Today's episode focuses around what I would call regularly scheduled cannabis maintenance for this time of year, plus addressing a common grow problem.
Purpose of Pruning Plants
Each season I give my plants 2-3 vigorous prunings (or "strips") at certain points during the vegetative stage. I usually strip mostly fully developed and/or damaged leaves, along with any leaves blocking light to lower tops trying to grow up. Cleaning out the middle sections is also important. This process opens up the plant to provide more air and light to the plant as a whole, while also promoting faster new growth rates. I usually do this once about half way through June, again about a week into July, and then once more if appropriate early august, 2-3 weeks before flowering time (allowing time for leaf regrowth).
I also remove any low lying branches (or "whips") that are too low and/or too skinny to produce anything of significance. Removing the whips will also redistribute nutrients to the bigger and newly developing branches higher up. Some growers like to remove most of the lower half of the plant, this is referred to as "lollypoping" - I am not a fan of this method as I feel it removes too much valuable growth space on the plant. Cannabis plants will only grow so many branches.
Pest Control Sequence
As stated in episode 3 of this series (check there for spray timing), I use a 4 part organic pest control method that is extremely effective against the full spectrum of bugs that are harmful to cannabis:
- Safer Soap
- Lime Sulfur (low concentration, 7-10 ml/gallon)
I just completed everything on this list besides the BT, as the BT spray is not yet required. BT is a hormone used to make worms such as caterpillars leave the plants by confusing their food regulatory functions - it makes them think the cannabis is not a suitable food source.
BT cannot be used as a preventative measure, it can only be used to get rid of the worms after they have taken residence or with the presence of eggs. With that in mind, I still will spray BT closer to the end of veg (every 2-3 days) even if their is no evidence of worms. If you have ever had these greedy assholes in your garden during the late stage of flower, then you will understand why you would want to spray for them just in case.
Caterpillars burrow into the tips your biggest tops and defecate all over your beautiful flowers - their poo also causes botrytis aka bud rot.
Addressing "The Claw"
What is commonly referred to as the oh so dreaded "claw" is a fan-leaf reaction when the tips curl downwards. This can be caused by a variety of different things, and I found a great article about many of the causes here. This is a problem that must be handled very carefully and attentively, since if not remedied correctly, can lead to very sick plants.
From the Grow Bible
In this case, the leaf tip curling or "clawing" was caused by a threefold misdial. Firstly it rained almost the whole month of June, and the lack of light and excess water caused a slight over-water. This undesired circumstance's effect was compounded by the fact that I also sprayed with Safer Soap (the most abrasive product in my pest control sequence) the night before I slightly overfed the plants with nutrients. This combination of stress was too much, caused this symptom, and was fortunately easily remedied with a simple flush by skipping the following week's feeding. I instead let the additional rain and one watering wash out anything unnecessary. I also waited an extra day to water to make certain the root systems were completely purged of moisture. This avoids the potential for root-rot and nute-lockout.
A Healthy Recovery
When this happened last year in flower, it was much more severe and irreversible. I just thank Gaia that it happened in veg this time when the plants were more likely to recover. I gave them their first feeding since the flush today (feeding #3 of the season), which was a severely reduced dose (14grow & 7LK (per 2 gal dispenser) at about 1.5 gal of food per plant). If the effects are desirable, I will increase dosage to about 20 - 10 next week on the same day (I am also considering "top-dressing" the root filled soil with more amendments next week instead). I have learned that when using soil amendment fertilizers, you must use a much lower dose of liquid nutrients during feedings to avoid this issue.
Properly Fed Cannabis - Notice the Vibrant Color Shift
I will additionally be applying an organic compost tea to my next watering for enhanced overall health. These teas provide much needed minerals, microbes, and beneficial bacteria that will help improve the plants uptake and growth abilities while preventively staving off disease.
Damage from Independence Day Fireworks
Some growers would easily confuse this damage to be from worms, but the excess of this actually indicated literal burning of the leaves by means of flame or ember. This is a result of large fireworks being blasted in the middle of the grow without my permission. The sulfur smoke from them would usually be beneficial for keeping bugs away (although NEVER in flower - the stink will attach to the buds), but the concentrated amount of smoke in the epicenter of the garden caused the leaves to curl over the new growth during the ordeal as a protective mechanism. It is not really the sulfur smoke you have to worry about as much as the chemicals that create the colors in fireworks.
Fortunately there seemed to be no long term damage from the smoke itself, however the falling embers burned off many branches and damaged a large amount of leaves as well. I found pieces of mortar shells caught in just about every plant. A piece of advise - try not to let anyone light off fireworks too close to your grow. I am lucky that this happened just before I was about to prune them.
July is the Best Month for Growth
So if you have not transplanted into your final containers/boxes - DO IT NOW BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!! You will never see as much growth outdoor than you do in July (if you are in Cascadia) - I am astonished every time. I will also be topping these plants again in about 4 days, selecting the middle point between two feedings so that the plants uptake as much of the applied liquid nutrients as possible.
Welcoming #menofcrypto into the #mancave - I hope you guys enjoy my content!!
SEASON 3 SO FAR:
Please enjoy episode 4 of the 2020 Backyard Cannabis Farming series. Hopefully we all acquire great wisdom for growing cannabis effectively, organically, & naturally - together..
Click link or pic below to play episode 4:
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