Cannabis Outdoor Growing Adds YouTube Videos

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An example of the branching of a pruned tip. Here are two beautiful new branches where there used to be only one.

During the month of June, COG introduced helpful videos on YouTube demonstrating some of our various tricks for maximizing our Cannabis quality and output. Topics we’ve covered so far include Aeration of the Cannabis roots, Fertilization, Super-cropping, and Trimming the base of the plants.

Aeration does exactly what it sounds like — it breaks up the hardened soil and lifts the root base while providing better access to water and nutrient to the plants. Organic compost is added at this time to protect from heat and dessication as well as adding a little more food to the plant. The basin around each plant is made larger through each process and as the plants grow — providing a bigger “pot” for watering.

The Fertilization videos introduce the organic chicken pellets and Age Old Grow 12-6-6 fertilizer, along with the timing of application and the dilutions.

Super-cropping is a pruning method to make the plants bush and keep their height manageable. We keep the average height of the plants around 8 foot, while pushing branch production. We selectively remove the very tiny new meristematic tips of each branch — usually with tweezers; when the plant mends itself it splits the tip into two branches (see photo above). We do this until each bush has between 32-40 branch tips — each of which will develop eventually into large beautiful buds.

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Plant with nice cleaned up base.

Trimming the base means that we trim the small leaves and branches dragging in the dirt at the base of each plant — this does several things. It removes branches that get all the dirt and mud backsplash from watering that will never produce large buds anyway. Those buds are very difficult to tie up at the end of the year and are impossible to clean. A growing plant is expending energy on every leaf and branch and stem, so removing these unwanted branches frees up energy to the remainder of the plant, thus pushing the growth of the upper branches. And finally, trimming up the base adds to the ease of access for watering the growing bush. At this time, we again widen the basin around the plant.

They look beautiful!

Controlling Pests Organically in your Cannabis Garden

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Checking for bug damage.

This season has already been horrific for pests in our COG garden. We’ve decided the mild winter is the villain in play, leading to many more bugs surviving to lay eggs, hatch into detrimental larvae and adults. We especially have suffered from nasty earwigs and aphids which first decimated our marigolds, moved on to the beans, then the peas, even the hot peppers –which was an immense surprise to Anne. Typically the alkaloid capsaicin –the nitrogen compound that makes the peppers hot — provide enough protection to the plant to prevent insect predation. These were voracious little buggers! Then holes began to appear in our Cannabis and it was war!

Tim had already been applying his usually tried and true method of “Nicotine Tea” –which is an infusion of organic tobacco soaked in water then strained. The tea sprayed on plants is usually sufficient to hold off pests, but you need to keep applying after every watering as it washes off. This concoction was not enough. We made a four-prong attack: ladybugs for the aphids until our praying mantises hatched, parasitic nematodes applied to the soil of the entire garden and back yard to kill the larvae in the soil, praying mantises released throughout the garden for all bad pests, and Monterey Garden Insect Spray. The last item is an organically certified insecticide using natural toxins released by the bacterial group Actinomycetes. Bacteria will produce toxins as a waste product of their metabolism that can also defend them from other bacteria. [Turns out humans can harvest these toxins for our own use — we get a lot of antibiotics from bacteria and fungi]. In this particular instance, two chemicals produced by Actinomycetes bacteria –synosyn A and synosyn D — are also damaging to most insects. Monterey Garden Insect Spray combines them into Sinosad — the active ingredient in a great concentration that you dilute and spray onto your plants. It works!!! We thwarted the onslaught and can now plant more beans and peas.

Now what to do about the birds…

P.S. actually if birds are a huge problem, nets and cages work well :)

Playing in the Dirt Provides Natural High

SONY DSCHey, I’m not kidding. Actual legitimate verifiable scientific studies have found soil bacteria that release a compound that triggers our brain to release serotonin – a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Haven’t you every wondered why you feel so peaceful and serene when you garden? I did. For years I called gardening my “Zen work-out” but now I know why. A Dr. Chris Lowry and colleagues at Bristol University in the UK discovered that a particular soil bacterium can make you feel good; specifically they became intrigued by a study that claimed cancer patients treated with a particular bacterium experienced an “increase in quality of life.” The good doctors speculated that brain chemistry was at play. So they  did some experimentation themselves…

When they treated mice with Mycobacterium vaccae they found that it did indeed activate a particular group of brain neurons that produce serotonin – in the interfascicular part of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRI) of the mice, to be precise. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/66840.php)

What this means to me, is that I haven’t been imagining things — playing in the dirt all these years really HAS helped alleviate my stress. Back when I was commuting three hours a day, my daily solace was my garden. I’d get home, kick off my shoes and head out the back door to walk barefoot through the soft soil of my garden — to weed, plant, or harvest as needed. I could literally feel the pressures of my job lift away as my mind quieted. Often I would end up waxing philosophical as I pulled weeds. I didn’t count the minutes, I didn’t schedule how much gardening I needed to complete — I’d just putter in the garden until I was peaceful. Then I’d sit back in a chair on my deck with grubby fingers grasping a cold glass of Chai spice ice tea and relax.

I love science. As a semi-retired scientist I am constantly amazed and delighted by each new discovery — but this particular surprise tickles me to no end. Every day now that I literally get down and dirty growing my Cannabis and flowers and vegetables, I whisper a little thank-you to Mycobacterium vaccae, wherever it may be, for my Zen experience in the dirt…

References:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/66840.php

“Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior.”
C.A. Lowry, J.H. Hollisa, A. de Vriesa, B. Pana, L.R. Brunetb, J.R.F. Huntb, J.F.R. Patonc, E. van Kampena, D.M. Knighta, A.K. Evansa, G.A.W. Rookb and S.L. Lightmana.
Neuroscience Available online 28 March 2007
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.01.067

Our Cedar Privacy Fence is Built!

Several weeks have passed and we have finally finished building our cedar privacy fence. All that remains is to secure the Wi-Fi cameras and lights to the outer ten-foot-high perimeter poles. One central security pole remains intact after all of the demolition, and we retained two standard posts from the old fence to attach wire fencing for growing pole beans in our garden. We grow our Cannabis right alongside our vegetables and everything is organic. More photos will be forthcoming in future articles featuring the vegetable garden and the growing Cannabis.

As we proceeded around the yard building the new fence, we had to keep in mind our two escape artists; therefore we retained the old back wall as we added the new, keeping the dogs safely fenced up all along. As soon as the new back fence was completed, Tim cut down the old one in sections; we enjoyed several bonfires (with legal permits, and following all  fire safety laws) to eliminate the waste.

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The three-foot front gate.

The three-foot front gate.

We built two gates for the yard — one for front yard access and one off the alley. Always being security-minded, we added three latches to each gate, with only the top latch accessible by string pull. When we leave the premises we latch all three positions — top, bottom, and middle — as well as padlocking the top latches of both gates. Due to the heaviness of each gate we will be changing the two small hinges for three medium strength hinges. Note that hinges are always placed on the interior of a yard, to keep a clever thief from simply unscrewing the hinges to remove the gate.

North fence

North fence

 

 

 

 

These finished results are worth the months of hard work. Our cedar fence is completed, with triple stringers and eighth-inch gaps between stained planks. The north and south sides that adjoin neighbors’ yards have the planks facing interiorly, while the alley has the planks facing outwards for security purposes. It is harder to scale the smooth planks than it  is to climb the three stringers.

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Tim hasn’t forgotten his construction background — the completed fence is both beautiful and functional.

To enjoy our complete set of fence photos, see our photo gallery at www.cannabisoutdoorgrowing.com. As always, feel free to ask Tim questions about growing Cannabis or building fences at support@cannabisoutdoorgrowing.com.

 

Happy Easter! The fence project continues…

Hopefully everyone is enjoying beautiful weather and the forthcoming spring!

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A stone retaining wall shores up the back length of the yard and looks beautiful besides!

Tim has taken advantage of the beautiful weather to work like a dog on the awesome new fence. He decided against railroad ties along the alley behind the property, and is building a gorgeous ornamental block retaining wall for structural support instead. The ties worked great between his yard and the neighbors, but for this large of slope, the ornamental retaining wall gives great support while being much more pleasing to the eye. Note the string line for keeping his levels and straight edges.

 

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What a beautiful approach to the back fence!

A retaining wall like this takes a few steps. First a string line is run parallel to the property line, and then a trench is dug slightly wider than the blocks up to the highest level of ground nearly equal to the bottom of the fence (a slight slope for water run-off away from the fence is suggested). The trench is leveled and smoothed with a bottom layer of pea gravel. Then you begin placement of the ornamental blocks, using the string line to keep your levels and your straight lines.

IMG_0034-45This new fence is going to require 280 new cedar planks. Tim has elected to pre-stain the boards by dipping them in the sealer in a tank, then standing them up to let dry (see photo below).

Meanwhile, he’s got all of his 4 x 4 posts cemented  into the ground, including the extra tall one(s) on which he’ll mount his security cameras.

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These boards have been dipped for sealing and stain, and are now curing prior to placement.

He’s nailed up the stringers and begun to screw on the boards. He’s using screws instead of nails for ease of replacement should any get damaged.

 

 

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Here the cedar boards are going up.

 

I have to say, the fence is coming along beautifully, Well done, Tim!

See the page Fence Project Begins… for the “before pix” of this project.

Or visit the photo gallery at www.CannabisOutdoorGrowing.com for all the photos of this project.

Feel free to contact Tim at support@cannabisoutdoorgrowing.com with any questions about building the fence, or about growing medical marijuana outdoors!

Article about our “Easy Outdoor Grower’s Guide” in TAC

Pick up a copy of The American Cultivator newsletter next month or login to their site and you’ll see a front-page article introducing our book — Easy Outdoor Grower’s GuideMedical Marijuana Growing for the Beginner. We are so excited! We wrote this book for the newbie. Thinking about the states opening up to legal medical marijuana, and we realized there were tons of books and guides available that are encyclopedic in knowledge and information, but no simple little instruction manuals on how to begin. So we wrote a book that tells you how. It’s a friendly little heavy duty guide, only 6×9″ in a spiral format with laminated covers and heavy 70# paper so it will last through many seasons and you can take it with you into the garden. The spiral lets you open to a page and follow instructions on that page. It’s small enough to carry around, and its finished just in time for the 2013 season.

We also offer tips and pointers, and support. Tim is happy to answer “in the garden” questions, and Anne is happy to tackle any general botanical or biological questions (pertaining to marijuana, of course :). We are having fun in the kitchen too, experimenting with delectable edibles recipes and will share a recipe a month on our website.. Feel free to pop in and share one of yours as well!

Happy Growing from Cannabis Outdoor Growing!

Season 2013

Scheduling for a medical marijuana growing season goes something like this:

Weather gets warmer

Major garden prep takes place in March–raking and clearing the plot, any repairs or updates to the area–thus the fence project. The old fence will be torn down and burned or recycled as appropriate, the new boards will be sealed and pre-stained, the new posts sunk and the stringers nailed up. Then screw on the boards and voila’ fence done, head to the garden…

Check the soil pH throughout and in specific spots around the garden, depending upon surrounding trees and vegetation–(e.g., pine increases the acidity of soil in its vicinity). Treat the soil to increase or decrease soil pH as needed.

One of these days go get some clones! Visit one of our favorite dispensaries (or make our own clones. We’re adding a section to next year’s book edition to show how to clone…)

We’ll keep you updated on our progress.

Welcome!

A gorgeous "Black Domino" bud, back cover photo from book "Easy Outdoor Grower's Guide"

A gorgeous “Black Domino” bud, back cover photo from book “Easy Outdoor Grower’s Guide”

We’re going to be sharing Tim’s 2013 medical-marijuana-growing season with anyone who wants to come along. The clock is ticking, the weather is warming, and spring is hurtling our way–Tim’s old bones are complaining but it’s time to prepare the garden. The first thing on the agenda is to tear out the old rotten privacy fence, extend it out a ways, dig some post holes, mix some cement and pop in the new posts. As we mention in our Easy Outdoor Grower’s Guide a good privacy fence is a must, and this old one isn’t doing its job anymore. The dogs keep escaping and you can practically tap the boards off. Follow the project as it progresses on the Fence Project page.