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.
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.
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