Feeling generous today. A little backround first. I have been a member of this site since 2007, and i was a lurker for a while before that. I was part of the group that shifted over here from OG when it got shut down. Over a decade of knowledge and experience under the old belt. Im not even close to knowing it all, and never will, but i am willing to lend some of the things i have learned to the next generation of cannaseur's in hopes to help cut the learning curve.
Im on limited time today, but i will add to this over time.
Environment, Environment, and by the way..... did i mention Environment....?
I always like Jorge's description which he borrowed from Justus von Liebig. Picture a whiskey type barrel made up of individual vertical planks. Each plank is labeled with a single factor. So one would say Temperature, another would say Ph, another would be humdiity, then light, then nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potash, calcium, magnesium, and so on, all the way down to the factors that are taken into less consideration, like soil temp, air movement and plant density, you could go on for days. For this example we should just keep it simple. So all the planks around the barrel are labeled. You get the picture. Now fill that barrel with water to the top. At this point all factors are perfect. Now, lets say the temp starts to rise and it gets 7-10 degrees hotter. Well the top 30% of the plank labeled temperature is now gone. Water flows out the gap. The whole barrel is now only 70% of its full capacity (potential) right? You WISH thats all that happens! In reality, because the temp is too hot, the plants are drinking more water than food. Now you burn your plants and/or get lockout because of the accumulation of nutrients. There goes half the plank labeled nutrients. Your barrel is now only 50% full! To go even further, because the plant is not eating much, the ph has probably plunged into the depths. So there goes 75% of the plank labeled ph. Your barrel is now 25% full. YIKES! I guess its time to get to get a job.... All of this because your dumb*** either didnt know the correct temepratures, or failed to invest in a way to keep the temp down
The point is, being off on one factor CAN, and WILL affect several other factors, and this will limit your success. So it is very, VERY important to get them all on par if you want to be a good grower. These factors are more important for achieving the yield and quality, than any additive or supplement. BY A LOOOOOONGSHOT!!!! Some very basic main factors would be stuff like Temp, relative humdity, ph, nutrient concentration, light, air movement, water, fresh air (c02).
This is where 90% percent of people that try to grow will give up. They had a bad run plagued with problems and dont know why. There stuff is small airy buds, no crystals, and smells like hay. They put more money into growing it than they got out of it.
Put the time in, and learn! READ A BOOK! None of you younger guys read anymore. Yes, the internet is nice, but it will have you running around in circles a lot of the time. Books and articles are a better source to get a good solid foundation before you start. Dont just do what the guy at the grow shop tells you, or try to replicate some experienced growers technique.
For some reason, theres people out there with zero experience who automatically think they can grow the best weed for the simple fact that they have smoked/sold it for a while, or because one of their buddys did it. They go to the grow shop with a big wad of cash and feed in to every single line of BS that the clerk feeds them, or that they read in high times. They want the best of everything because they want the best weed. But can you blame them?lol! They walk out with a full on hydro system, induction/led lights, the entire advanced nutrients line. Then they go home and set it all up in the top of a barn or attic with no heat or a/c roflmao!! Dont be that guy. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) and D.I.R. (do it right)
All the little things you do add up and create the whole picture!!!
People always ask me what product im using that makes my bud the best. Honestly, i switch products all the time to test things out, and never even run one whole nutrient line. My lineup at any given time includes products from at least 3 or 4, maybe 5 diff manufactures (I would not advise doing this if your a new grower, just keep it simple). The point im trying to make is, that aside from your main nutrient, the role that most of these additives/supplements is VERY minimal compared to other factors such as environment, ph, and other factors like GENETICS. Once you get everything dialed in, then yes, you will see more of a benefit with the adds/supps. On the other hand, some supplements like silica, and humic acid for example, would actually be beneficial to use regardless of evironment/ph if your a new grower. Humic helps with ph, and silica helps with some environmental stresses like heat, cold, drought etc. Just remember to ADD SILICA FIRST to the reservoir before anything else. If you see a white cloud (flocculation), lower the ph to 7 or less, and it will clear up.
Back on track. Go the extra mile every single time! Try to learn from your plants and keep notes, it will make you a better grower. Measure the runoff or slurry of your plants every now and then so you can get an idea of ph, and nutrient concentration in the pot. It will tell you how much they are feeding. Keep track of temp, humidity, nutrient mixes ect... Give them a foliar once or twice a week, even if its just water. They like it! Imagine eating food thru your butt your whole life and then you finally get to eat it with your mouth! Thats basically the response.. Keep the plants trimmed up nice and good for proper airflow. Dont let the lights get too close, dont let the fans blow too hard, keep a good soil temp, use r/o water, eliminate all environmental varaibles, bug prevention. I could literally go on for days with things, but the point is this...... , Its all the little things you do that make your crop the best. You get out what you put in. That has always seemed fair to me.
The myth of Organic yields less, but better quality vs Synthetic yields more, but lower quality.
This subject comes up a lot with new growers.
I hear so many people say "i grow organic". Well unless your using raw organic materials, i wouldnt consider you an organic grower. When i say organic im talking bat sheet, bonemeal, lime, compost teas ect. Not a bottle from advanced nutrients that says organic.
Ive seen organic runs that beat synthetic runs overall, and ive seen synthetic runs that beat organics across the board. It all depends on the grower and his/her experience. If 2 knowledgeable growers set up runs, and one did organic, and the other did synthetic who would win? Honestly, the synthetic guy would win, because he knows how to achieve the same quality as the organics, but also gets the extra yield with a mostly synthetic lineup.
Like i said earlier, the majority of quality and yield come from proper environment, correct feeding, ph, light ect.... Its not so much an organic vs. synthetic debate as far as quality goes. They both work when implemented correctly. Synthetic does tend to yield more because of its immediate availiablity, and the fact that hydroponic techniques provide a higher amount of oxygen to the roots increasing plant vigor and nutrient requiremnents.
Heres a fun fact..... A hydroponic fertilizer (aka chemical, synthetic) is a refined (by humans) version of organic elements. These salts (ions) are pretty much immediately available for uptake by the plant, provided the ph and environmental factors are on par.
Plant roots uptake nutrients in the form of ions.
When you are feeding organically, mother nature has to break down the compounds in the organic material into these ions so the plant can uptake them. This takes time. However with a properly timed ammending of these materials, in the right amounts, you can insure that everything will be available over the whole cycle. You better know what your doing because trying to add/subtract something to or from an active organic mix is tough. If you have a deficiency, it takes a loong time to correct itself. So you end up foliar spraying it in the meantime to help it along. More to come....
This is an area where a lot of new, and even semi-experienced growers struggle. There are a TON of different ways to clone, but im just going to give you some important details, a common method, and a fool proof method.
*Quick note.... I want to make it known that i promote rooting in coco coir for beginners. Yes, you should flush it out and ph it before cloning in it though. The key is to not let it be soaked. You want it spongy. However, if you are new, i suggest using rapid rooters. Rockwool works just as good as coco if not better, but needs slightly more attention. Here we go......
First order of business is STERILITY. Use fresh razor blades every time, and give the scissors a good cleaning with some 91% isopropyl alchohol. I like to wear disposable gloves, just to further reduce any risk of contamination. Make sure that you are cleaning your domes, trays, and inserts thoroughly if you plan to reuse them. I use hydrogen peroxide, but you can also use bleach.
*Never take clones from a stressed or deficient plant. They will be weak just like the donor.
*Never take clones from smaller unestablished plants.
Clones can be anywhere from 2" all the way up to 12" or more in some cases. Ive rooted small bushes, and 20" cuttings. Most of the time the smaller clones will root faster, and the larger clones will take longer. Surface area of vegetation plays just as much of a role as stem length when it comes to rooting times. That being said, ive had 12" cuts root just as quick as normal ones (5-6inches) in the ez cloner.
An average clone size is about 3-6".Clones can be taken from just about anywhere on the plant, but the healthiest ones are on top and around the exterior sides. You can take "clones of clones" meaning that you cut a top clone off of the plant, and then continue to take another one just below the previous cut on the same branch. The clone will have an open wound on top but i have never had a problem with it. They may take longer to root compared the clones directly off the top, but they will be hardy, healthy plants in most cases. Similar and sometimes the same thing as mallet cuttings, except mallet cuttings are given time to heal up before being taken. You could cut a 2ft branch and turn it into about 6 cuttings if you really wanted to. You get the point. To keep it simple, just take the very top shoots as clones. That way everything is uniform.
To take a cutting, snip or slice a shoot off of the plant at a 45 degree angle. This allows the "sap" that will push out of the remaining branch to run off to the side, and down the stem instead of just sitting there and rotting. Always take clones about 25% longer than you need.
Next put the clones into a cup of plain water. Get your tray set up and then start taking off some of the leaf matter. You want about 2/3-3/4 of the stem to be free of nodes and leafs. This helps with airflow and overcrowding in the tray, as well as water retention in the leaves. You want to leave 2-3 small fan leaves at the top area of the cutting, and then just snip the top half of each leaf blade off. This helps with water loss issues and wilting.
If some of your clones wilt before they are rooted it SERIOUSLY affects things. It will stunt the rooting process and the intial growth period of the plant. Some just wont make it period. They will be behind and not uniform with the group. Also, do not take clones right beside a plant that is sitting under a HID light like hps or metal halide. You will get about 1/4 of the way through your tray and notice they wilt if not sprayed every 5-10 min. Get them away from that intense light! Just pull the mother off to the side a ways while taking clones. Or just take your cuttings and put them in cups of water for transport if your cloning in a seperate area. Clones can be stored in cups of water for weeks as long as the water is changed every day. Or you can use h202, chlorine, or a fungi/bacteria inhibitor to extend those change outs. A carbohydrate (sugars) source can be added to extend the life of the cuttings. Clones can also be stored by wrapping moist paper towels around the trimmed portion of the stalks, and placed into freezer bags, which can then be stored in the fridge for weeks, and possibly longer. Ive kept rooted clones in the fridge for well over a month before.
So your clone is now cleaned up and ready to slice, and dip into the rooting hormone (I prefer dip 'n grow or woods). Slice off the extra 25% you took, at the same angle, and immediately put it into cloning solution. Do not keep it exposed to air for any longer than necessary with this open cut, because air can get into the stem and cause what is known as an embolism. When you cut a clone, its used to sucking up water from inside the plant, and when it gets snipped, that sucking action still works...sucking up air instead!!! Like putting air bubbles into your blood stream.
If your using gels like clonex, dont overdo it with a big glob. Just a regular coating, and shake off any excess works best. Then put it into the rooting plug/media making sure that it has soild contact with it. Dont push too hard. Pack the media around the stem if its a loose media, unlike rapid rooters and rockwool. With rockwool, dont use the premade holes, just stick cuts directly into the corner of the square. And repeat.... I prefer Dip N Grow, and anything in powder form. Not really a fan of gels. For the newbie, or large scale grower it doesnt get anymore fool proof than DNG imo.
After that its all easy street. Spray them with water, put them in a clone dome. If your room is 80% Rh or greater, chances are you dont need a dome as long as the temps are within 72-78F. Try to keep the roots around 76-78 degrees with a heating mat if needed, and mist them once or twice per day. When using domes, I have the best luck misting the interior of the dome only and not the cuttings, but ONLY after the first 2-3 days of misting them normally. Slightly higher temps are optimal for cloning. I like to slowly ween them off the spraying during the first 5-6 days, in order to make them root faster, then completely remove the dome. I would suggest leaving your dome on for 10 days minimum if you are unsure about if they are ready. If your seeing the first signs of roots its time to remove the dome, and monitor them over the day. If its a packed tray, they may not all root at the same time. Make sure the room is above 65% rh at this point. When you ween them off spraying, the leaves dont have water to take in, the root making process becomes even more of a priority than it already was at that point. If youve done everything right, you should have the majority of them rooted in 10-14 days, with minimal casualties. You can tell when most have rooted or are rooting by watching the yellow come out in the bottom most fan leaves. This is NORMAL with clones, and a good sign. They are just using their stored reserves to form roots.
*To be super safe; when you think its time to remove the dome, instead of taking it off, just open the vents fully, prop up the bottom of the dome about 1/4" with something that wont rot (I use 2 18" sections of bamboo stakes). Then dont spray that day. Get some air movement over them and monitor the response. If they are all still standing proud the next day, then you can remove the dome entirely, and still monitor. Now they are good to go hopefully...
At this point, it doesnt hurt to add some rooting promoter like GH Rapid Start, or H&G roots excellurator, which is what i use with excellent results. Just like all the other products on the market, there are many to choose from in this category. H&G Roots Excellurator is also a great product. Dont transplant until the clones have a solid root system. Dont transplant a clone with just a single taproot coming out of the bottom. Make sure there are several roots coming out the sides. The more roots, the easier the transition will be.
Lots of people start out with 1/10th strength nutrient solution and a rooting promoter for initial transplant. I always assumed this is around 75-100 ppm total. Some strains can handle much more, some want less. Ya just gotta learn your ladies requirements. Be careful not to OD on the root promoters, they can be very concentrated. Get a mL dropper since you will be dosing smaller quantities of water. Most of these rooting/vitamin complexes on my shelf are anywhere from 1 drop per gallon to 2tsp/5gal. Your going to be dosing this stuff in to gallon jug when its used for clones in the trays. Get a conversion chart for measurements, its essential for new people!! Most important is 5ml=1tsp. So if something says to dose 1tsp/5 gallons, that turns out to be 1ml/gallon. Fancy that. So now you know how to mix that rate into a one gallon jug pour over or under your clone insert.
Its very easy to mess up dosing anything when using small amounts of water such as a single gallon or liter. I urge all new growers not to mix anything in less than 5 gallons. Preferably 20 gallons or more whenever feasible. Heres what happens... Lets say you want 1ml/gal, but get sloppy and dose 1.33ml into one gallon of water, well thats 33% more concentrated now than you intended! Now say you have 10 gallons, youd want 10mls total (@ the 1ml/gal dose rate), but you get sloppy once again, and dose 10.33mls, now your mix would only be 3.3% more concentrated. You wont even notice a difference at that amount. I hope this makes sense to you guys.
Consistency in cuttings-
You want to try and keep all the clones you take the same length with about the same amount of leaf matter on each one. This way none will be shaded out by others, and they will all root within the same time period, AND increases your odds of uniformity. The more uniform your crop is, the more yield you will get. You want every plant to look pretty much identical from start to finish. The easiest way to achieve all of this is to "mono crop". Just do all one individual strain. This is how the big boys do it. So many advantages! Same feed regimen for everything, uniformity, more yield to name a few big ones. When you have 5 diff strains, some are towering over others, and some get buried, they all feed differently, lights are at multiple diff levels ect.. Its just all bad. Not saying it cant be done, because it most definitely can, but your best bet is to KISS and mono crop for optimal results.
The key to cuttings is to take 2-3x the amount you intend to grow, and select the best, healthiest, and most homogenous ones as far as type of cutting, amount of growth in both roots and shoots. A strong start is critical in achieving healthy plants. And we all know what to expect from a healthy plant.
Most people neglect their mother plants, plain and simple. DONT be that person! Be careful not too starve moms of food and light because it really messes up the potential future structure of them when you have to pull dead stuff off, and usually its from the bottom. You get palm trees. The bottom material on mother plants is the most important stuff. It allows you to regenerate the plant when you take it down to bare bones once per year. Its called root pruning. Look it up. Theres an art to maintaining good healthy, well structured parent plants. You'll figure it out eventually.
Fool proof clone method-
Take a solo cup and fill it with pre flushed, ph'ed coco coir. Squeeze water out the coir until it feels spongy. Now fill up the cup with this coco. Dont forget to poke drain holes! Take a tool and make a small hole going down the center of the coco and stop about 80% of the way down. I like to use a drip basket emitter for this job. Now take a clone that is 2 inches loner than the cup, so about 5-6" total. Hack off all the crap on the bottom of it, and leave the very two top leaves on the clone. Leave them whole as well, no need to cut them in half like described earlier as long as they arent huge. Now take this clone, dip it in hormone, and insert the stalk so that its 75% submerged under the soil line. The leaves should be almost resting on the edges of the cup when done. Tap the cup a few times on the ground to get the coco to settle around the stalk and pack it in a little. I will say that scarifying the clones prior to doing this does help. Just be careful when doing it to make sure you get all the little stringy plant matter off the clone, or it can rot it out.
So to be clear, what you end up with is a 5-6" clone where only the top 25% is actually sticking out of the cup, because most of the stalk is buried.
Heres the advantages.... You do not need a dome, and you do not need to spray them!! Set it and forget it!!! You can also root at lower humidity with better success as well. I do not suggest going below 55% although it has been done. I have used this method outdoors and just put the clones at the base of a big tree so they are semi shaded. Come back two weeks later and roots galore.
Root cuttings under a simple aquarium bulb, shop light, t5, led, cfl. Do not try to use an hps or metal hailde, and please dont use a regular round style house light bulb.
This is just a low maintenance, fool proof method of how to get clones to root with success. To be contd......