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Old 01-24-2018, 02:01 PM #1
bigbadbiddy
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Not really hitting my stride yet, any suggestions how to improve?

Howdy folks,

so my third harvest is in the jars and I am quite pleased with the quality, yet again.
But I feel there is some lack to the potency.
I harvested maybe a little early this time... My sporadic samples with the microscope showed very few clear, mostly cloudy and a few heads BEGINNING to amber. No true amber at that point.
I think I just let them be a bit longer next time until I see at least the first true amber trichs.

But what irked me more was the low yield. The plants looked fine all through but I didn't lollypop them enough and had a lot of "larf" and useless tiny buds on the lower half of the plants. Lots of trim for hash but that surely took away valuable energy from the tops. I plan to remedy this in the current grow as well by defoliating more aggressively and making sure the plants are truly lollypopped and no tiny bud sites develop later in flower.


What I am most looking for is tips regarding my soil mix...
I ran coot's mix during my first two cycles and had a strong N deficiency and later on issues with fungus gnats and total nute lockout that forced me to completely reset everything.
This last round I top-dressed generously with EWC and introduced a clover type cover crop as well as throwing a bunch of worms into each 5 gallon smart pot.
Like I said it produced good quality buds and fixed the N-deficiency but less than a pound dry from over 20 plants under nearly 1k watt cmh is not exactly spectacular ...

I also started to PH my water during that round to avoid the whole nute lockout and fungus gnat spreading issue.
The gnats have shown back up but never more than a hand full of flyers which are caught by yellow strips. And usually I see none. Matter of fact I'm quite sure now that I only see them whenever I take clones and a few of them have trouble rooting. If I don't remove those clones from the growspace, I will find the hand full of fungus gnat flyers soon after. But ever since I started pulling such clones early, have not seen any.

I water with tap water that I let "breathe" for 24 hrs before watering the plants with it and I use PH down that is advertised for swimming pools (but I made sure it has no added chlorine or the like).
I think I will switch that pool PH down for apple cider vinegar or something like that in the future.
My water is PHed to 5.8-6.2 as I felt the plants reacted the best there. I start out close to PH 7 and noticed issues when I don't use PH down.
My water also clocks in at >300ppm which I know isn't great but I have not yet felt the need to invest in an R/O system as the buds themselves were always great, while the yields were not.

What also really irked me was that the worms always escaped the 5 gallon smart pots after I watered. I thought that they just tried to get to the wettest spot due to instinct and that the pots were just overpopulated with worms so they looked for more living space.
But after transplanting the current round to the flowering pots, I noticed a clear absence of worms.... Should have been way more of them. I also noticed that neither the mulch layer nor the died off covering crop (which is technically mulch at that point I suppose) were processed/eaten by the worms.
I didn't let the soil in the pots completely dry out before I transplanted the next set of clones to them but I may have not watered it enough as well ...
Also I found a worm or two in a few of the 1 gallon pots from veg and they looked alive and happy ...

Really not sure what to make of it, doesn't really look like the soilmix is uninhabitable for the worms or anything but also seems they try to escape any chance they get ...


I also believe that it is time to topdress or otherwise re-amend the soil mix and without any additional information would probably top-dress with a mix of kelp and EWC and make a microbial, aerated tea with molasses and malted barley to re-inocculate the soil mix with beneficial microbes.

The plants have been in the 5 gallon pots for close to a week now under a veg light-cycle. I planned to flip them as soon as the canopy is filled in. I implemented supercropping and LST techniques this time. Overdid it with some plants, could've gone more agressively with others. But overall they are very low/short and much more bushy than they were in the past so I hope this will improve yields considerably.

Another factor I was going to tackle is the humidity there.
It is constantly between 30 and 40% RH, which is apparently a bit too low for big yields. I heard/read that I should aim for 60%RH or higher, depending on how high I dare to go.
Only problem I see with this in my situation is that I would have to put the humidifier in the lung-room so all 3 chambers get the higher humidity air (this seems to work quite well as I have had a massive improvement in both veg and flower ever since I put a radiator in the lung room to keep temperature swings within a 5°C window). And the lung room also houses all the electrical stuff, particularly the ballast for the 400w MH veg bulb (will soon replace for an LED I believe). So I would be worried that the higher humidity would mess with the electronics. But maybe 60% is still fine?



Sorry for the long-winded post and thanks to everyone reading until the end and of course thank you in advance for any feedback. Negative or positive, all welcome, just looking to improve here, particularly yield-wise.
Mostly concerned/interested in potency and taste though and so far am pleased with the results in that regard but obviously would be happy if I can improve those factors as well, particularly potency which I hope will be better when I harvest later next round.

Thanks to all


BBB

/Edit
Another thing I noticed during transplant was that my root balls weren't nice and white but a little beige/brownish. Not to the point where they were rotting, they were intact and everything. But not white as I saw in the past. Could be though because I left them in those 1 gallon pots for over 2 months, they were definitely rootbound.
The plants from this third round were also topped once and in my first round I had only 7 females under 630w cmh, untopped, and they yielded about half what the 21 topped plants yielded under the close to 1kw cmh... I used mycos mixed into the soilmix directly in that first round with the 7 girls...
Smoke quality was about the same, I attribute the low potency of the current round to the slightly early harvest, as mentioned above. Thoughts welcome.

Last edited by bigbadbiddy; 01-24-2018 at 04:18 PM..
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Old 01-25-2018, 11:46 AM #2
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I loosely follow recommended flowering times and when I get close to what is suggested (~55 days for my last strain), I start sporadically examining tops and sidebuds withe a microscope.

This time I decided to harvest when the first heads started to turn amber but they weren't really amber yet. Just starting to, looked between amber and cloudy. I found very few clear heads remaining.
So I thought it's fine to harvest and get the best possible terpene profile at this point and it seems I was right in that assumption.

But as a tradeoff it seems like I sacrificed potency, at least subjectively that's what it feels like.
So next round, from clone, I will give them a few days or a week or so longer until the first heads turn truly amber.


Regarding topdressing/N-deficiency:
I did not have an N-deficiency in flower this last round. I noticed the N-deficiency in flower and veg sometime during my second run and noticed it in veg during my third run, still (I had slightly adjusted the soil mix at this point and monitored closely if that fixed the N-deficiency, it did not).
When the plants in veg still showed signs of N-deficiency, I top-dressed the plants in flower (they were just transplanted) with EWC and have not had any signs of N-deficiency since.
I ran out of EWC for the plants in veg and top-dressed them with my previously adjusted soil mix, that I furthermore adjusted by upping the bloodmeal in it.
The plants liked it and that fixed the N-deficiency in veg as well.


Now it is entirely possible that I should/need to up other nutes as well and maybe topdress with Kelp and other things as well.
That's what I am trying to figure out.

But the plants look healthy and well, they don't grow as fast as I like and don't yield as much as I like but they do not show any signs of deficiencies.

The last flowering round they were green and healthy all throughout flower until the very end when they just started to get yellowing, mostly starting from the tips of the leafs. At that point I harvested, so might have just been too early and maybe my random examinations of trichs were not conclusive and I just missed a lot of clear heads that were still present on some plants ...
Possible for sure.


Either way, as it stands, without additional feedback, I would assume that top dressing with EWC and Kelp this time along with re-inocculating the soil with microbes through a molasses+malted barley tea and upping my RH would be the way forward.

What I worry about and why I ask and want to check back with the community first is:
1) if I up my RH to 60% or more, do I risk that the humidifier in the lung room also messes with the electronics present in the lung room (400w magnetic oldschool ballast...).
2) if I topdress with EWC and Kelp is that enough? Or is it overdoing? Anything else I should add (epsom salts, dolomite lime, bonemeal ... )? The worst result I had so far was in my second grow where I simply overdid it with nutes by adding BioCanna Rhizotonic and later on Boost and must have essentially killed off the microbial life in the soil and turned it sour or whatever. So I am really worried of overdoing it with anything...
3) will someone think of the worms ?!?
Why do they escape my pots when I water them only to die off on the floor? Is the soil unbalanced and uninhabitable for them? Then why do I sometimes find healthy ones? But if it is a fine environment for them, then why do I rarely find any worms left when I put AT LEAST 20 in each pot? And why don't they eat the mulch as I would expect? Should I just throw in more worms and see if they stick around this time? Maybe I need to throw in worms after every flowering round or two?
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Old 01-25-2018, 06:44 PM #3
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Oxygen diffuses about a thousand times slower through water than through air. Your pots are too wet.
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Old 01-26-2018, 02:41 AM #4
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Why are you doing all this fancy stuff with worms and molasses and mulch and stuff? I think you attract more problems than needed with these artificial attempts to be more natural. Light, water, soil ---> GO!
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Old 01-26-2018, 02:56 AM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulAnnoyed View Post
Oxygen diffuses about a thousand times slower through water than through air. Your pots are too wet.
Hyup.


Coots mix is high in nitrogen. I have reused his mix with no issue. Overwatering will cause yellowing off, fungus gnats, etc.

The worms didn't like the rich mix. They aren't fleeing by accident.


Descriptive posts are welcome, but more so in conjunction with pictures.


It takes awhile to nail down wet-dry or wet-moist cycles. Lifting the pots daily helps figure it out.
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Old 01-26-2018, 11:13 AM #6
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Howdy folks,

thanks for the feedback already!

I will get some pics in asap.

Let me start with Mikell:
Hey man, thanks for stopping by
I was also surprised with the N-deficiency because I had thought coot's mix is rather high with it and it was the last deficiency I expected (especially with the plants looking so lush in the first round of veg, might have been the mycos as well though). Which is also why I thought I was having Magnesium deficiency for the longest time.
But the final hint that convinced me was someone mentioning that buckwheat hulls (which I use in place of perlite) are known to leech N from the soil mix. Sounded plausible to me (although never heard that before) and I gave the EWC topdress a go and voila, no more deficiency, plants looked nice.

Regarding the worms not liking the rich mix: Any suggestion how to tackle this? Stretch the soil with more peatmoss and perlite/buckwheat hulls?

@Soul and Mikell both re watering/soil too wet:
I hear you and I think especially in my first two rounds, I did overwater at least sometimes. Usually I rather underwatered, found the plants droopy and sad and then overwatered to "compensate".
I learned from those mistakes and have since kept it on the dry side and would say I water rather conservatively, letting it dry out and rather err on the "too little" than "too much" side of watering.
It also helps that I run fabric pots, I think?

The way I water now is usually every 2nd or third day the latest in the 5 gallon fabric pots, depending on how the plants look and how the soil feels. I water until I see some runoff and then go to the next pot. When I am done watering, I have a very thin film of water covering most of the floor (I made a sort of basin out of pool liner).
This water film evaporates within an hour or two. I think watering-wise I should be on the right track but will monitor more closely again and not discount your feedback.


@GuyBrush
To reiterate: I don't really have big problems. The plants look fine and the product is good. The yield is way too low for what I would expect and the potency I feel could be better but I am quite certain that has mostly to do with slightly early harvest this time.
And I started out very basic, I have only ever brewed 1 microbial tea and watered it in, during last round.
I think the plants liked it so I want to try it again this round but in essence I just started with coot's mix and water. Then overdid it, as you said, with adding BioCanna Rhizo and Boost and some other things here and there and paid the price.
Went back to basics, reset everything and stuck to soil mix, water, light, as you said. The cover crop and EWC topdress were both to tackle the N-deficiency and they worked and didn't impact the plants negatively, I can't imagine. The worms were just a test since I needed EWC, I ordered some extra worms with it and threw them in. The fact that they all ran just worries me is all. To me that sounds like something is not quite right with my soil mix..
Tested the microbial tea in mid-flower and didn't see adverse effects, maybe positive ones, not yet conclusive.
Otherwise I think it is quite basic.



Now let's get to Easy7's feedback:
I think you may have nailed the nail on the head man.
Completely forgot about this factor.

This is probably the most unconventional thing in my garden. The fact that I run so many plants at once in organic soil and rather small pots!
The reason behind this is that I am pheno hunting but I remember several people commenting that I am shooting for way more plants than they would run in organic soil and everyone and their mother was commenting that I should reduce number of plants and grow in much bigger containers, both for veg and flower.

I didn't listen and decided against it. Not because I was stubborn or anything but because I decided that yield is not what I am after, especially not at the moment. But pheno hunting is what I am doing and that requires as many plants as possible be run.

But then I shouldn't be complaining about yields, should I?
I just forgot I made that decision consciously and you reminded me, thanks! (my reasoning back then btw was that "what use is it to pheno hunt in hydro, when I won't get the true terpene profiles of those plants due to all the chemical nutes etc.?")

I believe if I grew the same way as now but just vegged the plants in 3 or 5 gallon pots for 2 months to let them get really nice big and bushy and then transplant to say 20 gallon smart pots for flower, I would probably hit more sensible yields with 4 or 8 plants or something.

It should also be noted that going against the advice of many, the 5 gallon pots in flower are shoulder to shoulder. Way too close to each other to really bush out and stuff. Which would also explain why I had half the yield of this round with 1/3rd of the plants in the first round. They just had more space to branch out and develop as the 7 plants in my first round occupied the same space as 14 plants in my last.



I think I might have a solution to my predicament and would like to hear anyone's opinion on it:
What if I combine Hydro and organic soil for my purposes?

Could I run for example a flood&drain hydro setup in my veg chamber and transplant these plants from coco straight into organic soil? Will the plants be alright with that? Anyone any experience with it?

The idea behind that would be that I just switch my flower room to house maybe 8 instead of 24 plants and just put those 8 into really large (maybe 20 gallon or sth) containers.

When it comes to pheno hunting, I could just turn my smaller flowering chamber into the veg chamber for a round and run a large number of plants (20-30) in the hydro setup which I turn into a flowering chamber.

Flower those plants out in hydro and at the end of the round turn the hydro chamber back into the veg chamber, select the most worthy keepers from the hydro round and run them again as 8 plants in 20 gallon smart pots in organic soil under CMH to make my final selection and hit better yields overall at the same time.


I think that would be best for my situation/goals. The only question would be if plants grown hydroponically in coco during veg, would accept being transplanted and flowered out in an organic soil mix...
If that is possible, that would also circumvent the whole "slow veging" thing in organic soil that seems particularly problematic when I veg in 1 gallon pots...
I would veg in 3 gallon pots but if I transplant those to 5 gallon smart pots, I basically swap out all the soil every transplant which isn't the point of organic soil...

All thoughts welcome!

Will post pics asap, I also need to post the Karma gear in veg anyway to show some appreciation for him fixing the f*up from the tude.
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Old 01-26-2018, 01:35 PM #7
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Worms don't like light. You watered, the worms came up to the top where the light was and left for darker and dryer pastures..

Presoak your hulls, char, whatever in a nitrogen solution of fish meal, or whatever.
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:24 PM #8
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Nice another good feedback, thanks h.h.!

Yes that fits!

Because there are so many plants shoulder to shoulder and they are vegged in too small containers before, the canopy is never completely filled in. There is always light coming through to the soil.
That's also where the cover crop helped but didn't solve the underlying issue I feel.

Good explanation that fits! Thanks my dude!
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Old 01-26-2018, 07:10 PM #9
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yield is as much to do with using space efficiently and filling the canopy with buds, having as few gaps as possible. it doesnt really matter as to the plant count as long as the canopy is full and each plant has a decent amount of soil

fungus gnats are a sure sign that the soil is too wet and that it doesnt dry out enough inbetween waterings. the larvae will eat your roots and thus the plants will drink less water and your soil will stay wetter - a vicious cycle!
the worm exodus also points to the soil being waterlogged.
sounds like your soil could be better drained. i know coot hates perlite but it certainly helps drainage and aeration of soil. i use 20-30% in my soil.
get used to shucking (lifting) the pots to judge the weight and thus water content. wait until they feel noticeably lighter befoe you water again (you dont want then to be completely dry but you want them to be starting to dry out before you water again) you will soon get used to the right weight for a re-water.

anything organic like hulls that you add will try to decompose and use some of the nitrogen in your soil. soaking them in something N-rich will help but there may come a point where that is exhausted and it starts robbing your soil of N again. it can beb harder to balance soil when you have so many variables affecting the nutrients, personally i dont use such things but many others use them with success.

VG
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:30 PM #10
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Maybe you have roots aphids instead of fungus gnats, make sure to ID them on the sticky trap. Root aphids seem like your plants have deficiencies and cause really low yields. Good luck!
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