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Old 10-24-2013, 02:50 AM #1
mitch_connor
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Mitch's Auto Adventure......

Hey Guys,
Sorry to anyone for being M.I.A, but I fell off the map, and popped back up somewhere better! There's something of a story to tell so my advice is to smoke one and read on..
Part 1 - The before:

Where to begin, for those who don't know me, I'm Mitch Connor, I've been around here on icmag and on several other forums for some years now.

I have been growing for the best part of 10 years now, experimenting, cultivating and breeding along the way for 9 of those years.

Some random eye candy.




I started pretty humbly, as most do, in the closet with CFL's in a makeshift manner, after reading and reading and reading and reading, I progressed to designing and building stealth cabinets/grow spaces which I had to do due to my living arrangements, but really it was a blessing in disguise to get a grip on the fundamentals of growing. Working with what you have at your disposal in order to create the best environment possible, and also learning to read plants. I studied a design degree so that aspect was always great fun for me, sketching out concepts, trialling them, and eventually succeeding with them.

After finishing uni, the economy in England was in an especially bad state, friends from my course who did a masters degree and were personally prepared to move anywhere in the world were still facing an incredibly tough time to find employment.
I always had my love of growing and breeding as a staple, whilst I muddled through the minefield of working in the real world. Working construction, landscaping, hard labouring jobs just to make ends meat.

I grew Auto-flowers whilst they were still relatively new to the mass market, as well as photo-period strains (both will always have a place in my garden), AF's were super fun to grow, as they take a different mindset and approach differing from traditional ways to grow successfully.
Once you get the hang of them though, the rewards are evident, quick turn around time, rapid daily progression, makes them a pure pleasure to witness.
Another thing about growing AF's, is I've now grown thousands of plants from seed, I have always worked with large numbers to hone desirable plant recognition and selection skills. Considering the vast amount of plants that have passed through my hands, I can also remember 99% of the plants I have grown. But maybe not surprising given the time we spend with our heads in our girls.

I loved to grow AF-SOG style (Auto-flower sea of green) , to consistently get higher than 1gpw is very addictive, with a turnaround time of under 10 weeks.

An example of AF-SOG in action:


England's laws when it comes to cannabis, are frankly, pretty draconian, and only getting worse and worse as time passes.
Unless you have cajones grande to go big or at the other end of the spectrum a one or two plant set-up and you research the law and every to do and not to do, it's not a place to be situated long term and keep your freedom and/or sanity.
The money from growing bud can be enticing, but it's not the reason I began to grow, and continue to do so. Punishments also vary as it's basically a postcode lottery, luck could be on your side or on the flip-side you could get royally shafted.
Our city was rife with growers, and coincidentally had a prominent judge with zero tolerance for growing weed. A handful of plants, with any kind of tidy set-up, and jail time is a reality, and I'm way too pretty for prison.

Despite paranoia and getting too hooked reading the legal sections of several forums (scary reading), I always gained a momentary sense of peace and tranquillity sat looking and admiring my plants. I thought to myself, how amazing it must be to get that satisfaction without the worry.

Therefore Spain was always an idea in the pipeline. I had a very close friend die several years ago, and at that point, I didn't want to mess around any longer, and made Spain a priority to get to.
There are obvious plus sides to a young Englishman. The weather, the women, cheap alcohol and tobacco, and for someone in our world, great laws for growing dope. From the vast majority of Spanish people I've spoken to, the impression I get is the Spanish have a very laissez-faire attitude about it, which is really refreshing.
It was a big thing to try and figure out alone though, I had some advice through forums, which whilst useful was often contradictory, I really had to see for myself.

About a year passed by, and at this point by happen chance I started to converse with a friend in the seed industry here in Spain on a regular basis, over time we tossed some ideas around, and eventually it was suggested I get out to Spain, meet up and go over some ideas in person.
After some joints, alcoholic beverages, general chit chat and ice breaking, serious discussion, plans and ideas escalated, and we agreed to do it.
It was a big life change proposed, to up sticks and go for it, to leave family and friends behind, but the pro's far outweighed the cons on paper, and we started the serious look for a suitable place to call our HQ here.

After trawling through some internet property sites for what felt like an eternity, it was an arduous process, investigating the locations on google maps, calculating indoor/outdoor space, researching towns, transport links, prices, you name it. We were still drawing a big blank, we narrowed hundreds down to a 'short list' but nothing stood out and smacked us in the face saying 'perfect'.

However one day, just out of interest, I searched a little above our original budget, and immediately found a place just added that was well worth checking out in person.
I got on the blower to my friend, he called the guy up, and he went to see it that very day, he reported back that 'it was like an oasis' and a deal was done later that same day.
The place was a little rough around the edges, it had been neglected somewhat, but the scope of what we could do with it was too enticing to pass it up. All of our boxes were ticked, with added bonuses on top.





Cogs were turning and it became abundantly clear to me, to do things on the scale we intended it would be an impossibility to work solely by myself, there's only ever 24 hours in a day, and I only have one pair of hands, so at this point, one very close friend sprang to mind.
A good grower with a great work ethic, practical skills and first and foremost someone who I had lived with for several years without any drama.
He'll be on the forums soon, but for now, I'll introduce him as Tim.

Thanks for reading, and hello everyone. I'll work on posting the next parts the next few days.

Peace, Mitch

Last edited by S_a_H; 05-25-2015 at 02:20 AM..
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:01 AM #2
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I have the weirdest feeling that I may be enjoying this thread quite a bit. Can't wait for the next part!
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Old 10-24-2013, 07:15 AM #3
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Sounds like a gratifying change!! Keep up the awesome work. All the strains I've tried of your hybrid creativity have been stellar.
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Old 10-24-2013, 09:12 AM #4
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hi mitch glad to see you back and wish you the best in your new surroundings
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:20 AM #5
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good read and good luck.
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:56 PM #6
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Part 2 a) - The beginning: Autumn and Winter
(I have split the story due to photo posting limits)

We arrived in early Autumn to Spain, I was picked up by mi amigo from the airport. Tim had come the day before, as he had to fly over his dog and only a few airlines cater to that. He had spent a night alone in the woods at our new house and I was anxious to see the place we would be calling home in the flesh.

We had packed all of our important grow gear, a hefty seed collection and all our precious cuttings, to be able to hit the ground running and get to work quick time. This was shipped out 4-5 days before our arrival date, We got to my friends apartment (hallway completely obscured with boxes) , bought some snacks for the road, loaded up the car, and we were on our way.

As we left the city, I looked out of the window and had a flashback to geography lessons when I was 16, seeing the CBD (no, not Cannabidiol ) disappearing in the mirror, followed by some industrial areas, then passing by tower blocks on the city limits I'm told are mostly occupied by immigrants, and I realised I was saying good bye to city life for awhile, In Spain, as well as back in England.

We pulled off the motorway, and eventually found our way to a track, with crazy undulations, lumps and bumps, I don't think I have ever been on a dirt road that wasn't part of a farm. I kept asking, like an impatient kid on a journey, 'are we there yet...?'.. answered with 'not just yet..'
We finally arrived, on what felt like a never ending journey, and wow the place was insane, I remember now, walking around laughing, thinking this is the maddest thing ever.

I was greeted by the animals, Tim, and a massive fig tree loaded with fruit and the strangest thing, no noise whatsoever.

The first few days were pretty bizarre, sleeping on the sofa, Tim spent the first night underneath an old curtain, that when he shook it a family of moths flew out. Me personally being eaten alive by mosquitos, and not tiny bites, but there was a point where one or several had a feast on my face. The bites swelled, conjoined and I felt pretty elephantman-ish.

The house was pretty sparsely equipped, no utensils, bedding, a small box of rations to eat.
There was no gas for the cooker, so I believe or first nights meal together was an ad-lib barbecue, on which we only had a huge paella dish to try and cook pasta, one person stirring the other person blowing on the fire to stoke it. I might add much to my friends amusement... but with a lot of perseverance we had full tummies. At the end of the first night we set about germinating seeds and rescuing some clones that had a rough time of it in the shipping process.
I also thought to myself, I should have watched Ray Mears bush-craft and extreme survival episodes in full before starting this adventure.

The weather was very pleasant indeed for several weeks, we even cleaned and took several days to fill our pool. It was short-lived though, we only braved one 5 minute dip in 2013. Bit by bit we gathered the essentials to live day to day more comfortably.

The house is several decades old, had been lived in for most of those, but was never fully completed. Now, I don't want to slate our Spanish amigos here, but building practices are very different over here in comparison to the U.K..., much of it is very nonsensical to us at least.

The property, was a minefield and maze to figure out, so many problems to think on and rectify bit by bit. There is no mains water, no postal service, or phone-line, no working central heating, no internet. To bring everything in just to get set has been a herculean task in itself.

Electrical gremlins took some head scratching to solve, at one point early on we had to wait until the lights off period to begin cooking our evening meal, just to avoid power outages.

There is a Spanish word 'chapuza' which basically means a botched job, so gradually we have been un-botching what we can, making things function to suit our purpose.

A couple of examples of this are:

WELL STORY:
As I mentioned earlier, we have no mains water, but draw our water from around 100 metres away at the end of our track. I must say though, the water is amazing.
We have a high capacity pump, and pipework to fill a large water storage tank. When full, at that point in time, a near full tank, lasted several months for us and plants to drink.
We had filled it once completely, and then topped it up twice without problems. It seemed like a good system, flick a switch, wait for water, job done.
However we noticed it was running pretty low, flicked the switch. Nothing, nada.., we set about investigating, and pulled the pump out to test it, brought it back to the house, pump works. Through a process of elimination we had tested the socket at our end, the socket at the well end, the pump itself. All working. Some head-scratching, and I said mate, we need to trace the wire to see if theres a break along the way. Tim said, noo, it'll be encased (the first section is encased and runs underground) I said let's see. Well the casing only lasts to the edge of our property. And the other 100+ metres, is just a cable strewn through the woods, sections joined by electrical tape only. #chapuza! So wire stripped, connected with chocolate boxes, and connections routed into insulated plastic boxes, problem solved.

SMOKE STORY ( not the good type of smoke) :
During an average evening for us, sat by the fire, something on the telly to watch, a little r&r time, a few drinks. I got up to go to the little boys room. On returning back to the lounge, I said 'Is it me, or is it pretty smokey in here...' Tim agreed, but well with windows shut, and an open fire, a little smoke isn't uncommon. So we looked around and saw smoke billowing down the stairs. The entire upstairs was filled with smoke. Where the flue draws the smoke from the fire up, unknowingly, there *was* fire proof plasterboard (drywall) with a cut out for the chimney and smoke to be exhausted through. Due to our hardcore use of the fire, It had disintegrated and now, smoke was only partly being drawn up and out, the remaining smoke had been going up into the wall cavity, and finding its way out of an upstairs bedroom wall (luckily unoccupied).
The fire was extinguished, every window possible opened. The next day Tim fabricated a metal blockade, and the edges were sealed with a high temp mastic.

We were also without transport for the first 6 weeks, and without giving away our location, although by car it's relatively close to a major metropolitan area, on foot it's very very remote, and the terrain is not hospitable for a leisurely walk to the shops.
I'd liken it to camping out, when you're here you stay here with rations. We were walking maybe 30 km a week, a 4 hour round trip to get a back pack's worth of food. Not a situation that lends itself to growing simultaneously.
We had the use of our friends vehicle off and on for awhile, he was meant to be spending several months in South America with Jorge, but the trip fell through and with our friend no longer local to us, I had to fly back to England to buy a rugged vehicle to drive back so we could be self sufficient. You may ask yourself, why not just buy a vehicle in Spain, it's a good question.. Two words.. red tape. To fly home, buy a car, drive, ferry, drive for hundreds of miles is in fact easier. It also meant I could bring back a hoard of supplies and grow equipment, without having to fanny around and find a place for them to be delivered in Spain.

I got a phone call from Tim whilst at home, saying 'mate, winter has come..it's super cold', I thought he may be being a bit of a pussy (no offence dude) , but it was warm when I left. So with a smirk I put together a winter survival package, just managing to inch it in to our new, super packed full car.

He was right, and in hindsight we weren't at all prepared for winter, naively thinking 'winter in Spain will still be nice, it's Spain'. We were very wrong, we hadn't packed coats even. Whilst day time temperatures were very fair, 17/18 degrees some days, we could have an ice cream on the balcony, the difference between day and night time temperature was well, like night and day. Getting below freezing at times.
We were sleeping fully clothed, with two duvets and a hot water bottle each. We had no central heating, so were devoting much of the day to collecting and chopping firewood and as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon that was the working day pretty much done outside and all that was left to do was eat and sit 6 inches away from an open fire, or manage tents inside the house at this time. The sofa did originally sit several feet away from the fire, but over the course of winter inched itself ever closer.

Some tent work - Pollination for fem seeds by hand



We were very surprised one morning to wake up and see this, It hadn't crossed my mind at all.



We went out that day, 4 wheel drive engaged, to buy some electrical supplies. The mountain was like pandemonium.., with people, police, kids, it was crazy. I did feel sorry for those Spanish kiddies though, as in just a couple of hours, it had all melted.

Part B to follow soon!
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Old 10-31-2013, 12:09 PM #7
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Part 2 - b)

With transportation now sorted we set about converting the basement into a grow room. It wasn't underground on all sides, as the house is raised. This meant it would be a great place with some tinkering to stay cool in summer and warm in winter which will enable steady year round growth and continuation of projects.

Tooled up



We like stepladders.


We set about constructing a veg room, a cutting station which houses mothers, a tent room for projects, and a decent sized flowering room (5k at present which is to be upped with some Gavita products soon)

Having done several basement/cellar conversions in the past (for none growing related reasons) , I knew we would require good damp proofing, and came to learn there is no such thing in Spain, luckily due to some foresight I had brought a roll over from England.
This proved very wise, as we later found out, we are in a basin, and with heavy storms, the water will flow down the mountain for several days after, running off, and unfortunately into our basement, but that room was perfect after a triple layer on the floor and a layer behind the walls.

Mid build:


How we found out this though, was pretty much what was to me, the most stressful day we have had here. It had been raining heavily for several days, all was good and we had been mindful to check. The following happens rarely, but electrical storms in the distance can cause a power outage, this has happened less times than I can count on one hand in the entirety of us being here, anyway about midday there was one, so I went down to the basement to check. Water was pooling in the entrance.., not a good sign. I went through the tent room and it was flooded. Balls. I alerted our Tim, and we set about a swift clean up operation. Stage one was to get everything off the ground and the water soaked up/drained away. Whilst I was on that task, Tim was going to dig some trenches to divert the water running down from the mountain away from the basement.
Our vehicle was parked outside of the basement, and needed moving so a trench could be dug, I had my hands full, so handed the keys to Tim (who ordinarily doesn't drive), he moved the car up the drive. I heard it stop, and thought, good lad..all good. He came back, 'mate, the keys are stuck, I can't get them out', I said there's a trick to it, just push the section around the keys in, turn to the point where the marks match up, and they slip out. So off he went, 2 minutes later, 'I still can't do it, you'll have to come and do it'. So I left my post, and walked up our (steeply inclined drive).
I have no clue how it happened but they were stuck, I jiggled them, and the steering wheel, and in a second, maybe, I knocked it with my elbow, it was so quick, but the car got knocked into neutral, and instantly started rolling back. Tim was behind me, I was half in/half out of the car, door open, I started running with the car, but had no choice but to duck out of the way and avoid the door.
The door met with a tree, the tree won. The car was finally halted by careering into the dog/pig kennels. The car won that one.
So picture a scene of devastation, door creased, deformed, battered, us boys in disbelief, wet through with rain. Pig/dog kennels with a post from the chain-link fencing uprooted from the concrete. And whilst we were absorbing that, and actually being thankful neither of us had been run over, our new and very little piglet saw a chance to breakout and abscond.
Note to the wise: You can't catch a little pig in the rain. We always thought any damage to the car would occur on the roads and be the fault of a Spanish driver with their hair on fire, not at our own hands. So that tri-fector of calamities had me nearly at a breaking point.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, several lessons were learnt, the piglet returned to her home, I fixed the car, and the tents are now raised off the ground with a proper drain in that room.

Work in progress: *note plants in the middle on the walk way, are males being moved.


When the grow-room was built, and plants were in full swing during run 1, we set about constructing outdoor facilities which I will begin Part 3 with.
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Old 10-31-2013, 03:51 PM #8
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What an adventure in Spain. Various rooms look great.

Car antics remind me of a friend being run over by an old 60's truck out of gear rolling back. Left tire tread marks on my friend's back. Luckily, we were young in our 20's and supple then. Yikes!

With all great projects, calamities happen.
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Old 10-31-2013, 05:21 PM #9
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Looks like a great adventure.

This is still all for Secret Garden Seeds right ?

Goodluck
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This has nothing to do with ‘owning a plant’, such a moot point. It does have to do with protecting the integrity of a brand, trademark, copyright, etc. Again, I have no problem with people playing with my work and finding unique and effective samples, or the sharing of those samples among friends and associates. I thoroughly hope that the medicine from said unique and effective samples is making its way to people in need of said medicine. That is the true reward in this field. I encourage such experimentation and appreciate posted results. But the marketing of borrowed genetics and reputation without permission, for a high profit, crosses a line. It saddens me that I even need to come here and point this out, again.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:18 PM #10
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secret garden seeds tisk tisk tisk

the only reason I say this is because they do not give dutchbreed any credit in their secret citrus and they also changed the description from saying they used two autos to make the cross then made an ibl, to saying they used a hindu kush clone and bxed, still if the latter "WERE" true they would have to stop ibling at the right moment or it will cause lack of vigor due to repetitively being inbred. anyways they won't get any of my money and if I can sway others to spend their money on peoples creations that actually took the time and care needed into putting out a quality ingredient then I would have no internal quarrels with myself warning others to do the same.

stay away from secret garden seeds and their affiliates, they care not in which the product they put out nor the quality of the user experience. instead they care more about paying the bills. it is evident when someone does not care they will start making up reasons(personal problems) in which they "HAVE" to stay in business no matter what because they are too weak to do otherwise.

So I hope if anyone is reading this.(SGS crew included) I swayed you to stay away from SGS products and if your listening SGS dump all of your gear and go back to the drawing board but only if you care to include the happiness of your customer in your equation
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