Expert Grow Advice On Closet Grows, Light Leaks, Flushing, And More

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High Times’ cultivation specialist Danny Danko answers all your burning questions about being the best grower you can be. But first, some quick tips from the expert himself:

  • Always check and adjust the pH level of your nutrient solution after you’ve added the nutrients.
  • Keeping cuttings warm and moist will result in higher rooting success rates and healthier clones.
  • Lack of nitrogen is the most common nutrient deficiency and starts with leaves yellowing.

Subject: Lighting for Auto-Flowering Strains
From: Joe in Berwick, ME

For years, I’ve been using 400-watt high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting during the vegetative stage and 1,000-watt lighting during the flowering stage. I recently had my first grow with auto-flowering Lemon Skunk. Long story short, I ended up using a 12/12-hour day/night light cycle and yielded very loose and light buds. What light intensity and schedule should I use for autos?

Dear Joe,

Auto-flowering plants are strains that will flower at a certain age, regardless of the photoperiod. They’re made by utilizing ruderalis genetics, a low-THC cannabis that came from Russia and other northern parts of Eastern Europe where the plant adapted to the short growing season by flowering early. The advantages of growing auto-flowering plants is that they can be harvested in less than three months from planting, even in the middle of summer. The best lighting schedule for auto-flowering plants is 18 hours on and six hours off throughout all stages of life.

Subject: Empty Closet
From: Reefer Franklin

I just recently lost a whopping 75 pounds of body fat and had to basically throw out my entire wardrobe because it no longer fits—good problem, right?—and a happy accident happened. I magically ended up with an empty closet! I figured instead of refilling it with clothes, I would fill it with about 15 mothers and five father plants. The dimensions are 24” x 54” x 100”, and I only want to use this space to keep mothers and take/root clones; after that, they go into a perpetual “sea of green.” What are the basics I need to get by—mainly, can I get by with some T5 lights, or something less heat- and money-intensive than HID? What sort of ventilation setup should I consider, and what other things of that nature might I be overlooking?

Dear Franklin,

Congratulations on losing all that weight! And also on your decision to start growing your own. First, I don’t know what you mean by father plants. If you’re referring to males, you have no need for them in your grow space unless you’re planning on breeding, and it sounds like you’re just getting started, so that’s probably something we should leave to the professionals for the time being.

You will need mother plants, however, so that you can take clones from them and root them in this small space before they move on to their “sea of green” area. T5 fluorescent lighting is perfect for this area, and HID (high-intensity discharge) fixtures might give out too much light and heat for what you’re looking to do. Save the HID for your flowering area.

As for ventilation, you want to keep the air moving in your space, so you’ll need some fans and ducting, as well as another fan to circulate air inside the space as well. Invest in a nice exhaust fan to pull out spent air through an activated-charcoal filter to reduce odors. Shoot for a temperature of around 75°F in your space and a humidity level of 50 percent for the healthiest mother plants and clones.

Subject: Light Leaks
From: Vape O’Rhyzer

Greetings from Colorado, and thanks for all the great advice in the magazine. Knowledge is power, and you are enabling a powerful army of cannabis cultivators from coast to coast. My question: Can a brief light leak during the 12-hour dark period cause a plant grown from a feminized seed to turn male? Or does the “feminizing process” sometimes just not take with some seeds?

I’ve grown other seeds from the same pack of Acapulco Gold from Barney’s and haven’t had a problem, so I hadn’t been checking the sex of the plants. When I looked today, though, I discovered tons of male pollen sacks on the plant. Fortunately, none had opened yet. The other two seeds I planted at the same time (707 Headband and Cindy 99) haven’t shown their sex either way yet, so I can’t tell if the problem affects just the one plant or if I need to start over. But I did have one brief light leak when the plants were just a week or two into the 12/12-hour day/night light cycle, and I’m wondering if that could be the cause. I appreciate what you and High Times are doing to advance the cannabis culture.

Dear Vape,

Thanks for the kind words! I’m happy to help people grow better cannabis, and it’s nice to hear that they’re learning from my work. You are correct that light leaks during the flowering period of a feminized plant can shock the plant and make it react by becoming a hermaphrodite, or a plant that exhibits both male and female traits. It really depends on the genetics of the plant and the length of the interruption of the dark cycle. Some plants are more affected by light leaks than others. If you discover any male pollen sacs forming on your plants, get rid of those plants entirely and start over with fresh seeds. Growing out hermaphrodites will result in a harvest of flowers full of seeds, a most unfortunate and horrendous outcome.

Subject: First-Timer Strains
From: Chris

Hi. I’ve never grown marijuana before but I want to give it a try. I’ve been researching everything from soil and tent kits to lighting and nutrients. There’s a lot of conflicting information to go through on the internet. My plan so far is to grow four plants in soil in 5-gallon containers. I will start with seeds in a 4’ x 4’ x 72” grow tent with lights and ventilation. I want to grow two plants high in THC and two plants high in CBD all in the same tent. Both strains should be easier for a first-time grower. I’ve seen that it’s possible, but my problem is that I can’t figure out which two strains will vegetate at the same time and grow at the same height. Is this realistic, or should I just try one strain? Hopefully you will know of a high-CBD strain and a high-THC strain that will work for me.

Dear Chris,

There are many strains you can grow inside your tent, and it’s not that important that they grow to the same height. You can always raise the smaller ones or make any other adjustments necessary. Some of my favorite CBD-rich strains at the moment are bred in Spain by Dinafem Seeds, where they utilize in-house lab testing in their breeding projects and work with the most CBD-potent strains available such as the original Dancehall from Reggae Seeds. A few of my suggestions from Dinafem would be Dinamed CBD, which tests between 10 and 14 percent CBD with very low (0.4-0.6 percent) THC content, Early Amnesia CBD or Haze Autoflowering CBD.

As for THC-rich strains, there are so many to choose from, but I’ve been enjoying Cherry Vanilla Cookies, bred by Professor P of Dynasty Genetics; Sundae Driver, from Cannarado Genetics; and Do-Si-Dos, bred by NorcalICMag and available from the Archive Seed Bank. Those are three potent choices, but, as I mentioned, there are many others available. As a beginner, you should also look into feminized and/or auto-flowering varieties that are easier to grow.

Subject: Thieves and Unflushed Plants
From Mariah L.

Lately, there have been thieves running around snatching pot plants. One of my outside grows got hit, but I have another very close by, so I harvested what was left of the first and a couple of the others. Some of these plants haven’t been flushed with water. Is that bad for the taste and/or quality of the plant? And if yes, is there anything I can do once I’ve already clipped them?

Dear Mariah,

It’s awful that people think they can go around stealing other people’s plants. These “rippers” are a common problem around harvesttime and there’s a special place in hell reserved just for them. Your plants were harvested early and you didn’t get a chance to flush them with plain water for the last week or two of growth. It’s not the end of the world, however. Hopefully you weren’t heavily feeding your outdoor plants to begin with, so there wouldn’t be so much excess nutrients to flush out. As long as you take the time to dry and cure your flowers properly, you should be able to enjoy them. Flowers that are overfed with nutrient salts tend to taste acrid, burn improperly and need to be relit over and over. I hope you avoided this fate.

Subject: Cat Poop
From: Bill From Tuscaloosa

l live in an illegal state, and actually prefer to pay someone to grow and transport weed. But all my guy has is top-shelf shit, and it is getting expensive. I have some seeds from Mexican crap that I bought years ago, and a spare closet. I’m probably going to use a no-till method and LED and fluorescents and cover the closet walls with aluminum foil. There is no door on the closet and I want to make sure the cat doesn’t take a deuce in there. Any advice?

Dear Bill,

Wow, there’s just so much to unpack here. First of all, why would you want to grow crappy Mexican seeds? Also, please don’t use aluminum foil on your walls. Flat-white paint is nearly as reflective and doesn’t create hot spots or places for bugs to hide. As for keeping your cat from defecating in your closet, you’re going to need a door or barrier of some kind. If you want your plants to flower, they need 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness, so you’ll need to contain and light-proof your closet anyway. A door or some kind of lightproof barricade will ensure your plants can flower, and keep your cat from pooping on them and also from eating them.

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Originally published in the November, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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