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Diary of a Cannabis Growing Preacher: Get Up and Setup.

Weeks 1 & 2

As I get older I find getting started is the hardest part of everything I do. Fortunately, this season finally ended and my last hybrid CBD strains are cut and trimmed. I really needed these plants to be cleaned up. Moving between outdoor and indoor plants will eventually contaminate the new garden. Bugs are normal to the external environment but devastating to the indoor grower. Our new Balkhi will be totally indoors so we must get all the old out. 

This year I updated my small greenhouse ventilation system with a thermostatically controlled 12” shuttered fan. It did amazingly well for my small 6’x 8’ greenhouse. My six Juliet plants produced an abundance of dense organic buds (Juliet is a clone only strain that typically produces 17%-19% CBD with less than 0.75% THC). This crop was a dramatic improvement over last year’s crop. A combination of larger pots and proper airflow made a big difference. Since Balkhi will be indoors, I am not sure what will go into the greenhouse next year.

Many earlier strains of high CBD plants did well to produce 30 grams of flower let alone 80-100 grams/plant, despite claims. This is why I am looking at setting up an organically fed hydroponics system. Juliet is a large producer and if grown outdoors, with heavy feeding, she will produce 500+ grams/plant. But indoors, with soil/soilless potting mix, most CBD strains never reach their potential.

I found some very inexpensive sock drying racks on Amazon that help greatly with drying. This one held two full Juliet plants but all 52 clips were full. I like this method much better than the Nylon net dryer I have been using. The buds always got flattened and they were messy with small pieces of material scattered everywhere. This method allowed me to end up with the flakes on my trimming tray and not on the floor. I found a two-pack for under $20. Amazing how inexpensive some things can be if they are not associated with cannabis. In case you didn’t take in the title of this article, seriously, I really am a preacher, and like most of my peers, underpaid. In fact, my salary is zero. So finding the best price for all my equipment is a big deal.

Now that everything is bagged and tagged I have cleaned the greenhouse and moved in all the landraces that I test propagated earlier in the season. I wanted to see what difficulties I would have to deal with when working with seeds that are tougher and harder to replace. 

I have confirmed that pre-cracking landrace seeds is a very good method when you have limited seed stock. If you sprout them with your normal method and don’t see results in 48 hours then I recommend cracking the seeds. Of the strains I pre-tested, Oaxaca, Hindu Kush, Mazar, and Swazi Gold, only Mazar and Oaxaca sprouted without help. The Swazi is so tough that I ended up putting the unblemished seeds back in the pack after sitting in peat pods for 3 weeks. They were unfazed after the experience. It jostled my memory of running Malawi about 25 years ago and the need to pre-crack African seeds. Funny how you can forget the simple lessons learned long ago.

Before I send this harvest to my buddy, who is an edible guru, I will run my first attempt at Chromatography Testing. I’m itching to bust out that testing kit from Cannalytics Supply. So let’s see how that turns out. 

I had reasonable luck with the Chromatography test. I did not like the tiny pipette set that came with the kit. But, I did have the foresight to pick up a dial-up pipette tool that worked well. I don’t think my results were very accurate but it was my first attempt and there is a learning curve here. As I said the results were inaccurate compared to what I know about the strains. All are high CBD and as you can see only one (on the left) developed to show a large CBD oval that reads about 20%. I think I know what I did wrong and I fully expect the next test to be much better. I think the developing takes longer than I expected. The jar they provided is not flat bottomed so the plate does not sit level in the solvent. I will find a better jar and run the test again. Yes, I will share the photos when I do it. Developer jars are very expensive so I will find a good substitute.

Since my extraction buddy is busy with the end of the season, I ran a small batch using dry ice and grain alcohol distilled specifically for extraction and pulled about 15% in golden oil so I can make a batch of edibles. 

Edibles are the only method of medicating that does not give me quite so much undesirable paranoia and panic. The slow onset is much easier to bear and allows the CBD to counteract these side effects better. 

With testing out of the way, let’s take a brief interlude to get our seeds started. The crew at Seedsman were most helpful in the procurement of these seeds. I have two options to consider here. I have three vials of Balkh Province seeds to work with, 2 from The Real Seed Company and one from a preservation group working with Ace seeds. You will find a decent selection of Ace seeds here.    

Well, winter is beginning to settle in on the mountain and this means that flying pests are becoming fewer and manageable. So I think I will be able to keep the seedlings safe now. I have been doing a lot of reading and studying on the many different ways to sprout seeds safely while sterilizing them to prevent contaminated seedlings. I haven’t had a lot of issues with contaminated seedlings but the one time you don’t sterilize that’s when you’ll get hit and lose valuable seeds.

I settled on using hydrogen peroxide @ 3% mixed 3:20, or 15% (HP to water) presoaking for 24-48 hours. The oxygen should energize the seeds and increase the propagation rate. I decided to use my commercial sprouter since it works very well and provides a very clean environment while allowing a clear view of the seeds.

  • By 30 hours some of the sprouts are beginning to peak out.
  • By 48 hours the tips are clearly visible.
  • By 72 hours 23 of the 24 seeds have 2-3mm tails. 

I took the unproductive seed out and carefully cracked the seal. I don’t like the way the seed felt… it might be a dud. I will know for sure in a couple of days. 

I have located some expanding coco pellets, much the same as peat pellets. I like the texture and size considerably better than the peat pellets. I will expand them with boiling water to ensure sterility. These pellets seem to be very well made and not as easily damaged as the peat. I think they might be less susceptible to mold or algae. 

By the next article, these little climbers should have their first set of wings. I haven’t tried to combine hydroponics and organics together before so this ought to be interesting. Once feeding starts it will be interesting to see if I can apply my understanding of Hydro to soilless coco coir media.  If you still haven’t gotten your Balkhi seeds it’s not too late.

As time closes in on my deadline the snow is falling outside in our second big cold spell of the season. I cracked open the last seed that was peeping out of its shell and placed the seedling into its pod. Twenty-three are making their appearance and going strong. It is quite possible that #24 will survive too. It was definitely alive but not showing any signs of taking off when I removed its shell. 

When I check back in with you in two to three weeks, we should have a much better idea as to which is going to perform and which is going to be a disappointment. I know that this is not an exciting time in the life of a plant, but to see 23 out of 24 seeds make a showing is a very good thing. Until next time… be safe!

Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.

Johnny THCeeds

Johnny THCeeds started growing cannabis in 1990 to help his wife who suffered from debilitating epilepsy. Circumstances lead Johnny into Christian ministry in 1995 and he now preaches in a small mountain community church. Because of his faith, he ceased growing until 2008 and 420, when he obtained a medical license to grow because of injuries. He has become an advocate for Landraces and their preservation, after discovering that hybrids increased his symptoms of PTSD, like paranoia and panic attacks.