it also works.

Processing

Here are pictures of beautiful fan leaves from Jack Herer and Sour Diesel. I only use the healthy leaves, just like for juicing, and compost the rest.

Picked and rinsed:

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Drying:

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Crumbled and ready for decarbing:

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Results

880g of fresh fan leaves resulted in 634g dried, a loss of 28% moisture.

What’s Next?

This will be decarbed, extracted in oil, tested orally over several days to estimate concentation using the “low and slow” technique, then made into a topical.

Raw Cannabis Juicing and Storage, In Pictures

Easy Steps

Trim, wash, and dry high-THC cannabis fan leaves and flowers. I used the smallest flowers which needed pruning from White Rhino, Jack Herer, and Sour Diesel.

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Juice these, including the stems of fan leaves.

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Pour into molds (a daisy pattern in this case) or ice cube trays and freeze. Leave room for expansion.

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Store in your freezer. Use as required.

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How to Use

Yield is 13 portions from 100 ml juice. That’s 7.7ml per serving.

I will start with one daily serving and see how I react.

Blend a small portion in a smoothie or other strong-flavoured cold beverage. (It tastes disgusting on its own.)

Do not heat, or you will lose the beneficial non-psychoactive THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), the chemical precursor to THC, potentially good as an anti inflammatory.

Leftovers

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Very dry residue from the juicer is drying slowly. My guess is that there are still some trichomes hiding in there. As a trial, it will be decarboxylated (to create THC) and incorporated with my collection of vaping residue (ABV) to make a topical.

Next Up

My next experiment for longterm storage will involve quick freezing of whole harvest-ready flowers, in raw form.

Will fresh greens go soggy? Will they juice well from the freezer? Will trichomes be destroyed in the freezing process?

I am curious.

White Powdery Mildew

Overnight Fungus

A keen eye spotted two tiny patches of White Powdery Mildew (commonly referred to as Powdery Mildew, or PM) on White Rhino B.

Powdery Mildew is a fungus that thrives in high humidity, low air circulation, or by contact with other leaves.

Déja Vù

I had this very same problem, this week last year, so the gloves are off, and I’m taking no chances. Luckily this was caught very early, and recovery is possible.

If left untreated, PM can cover the entire plant, spreading by contact, and White Rhino A is planted very close, as you can see in the photo below:

White Rhino A (L)   White Rhino B (R)

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Other than a little PM, these two are both recovering well from the pH and nutrient nightmares from several weeks ago. There are lots of thickening buds, a few pesky leafhoppers which are easily flicked away, and vivid deep green fan leaf colours.

An Odd Solution

A mixture of milk and water (one part milk to 9 parts water) is applied from a spray bottle to each leaf and flower. The nearest leaves on the plant next to her are also sprayed.

It rained several hours later, but the solution had plenty of time to dry and start working.**

Another coat will be applied after the rain ends tomorrow.

Getting Smarter

This is a timely reminder to check last year’s Grow Journal to anticipate potential problems.

A journal like this helps you see patterns in your soil, seasons, water and nutrient schedules, and your unique micro-climate conditions (rain, humidity, and temperature swings late in the season which may require overnight frost protection).

It is remarkable what you can forget over the course of a year.


** I have no idea how it works. This is a popular DIY natural solution, and I saw that my friend G, an experienced outdoor grower, had great results last season. 

 

Splitting and Splinting

History Repeating

Almost to the day, one year ago, I cracked a major branch at 4:30 AM while removing the light deprivation tarp before heading to the train station. That scary story is linked here.

And yesterday I heard the ominous,

One of your plants split down the middle!

Déjà Vu. It was a windy day, but everything seemed fine in the morning when nutrients were added.

The split was directly down the middle, at least 4″ long.

Tools were assembled in a pinch (duct tape, scissors, stakes and a hammer) and poor Jack Herer A was surgically repaired. Ugly but efficient:

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Preventative Measures

Next, two more stakes were added and secured with tatting thread. String is better, but the thread was all I had. I don’t use twine because it left small fibres in the flower last year and I will NOT pick those out with tweezers again. Ever.

All the other plants were secured as required against wind and the weight of anticipated flowers.

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A Quick Analysis

In all the places that were previously topped, two new branches formed a Y pattern, as expected.

The crotch of the Y was very low on the plant, and as these new branches grew very long (much longer than last year), the weight was bourne by this low single point:

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All of these topping points were checked on every plant, looking for dry, woody-looking inside surfaces on the Y, like the picture above.

Applying duct tape gives me a better sense of security against potential future splits.

Lessons Learned and Future Plans

🌱 It takes two pairs of hands to repair a major split. (Or, like I did last year, you become a contortionist and literally put your shoulder, knee, elbow and top of your head into the job. It is possible, but not recommended.)

🌱 Stake all plants when transplanting. It can’t hurt.

🌱 When flowering begins, check for weakness at all places where the plant was originally topped, and secure with duct tape.

🌱 Maybe try not topping plants, and let some grow into a natural apex form with a main cola.

🌱 Try a Screen of Green (SCROG) approach.

Let’s see how this repair holds up!