Growing and Blooming

The growth of a cannabis plant depends on the number of hours of light it gets each day. The more hours light, the stronger the plant will grow. The mostused light period in cannabis growing is 18 hours light per day and 6 hours night. This corresponds to the 21st June, the longest day of the year, and a sunny one at that. We kid the plant that it is the always the most lovely and longest day of the year. But you can just as well give your plants 19 hours, 20 hours - right up to 24 hours light per day. 

With a 24-hour light period your lamps are burning continuously, of course. But if you give the plants less than 18 hours light you increase the chance that the plant will start to bloom. Some varieties bloom when given 15-16 hours light. Whenever we talk about "putting the plant into bloom" we are referring to the prac tice of putting the lamps on a timer set for 12 hours light and 12 hours night. This is the optimal period for blooming. If you give her more hours dark, then the plant will come in to bloom more quickly, but the yield will be less, because you have convinced her that winter is just around the corner. 

This is sometimes worth doing at the end of your bloom period to tip the plants into a 'harvest-ready' state a little earlier. Why just 12 hours? Because the plant needs light in order to develop its buds and make its THC. The more light, the more bud growth and THC pro duction. The perfect boundary therefore is 12 hours, so that the plant can bloom well, while developing a good, THC-rich bud with a decent yield as it does so. Now I can hear you thinking: 'then I'll just give the plant even more light!' But this will simply prolong the blooming period without adding anything to the size or potency of your crop. The length of the blooming period is dependent on the plant variety and can be any where between 5-16 weeks. The most common varieties though all bloom after 8-10 weeks.


Male versus Female Plants

The female cannabis plant is very easy to recognise from her production of little white hairs. The first white hairs are found in the 'armpits' of the plant, where two of them spring from one pistil. The pistil is the place on the plant where the leaf is attached to the main stem and from where a side branch sprouts. The male plant, by contrast, makes no white hairs and is therefore easy to tell from the female plant.

The male plant has little balls that always appear in groups that hang off the plant by a thread. When these balls pop open after a lengthy period of blooming, 5 Here you can see clearly the THC crystals on a bud. Pressed THC crystals are the ingredient for hashish. This is how you can see them, using a magnifier. The more glistering the bud, the better the quality. then banana-shaped pieces become visible. Out of these comes pollen that can fertilise your female plants.

At the very beginning of blooming, the male balls and the female pistils look similar because they are only a milli metre or so big, but by looking carefully you will be able to see that a male ball grows away from the main stem, hangs on a thread and multiplies itself to form several balls. A female pistil stays firmly close to the main stem until, at a particular moment once it is large enough, the two white hairs emerge. So if you see in one pistil two balls growing then the chance is already large that you are looking at a male specimen.

In this way you can determine at quite an early stage of blooming which are the males and remove them to leave more room and resources for the females to develop. Hermaphrodites are double-sexed plants, having both male and female character istics. Within this sort we have various types. Some hermaph rodites are 90% male and 10% female, others are 90% female and 10% male, or 50% malefemale. In the case of those that are 90% female hermaphrodites, we can still simply remove the male flowers and in this way still develop harvestable, unfer tilised - and therefore seedless - buds. The pollen these her maphrodites produce will for the most part produce female seeds.


How are buds created and what are the smoke able  parts of the plant?

In order to understand how a bud is produced on the plant, from flower to smokeable product, you really need to see it with your own eyes. A mere description of how a female plant manufactures a bud will make many people none the wiser. As you can see, the female plant produces many little white hairs that emerge from a tiny budlet, and the more advanced the blooming proceeds the more these buds will swell up and become bigger.

In many cases the buds will eventually grow into each other, making it look as if there is just one enormous bud. Eventually the buds will stop growing in size - at the end of the blooming process - and these white hairs will take on a colour. When this has happened for 80% of the plant's buds then it is time to harvest the plant. The only bits of the cannabis plant that are smokeable are the buds. The cultivated buds are dried out in a dark, cool (15-20 degrees Celsius) space where they can quietly and slowly undergo the drying process, and at the same time the 'conversion' process that produces the substances that give a 'high'.

There is little point in fast-drying your buds, since the real high you get from smoking cannabis needs some time to mature during the drying process. The leafage trimmed off from around the bud is smoke able, but does not taste as nice as the buds themselves. You're better off making hashish out of this, but there'll be more about this in future editions.


Difference between hash and weed

As you should know by now, weed is the dried buds of the female cannabis plant. Only the females can produce potent weed. Hashish on the other hand is the collected crystals that are found on the buds, leaves and stem of the plant. Since a photo says more than a thousand difficult words, you can probably better see for yourself how many crystals there are to be Some mothers do have 'm: this plant's a Crystal Galore. found on a bud of cannabis.

The transparent little balls you see under magnification are the crystals I mean, and you can find them on small stalks. When the cannabis plant is ripe these crystals take on an amber- to-gold coloration. By drying out the buds and leaves of the plant the crystals easily come loose from the vegetation, especially once we stick this leafage in a pollinator. This is a square box with a drum inside it - like a washing machine, only with a round sieve.

The drum turns round and the crystals are shaken loose as a result of the churn ing. They fall through the sieve whereupon we can scrape them together into one pile, which we call skuff, or unpressed hashish. We can press this hash powder into a lovely block, as you may have seen for sale. Hashish is thus the collection of the THC crystals that are found on the cannabis plant and that are not visible to the naked eye. It is a pure concentration and therefore gives a more energetic, clearer high. If you roll a joint with a bud you will notice that your fingers become covered with a goldcoloured powder from breaking open the bud and crumbling it this powder is the crystals I've been talking about.


Indoor or Outdoor growing?

Indoor or outdoor growing? There's a huge amount to be said on this topic and it should be stated that both have their qualities. Outdoors, you can squeeze three harvests in between spring and winter. Except that you are dependent on the weather gods, and so there are very few certainties to rely on when growing outdoors. A lot can go wrong, and after months of slog you can be left with a few measly buds to harvest. Most unwelcome.

The advantage of growing outdoors is that it costs you next to nothing. You just need a good patch of soil or a nice big pot in which to put a seed or clone, which will grow into a female tree that will give you several hundred grams of bud. Weather permitting... A clone is a sliced-off piece of branch that has been stimu lated to produce roots. Outdoor growingis a great way for the beginner to get to know the cannabis plant and her feed ing wishes. The growing period outside begins in early April and goes on 'til mid-August, so if you screw up a plant you can simply germinate another one. By starting with growing out doors you will build up a wealth of knowledge that will serve you later if and when you start to grow indoors. The great out doors is in short the ideal grow room for beginners, who will be enjoy the many surprises they will encounter as they help their plants to thrive.

Especially if you plant your babies in solid earth, when you will have little else to except sit around on your lazy butt and wait for them to ripen for harvest With indoor growing, you are Mother Nature herself and you must therefore take control of all aspects of growth, from ensuring air throughput and ventilation, air moisture levels, and so on. Growing indoors is a little safer than growing outdoors, given that the plants are safely hidden away inside. Curious neighbours can easily spot your plants growing outdoors and cause some major hassle. Indoors, you can get up to four, five or even six harvests per year, realised dependent on the length of the growing period of the particular variety you're growing.

You are not confined by the seasons and can there fore choose yourself when you want to start a crop. You have complete freedom with indoor growing. You can grow any variety at any time. On the other hand, you have to pay much more attention to your plants with indoor growing. It is a bit more work - though pleasant work of course. Also you need to make a starting investment in order to acquire all the essentials. You have to check your plantation every day and give feed water whenever the plants need it.

If you choose to grow indoors you are also choosing to spend a portion of your free time on the activity. If you think you can just bung some plants in just like that and when you feel like it pop your head round the corner and take a quick shufty at them, you're going to quickly find that you're deluding yourself. But since you can simply control most of the climatic factors you can continuously be working towards a maximum yield of top quality weed. You can control the temperature by letting the air pumps operate at a certain level, the optimum Male plant air moisture content can be reached by installing an air humidifier, and a good air flow by putting one or more ventilators in your grow room. Indoor as well as outdoor growing can deliver excellent quality weed in outstanding quantities. Depending on your own possibilities and desires you should make the choice that suits you best.


pH and EC

The pH-value is the number that indicates the acidity of the soil. The pH-scale runs from 1 to 14. A solution with a pH between 1 and 7 is called ‘acid’, a pH of 7 is known as ‘neutral’, and between 7 and 14 we talk of ‘alkali’. The lower the pH, the more acidic the solution is. When the pH is too high or too low the plants cannot take up some of their essential foodstuffs. That will lead to deficiency sicknesses. A good pH lies between 5.6 and 6.6. With a pH in this range, the cannabis plants can best extract nutrients from the growing medium.

The pH also influences the (bacterial) soil life, and an active soil life increases the fertility of the soil, which makes for healthier, stronger plants. By measuring the feed water with a pH meter we can acidify it down to the correct value. Most tap water has a pH of around 7.0, so we have to add a little pH-acid to it to lower the pH to, say, 6.3. We either do this for the whole grow or not at all. Once you have begun to regulate the pH you must continue to do so.

Even without a pH meter you can get excellent yields, but when you want to achieve that bit extra, the right pH will ensure a better growth and bloom. The pH is more important than the EC, so if you have to choose, plump for a pH meter first. The pH of soil lies around 6.3 because the bacterial life can fully develop, and be advised that the pH of coconut fibre is around 6.0. EC is the measure of conductivity of a solution. The conductivity increases the more salts are present in a solution.Fertilisers are nothing more than salts.

The more fertiliser you add to your water, the higher the EC it will read. EC is therefore a measure of the total concentration of fertilis ers in the water that is given to the plant. Through the entire growing process, the EC lies between 1.2 and 2.8. One begins with a low concentration of feedstuffs around 1.2 - and this is raised during the growing period to a maximum of 2.8. If you should venture into higher concentra tions, then the chances of burning the roots from too high a dose is large. So just stick your EC meter in your water vat, add nutrients until the desired EC reading, and Bob's your uncle.


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